Top reward and cashback cards
We take you through the best credit cards that reward your shopping habits...
I've had an American Express Platinum Cashback credit card for a while now.
Owning one has served me well. In my first year, I managed to earn £140 in cashback, and this year, I managed to rack up £25.
But it doesn't take a genius to work out £25 isn't as good as £140, and I've started to look for alternatives.
During the first three months when Amex Platinum offered a generous 5% on all purchases, I paid for everything on my card, from my travel season ticket to a pint of milk at the supermarket.
This heavy spending at the beginning allowed me to take advantage of the higher rate of cashback, and I reaped the rewards.
Now, as my third year approaches, the news that old Amex Platinum customers like me need to spend £4,250 every year just to qualify for cashback at all is starting to put me off.
After all, £4,250 is a lot of pints of milk.
Here's a quick look at the cashback cards on offer:
|Card and provider||APR (typical)||Cashback offered||Other|
|American Express Platinum Cashback||19.9%||5% for first three months (up to £100), then 0.5% on the first £3,500 of spend, 1% from £3,501 to £7,500, and 1.25% from £7,501 upwards.||Minimum income £30,000. No cashback paid for new customers if less than £3,000 is spent in one year. No cashback for existing customers (before August) if less than £4,250 is spent.|
|Egg Money||17.8%||1% cashback||£1 per month fee. No cashback paid on amounts less than £5
|Bank of Ireland Moneyback Gold||17.9%||0.5% cashback||Maximum cashback £75.
There are three big players in the cashback market: Amex, Egg and Bank of Ireland, which offer very different deals.
But some points are worth re-stressing. The rules have changed for existing and new Amex customers, so it's important to know where you stand.
If you got your card before mid-August last year, after your first anniversary, you'll need to spend £4,250 a year - that's an average of £350 a month - in order to qualify for any cashback at all.
With Egg, the catches are slightly different. As an Egg Money MasterCard holder, you have to spend a minimum of £500 each year in order to qualify for any cashback, and a minimum of £1,200 each year to break even with the £1 fee.
However, unless you spend around £1,000 a month or more Egg is still better than the American Express card outside the promotional period, not to mention it is accepted in more places.
A richer reward?
If you're looking for something different, you might want to consider a reward card instead. But with so many cards on offer, finding the right reward card can quickly become a needle and haystack dilemma.
Take Amex's new offering, the American Express Rewards Credit Card, which gives you up to three points for every £1 spent at major UK supermarkets, two points for every £1 at UK department stores and one point for every £1 spent elsewhere.
You’ll also receive 6,000 bonus points (worth £30) when you spend £500 in the first three months, and can redeem these points at popular retailers like Amazon, Boots and Marks and Spencer.
Jane Baker's thorough review put the card through its paces, and she found that you could earn up to £200 while you shop with the card. However, she also found that if you used Amex's cashback card, you'd earn £279.
One of my favourite reward cards is the Airmiles Duo credit card from Lloyds TSB. Unlike most air miles credit cards, Airmiles does not charge taxes, fees and charges on top of miles you redeem.
With taxes and fees making up the bulk of the most of today's airfares, this can make a significant difference to the savings you'll make. Plus, if you don't have enough miles, you can top them up with cash.
Airmiles is offering a free 1,500 Airmiles voucher if you take out a card through the Airmiles website by January 31 and spend at least £10 by March 31. This is enough for two return flights to Paris or Amsterdam.
Another rewards credit card I like is the Amex Nectar card. The card offers two points for every pound spent at Nectar partners, and one point for every pound spent elsewhere. In addition, you get double points for the first three months
But that's not all. Nectar are now giving away points faster than the Bank of England is printing money, and it couldn't be a better time to cash in.
Now, every month you spend £500 or more on the Nectar credit card, you'll get 500 Nectar points on top of what you've already earned.
You can also earn more points at Nectar eStores, an online portal that works in the same way as cashback sites, except instead of pounds, you get paid in points. It's a good alternative to cashback if you shop regularly at Nectar partners, and the rewards can quickly stack up.
Find the most rewarding credit card for you