The Best Credit Card in UK – Full 5 Brands Comparison

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After opening a bank in the UK, the first thing you want to do is to choose a credit card that offers rewards points and save money by redeeming points for daily purchases

Initially, I used my bank’s debit card for a while, but then realized that using a credit card with point rewards was more beneficial.

I did some research and found out that the British Airways American Express card was by far the most rewarding, but I also realized that there were only few other attractive credit cards available.

With this card, you can collect Avios (similar to airline miles), which can be used for free trips to Europe or as a supplement for returns to your home country.

I have created a list of available credit cards in the UK with point rewards, so I hope it can be a useful reference for those who are considering getting a credit card. Also, if you already have a credit card, I recommend registering it on your smartphone and using it as Apple Pay/Google Pay. It will make your daily life much more easier.

Comparison Table

Credit CardBritish AirwaysNectar Credt CardAmazon PlatinumSainsbury’s Bank Credit CardM&S Credit Card
Logo
BrandAmerican ExpressAmerican ExpressMastercardMastercardMastercard
Annual FeeFree£25FreeFreeFree
Cashback RateApproximately 1% (1.625% with Nectar)1.0% (up to 1.875%)0.25% (1.5% with Prime & Amazon use)0.1% (0.25% with partner stores)0.2% (2.0% with M&S shopping & membership)
Points RedemptionBritish Airways servicesPurchases at partner storesAmazon gift cardsNectar pointsM&S vouchers
Example of UseAirline tickets, seat upgrades, hotels, etc.Shopping at Sainsbury’s or ebayShopping on AmazonPurchases at partner storesPurchases at M&S
Rating★★★☆☆☆☆☆★☆☆☆☆★☆☆☆☆
CommentsThe only choice if you want to redeem points for airline tickets.
High cashback rate and highly satisfying.
The best card if you want to
earn cashback on your everyday shopping.
High cashback rate only for Amazon use,
so not very useful.
Low cashback rate. Not recommended.Low cashback rateoutside of M&S.

British Airways American Express

Rating★★★
Annual FeeFree
Cashback RateApproximately 1% (1.625% with Nectar)
Points RedemptionBritish Airways services
Example of UseAirline tickets, seat upgrades, hotels, etc.
CommentsThis is the only option if you want to
redeem points for airline ticket fares.

Features

For each £1 spent, you can earn 1 Avios, and with those Avios, you can purchase airline tickets, book hotels, upgrade your seat, etc.

In addition, since British Airways belongs to the same One World alliance as JAL, you can also use these Avios to book JAL airline tickets.

When using your earned Avios to purchase airline tickets, the required amount can vary depending on the time and the class of the seat. As a reference, the required Avios for a round-trip between the following destinations are as below (Source: Prince of Travel.com

London to Berlin is approximately 9,000 Avios
London to New York is approximately 40,000 Avios
London to Japan is approximately 60,000 Avios.

Furthermore, when purchasing economy class tickets with Avios, it seems that the conversion rate is usually around 1 Avios = £0.01 (Source: The Point Calculator.com). Therefore, the cashback rate is roughly around 1%.

Annual Fee

Free

The Companion Voucher benefit is impressive

If you spend over £12,000 annually, you can receive a Companion Voucher benefit, which allows you to bring a companion for free or receive a 50% discount on your own economy class ticket. For example, if a couple wants to fly round-trip from London to Japan, it would cost 120,000 Avios. However, by using this benefit, the partner’s ticket can be obtained for free, which reduces the cost to 60,000 Avios, effectively making it half-price.

However, it should be noted that the primary ticket must be purchased with Avios, so you will need to collect a certain amount of Avios beforehand. If you don’t have enough Avios, you can purchase them (the price of purchasing Avios can be found here: British Airways.com)

The trick is to link your account to Nectar

Source: Nectar.com

By shopping at stores that partner with Nectar, which is mentioned in the next section, you can collect Nectar points and convert them to Avios. Shopping at Nectar partner stores earns you 1 Nectar point for every £1 spent. You can then convert 400 Nectar points to 250 Avios. That means you can earn 0.625 Avios per £1 spent.

