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Credit Card Perks

Protection, freebies & more

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Alana and Liane | Edited by Martin

Updated August 2016

Credit card perks

Tired of paying for the privilege of credit? Play your cards right and your credit card will pay you.

You could get extra ID fraud protection, extended warranty, cashback and cheap holiday spending. If you're eligible for credit, see what else you could get too.

Play your cards right and your credit card will pay you. You could get extra ID fraud protection, extended warranty, cashback and cheap holiday spending. If you're eligible for credit, see what else you could get too.

Don't confuse credit cards with debt

This guide will take you through the top tips for using your credit card, while maximising the perks. It's simply a way to pay for goods, with an optional borrowing facility. And it's this optional extra that's the problem, not the credit card itself.

So for those susceptible to plastic temptation, or already struggling, steering well clear is the correct cautious approach.

Use the Best Balance Transfers or Credit Cards for Bad Credit guides to find out how to cut existing cards' costs. There's also the Credit Card Shuffle guide for how to do it without getting new credit.

Though you must remember the golden rule...

Always set up a direct debit to repay the balance in full each month, otherwise the interest will outweigh the benefits.

Follow the strict recipe and plastic can bring fantastic results. Here are the top tips

Get return flights for spending (but pay taxes)

The Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards account gives you two cards (an Amex and a Mastercard). New cardholders get double points on the Amex card for the first six months - that's 2.5 per £1 spent.

It's the cheapest way to spend abroad

Spend on the RIGHT credit card, and it's cheaper than even the best bureau de change. Spend overseas on a normal credit card and you'll be charged a 3% 'load' - so spend £100-worth of euros, and it'll cost £103. But a few specialist cards don't charge this - and our top pick is the Halifax Clarity.

Get protection if the company you buy from goes bust

Credit card spending protection Buy something costing £100+ on a credit (NOT debit) card, and under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, your lender is jointly liable with the retailer.

Purchase protection

Many credit cards offer a purchase protection system, meaning if you buy goods on the card and it is lost or stolen within a set time – usually about 90 days – you can get the money back from the credit card company.

Use it to boost your credit score

Those with poor credit histories can boost them by using a credit card to demonstrate repayment responsibility.

Free ID fraud protection

Get free identity fraud protection Aqua credit card customers who hold the Aqua Classic*, Aqua Advance*, or Aqua Reward* also get automatic ID fraud protection from Noddle (worth £80 a year). These cards are designed for people with a poor credit history, with an APR to reflect that (representative APRs are up to 34.9% for the cards).

Use it to get loans cheaper than the cheapest loans

So you need a loan – what's the cheapest way? A credit card. Weirdly, the cheapest credit cards are cheaper than many loans, especially for smaller amounts (borrow less than £2,000 and you pay 7.7%). The difficulty is replicating the ‘ready cash' function of a loan.

Get paid to spend on ‘em

Far too many people who have credit cards repay them in full and think they're doing well, as it doesn't cost them. WRONG. Some credit cards pay you cash each time you spend on them.

Get paid to use your credit card

Think before adding the 'insurance'

Beware mis-sold PPI

Payment protection insurance is commonly sold with credit cards - the idea is it'll make some payments for you, usually for a year, if you are unable to (eg, if you lose your job).

The impact on your credit score

To bag every benefit possible, you'd need enough plastic to do facial reconstruction on a Hollywood star. Yet it's important to be careful and think about the impact on your credit score.

Great if you're locked out…

Here's one more tip for free. We've never had the knack, but we're told you can squeeze a card through the gap in your door to trip your lock and let yourself in. Of course, be careful - it could just mean you're posting your credit card through your door.