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Cashback Credit Cards

5% cashback for first 3 months

Martin

Updated Weekly

Cashback credit cards pay you every time you spend on them, possibly £100s a year. The top card pays 5% cashback for the first three months, others give up to 1% on fuel and supermarket spending.

There are also some good fee-free, near-cash reward cards which come close to what cashback cards can offer. We analyse the pros and cons of all.

How long will these cards last? This guide is fully up to date. However, a host of card perks have already been cut back or axed, so more could follow. It's because the EU has capped the fees card firms can charge shops, which funds cashback. So enjoy them while you can.

The seven need-to-knows

Cashback credit cards are a form of reward scheme, but rather than giving points, you get cold hard cash, tax-free, every time you spend on the card, usually paid annually in the month of your account anniversary.

  • Set up a direct debit to repay in full each month so you'll never pay interest, which will dwarf the gain

    Card companies offer reward schemes because they want to encourage you to spend on the card so they can earn interest from it. If you don't repay IN FULL, the interest cost on all reward cards will dwarf any gain you get.

    Always set up a direct debit to repay the card in full each month, so you'll never pay interest. Sadly, some providers deliberately omit the 'pay off in full' option from direct debit forms, as it means they'll make less money. If so, just write in 'pay off in full' yourself. The firm should honour it, but call after a week or so and check it's worked.

    By doing this, you've effectively made your credit card a debit card, but one that pays you every time you spend on it. Always make sure you have enough cash in your account to cover the direct debit.

    Also, it may sound obvious, but always stay within your credit limit, else you'll pay charges for going over it. Charges can often be £12 each time.

  • Use these cards for all NORMAL spending to max cashback

    Once you set up a credit card, every time you use it you get paid. While this isn't an excuse to spend more, it does mean from now on, to make the most of it, use the cashback card for ALL normal spending, replacing cash, cheques, and other debit, credit and charge cards.

    Using a cashback card to pay for work expenses, which you then reclaim from your employer, can be a powerful way to earn more at no cost to you, provided you can cope with paying the bill in full each month.

    Do check it's fine with your employer though, as there's a chance it could be seen as a taxable benefit (you'll still be up even if it is).

    Quick questions

    Can I add an additional cardholder to my account to boost cashback?

    Can I use a cashback credit card to set up regular payments?

  • Sort out debts before going for cashback

    You'll save more by keeping your debts cheap instead of going for cashback. Every card application has a credit score impact, so make sure your debts are sorted before applying for cashback cards (see Best Balance Transfers for help cutting the cost of debt).

  • You shouldn't aim to borrow or withdraw cash on these cards

    They're a tool to get you rewards by using them like a debit card and clearing them each month, and we rate them based on that. If you need to borrow as well, you're far better off focusing on getting the lowest interest rates – that'll save you much more money. See 0% Spending Cards and Best Balance Transfers for more info.

    And when it comes to withdrawing cash the rule is simple – never, ever, ever use these cards for cash withdrawals. Do so and you'll often be charged a fee. Even if you pay the card off in full, you'll usually be charged some interest.

    Quick question

    Why shouldn't I balance-transfer to one of these cards?

  • You'll NEED a good credit score – protect it using our eligibility calc to find which cards you're likely to get

    These are mostly credit cards, so you'll need to pass a credit check to get them. Most cards require a reasonable credit history and a decent income. If that's not you, don't apply, but for more information, see our Credit Scores guide.

    The only way to know if you'll be accepted is to apply, but each application marks your credit file. Our Credit Card Eligibility Calculator shows your odds of getting almost every top card so you can hone your choice to minimise applications.

    Quick questions

    How does the eligibility calculator work?

    Will credit scoring affect the deal I get and my credit limit?

  • If you need other credit soon, applying for a cashback card could harm your chances

    Multiple applications on your credit file can damage your chances of getting future credit so you need to weigh up whether getting one is going to harm other more important credit applications you may have on the horizon.

    A single application may not kibosh your chance but together with other negatives, may well do. See Credit Score Boosting for more tips.

    So if you think you'll need to apply for important credit soon, such as a mortgage, hold off applying as you'll need to spread out your applications.

  • As with all credit cards, you get Section 75 consumer protection

    In a nutshell, this means that if you buy something costing between £100 and £30,000, here or abroad, and pay on a credit card, the card issuer's equally liable with the retailer if something goes wrong.

    This protection only applies to credit cards, not debit cards or any other plastic, but it's hugely important. If you ordered something and the retailer went kaput, you'd still be able to claim your money back from the card company.