Here are some examples of stores where you can earn points, but you can find a complete list of partner stores here: Nectar.com)

Source: Nectar.com

By using the British Airways credit card to make purchases at Nectar partner stores, you can earn both Avios and Nectar points.Since the accounts are independent, you can then convert your Nectar points to Avios, effectively boosting your rewards rate to 1.625%, compared to the 1% rate you would get by using the British Airways card alone.

This is only applicable when shopping at Nectar’s partner stores, but the cashback rate is amazing and it’s free of annual fees. It’s great to be able to earn such a high cashback rate on everyday expenses, especially on shopping at supermarkets which account for a large portion of daily expenses. If your nearest supermarket is Sainsbury’s, I highly recommend to link to your Nectar account.

If you’re considering using your collected points towards flights, then the British Airways American Express is highly recommended.

How to link Nectar and British Airways points

  • Enter account information

    Enter your account information and go to “Convert your points” on this British Airways page to input your account information

    Source: American Express.com
  • Exchange manually

    A page will appear where you can convert your points. If you wish to exchange manually, this is how ↓

    Source: American Express.com
  • Set up auto-conversion

    If you want to do it automatically, this is how↓ (On every Monday, when you accumulate 400 points, they will be automatically converted to 250 Avios).

    Source: American Express.com

I’ve been collecting Avios faster than expected using this method. It looks like we’ll be able to have a trip to Europe with Avios next summer

Reward point rate calculation method

How to Calculate Redemption Rate for British Airways American Express

When used alone
1.0%(£1 → 1Avois → £0.01

When used with Nectar
1.625%(£1 → 1Avois(BA portion) + 0.625Avios(Nectar portion)→ £0.01625)

British Airways American Express summary

It’s amazing that the cashback rate is up to 1.625% with no annual fee. If you want to make the most of your everyday purchases and use them towards your airfare costs, this is the perfect choice.
Official website: American Express.com

Nectar American Express Credit Card

Rating☆☆
Annual Fee£25
Cashback Rate1.0% (Max 1.875%)
Points RedemptionPurchase cost at partner stores
Example of UseShopping at Sainsbury’s and eBay
CommentsThe best card to earn rewards
on everyday shopping

Features

You can earn points at Nectar partnered stores (all partner stores can be found at Nectar.com) and use the collected points to the items at each respective partnered store.

Nectar partner stores such as Sainsbury’s and eBay offer a wide range of everyday items, making it a great choice for those who want to use their earned points for daily shopping.
These are the examples of partnered stores↓

Source:Nectar.com

At the partnered stores, you can earn 3 points for every £1 spent, while at non-partnered stores, you can earn 2 points for every £1 spent.

If you purchase items using points, 1 point is equivalent to £0.005. Therefore, the redemption rate is 1.5% when earning points atpartnered stores and 1% at non-partnered stores.

Annual Fee

£25

Conversion to Avios is also possible

Source: American Express.com

Additionally, there is a partnership between Nectar and British Airways, so you can convert your accumulated Nectar points into Avios. In this case, the conversion rate is 250 Avios for every 400 Nectar points, and 1 Avios is approximately equal to £0.01. Therefore, if you use Avios for flight tickets, the redemption rate would be 1.875% when earning points at partnered stores and 1.25% at non-partnered stores.

If you want to use your collected points to airfare, this card would be the most beneficial. However, there is an annual fee of £25, so it is hard to decide between this and the British Airways American Express, which has no annual fee and offers up to 1.65% in redemption rates.

I’ve actually calculated which is the better deal – if you spend more than £9,800 a year using your Nectar American Express Credit Card only at partnered stores, you will gain.
This doesn’t sound very realistic because you need to spend an average of £800 per month only at partnered stores (Sainsbury’s and ebay).
If you want to use your points for airline tickets, it seems it’s better to stick to British Airways American Express.

Reward point rate calculation method

How to Calculate Redemption Rate for Nectar American Express Credit Card

When used at partnered stores
If used for goods: 1.5% (£1 → 3 points → £0.015)
If used for airfare: 1.875% (£1 → 3 points → 1.875 Avios → £0.01875)

When used at non-partnered stores
If used for goods: 1.0% (£1 → 2 points → £0.01) when used to purchase goods
If used for airfare: 1.25% (£1 → 2 points → 1.25 Avios → £0.0125)

Nectar Credit Card summary

I recommend this card if you want to use your points for everyday purchases.

