Compare the best cashback and reward credit cards

11 min Read Published: 04 Mar 2024

5 things to check on any 0% balance transfer credit card offerA cashback or reward credit card enables you to earn cashback or rewards as you spend. Every time you make a purchase on the card, you can earn rewards or cashback, or both. On this page you can find the key information you need to know about this type of credit card, as well as the very best offers currently available in the UK.

What is a cashback and rewards credit card and how does it work?

The rewards points or cash you earn on your credit card are generally paid as credit on your card balance or issued as vouchers. This can be done either monthly or annually.

Ideally, you would treat a reward or cashback credit card in the same way as you would a debit card, using it to purchase essentials, as well as your usual discretionary monthly spend. It's vital to make sure you pay off the balance in full each month to avoid paying interest on your spending, which could easily wipe out the rewards you earn.

If you're looking for a card to make new purchases (outside of your usual monthly spending), read our article 'Compare the best 0% purchase credit cards'. Alternatively, if you want to see our pick of the best of credit cards in the market, read 'Best credit cards in the UK'.

Find out which credit card is best for you

Comparing different credit cards is a key part of getting the best deal for you. Money to the Masses has helped to simplify this process by partnering with Creditec*, an online comparison service. You do not need to trawl through countless different provider websites hunting for the best cashback or lowest fees, as Creditec’s personalised search results will show you the key details you need to know in one place. Your tailored list will also feature the cards that you are more likely to be accepted for, cutting down the chance of any applications you make being rejected. Your search results are built using a soft credit search, so there will be no damage to your credit score. You can start your search by clicking this link*.

 

Compare credit card deals

We’ve teamed up with Creditec

  • Find out what credit cards you are eligible for
  • This will not affect your credit rating
  • 26.5% APR Representative (variable)

Compare Credit Cards*

Which are the best cashback credit cards - March 2024

Having fully assessed the current market, here are our top-3 cashback credit card picks, based on the cashback rate, fees, APR and other perks and benefits:

Card name  Representative APR Annual fee  Cashback rate Cashback on annual spend of £5,000 in the first year Check your eligibility before you apply?
 

American Express Cashback Everyday Credit Card

31.0% variable £0 5% (up to £100) in the first three months.

5% cashback on purchases (up to £125) for the first five months of Cardmembership. You must apply for the card between by 9 April 2024 to receive the offer.

Cashback rate falls to 0.5% after the five months ends, then rises to 1% once you spend £10,000.

£81.25 (if you spent an equal amount every month) Yes - Check eligibility*
Santander Edge Credit Card¹ 29.8% variable £36 (£3 per month) 2% cashback (up to £15 a month) on all purchases for the first year. Ongoing rate of 1% cashback (up to £15 a month) after the first year. £100 (if you spent an equal amount every month) No
 

American Express Cashback Credit Card

36.7% variable £25 5% (up to £125) in the first three months.

Ongoing rate of 0.75% up to £10,000 per year, 1.25% over £10,000.

You'll need to spend a minimum of £3,000 per year in order to qualify for the cashback.

£90.62 (if you spent an equal amount every month) Yes - Check eligibility*
Santander All in One Credit Card 29.8% variable £36 (£3 per month) 0.5% (The maximum cashback you can earn each month will be £10) £25 Yes - Check eligibility*

¹Only available to Santander current account customers

Amex Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card American Express Cashback Everyday Credit Card - Check eligibility*

While American Express is the undisputed champion of both cashback and reward credit cards, offering the highest reward rates on the market, this card stands out because it doesn't levy an annual fee, unlike many other cards in the Amex range. It has a high initial cashback rate for the first five months, but continues to offer a market-beating rate after that.

There is no limit on the amount of cashback you can earn in a year and there is also the additional bonus of travel accident insurance and Global Assist, which provides round-the-clock support if you need help when you are abroad. American Express Experiences also gives cardholders priority access to concerts and other live events. You'll need to spend a minimum of £3,000 on the card per year in order to qualify for cashback.

For details on other American Express cards, read 'Which is the best American Express credit card?'.


Santander Edge Credit Card Santander Edge Credit Card

Though only available to Santander current account customers, the Edge credit card currently offers the most consistently high level of cashback in the UK. The headline rate of 2% for the first year, falling to 1% in the second year, is below the starting rate of its Amex competitors, but things even out over the course of a year.

