Cashback Credit Cards

5% cashback for first 3 months

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, while there are also some good fee-free, near-cash reward cards. We analyse the pros and cons of all.

How do cashback credit cards work?

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.

Use our eligibility calculator to find cards you're most likely to get, without hitting your credit score

Making an application is recorded on your credit file. While a single one is not a big problem, especially if you've a good credit score, lots in a short time are problematic.

So use our Cashback Credit Cards Eligibility Calculator to show cards you're most likely to get, so you don't waste an application. And it's NOT recorded as a hard search on your credit file.

Rather watch than read? 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...

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The seven need-to-knows

Before considering a cashback credit card, ensure you read the seven need-to-knows below.

  • 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. Just make sure you stay within the credit limit or you'll pay charges.

  • Once you set up a credit card, every time you use it you get paid. While this isn't an excuse to spend more, 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

  • 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).

  • 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% Credit Cards for Spending 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 as you'll often be charged a fee and interest, even if you pay the card off in full.

  • 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 balance transfer card so you can find the ones most likely to accept you before applying, thus minimising applications.

    How does the eligibility calculator work?

    It uses a 'soft search', which is one you will see on your credit file but lenders usually don't (and where they do they can't use the info), to give us an indication of your credit score. We then match this against lenders' criteria for acceptance so we can show you the odds of getting each card.

    Once you have this knowledge, it will allow you to make a smarter application. Say you have a much better chance of getting a card that's just one month shorter at 0%, you may want to go for that. Therefore, you're less likely to be rejected and less likely to need to apply elsewhere, which would add another mark on your credit file.

    Or join our Credit Club for a full credit health check

    The 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 your Free Experian Credit Report and Credit Score, your Affordability Score, your Credit Hit Rate and much more.

  • Multiple applications on your credit file can damage your chances of getting future credit so you need to weigh up whether getting one now 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.

  • 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.

Top 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.

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

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

Need-to-knows
  • You earn 5% for first three months (max £2,000 spend), then 0.5% cashback on up to £5,000/year & 1% above this.
  • You need to spend at least £3,000 in the year to receive any cashback.
  • It's an Amex, so it's not as widely accepted as Mastercard or Visa (especially in some smaller retailers)
  • Repay in full EVERY month to avoid the 22.9% representative APR as interest will quickly wipe away the cashback gains.

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. Repay IN FULL or it's 28.2% rep APR (incl fee).

Representative variable rate: 22.9% APR (Official APR Example)
Cashback: 5% in first three months (max £100), then up to 1% after
Annual fee: None
Min income: N/A
Max cashback/year: None
Cashback expiry: N/A

See how likely it is you'll get this card

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Best non-Amex card with 0.5% cashback

The Tandem* credit card pays 0.5% cashback on purchases. It's also a Mastercard – meaning it's more widely accepted, especially in smaller retailers.

Plus, there's no limit to the amount of cashback you can earn on it – though you'll still have to be mindful of your credit limit.

Need-to-knows
  • To apply for the card you'll need to have three years' address history in the UK.
  • Credit limits are between £1,200 and £12,000.
  • 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.
Cashback: 0.5%
Paid out: Monthly (on each statement date)
Max cashback/year: N/A
Annual fee: None |  Min spend: N/A |  Card issuer: Mastercard
Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see  Official APR Example)
Min income: £13,000
ANNUAL OVERALL SPEND £3,000 £5,000 £10,000 £20,000
        Yearly cashback £15 £25 £50 £100

See how likely it is you'll get this card

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Easier-to-get card paying 0.5% cashback, but it's capped

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 (max £100). 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.

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 4.9% representative APR which'll quickly wipe out any cashback gain. The easiest way to repay in full is to set up a direct debit.

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

 

  • 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

See how likely it is you'll get this card

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Top supermarket and stores' loyalty cards

Some cards give boosted rewards, vouchers or cash for certain retailers or when spending in a particular store. They can be useful if you're a creature of habit, and like to do your weekly shop at the same place every week.