    But, be aware of using PayPal to pay on a credit card, as you'll lose this valuable Section 75 protection. Read the full guides to Section 75 refunds and using PayPal to pay on a credit card.

Rather watch than read? Cashback credit cards video briefing

If you'd rather watch than read all the info, it's covered in the video below. If after that you want to check out the best buys, see below.

Video courtesy of It Pays To Watch, Channel 5. Originally broadcast in April 2008.

Best Buys The top cashback deals

One thing to consider is whether you want an Amex or a Visa/Mastercard (the former is accepted by fewer retailers). You also need to think about whether you want to pay a fee – the cards with the highest cashback tend to have an annual fee.

If you prefer other schemes, such as collecting Avios or Nectar points, see the Airline Credit Cards and Credit Card Rewards guides for more information.

Best BuysFee-FREE cashback cards

American Express logo

5% cashback for first 3 months (or 8% at Amazon) + up to 1% after

Amex Platinum Everyday*

The American Express* Platinum Cashback Everyday card is the top fee-free card, especially if you've big spending to do in the next few months, as it has a 5% great introductory rate (though this is only on your first £2,000 spending, so max £100), then tiered ongoing cashback.

Plus, new customers applying before 31 Jan 2017 will also get 3% cashback on Amazon spending for the first three months, up to a max of £15 cashback (£500 maximum total spend), meaning you could get 8% cashback at Amazon.

Need-to-knows
  • To get the maximum £100 intro cashback, you need to spend £2,000 within three months.
  • After the intro offer's over, you'll automatically be put onto the tiered spending rates: £0 to £5,000 gets 0.5% cashback (the initial £2k spend counts towards this). All spending above £5,001 gets the full 1% cashback.
  • You need to spend at least £3,000 in the year to get any cashback at all.
  • The introductory 5% rate is not available if you've held a Platinum Cashback Amex card at any point in the last six months.
  • Ensure you pay off in full every month, or you'll be charged 22.9% representative APR which'll quickly wipe out any cashback gain. The easiest way to repay in full is to set up a direct debit.
  • Always carry a backup card, as Amex isn't accepted everywhere, especially in a lot of smaller retailers.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Cashback: 3mths 5% (max £100) | Tiered up to 1% after
  • Paid out: On card anniversary
  • Max cashback/year: N/A
  • Annual fee: None | Min spend: £3,000 a year | Card issuer: Amex
  • Rate: 22.9% representative APR (see Official APR Example)
  • Min income: N/A
Key questions

How much cashback is possible? Well, there's no maximum, but how much you'll get depends on how much you spend... we've listed cashback in this table for different spending amounts.

Annual spend £3,000 £5,000 £10,000 £20,000
Year one cashback (incl bonus) £49 £81 £165 £265
Years 2+ cashback £15 £25 £75 £175
Assumes spending equally split over 12 months.

How does this card compare with the Amex Platinum? This card is very similar to the Amex Platinum below, but differs in the fact that it has no annual fee. While the Amex Platinum has tiered rates of cashback up to 1.25% after the intro period, this card has tiered rates of cashback up to 1%.

This means that, with the intro bonus, the Platinum Everyday card beats the £25 annual fee Amex Platinum if you spend £9,500 or less in a year. For higher spenders, the card with the fee works out as more profitable.

Is more cashback possible? Users of cashback sites (which are free to join) may be able to get even more cashback when they sign up. If you're new to cashback sites, read our Top Cashback Sites guide for an explanation and key warnings.

Another way to maximise cashback – if you're in a trusting relationship – is to give someone else an additional card on your account. For example, Janet applies, making John second cardholder, so both get the intro 5% cashback. John applies, doing the same, to bag another three months 5%. After that, they mainly use one card for the 1% cashback – though spend at least £3,000 on each as that's the min to get ANY cashback.

I've heard Amex isn't accepted everywhere. Amex tends to charge retailers more for accepting their cards than Mastercard or Visa. This means it can afford to give you more cashback, but also means it's accepted less, especially by smaller businesses.

Aqua Reward Cashback Card

For those with poor history: 0.5% cashback

Aqua Reward*

The Aqua Reward* is one of few cards that has the cashback perk, but that also allows people with a patchy or limited credit history to apply for it. It does pay a lower cashback rate than some other cards in this guide, though.

Our eligibility calculator can tell you if you're pre-approved for this card.

