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MONEYFACTS ARCHIVE. This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Published: 25/05/2017

Spending on debit and credit cards continues to rise, with more and more people turning to plastic when making their purchases. Much of this has been driven by the growth in both online and contactless spending, but what if you could get even more from your flexible friend? Well, you can!

Plastic fantastic

Figures from The UK Cards Association show that card spending in March 2017 totalled a whopping £57.8 billion, up 0.6% from February and a notable rise of 6.1% year-on-year (up from £52.4 billion in March 2016).

Online spending saw even greater levels of growth – a total of £15.3 billion was spent online during March, an increase of 15% from this time last year (£11.7 billion), with this kind of spending now accounting for 27% of all card purchases.

"Cards are the default way to pay for millions of consumers and this is reflected by the increase in card spending month-on-month," said Richard Koch, head of Policy at The UK Cards Association. So if you're spending all that money anyway, why not use a card that can give you something extra?

Play your cards right

Card spending has never been more popular or convenient, particularly with the help of contactless technology, and providers are catching on to that fact by offering you fantastic benefits as they try to win your business.

Take cashback credit cards. These deals literally give you something for nothing – all you have to do is buy what you were going to anyway, and you'll be given a portion of that spend straight back in your account. Provided you pay the balance in full each month (i.e. before interest has a chance to outweigh the cashback earned), this could be a great way to make the most of your card spending.

The amount of cashback you can get varies between deals, but the rate is as high as 5% from American Express, and its Platinum Everyday card is fee-free, too. This particular 5% deal is limited to the first three months, after which you'll receive standard 0.50% cashback on spending between £1 and £5,000 per year, and 1.00% on spending of £5,000+.

It's fee-paying alternative boasts the same 5% deal for three months, but higher cashback opportunities thereafter (standard 1.00% on spending between £1 and £10,000 per year, and 1.25% on spending over that amount), so you'll need to work out if the fee is worth it.

However, credit cards aren't the only options if you want to get cashback – many current accounts come with great cashback deals when you use your debit card, though these may be restricted to certain retailers, such as Nationwide's FlexDirect account
that offers up to 35% cashback on selected purchases. Then there's the likes of TSB that offers £5 cashback simply for making 20 debit card purchases in any given month – compare the top current accounts to see what else is available.

However, as with any form of spending, you need to make sure it's really worth it. Don't be tempted to buy something just to benefit from cashback, as otherwise, you really haven't gained anything! Similarly, if you'll be using a credit card, make absolutely certain that you can repay the balance, and at the very least make the minimum repayments, otherwise you certainly won't be benefiting.

You'll need to have a top notch credit score if you're going to be eligible for the best credit card deals, too. Head to a credit check provider to see how the land lies, and if you could do with improving your score, read our guide on how to do just that. Then, you can look forward to really making the most of your card spending, no matter how you go about it.


Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time. Links to third parties on this page are paid for by the third party. You can find out more about the individual products by visiting their site. will receive a small payment if you use their services after you click through to their site. All information is subject to change without notice. Please check all terms before making any decisions. 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.

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