If you shop at Sainsbury's and have a Nectar card then the Nectar Dual* credit card gives you a boost on the Nectar points you earn when shopping there. Plus, you'll get 750 bonus Nectar points worth £3.75 each time you spend £35+ in Sainsbury's in the first two months (max 7,500 points, worth £37.50). Doing a big shop? Split it into smaller £35 chunks to max the bonus.

On top of this, there's also a decent up to 29 months 0% on spending, though poorer credit scorers could be offered 26 or 23 months. Only use this if you're disciplined and can fully repay at the end of the 0% period.

Need-to-knows
  • You can also shop online at Sainsbury's to trigger the points bonuses, but buying anything (incl fuel) at Sainsbury's petrol stations doesn't count.
  • As well as the bonus, you get two Nectar points for every £1 you spend in Sainsbury's, or one Nectar point for every £5 elsewhere.
  • Usually one Nectar point is worth 0.5p and you can spend them on anything in the Nectar range (see Loyalty Schemes for ways to max 'em).
  • The bonus points will be added to your Nectar account within 60 days of the end of your two-month period.
  • After the 0% period ends, you'll be charged 19.9% representative APR if you don't pay the card off in full at the end of each month.

Representative variable rate: 19.9% APR (Official APR Example)
Annual fee: None
Reward scheme: Nectar points
Value of one point: 0.5p
Points' expiry: None unless account is closed
Points per £100: Up to 200

See how likely it is you'll get this card

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Apply*

Get a £25 M&S vch, plus earn pts for spending, equiv to 2% in first year

Accepted new M&S Bank* cardholders can get a free £25 to spend in its stores on almost anything (incl clothes and food) if you follow the steps below. It's split into two parts...

£20 in M&S pts. Awarded the first time you use the card anywhere for any amount within 90 days.
Plus extra £5 M&S vch. You're sent a coupon with the card. Just swipe it or use online with your card to buy most things at M&S for any amount and you get another £5 of points.

Just ensure you never withdraw cash (it's expensive) and repay the card IN FULL each month to avoid the 19.9% rep APR interest, and as long as you'd do the spending anyway it won't cost a penny.

Need-to-knows
  • Points-related vouchers are credited to your account within 30 days of your first purchase and will be sent in your next available quarterly reward mailing.
  • You cannot get the card if you're an existing M&S Credit Card holder or if you've held a credit card with M&S Bank within the past 12 months.
  • There's a six-month 0% period on spending with the card, a nice bonus, but don't feel you need to use it. If 0% spending is what you're looking for, see our 0% spending guide.
  • Outside of the six-month 0% period, you'll pay 19.9% rep APR.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
Representative variable rate: 19.9% APR ( Official APR Example)
Annual fee: None
Reward scheme: M&S points
Value of one point: 1p
Points' expiry: Points last two years
Points per £100: 200 in M&S (first year); 20 elsewhere

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Get a £30 vch to spend at John Lewis or Waitrose

The Partnership* credit card gives 3,000 bonus points – worth £30 to spend at John Lewis or Waitrose – if you apply by 31 Jan 2019 and spend £250 at either store within 90 days. 

While it's a good offer if you'd spend £250 at these stores anyway, don't use the £30 bonus as an excuse to spend more than you usually would.

Representative APR (variable): 18.9% APR (Official APR Examples)
Important: Repay IN FULL every month to avoid interest
Annual fee: None 
Value of one point: 1p
Points' expiry: Two years
Points earned: One per £1 spent in John Lewis/Waitrose, one per £2 elsewhere

  • Points are redeemed automatically as John Lewis/Waitrose gift vouchers in February, June and October (as long as you've at least 500 points).

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Don't shop at any of the stores above? More reward cards

If you don't shop at any of the supermarkets or stores above, here are some quick details of other cards to consider.

CARD (APR†) BONUS POINTS PER £100 VALUE OF ONE POINT ELIGIBILITY CALCULATOR
Amazon (21.9%) £20 Amazon gift card straightaway 75 at Amazon; 50 elsewhere 1p -
Tesco (18.9%) 1,000 Clubcard points
25 at Tesco; 12 elsewhere
1 - 3p. (See how to boost points). -
Asda (19.9%)  N/A 1% 'cashback' at Asda, 0.2% elsewhere (1) N/A -

Representative variable APR, your interest may be different. (1) You don't get points, just 'cashback' which can only be redeemed as vouchers to spend at Asda.

