Types of credit cards

understanding the credit card landscape

There are many types of credit cards out there, so it’s important to understand the differences and choose the best one for you.

Picking the right card usually depends on why you want one – is it to spread the cost of a large purchase, to build up your credit history, or for emergencies if you’ve run of cash? Our comparison service helps you compare different cards to find one that fits you. Remember, we’re a credit broker, not a lender, so we can’t make the decision to give you credit; however, we can help you find credit deals and understand your chances of approval†.

What kinds of credit cards can I apply for?

Premium cards

Often known as ‘Gold’ or ‘Platinum’ cards, these are standard credit cards but may come with a higher credit limit or extra benefits, such as travel insurance. You may need to pay an annual fee for one of these, and you’d probably need to have a good credit score too.

0% balance transfer card

A card that allows you to transfer an existing credit card balance, to one with little or no interest, typically for a small transfer fee. It’s quite common to move credit card debt you already have to another card.

Find out more about balance transfer cards

0% purchase card

These are interest-free cards that, as long as you make the minimum monthly payment, allow you to spend on the card without having to pay interest on the balance for as long as the promotional rate.

Credit builder cards

These cards could be useful to help build you credit history and often have low credit limits to start with, and perhaps a high APR, but paying off the bill in full and on time each month can help show lenders that you’re reliable.

Find out more about credit builder cards

Cash back credit card

These credit cards allow you to earn money for everything you spend on the card, in varying amounts usually around 1-2%, with some higher limited period introductory rates.

Find out more about cashback cards

Store card

Store cards can be useful if you shop in the same shops or chains. They often come with higher interest rates than standard credit cards and lower credit limits, but usually have special offers for cardholders.

Affinity cards (or reward cards)

The credit card companies typically partner with other organisations to allow you to a) benefit a cause close to your heart every time you use it or b) benefit from customer loyalty by building up reward points or discounts.

Which credit cards might I get approved for?

To apply for any credit card, you need to be over 18. Your chances of approval – as well as the interest rate and credit limit you’re offered – usually depend on how the lender sees your Data Self. This is the version of you that’s made up of your credit history and other information, and it helps lenders decide if you’re likely to pay them back. Lenders can understand your Data Self by looking at information from your credit report, application form, and any other information they already have (for example, if you’re an existing customer).

Here are some important steps to take before you apply for credit:

1. Get your free Experian Credit Score. This reflects how lenders may see you – the high it is, the better. Luckily, there’s lots of things you can do to boost your score and make your Data Self work for you

2. Understand your credit history. Get your Experian Credit Report to see what might impact your ability to get a credit card

3. Check your eligibility before applying. When you search credit cards with our comparison service, we’ll match your credit information with lenders’ criteria, to help you understand your chances of approval

4. Review the features and terms. Make sure you fully understand what the deal is offering and what conditions you need to meet before applying

Create a free Experian account to access your Experian Credit Score, which is updated every 30 days if you log in. If you want to access other features, consider getting a CreditExpert paid subscription.

Get your free Experian Credit Score & Compare

We are a credit broker not a lender

With the free Experian account you’ll get:

  • Your Experian Credit Score, updated every 30 days if you log in
  • Compare credit cards, mortgages, loans, insurance and energy offers
  • See your eligibility rating before you apply for credit cards and personal loans
  • Get updates about your eligibility for credit cards and personal loans