Understanding cashback credit cards
Earn while you spend with a cashback credit card.
Cashback is an incentive operated by credit card companies where a percentage of the amount spent is paid back to the card holder.
If you use a cashback credit card for all of your spending, you could earn hundreds of pounds every year.
However, the credit card companies aren’t giving you money for nothing. The incentive was created in hope that you’ll spend on your cashback card and not clear your balance in full.
If you don’t clear your balance, they can earn far more in interest than you will ever earn in cashback. So, only use a cashback credit card if you know you can pay off the balance in full each month.
Should I get a cashback credit card?
If you can repay your credit card balance in full each month, a cashback credit card is for you. Use it sensibly and you could reap the rewards.
But if you’re already paying interest on existing credit card debt, a balance transfer card is your best bet. Similarly, if you're planning a larger purchase and will need an extended period to clear your balance in full, opt for a 0% purchases card.
Both of these options will save you more money than you could ever earn with a cashback credit card.
How to get the most from your cashback credit card
Used sensibly, a cashback credit card can save you money, but a few slip-ups could wipe out your winnings in seconds. Follow these tips to make your cashback card work for you:
Know your card: As different cards offer different cashback rates, It’s important to get the card that best matches your shopping habits. Some offer a high introductory offer that drops after a few months, while others give you a higher rate on certain forms of spending.
Spend sensibly: Pay for as much of your day-to-day spending on your card as possible. If you can, pay by credit card rather than cash, cheque or debit card – providing you can afford to repay your balance in full at the end of the month.
Set up a direct debit: Ensure you never miss a payment and end up paying interest by setting up a monthly direct debit to repay your balance in full.
Avoid penalties: Not only are cash withdrawals exempt from cashback, but you’ll also start paying interest on the withdrawal from the moment the money is in your hands. Unless it’s an emergency, avoid using your cashback card in an ATM.
Cashback vs rewards
Cashback is a type of reward… in the form of cold, hard cash. But that doesn’t mean it’s always the best option.
If you fly a lot, a credit card linked to an airline reward program could end up being more useful than a cashback credit card. Similarly, if you’re loyal to a particular supermarket then their store card could be more beneficial.
Overall, because you need to spend a lot before rewards have any real value, cashback cards are often the better choice for most people.
Will I be accepted for a cashback card?
While the best cashback deals tend to be reserved for those with the best credit ratings, there are still options available if you have a less than perfect score.
Just avoid applying for multiple cards at once – every unsuccessful application leaves a mark on your credit rating. Our free eligibility checker will show you the credit cards that could accept you.