Types of credit card explained

There are lots of different types of credit cards to choose from, including:

  1. Balance transfer credit cards: transfer your outstanding balance from one credit card to another.
  2. Money transfer credit cards: transfer money from your credit card to your bank or building society account.
  3. 0% credit cards: no interest to pay for a period of time.
  4. Transfer and purchase cards: offer competitive rates for both transfers and purchases.

Using different credit card types

Using a credit card can unlock a world of flexible borrowing, but there isn’t just one type of plastic to fit all. In the UK, there are a whole host of different types of credit cards to choose from.

By digging into the details and examining the main features, you’ll be able to figure out which card is best for you. We’ve put together a handy summary of the main types of credit cards to help you choose the right one for your individual needs.

What is a balance transfer credit card?

If you’ve already got an outstanding credit card balance elsewhere on a higher interest rate, a balance transfer credit card may be a good type of credit card for you. Designed to help you reduce your interest payments, a balance transfer credit card allows you to move your existing balance from one credit card to a new, more cost-effective credit card. More often than not, this type of credit card features either a low rate or 0% interest for a specific period, which could help you save money.

You will usually have to pay a fee to make a balance transfer (usually a percentage of the amount transferred)

What is a money transfer credit card?

This type of credit card lets you transfer money from your credit card to your bank or building society account, which you could then use to pay for goods or services, pay off higher interest credit or unexpected bills. You might be charged a money transfer fee on any transfers you make (usually a percentage of the transfer value). As with a balance transfer credit card, most come with a 0% interest introductory period.

Bear in mind that using a money transfer means you won’t have the protection provided by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 for credit card payments. However, even with a transfer fee, a money transfer may still be more cost effective than paying for goods and services using a credit card.

What is an interest free credit card?

Sometimes referred to as ‘interest free’, this type of credit card is one that comes with 0% interest, usually as an introductory promotional offer for new customers, for a specific period of time. Sometimes, the 0% offer will only apply to specific transaction types, like balance transfers, or purchases, but it is sometimes possible to find credit cards that offer 0% on more than one type of transaction.

What is a transfer and purchase card?

A transfer and purchase card will usually offer promotional or competitive interest rates on both purchases and transfers, so can be ideal if you plan on making both types of transactions. This type of credit card is ideal for managing your finances in one place. With a transfer and purchase card, you can take care of purchases and balance transfers, all from one card.

There are a number of factors that play a part in choosing the right credit card for you including what you are planning to use the credit card for, transfer fees, length of promotional offer, or longer term low rates. If you’re ready to kick-start the process of getting a credit card, start by knowing how good your credit score is and take a look at our guide to help you apply for the right one for you.