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A look at the best credit card perks available

Spending on a credit card can be highly rewarding, and often, these perks don’t require much from you beyond finding and using the right card. As I write this, it’s easy to find a variety of cards that offer perks such as cashback and rewards in return for simply using the cards to buy everyday items.

Cards that offer perks are most suitable for the 60% of credit card holders who pay off their balance in full each month, since the cards’ interest rates can be uncompetitive. 

With a variety of sign-up bonuses and non-monetary perks available, there is likely to be a credit card to suit most consumers who are looking to obtain perks simply from using their card to buy everyday items. Here are some of my favourite credit card perks available.

Cashback

Cashback credit cards offer a simple means for individuals to maximise the benefits from spending. The cards offer cashback as a percentage of spending, which accumulates over a set period of time, often a year. The total cashback is then deducted from the credit card statement.

For example, at the time of writing, the American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Card offers 0.5% cashback on all spending up to £5,000 per year, with 1% cashback for individuals who spend more than £5,000 on the card per year. The card currently has no annual fee. It is easy to keep track of how much cashback is being built up, through the American Express online portal.

With a number of retailers not accepting American Express cards, the Tandem Cashback Credit Card could be of interest to some consumers. The card currently has a cashback rate of 0.5%, with no annual fee. Although the rate may be the same as or lower than that of the American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Card (depending on the amount spent), the card may be accepted at a wider variety of retailers, giving more opportunities to accumulate cashback.

Rewards

Rewards cards also offer attractive perks for account holders. With a rewards card, the holder accumulates points when using the card to purchase goods and services. The points can then be redeemed for vouchers.

Rewards cards could be more appealing for consumers who regularly shop in particular stores where points can be accumulated more quickly.

For example, the RBS Reward Credit Card and NatWest Reward Credit Card currently include a wide range of retailers in their MyRewards networks. Rewards can be as high as 15% of the amount of a transaction. Although the cards currently have an annual fee, the fee is waived for consumers who also have a current account with RBS or NatWest.

Of course, before obtaining a rewards card, it may be worth checking the monetary value of points – specifically, how rewards cards compare with cashback cards. It may also be a good idea to check whether the stores where you can accumulate (and redeem) points are among your preferred shopping destinations.

Store-specific rewards

Store cards are a variety of rewards card that accumulate points faster when used at specific retailers. The points can then be turned into vouchers to redeem at those retailers.

For example, the M&S Reward Plus Credit Card and Asda Cashback Credit Card accumulate points on all spending, but accrue points faster when used at M&S and Asda respectively. Accumulated points can then be turned into vouchers for use in the stores. 

Although store cards offer a more limited choice of where vouchers can be redeemed than some rewards cards, their points may offer a higher monetary value for consumers who are able to switch a significant proportion of their expenditure to the store in question.

Exclusive perks

As well as offering cashback and rewards, some credit cards also offer non-monetary perks. These perks often take the form of opportunities that are exclusively available to cardholders, such as early access to concert tickets.

One credit card that currently offers perks is the Barclaycard Platinum Cashback Plus Credit Card. The card offers access to Barclaycard Entertainment, which is a hub for a variety of offers at major events. Offers include discounts on concert tickets as well as reduced prices on food and drink at venues including the O2 in London.

For consumers who attend concerts, festivals and other live music events, such cards can provide significant monetary as well as non-monetary benefits.

Sign-up bonuses

A variety of credit cards offer sign-up bonuses which can range from a number of extra points from using the card within a set period to vouchers that can be used at specific stores. For example, at the time of writing, the Amazon Platinum Mastercard offers a £10 Amazon voucher to all new customers who are successfully approved for the card.

While it is not a good idea to focus on sign-up bonuses when choosing a credit card, since the bonuses may offset weaknesses elsewhere, they can help to sweeten the deal when two cards offer similar appeal to a particular consumer.

My verdict is…

A wide range of credit card perks are available which, depending on personal circumstances and shopping habits, could be appealing. However, since cards with perks often charge higher rates of interest than many other credit cards, they are probably most suitable for consumers who pay off their balance in full each month.  

Ready to find your ideal credit card? Check out our favourite credit cards right now.

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