There is a monthly fee of £3 to pay, which will eat into the value of the card. There is also a £15 per month cap on the cashback, which equates to £180 per year. You would need to be spending £750 per month in the first year and £375 per month in the second year to hit the cashback cap.


Amex Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card American Express Cashback Credit Card - Check eligibility*

Those likely to spend £10,000 or more per year on a cashback credit card are likely to benefit from the higher cashback rewards offered on this American Express credit card. The card pays 0.75% cashback on up to £10,000 spending per year and 1.25% cashback on spending over £10,000.

There is no limit on the amount of cashback you can earn in a year and there is also the additional bonus of travel accident insurance and Global Assist, which provides round-the-clock support if you need help when you are abroad. American Express Experiences also gives cardholders priority access to concerts and other live events. You'll need to spend a minimum of £3,000 on the card per year in order to qualify for cashback. This card charges a £25 annual fee.

For details on other American Express cards, read 'Which is the best American Express credit card?'.


Santander All in One credit card Santander All in One Credit Card - Check eligibility*

The Santander All in One card often appears on best credit card round-ups because of the fact it offers 15 months interest-free on balance transfers and 15 months on purchases. However, it is also worth considering if you are looking to earn cashback as it provides a good standard rate, as well as the potential to earn extra cashback with selected retailers. On top of that, it also has no foreign transaction fees on purchases in local currency for those travelling abroad.

The downside with this card is it does attract a £36 annual fee and from 30 January 2024, the maximum cashback you can earn each month will be £10. However, if you are planning to make use of the balance transfer deal, the fact there is no balance-transfer fee, coupled with the savings you will make by moving over any existing debt, soon justifies the cost of having the card.

You can read our full review of the Santander All in One credit card here.  

Which are the best reward credit cards - March 2024

If you are looking to just earn air miles through your rewards credit card, check out our 'Which are the best air miles credit cards – and should I get one?' page.

Here are our top 3 rewards cards offering a range of different points:

Card name  APR Annual fee Rewards rate  What is reward worth? Check your eligibility before you apply?
 

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

88.8% £195 (£0 in first year) 1 point for every £1 spent, 2 points for airline and foreign currency purchases.

Earn 25,000 points when you spend £3,000 in 3 months and 5,000 points when you spend anything in month 15

1 point = 0.5p for shopping vouchers

1 point = 1 Avios

Air miles/hotel point values vary

Yes - Check eligibility*
 

John Lewis Partnership Credit Card

27.9% £0 5 points for every £4 spent at John Lewis and Waitrose and 1 point for every £4 spent elsewhere

Get £40 in vouchers to use in John Lewis and Waitrose if you are a new customer and open a Partnership Credit Card in store or on the John Lewis website by 8 January 2024, then spend a minimum of £250 on eligible purchases at John Lewis and Waitrose within 90 days

500 points = a £5 voucher Yes - Check eligibility
 

HSBC Rewards

23.9% £0 1 point for every £5 spent on your card

Get 2,500 welcome points worth £25 when you make your first transaction on the card

100 points = £1 No

 

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card American Express Preferred Rewards Gold - Check eligibility*

As previously stated, there are a range of very attractive rewards and cashback cards from American Express, as detailed in our round-up of the best American Express cards. However, this card stands out because of the sheer flexibility of how you can "spend" you rewards points. This includes using the points with 12 airline loyalty programmes, including British Airways Executive Club, Emirates Skywards and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. You can also opt to pay with your rewards points with selected retailers, including Amazon and Ticketmaster. Added to that, you get two complimentary airport lounge visits per year, as well as getting £5 back on Deliveroo orders twice per month.

However, the card does have a relatively high annual fee after the first year and you will have to spend a minimum of £3,000 in the first three months to unlock the 25,000 Membership Points bonus.


John Lewis Partnership Credit Card  John Lewis Partnership Credit Card - Check eligibility

The John Lewis Partnership card offers 5 points for every £4 spent on eligible purchases at John Lewis and Waitrose and 1 point for every £4 spent elsewhere. Once your earn 500 points, you will be sent a £5 voucher. On top of the rewards, you can benefit from 0% interest on all your purchases for the first six months.