Need-to-knows
  • If you've a poor credit history, defaults and CCJs need to be more than a year old.
  • Credit limits are low; you'll get between £250 and £1,200 so it's difficult to earn lots of cashback.
  • You can earn a maximum of £100 cashback each year.
  • Ensure you pay off in full every month, or you'll be charged 39.9% representative APR which'll quickly wipe out any cashback gain. The easiest way to repay in full is to set up a direct debit.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Cashback: 0.5%
  • Paid out: Annually
  • Max cashback/year: £100
  • Annual fee: None | Min spend: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Rate: 39.9% representative APR (see Official APR Example)
  • Min income: N/A
Key question

How much cashback can I actually earn? We've worked out how much cashback you'd get from different levels of spending. Bear in mind that your credit limit's likely to be low, so this will restrict the cashback you can earn.

Annual overall spend £3,000 £5,000 £10,000 £20,000
Yearly cashback £15 £25 £50 £100

Best Buys Cashback cards with a fee

American Express logo

Big 5% intro cashback, then up to 1.25%, but £25 yearly fee

Amex Platinum*

Get the American Express* Platinum Cashback card and you'll get a max of £125 cashback in the first three months (5% on up to £2,500 spending). After that, all spending attracts cashback of up to 1.25%, but there's an annual fee you'll need to factor in.

Plus, new customers applying before 31 Jan 2017 will also get 3% cashback on Amazon spending for the first three months, up to a max of £15 cashback (£500 maximum total spend).

Need-to-knows
  • After the intro offer's over, you'll automatically be put onto the tiered spending rates: £0 to £10,000 gets 1% cashback (the initial £2.5k spend counts towards this). All spending above £10,001 gets the full 1.25% cashback.
  • There's an annoying £25 annual fee.
  • Ensure you pay off in full every month, or you'll be charged 22.9% interest which'll quickly wipe out any cashback gain. The easiest way to repay in full is to set up a direct debit.
  • Always carry a backup card, as Amex isn't accepted everywhere, especially in a lot of smaller retailers.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Cashback: 3mths 5% (max £125) | Tiered up to 1.25% after
  • Paid out: On card anniversary
  • Max cashback/year: N/A
  • Annual fee: £25 | Min spend: N/A | Card issuer: Amex
  • Rate: 28.2% representative APR incl £25 fee – spending is charged at 22.9% (see Official APR Example)
  • Min income: N/A
Key questions

How much cashback is possible? Well, there's no maximum, but how much you'll get depends on how much you spend... we've listed cashback in this table for different spending amounts.

Annual spend £3,000 £5,000 £10,000 £20,000
Year one cashback (after fee, incl bonus) £35 £75 £175 £300
Years 2+ cashback (after fee) £5 £25 £75 £200
Assumes spending equally split over 12 months.

How does this card compare with the Amex Platinum Everyday? This card is similar to the Amex Everyday above, but has an annual fee, plus higher rates of cashback on spending. It pays tiered rates of cashback up to 1.25%, whereas the Amex Everyday has tiered rates up to 1%.

While the boosted cashback rates are a bonus, the annual fee wipes away some of the gain. You'd need to spend at least £9,500 in the first year to make it beat the Everyday card, and if you spend less than expected, you'd still be hit with the fee, making it less profitable. If you're not sure you're going to spend big, try the Everyday.

Is more cashback possible? Users of cashback sites (which are free to join) may be able to get even more cashback when they sign up. If you're new to cashback sites, read our Top Cashback Sites guide for an explanation and warnings.

Another way to maximise cashback – if you're in a trusting relationship – is to give someone else an additional card on your account. For example, Janet applies, making John second cardholder, so both get the intro 5% cashback. John applies, doing the same, to bag another three months 5%. After that, they just use one person's card for the 1.25% cashback.

I've heard Amex isn't accepted everywhere. Amex tends to charge retailers more for accepting their cards than Mastercard or Visa. This means it can afford to give you more cashback, but also means it's accepted less, especially by smaller businesses.

Best Buys Cashback cards linked to current accounts

Some cards require you to have the issuing bank or building society's current account to be eligible for the card. But it's usually not worth switching just to get the cashback on the credit cards – however, the two cards below are associated with some of our top-pick current accounts, so if you're switching anyway, see these cards as another perk on top.

TSB

TSB current account customers: Get up to £10 each month you spend £600+

TSB Platinum Purchase Card

Those with a TSB Classic Plus account – one of our top-pick interest-paying bank accounts – can also get the TSB Platinum Purchase credit card. It gives 1% cashback on spending each month up to a maximum £5 and you can get another 5% cashback for Apple or Android Pay payments, again up to £5 a month.

