We notice the browser you are using is outdated and no longer supported on our site. Let’s get that fixed.

Our credit cards

Credit cards are really handy for spreading the cost of a one-off purchase or for everyday expenses like online shopping and groceries.

But finding and applying for a credit card that fits your needs isn’t always easy. We want to make it simple, so you clearly understand the differences between our credit cards and can see if you’ll be accepted before you apply.

What is a credit card?

A credit card is a flexible way to borrow money and a secure way to spend in shops or online. When they’re used sensibly, credit cards can provide some useful benefits and have a positive impact on your finances.

To benefit from using a credit card you need to manage it responsibly, meaning you pay back at least the minimum payment on time every month, and you stay within your limit. Plus if you can pay back your full balance every month you’ll avoid paying interest.

What can I use a credit card for?

Credit cards can be a versatile form of finance, letting you spread the cost of one-off purchases or smaller everyday expenses like online shopping or groceries. You just have to be careful when making cash advance transactions. These types of transactions include using your card to withdraw cash from an ATM or buying foreign currency. If you do this then you’ll be charged interest on that amount from the day you used your card until you’ve cleared that balance.

Not all credit cards are the same, though. Some are better than others depending on how you want to use them.

The different types of credit card explained

When you’re looking for the latest credit card deals, things can seem complicated. To help you, here's a few of the most common types of credit card and offers you may find:

Credit cards for bad credit or to build credit

Some credit card companies, like Capital One, offer credit cards for bad credit. These are designed to help people improve their credit health. They’re often called credit builder cards and usually come with a smaller credit limit. But this can increase as you manage your card responsibly month after month. Not managing your card responsibly could have the opposite effect and harm your credit score.

Balance transfer cards

Balance transfer credit cards charge low interest rates (sometimes as low as 0%) on balances that you transfer from other credit cards. If you owe money on a credit card or store card, you can transfer some or all of that debt to a balance transfer credit card. This will have a lower interest rate, which will save money on interest and simplify your debt repayments. You’ll find that many charge a one-off fee to make a balance transfer. And if you ever miss a payment you may find your 0% offer is taken away, so read the small print.

0% APR purchase cards

Some credit cards offer 0% interest on purchases for the first few months when you use them. This will help you save money, just make sure you never miss a payment, otherwise the 0% offer could be cancelled early.

Cashback and reward cards

Some credit card providers offer 'rewards' if you use their cards to make purchases. These can include cashback (where you receive a small percentage of the purchase amount) or air mile offers. You’ll usually need a healthy credit score to get a reward card.

Travel cards

Many credit cards charge you for using them abroad. Travel cards (sometimes known as fee-free foreign usage cards) are specifically for people who travel overseas regularly. They’re like a credit card you’d use at home in that they don’t give you any extra charges for using your card abroad. Plus they can sometimes offer favourable exchange rates.

What are the benefits of a credit card?

Credit cards can offer some useful ways to help you manage your finances better:

You can spread the cost

If you need to make a large one-off purchase you can spread the cost over a longer period, instead of having to pay it all back in one go. You’ll pay interest each month while you’re paying back what you’ve borrowed, so the sooner you can clear your balance the less you’ll need to pay back.

Some purchases are protected

Credit cards can offer financial protection for your purchases, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. If you buy something between £100 and £30,000 with your credit card and something goes wrong, you may be able to make a claim to either the supplier or your credit card provider.

They can help you build your credit

It’s not just a credit building card that can help improve your credit score. As long as you always make your monthly payments on time and stay within your credit limit your credit score will improve. Not doing that could harm your credit score.Just make sure you’re managing all your finances equally as well.

Useful tips for applying for a credit card

Always use an eligibility checker

When you apply for a card, it leaves a mark on your credit report that can be seen by another provider. If you get too many of these marks you may find it difficult to apply for more credit. When you use an eligibility checker you’ll find out if you’ll be accepted for a credit card without affecting your credit score.

Some eligibility checkers can only tell you how likely you are to be accepted. But Capital One's QuickCheck tool gives you a definite yes or no in 60 seconds. So you can be 100% sure that you'll be accepted if you apply for one of our credit cards online.

Check your credit score

A healthy credit score can improve your chances of being accepted for a credit card and could mean you’re eligible for a wider range of credit card deals. We created CreditWise to give you a simple way to check and track the progress of your credit score. It’s free to use and uses data from Equifax opens in a new tab one of the three main UK credit reference agencies.

It’s also a good idea to check your credit report from time to time in case there are any errors that could hurt your chances of being accepted for credit in the future. If you find anything that’s wrong you can ask for it to be changed.

Check the APR

APR is short for Annual Percentage Rate. It’s a useful way to compare credit cards because it's a quick way of checking how much the card might cost you in the long run. Credit card companies calculate a card’s APR based on the interest rate charged for purchases and any fees you could possibly be charged.

It's a good idea to double check a card’s APR when applying, as some providers don’t guarantee the APR that they advertise. At Capital One, we’re a bit different. The APR you see when you apply is the APR you’ll get.

What personal details do I need to apply?

If you decide to apply for a Capital One credit card online, the first step is to use QuickCheck – our free eligibility checker. Once you’ve put in your details you’ll get a response in 60 seconds so you’ll be 100% sure if you’ll be accepted or not before you apply. Simply tell us when you were born, your current address, work situation and finances. If you’ve only lived at your current address for a short time, you’ll also need to let us know your previous addresses from the past three years.

Need more help?

If you’re unsure about anything on this page or would like some more information you’ll find our FAQs cover a broad range of topics. If you can’t find what you’re looking for you can contact our team.