HSBC Rewards credit card HSBC Rewards

The HSBC Rewards card is appealing not only because of the potential it offers to earn rewards over the long term, but also the attractive sign-up bonus it has, as well as giving a further bonus if you spend £10,000 or more on the card over a year. There is also a great deal of flexibility in how you can use the rewards, with the Pay with Rewards allowing you to redeem your points against any purchases you make on the card. Additionally, you can pay 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for up to 6 months.

Compare credit card deals

We’ve teamed up with Creditec

  • Find out what credit cards you are eligible for
  • This will not affect your credit rating
  • 26.5% APR Representative (variable)

Compare Credit Cards*

How to make the most of your cashback or reward credit card

When you are considering which is the best cashback or reward credit card for you, you will need to weigh up the features it offers, including:

Reward/cashback deal

You need to choose a card that fits in with your normal spending habits to make the most of the rewards or cashback it offers. For example, if there is a minimum annual spend required, you need to assess whether it is realistic you are going to meet it. In addition, you need to balance any initial introductory offer with the long-term benefits it offers - while 3% cashback for 3 months may seem attractive, it is not as good as 1% cashback for 12 months.

As previously mentioned, you should also compare the relative value of the reward on offer, as well as making sure you are going to make maximum use out of the card.

Annual fee

The most competitive cards in the market with the highest cashback or rewards can often have a high annual fee. You need to assess how much you are likely to earn on the card in cashback or rewards and see if it justifies paying the fee. At the same time, there are a number of fee-free options that still offer good levels of rewards, so if you are not sure how much you are likely to use the card and don't want to risk having to pay out a high annual fee, this may be a better option for you.

Interest rate

The representative APR on cashback and reward credit cards tends to be higher than for other types of cards. The best way to avoid this being an issue is to ensure you pay off the full balance each month as this means you won't have to pay any interest at all. It is wise, however, to take into account the APR on the card you choose just in case you do end up carrying over some of the balance because of an unexpected change in circumstances later down the line.

Additional perks

As well as the reward or cashback on offer, these cards can sometimes provide other benefits, including discounted tickets to live events, free travel insurance, no foreign usage fees or airport lounge access. Again, it is necessary to work out whether you are likely to make full use of these perks and how they fit in with the other features of the card. Depending on how you use it, it may be better to have a higher overall cashback rate, for example, rather than the ability to access exclusive tickets to concerts and shows.

Things to consider before getting a cashback or reward credit card

Always consider your financial circumstances before applying for any credit card. Getting caught up in the excitement of cashback deals and rewards can sometimes cloud your judgement and leave you struggling to clear the credit card balance, especially as cashback credit cards tend to charge higher interest than other cards.

It is absolutely vital that you clear the outstanding debt each month to ensure you use the card to its full potential. The advertised cashback rewards and bonuses are often subject to your own personal circumstances and so be prepared to either be rejected or offered alternative terms if your finances are not in good shape.

All applications are subject to credit checks so make sure you know your chances of being accepted before you apply. Most companies will allow you to check your eligibility before you apply, resulting in a 'soft search' that doesn't impact your credit score.

Pros and cons of a cashback and reward credit card

Pros of a cashback and reward credit card

  • You can earn rewards or cashback on the normal spending you would be doing anyway, if you pay the balance in full each month and don't overspend
  • You can choose a card to match your interests, such as an air miles card for a frequent traveler
  • As with all credit cards, you will benefit from section 75 protection
  • Some cards offer other perks in addition to the cashback or rewards, such as 0% spending or interest-free balance periods
  • You may be able to access retailer discounts or priority access to tickets for gigs and events

Cons of a cashback and reward credit card

  • You may not be able to redeem your rewards points exactly how you want to, for example rewards flights are not always available on every route
  • You may need to pay an annual fee
  • Rewards cards give you less flexibility over how you can make use of your rewards, compared to cashback
  • the promise of cashback or rewards points can encourage cardholders to spend over and above what they normally would, especially if there is a certain level of spending required to unlock bonus points
  • These cards usually come with a higher APR than alternative credit cards
  • Your rate of cashback or the amount of points you can earn per pound spent can be cut with little notice

Alternatives to a cashback or reward credit card

It can be simpler to use a debit card for purchases as it ensures that you only ever spend the money you have, and, subject to overdraft charges, means you won't be charged. You can also find debit cards offering very competitive levels of cashback. If you are looking to spread the cost of a purchase or make a balance transfer, it may be worthwhile forgoing rewards to get the best 0% interest period possible.

 

 

If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use.