Need-to-knows
  • To qualify for cashback, you need to hold or switch to a TSB Classic Plus account.
  • You can earn cashback until 30 September 2017.
  • You need to spend £500 each month (excluding Apple/Android Pay payments) to get the full £5. If you spend less, you'll still get 1% of it as cashback.
  • You can get a further 5% cashback on Apple and Android Pay payments up to a maximum £100 spend (so a maximum £5), until 31 December 2016.
  • Ensure you pay off in full every month, or you'll be charged 18.9% representative APR which'll quickly wipe out any cashback gain. The easiest way to repay in full is to set up a direct debit.
ELIGIBILITY CHECK NOT AVAILABLE
APPLY
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Cashback: 1% on spending (max £5/mth); 5% on Apple/Android Pay (max £5/mth)
  • Paid out: Monthly
  • Max cashback/year: £120
  • Annual fee: None | Min spend: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
  • Min income: N/A
Nationwide

Nationwide customers: Earn 0.5% unlimited cashback

Nationwide Select*

If you already hold a Nationwide current account then you could also get Nationwide's Select* credit card which gives 0.5% cashback on all UK spending. But it's not worth getting the current account just for this card as the cashback is matched or beaten by other cards in this guide.

Need-to-knows
  • To qualify, you need to hold a Nationwide FlexAccount current account and pay £750 a month into it (and have done so for the last three months). Alternatively, you need to hold the Nationwide FlexDirect (no fee, pays interest) or FlexPlus (£10/month) current accounts.
  • The Nationwide FlexAccount comes with free UK and European travel insurance.
  • This card also gives fee-free spending abroad, meaning it's also a top-pick Travel Credit Card.
  • Ensure you pay off in full every month, or you'll be charged 15.9% representative APR which'll quickly wipe out any cashback gain. The easiest way to repay in full is to set up a direct debit.
Stats box
  • Cashback: 0.5% on all spending
  • Paid out: Annually, in December
  • Max cashback/year: Unlimited
  • Annual fee: None | Min spend: N/A | Card issuer: Visa
  • Rate: 15.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
  • Min income: £5,000

Best Buys 'Close to cashback' deals

Some reward credit cards and charge cards come close to cashback cards, especially those where you can spend points in huge stores that stock a wide range of goods. These are the best, where the returns get close to cashback cards.

If you prefer other schemes, such as collecting Clubcard, M&S, Avios or Nectar points, see our Credit Card Rewards and Airline Credit Cards guides for more information.

Amex Preferred Rewards Gold Card

Spend £2,000 and get £100 back in vouchers, fee waived in 1st year

Amex Gold*

This is a charge card, not a credit card. But if you're accepted for the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold* card, and spend £2,000 within the first three months, you'll get a bonus 20,000 rewards points, equal to £100 in vouchers.

Need-to-knows
  • Because it's a charge card, you HAVE to pay it off each month; there's no credit facility.
  • If you don't pay it off, you'll get a £12 late fee, and a missed payment on your credit report.
  • The card usually has a £140 annual fee, but for now is fee-free in the first year. To avoid paying £140, diarise to cancel before year two starts.
  • You earn two points per £1 spent directly with airlines or in a foreign currency and one point per £1 spent on day-to-day spending.
  • Points can take up to a month to hit your Amex account (though we've seen 'em applied on the day you hit the trigger spend).
  • As soon as the points are in your account, you can convert them into vouchers for Amazon, M&S, Homebase, House of Fraser, PC World and more, though retailers vary. Gift cards are sent by post (to be received within 10 working days) or instantly via email.
  • Alternatively, you can convert them to frequent-flyer or hotel-scheme points and add them to your current stash. Point transfers to other schemes can take up to 10 working days.
  • You can also now use your points to pay off purchases, effectively working as cashback. However, you receive slightly less than you'd get exchanging for vouchers; 1,000 points gives £4.50 'cashback' vs £5 in vouchers.
  • Your Membership Rewards points will be shown live on your card membership account homepage and on your paper statement.
  • Always carry a backup card, as Amex isn't accepted everywhere, especially in a lot of smaller retailers.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Cashback: Vouchers equivalent to up to 1% (plus 20,000 bonus points)
  • Paid out: Monthly
  • Max 'cashback'/year: Unlimited
  • Min spend: £2,000 for bonus | Card issuer: Amex
  • Annual fee: No fee in year one, but £140 from year two onwards
  • Min income: N/A
Key questions

What rewards can I get from this card? We've analysed how much you might get back from different levels of spending...

