Roqqett Blog

October 19, 2021
Author: Joelle Phua

Money Insights: A Guide to Credit Cards

Not sure which credit card is for you? Read our guide to decide for yourself.

Quick Summary

  • How do credit cards work?
  • How to do choose the right credit card for you.
  • How to make the most of credit cards.
shopper

In 2020, there was £16.6 billion worth of repayments which included credit cards; they seem daunting at first glance, so we're here to break it all down for you in this blog post. We'll get into how credit cards work, how to choose the right one for you and other important things to know.

How do credit cards work?

Credit cards are essentially debit cards but spending money from your card provider instead of your own. You'll get a bill at the end of each month detailing how much you've spent and how much you need to pay back.

If you pay back in full, you won't be charged any interest, but if not, you need to take note of the interest rate to avoid getting into the "debt spiral".

Most credit cards will advertise various rewards and benefits to attract customers, such as air miles, cashback and more.

Credit cards come with advantages and drawbacks that are important to consider before getting one yourself.

Here's a quick summary of the benefits and disadvantages (see a full explanation in our Debit Cards vs Credit Cards blog post):

Benefits

  • Build your credit score
  • Spread out payments
  • Good for emergencies
  • Protections on payments and fraud
  • Rewards and perks

Disadvantages

  • Can damage your credit score
  • High interest if not paying back in full
  • Can be expensive to use abroad

Save this handy infographic for later!

Should I get a credit card?

If you're confident at managing your money and can pay off the repayments then yes! A credit card would be great to add to your wallet so you can take advantage of what a credit card offers.

However, if you're not confident with your finances and struggle with overspending right now, focus on getting the hang of that before getting a credit card.

How do I choose which credit card to get?

The many credit cards make it challenging to narrow down which to get and applying for many can damage your credit score so here are a few things to consider before getting one:

1) Student credit cards

As the name suggests, these credit cards are especially for students who might not have enough income or a credit score yet. These come with lower spending limits and higher interest rates. You must be at least 18, studying at a UK university and a UK resident.

2) Spending abroad

If you travel a lot, a travel credit card might be the one for you as they don't charge exchange fees. However, most of the time, you don't get the rate on the day you purchase, rather, the day when the transaction is processed.

3) 0% Interest

These cards are designed for spending and allow you to spread payments over time with no interest. Most of the time you'll have an agreed 0% interest period that can depend on the provider and your credit score.

4) Cashback

Cashback is a popular reward if you want to get the most out of your card. Some have extremely high fees for late payments which cancel out the cashback, so make sure to do your research and compare different deals.

5) Airmiles

This is particularly attractive as flights and holidays can get expensive if you travel often. Check which "networks" and airlines are on offer as you'll likely get stuck with them.

6) Credit building

If your credit score is low, a credit builder card is a way to boost your credit score. The credit limit is low so that you can start to prove that you can complete repayments.

See more information here.

Use this eligibility checker from MoneySuperMarket to see what cards might be right for you and which you might be pre-approved for.

Important to know about credit cards

Here are some other important things to know about credit cards:

  • You need to be 18 or over.
  • You can pay back manually or via direct debit.
  • Credit score may be affected - see here for more.
  • Some credit cards aren't accepted everywhere, like American Express.

How to make the most of credit cards

1) Connect to the free Roqqett app to keep on top of spending before the bill comes in.

  • Never be surprised when you receive your statement
  • Use the smart money insights to make informed spending choices.
  • Move money between accounts easily.

2) Set up text alerts for overspending / spending limits

  • Download your banking app and opt in to notifications.
  • Choose your limits so you don't have to worry about checking all the time.

3) Set up a direct debit to always pay off the minimum amount

  • Check with your bank how direct debit set up works.
  • Decide how much you want to pay each month (the more the better).

Takeaways:

  • Evaluate whether a credit card is right for you at the moment.
  • Choose the right credit card(s) for your lifestyle.
  • Make sure to at least pay back the minimum amount each month.


Sources

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