nigel woollsey

Nigel Woollsey

Online Writer
Published: 12/02/2019

At a glance

  • A credit card that rewards your custom with points, vouchers or perhaps even cashback.
  • As with cashback credit cards these are more suitable for people who want to use it to pay for everyday purchases and who pay their credit card bill in full every month.
  • Large range of cards offering all sorts of rewards – including supermarkets, high street stores and even airlines.

What are reward credit cards?

If you like to spend on your credit card and pay it off in full every month, you don't need flashy 0% interest offers, or even a particularly low purchase rate (as you never intend to pay it). Instead you want a credit card that will reward your custom, perhaps with points or vouchers, or even with cashback.

Rewards credit cards are just that, allowing you to get something back every time you use the card to make a purchase. The best credit card rewards can significantly reduce your monthly spend thanks to supermarket points, or even allow you to go on holiday for free thanks to generous travel rewards.

Given the variety of rewards that are available, you'll want to think carefully about what will have the biggest impact; are you happy to get extra spending money that can be used in just one supermarket chain, or would you rather have cash? Where do you currently spend most of your money, and how many reward points would you be able to get from it?

Whichever card you decide to go for, just remember that you really do need to make sure that you can pay off your debt in full every single month. If you don't, you could end up paying more in interest than you're getting in rewards, defeating the purpose of having a reward credit card. If you're not confident you'll remember to pay off the balance every time, you could even set up a monthly standing order to automate the process.

The credit card market, including credit cards with rewards, is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Consumer Credit Act. Among other things, this means you get a certain amount of protection on your purchases when using a credit card.

How do reward credit cards work?

Reward credit cards work just like any other credit card; you use credit to make purchases or transfer debt, and if you don't manage to pay all the debt you've put on the card within a month, you are charged interest. If you don't manage to make at least a minimum payment every month, you will also likely be charged a penalty fee, and may lose any special offers you've been enjoying.

Therefore, to get the most from a reward credit card, you will want to minimise the above-mentioned costs. This means paying the card debt off every month, avoiding using the card abroad, and not taking money out using your plastic friend. You'll also want to try and maximise the rewards you are getting from the card provider.

For credit cards that offer cashback as a reward (and please note that we have a separate chart with only cashback cards if that's all you're interested in), this means using the card to make purchases as much as possible, potentially even until you reach your credit limit, assuming you're getting a percentage back on every single purchase. If you pick a card with points instead, find out where you can get the most points as well as how you can spend them. While some cards will allow you to get cash in exchange for points, some may only give you vouchers to spend in their stores or petrol stations, so read the terms and conditions carefully.

Where a card offers points as a reward for spending, it's important you check how much the points are worth as well. Points schemes vary massively in value, so don't assume that if you earn four points per £1 spent, it's necessarily going to be better than a card offering one point per £1 spent.

Say you're comparing two cards that allow you to earn one point for every £1 you spend. With Card A you need to collect 1,000 points to earn a £5 voucher, and with Card B you just need to earn 500 points to get a £5 voucher. Although both cards appear to offer the same deal, Card B offers the more generous reward scheme.

What sorts of rewards can I expect with a reward credit card?

As stated, most cards will give you reward points which can be exchanged for cash or vouchers. Reward points can be restricted to a single brand, but you can also get cards that give you air miles and such for travelling, or cards that allow you to spend vouchers at a wide variety of partners. The best reward credit cards may even offer introductory interest-free terms on purchases as well.

Before you decide on a card, do some calculations to see how many points you would get and what they are worth, or what your percentage of cashback would be. And of course, make sure that you shop frequently at the places where you'd be able to use your vouchers, so your hard-earned rewards don't go to waste.

What would be the best rewards credit card for me?

The key to choosing the right reward credit card is to select a card that offers rewards useful to you. For instance, if you spend a lot on your weekly food shop, a reward credit card that gives you vouchers or points to spend there might be a good option (indeed, some supermarkets have even started offering credit cards that also double as a loyalty card for just this purpose), or if you are a frequent flyer, a reward credit card that earns you air miles might be the way to go.

Depending on your needs, finding the best reward card may be a simple matter of finding the card from your favourite supermarket that sits highest in the charts. If you’d rather have cash in hand, you might want to look at our dedicated cashback credit card comparison chart instead. The table above is sorted by best overall deal as default, but it also allows you to sort by longest introductory rate for purchases or lowest APR.

In the end, the best reward credit card will depend on your personal wishes and circumstances. Whatever you decide, make sure your credit score is up to scratch before you apply so you can get the best deal possible with the lowest interest rate. Remember that the representative APR may not be the APR you are offered. You'll also want to make sure you can repay any debt on your credit card in full each month, to avoid diluting the rewards you're getting through interest and/or charges.

Pros and cons of reward credit cards

  • A great way to earn regular awards from your favourite retailer.
  • May have increased rewards for using your card in certain places or for certain types of transaction.
  • Unlike a ‘store card’ you are not tied to a specific store or retail group.
  • If you don’t pay off the balance each month then the interest &/or fees you incur could eat into the value of the rewards.

Moneyfacts tip

Moneyfacts tip nigel woollsey

As well as the possibility of an annual fee, you will usually be charged for taking money out at an ATM or using the reward card abroad – So check fees carefully before deciding on which is best for you.

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

rewards next exit road sign

At a glance

  • A credit card that rewards your custom with points, vouchers or perhaps even cashback.
  • As with cashback credit cards these are more suitable for people who want to use it to pay for everyday purchases and who pay their credit card bill in full every month.
  • Large range of cards offering all sorts of rewards – including supermarkets, high street stores and even airlines.

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