Annual overall spend £3,000 £5,000 £10,000 £20,000
Points earned, incl bonus 24,500 27,500 35,000 50,000
Converting to vouchers £100* £125* £175 £250
Assumes 50% of spending on air travel & abroad and 50% elsewhere
* = doesn't use the entire points total.

How can I further boost points? You get a 10,000 points bonus on the anniversary of taking out the card if you've spent more than £15,000, but remember if you keep the card into a second year, you'll pay the £140 annual fee.

You can also boost your points by getting a supplementary card (for a partner/friend), whose spending will then earn points. The first card is free, though any more will cost £45.

Plus, if you have a friend who has the card, get them to recommend you, and you and they get 2,000 bonus points.

ii

Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points, worth £50, with small-ish spending trigger

American Express*

Spend £1,000 on the Amex Rewards* credit card in the first three months and you'll get a bonus 10,000 points, worth £50 in vouchers at retailers such as Amazon and M&S.

Need-to-knows
  • You can't get this card if you've held another Amex Membership Rewards card within the past six months.
  • As well as the bonus, you'll earn one membership point per £1 spent on the card.
  • Points can take up to a month to hit your Amex account (though we've seen 'em applied on the day you hit the trigger spend).
  • This offer is only available through our link or at MoneySupermarket (we're part of the same group).
  • As soon as your points are in your account, you can convert them into retail vouchers, frequent flyer points, hotel schemes and more. For full options, see the Membership Rewards site.
  • Gift cards are sent by post (to be received within 10 working days) or instantly via email.
  • You can also now use your points to pay off purchases, effectively working as cashback. However, you receive slightly less than you'd get exchanging for vouchers; 1,000 points gives £4.50 'cashback' vs £5 in vouchers.
  • Your Membership Rewards points will be shown live on your card membership account homepage and your paper statement.
  • If you're having issues with this card you can contact Amex by phone on 0800 169 6767.
  • Always carry a backup card, as Amex isn't accepted everywhere, especially in a lot of smaller retailers.
  • Make sure you repay IN FULL every month or you'll pay 22.9% interest, which'll quickly wipe out the rewards gain. The easiest way to do this is setting up a direct debit to repay in full.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Cashback: Vouchers equivalent to up to 0.5% (plus 10,000 bonus points)
  • Paid out: Monthly
  • Max cashback/year: Unlimited
  • Annual fee: None | Min spend: £1,000 for bonus | Card issuer: Amex
  • Rate: 22.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
  • Min income: N/A
intu Credit Card

Up to £60 in Intu gift cards during the first year

MBNA Intu*

The MBNA Intu* card gives rewards in the form of gift vouchers for Intu shopping centres, so could be a good option if you live near one. You can get up to £60 in vouchers in the first year if you spend £5,000 on the card. But, after you've had the card for 12 months, you can only get £20 in vouchers in later years, so consider cancelling the card if better alternatives are available.

Need-to-knows
  • You earn a £20 Intu gift card if you spend £250 on the card within 90 days.
  • In the first year, you earn a further £20 when you spend £3,000 (including the initial £250) and another £20 when you spend £5,000.
  • After you've had the card 12 months, rewards drop in later years. You'll earn £10 when you spend £3,000 and another £10 when you spend £5,000.
  • You'll be emailed a code within 60 days of hitting a spending threshold, which you must redeem for a gift card with customer services at an Intu shopping centre within 90 days.
  • Gift cards can be spent at any of 15 Intu shopping centres and are valid for one year. Gift cards can be spent at any store that accepts Mastercard in an Intu mall.
  • The card also comes with 12 months' free Gourmet Society digital membership.
  • The card offers 12 months 0% on spending – though just because there's a 0% period, don't feel you need to use it. If you do use it, you'll pay 16.9% interest after the year's up, so make sure you clear the card balance by then, and then pay off in full each month afterwards.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Cashback: Vouchers worth £20 on £250, £40 on £3,000 and £60 on £5,000
  • Paid out: Code emailed within 60 days; code must be exchanged for gift card at an Intu shopping centre
  • Max cashback/year: £60 in yr one, £20/yr after
  • Annual fee: None | Min spend: £250 | Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Rate: 16.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
  • Min income: N/A

Cashback websites may also pay you for signing up

As an extra boon, members of specialist cashback websites can be paid when they sign up to some financial products. Do check it's exactly the same deal though, as terms can be different. And remember the cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account.

Full help to take advantage of this and pros and cons are in our Top Cashback Sites guide.