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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 eight 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?

  • Use our eligibility calculator before applying for a speedy check of which cards you're most likely to get – and protect your credit score

    Usually, the only way to know if you'll be accepted is to apply, but each application marks your credit file. But our cashback credit cards eligibility calculator quickly shows your odds of getting almost every top cashback credit card so you can find the ones most likely to accept you, thus minimising applications.

    Quick questions

    How does the eligibility calculator work?

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

  • Or join our Credit Club for a full credit health check, including free your Experian Credit Report, Affordability Score and Credit Hit Rate

    The new MSE Credit Club is a game-changer. For years the credit market has been shrouded in mystery but our revolutionary tool brings together the key components to give you the full picture, and crucially, what it means for your acceptance chances and how to boost your creditworthiness.

    A credit score alone isn't enough to borrow, as there are other factors at play (it's why many with perfect scores still get rejected). Credit Club shows you...

    1. Free Experian Credit Report - your credit accounts & how you've managed them.
    2. Free Experian Credit Score - how lenders rate your past credit behaviour.
    3. MSE Affordability Score - how lenders assess if you can afford a product.
    4. Your Credit Hit Rate -
    how likely you actually are to be accepted when you apply.
    5. Credit Card & Loan Eligibility Calcs
    - what your odds are of getting specific top deals.
    6. How to improve your credit profile - we show where your profile's strong and weak, & how to improve it.

  • 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 Best cashback cards

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.

American Express logo

Top pick as highest payer, paying up to 5%, but not accepted everywhere

Amex Platinum Everyday*

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

Spend over £9,000 on it a year? In that case, try the Amex Platinum (eligibility calc / apply*). It has a £25 annual fee, but gives the intro 5% rate on up to £2,500 of spending (so max £125) and then tiers up to 1.25% in cashback and so is a winner for bigger spenders. However, these cards are both issued by Amex, so aren't as widely accepted as the Aqua Reward Mastercard below.

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.
  • The Amex Platinum card has a 28.2% representative APR incl its £25 fee – spending is charged at 22.9% (see Official APR Example), so – again – ensure you pay it off in full each month.
  • 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, 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

Easier-to-get card but only offers 0.5% cashback – much lower than the above

Aqua Reward*

The Aqua Reward* is one of few cards that allows people with a patchy or limited credit history to apply for it and offer cashback on top. While it does pay a lower cashback rate than some other cards in this guide, for people with less than sterling credit scores, it could be a winner. It's also a Mastercard – meaning it's more widely accepted, especially in smaller retailers.

As a bonus, 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 34.9% 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: 34.9% 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

Asda or Amazon shopper? Get up to 1% in 'cashback'

All these cards are 'close to cashback' as they give at least 0.5% back in vouchers, and boost this for spending in their stores, so if you use them a lot they can be winners as they'll get you money off future spending in that store.

  • Asda – up to 1% back + £20 bonus.
    The Asda Money card (apply) gives 1% 'cashback' on shopping at Asda (including online and fuel), and 0.5% back everywhere else. Plus, if you apply via this link by 30 April and spend £60 at Asda in one transaction before 31st May, you'll receive £20 extra 'cashback'. We call it 'cashback' as it can only be redeemed as vouchers which you need to spend at Asda.

    Once you've accrued £2.50 worth of 'cashback' you can go online and convert it into an Asda voucher. If you don't repay IN FULL each month, you'll be charged interest at 19.9% representative APR (Official APR Example).

  • Amazon – up to 0.75% back + £10 bonus.
    The Amazon Platinum (apply) card gives 1.5 in Amazon Reward Points for every £2 spent at Amazon and 1 point for every £2 spent elsewhere – equivalent to 0.75% back on Amazon spends and 0.5% on everything else. Plus, accepted applicants will automatically receive a £10 Amazon gift card straightaway.

    Rewards are converted into a £10 gift card which is added to your Amazon account every time you get to 1,000 points. Make sure you repay IN FULL every month or you'll pay 21.9% representative APR interest (Official APR Examples).

Other cashback cards that may win

The ones above are the best cashback or close-to-cashback cards. But, if you've not found the right card for you, one of the below may fit the bill:

  • Amex Gold – 5% intro 'cashback', 0.5% after. Get voucher worth £100 & no fee in 1st year. This is a charge card, NOT a credit card. But if you're accepted for the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold card (eligibility calc / apply*) and spend £2,000 within the first three months, you'll get a bonus 20,000 rewards points, equal to £100 in vouchers or a cashback rate of 5%. However, after it drops to 0.5% as you'll earn 1 point for every £1 spent (and two points per £1 spent directly with airlines or in a foreign currency).

    You can convert points into vouchers for a selection of retailers (incl Amazon and M&S), frequent-flyer or hotel-scheme points (point transfers to other schemes can take up to 10 working days), or you can use your points to pay off purchases. However, you receive slightly less; 1,000 points gives £4.50 'cashback' vs £5 in vouchers. For full options, see the Membership Rewards site.

    Plus you'll get membership for the Lounge Club scheme. It gets you two free visits at its affiliated lounges (see which lounges you can use) which you can use for yourself or a guest.

    Because it's a charge card, you HAVE to pay it off each month; there's no credit facility (if you don't it's a £12 late fee and a credit report black mark). And be aware that it comes with a hefty £140/yr fee, which is waived in the first year, so MAKE SURE you diarise to cancel the card before year two if you don't want to pay it.

  • Amex Rewards – 5% intro cashback, 0.5% after. Decent pick for low spenders, get voucher worth £50 & no fee. The Amex Rewards Credit card (eligibility calc / apply*) is a better option than the Amex Gold for lower spenders. Hit a £1,000 spending trigger it in the first three months and you'll get a bonus 10,000 points, worth £50 in vouchers. As well as the bonus, you'll earn one membership point per £1 spent on the card.

    You can convert points into vouchers for a selection of retailers (incl Amazon and M&S), frequent-flyer or hotel-scheme points (point transfers to other schemes can take up to 10 working days), or you can use your points to pay off purchases. However, you receive slightly less; 1,000 points gives £4.50 'cashback' vs £5 in vouchers. For full options, see the Membership Rewards site.

    Make sure you repay IN FULL every month or you'll pay 22.9% representative APR (Official APR Examples), which'll quickly wipe out the rewards gain.

  • Nationwide – 0.5% cashback. Only available for Nationwide current account holders. Unlimited cashback. The Nationwide Select credit card (eligibility calc / apply*) gives unlimited 0.5% cashback on all UK spending and gives no exchange fees on overseas transactions, meaning it's also a top-pick Travel Credit Card. You'll need income of at least £5,000/yr to be eligible for it.

    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.

  • Intu – up to 8% back in year 1, up to 0.4% after. OK card for low spenders. The Intu credit card (apply) from MBNA gives rewards of gift vouchers for Intu shopping centres, such as the Lakeside in Essex and the Trafford Centre in Manchester.

    You earn £20 if you spend £250 on the card within three months (that's 8% cashback), then a further £20 when you spend £3,000 and a final £20 if you spend £5,000 (equating to 1.2% cashback if you spend £5k). However, you can only convert the rewards into Intu shopping vouchers so if you don't live near one of the 15 Intu's shopping centres it's probably not worth considering.

    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.

    Sadly, cashback plummets after the first year as you can only get £20 in vouchers in later years. There's a year's 0% on spending, but after that you'll pay 16.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples), so make sure you clear the card balance by then, and then pay off in full each month afterwards.

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

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.

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