Top 'close to cashback' deals

Some reward cards give you points on all of your spending. These can come close to cashback cards as they offer the ability to spend points earned in a wide variety of places.

Get £100 M&S/Amzn vch or 20,000 Avios for £2,000 spend in first 3 mths + 2 free airport lounge passes

If you're accepted for the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold* credit card, and spend £2,000 within the first three months, you'll get a bonus 20,000 reward points, equal to £100 in high street vouchers or 20,000 airline frequent flyer points (see need-to-knows below).

Plus you get two free visits at affiliated airport lounges (see the lounges you can use) which you can use for yourself twice, or yourself and one guest. See more Free or Cheap Airport Lounge Access tips.

Need-to-knows
  • The card usually has a £140 annual fee, but for now is fee-free in the first year. To avoid paying £140, remember to cancel before year two starts.
  • You earn one point per £1 on day-to-day spending and two points per £1 spent directly with airlines or in a foreign currency.
  • You can convert points into vouchers for Amazon, M&S and more.
  • Alternatively, you can convert them to frequent flyer or hotel scheme points and add them to your current stash (transfers can take up to five working days).
  • It's an Amex, so it's not as widely accepted as Mastercard or Visa (especially in some 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 is to set up a direct debit.
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
Rate: 57.6% representative APR (incl fee, 22.9% interest on purchases;  Official APR Example)
Min income: N/A
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 and abroad and 50% elsewhere
* = doesn't use the entire points total
  • You get a 10,000-point 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 provided free, though any more will cost £45.

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

  • Yes, but you'll receive slightly less than you'd get exchanging for vouchers; 1,000 points gives £4.50 'cashback' vs £5 in vouchers - so it's not the best use of them.

  • Yes - additional guests or visits cost £15 charged to your Amex.

  • Gift cards are sent by post (within 10 working days) or email.

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Get £50 M&S/Amzn vch or 10,000 Avios for normal spending – and alternative to the Amex above for lower spenders

If you won't hit the spending trigger on the above card, or you want a card that's fee free all the time, this could suit you better. Spend £1,000 on the Amex Rewards* credit card in the first three months and you'll get 10,000 bonus points. You can convert these into £50-worth of vouchers at retailers such as Amazon and M&S.

Need-to-knows
  • You won't receive the bonus if you already have or previously held an 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.
  • You can convert points into retail vouchers, frequent flyer points, hotel schemes and more. For full options see the Membership Rewards site.
  • It's an Amex, so it's not as widely accepted as Mastercard or Visa (especially in some 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 to set up a direct debit to repay in full.
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 ( Official APR Example)
Min income: N/A

See how likely it is you'll get this card

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Get 20,000 Nectar points, worth £100, for normal spending, plus ongoing cashback 

Spend £2,000 on the Amex Nectar* card within three months, and you'll get 20,000 bonus Nectar points. These are worth at least £100 and can be spent at Nectar retailers such as at Sainsbury's.

Just do your normal spending on it to get the bonus, and remember to cancel after one year if you want to avoid the £25 annual fee that kicks in from year two.

Need-to-knows
  • As well as the bonus, you'll earn two Nectar points per £1 spent on the card (plus your usual Nectar points).
  • Usually one Nectar point is worth 0.5p, but some retailers give 1p per point, making this freebie worth £300 at theme parks etc (see Loyalty Schemes for ways to max these).
  • You can't get the bonus if you've had the Amex Nectar card in the last six months.
  • It's an Amex, so it's not as widely accepted as Mastercard or Visa (especially in some 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.
Representative variable rate: 28.2% APR ( Official APR Example)
Annual fee: £25 (waived in year 1)
Reward scheme: Nectar points
Value of one point: 0.5p (1p at some retailers)
Points' expiry: One year if you don't collect or spend any points
Points per £100: 200

See how likely it is you'll get this card

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Or just go straight to the lender

Apply*

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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