Different types of credit cards explained - and how to know which is best for you

If used efficiently, credit cards can be a good addition when managing your finances (Photo: Shutterstock)

by Derin Clark

Credit cards are one of the most popular ways to borrow money and can be a convenient card to have in your wallet during financially difficult times. Although it is normally recommended that credit cards be used cautiously as it can often be easy to fall into credit card debt that takes years to clear, if used efficiently they can be a good addition when managing your finances.

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When looking for a credit card, you will see that there are many different types of products on offer, with each type of card suited to different needs. Below we’ve outlined some of the most popular reasons for taking out a credit card and the best type of cards for each option.

The best credit card if you want to clear debts

If you already have credit card debt that you are aiming to clear, a 0% balance transfer credit card could be a good option. A 0% balance transfer credit card offers an interest-free period that can last for over two years on some cards, which often makes it easier and cheaper to repay the credit card debt.

Although these cards can be a good way of clearing debt, if you are considering this option, it is important to be aware that some cards charge a balance transfer fee to transfer debts to the 0% balance transfer card. As well as this, keep in mind that interest is added once the interest-free period has ended, so it is usually a good idea to repay as much of the debt as possible before interest is added.

The best credit card if you want to make an expensive purchase

Borrowers with little or no existing credit card debt and who are looking to make an expensive purchase, for example booking a holiday, may want to consider a 0% purchase credit card. These credit cards will not charge interest on purchases made within a pre-agreed period, which can last for up to 20 months.

If you are considering a 0% purchase card, it is important to remember that interest is added once the interest-free period ends, so having a repayment plan in mind when spending on the card will help to clear the debt before the interest-free period has ended.

The best credit card for regular use

If you use your credit cards regularly and are able to repay the full balance each month, you may want to consider a rewards credit card. These cards will allow you to earn rewards or cashback when you spend on the card. Many popular high street supermarkets and stores, such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, offer reward credit cards that allow you to earn extra points when you shop within their stores.

The best credit card for building credit scores

Having a poor credit score could make it harder to get accepted for a credit card as you will be considered a riskier borrower than someone with a higher score, but there are options available. Credit repair cards are often a popular choice for those with poor credit scores as these cards are specifically designed to help borrowers improve their credit score.

You should be careful using these cards, however, as they often charge a significantly higher rate than other types of credit cards and to avoid getting into unmanageable debt borrowers should try and repay the full balance each month.

To see all the credit card deals available, visit the credit card charts at Moneyfacts.co.uk