However, if you see the annual fee and redemption rate, British Airways American Express is better, so if you want to use your points to pay for airline tickets, it may not be a good choice.

Official website: American Express.com

Amazon Platinum Mastercard

*As of September 2022, it appears that no new issues areavailable.

Source:Amazon.co.uk
Rating☆☆☆
Annual FeeFree
Cashback Rate0.25% (With Prime & Amazon 1.5%)
Points RedemptionAmazon gift cards
Example of UseShopping in Amazon
CommentsHigh rate of return only in Amazon

Features

A great card for those who use Amazon a lot.
As a Prime member, you get 3 points for every £2 you spend on Amazon, and for every 1,000 points you earn, you get a £10 Amazon gift card. The redemption rate is as high as 1.5%.
For non-Amazon purchases, you earn 0.5 points for every £2 spent, which ends up in a redemption rate of 0.25%.

There is no annual fee, but the 1.5% rate of return is limited to Amazon purchases, so it is not as good as the British Airways American Express or Nectar Card mentioned above.

Annual Fee

Free

Reward point rate calculation method

How to Calculate Redemption Rate for Amazon Platinum Mastercard

When you shop at Amazon with Prime membership
1.5% (£2 → 3 points → £0.03)

When you make purchases outside of Amazon
0.25% (£2 → 0.5 points → £0.005)

Amazon Platinum Mastercard summary

If you use Amazon a lot, this might be a choice. However, British Airways American Express and Nectar Card seem to be easier to use overall.

Official website: Amazon.co.uk

Sainsbury’s Bank Credit Card

Rating★☆☆☆☆
Annual FeeFree
Cashback rate0.1%(0.25% with partnered stores)
Points RedemptionNectar points
Example of UsePurchases at partner stores
CommentsNot recommended because of
the low redemption rate

Features

Credit card issued by Sainsbury’s bank that allows you to earn Nectar points. Same as the Nectar Credit Card, it can be used to pay for purchases at partnered stores.
You can earn 1 point for every £2 spent at Sainsbury’s, Argos, Habitat and Tu Clothing, and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere.

That is, the redemption rate is 0.25% at partnered stores and 0.1% at non-partnered stores.

Even though there is no annual fee, this rate of return is too low. I would rather use British Airways American Express or Nectar Card than to earn points at this rate.

Annual Fee

Free

Reward point rate calculation method

How to Calculate Redemption Rate forSainsbury’s Bank Credit Card

When you make purchases at partnered stores
0.25% (£2 → 1 point → £0.005)

When you make purchases at non-partnered stores
0.1% (£5 → 1 point → £0.005)

Sainsbury’s Bank Credit Card summary

If you are planning to use a credit card for everyday use at Sainsbury’s and Argos, I recommend the Nectar American Express Credit Card.

Official website: Sainsbury’s bank.co.uk

M&S Credit Card

Source: M&S.com
Rating★☆☆☆☆
Annual FeeFree
Cashback Rate0.2%(M&S & membership 2.0%)
Points RedemptionM&S voucher
Example of UsePurchases at M&S
CommentsLow redemption rate outside of M&S

Features

This is a credit card issued by M&S. You can exchange your accumulated points for vouchers that can be used at M&S.
If you shop at M&S, you can earn 1%, but if you shop at other stores, the rate of return is 0.2%, which is very low.

M&S Club members pay an annual membership fee of £120 and get a 2% return on their M&S purchases.
M&S Club members receive many benefits such as 32 free hot drink coupons in the store and free next day delivery in the online store. Here is the list of benefits↓

Source: M&S.com

Annual Fee

Free

Reward point rate calculation method

How to Calculate Redemption Rate for M&S Credit Card

When shopping at M&S
Club member: 2.0% (£1 → 2 points → £0.02)
Not a club member: 1.0% (£1 → 2 points → £0.02)

When shopping outside M&S
0.2% (£5 → 1 point → £0.01)

M&S Credit Card summary

Since the amount of money spent at M&S is only a small portion of the total expenditure, I would recommend British Airways American Express or Nectar Card.

Official website: M&S.com

Overall Summary

Overall, I couldn’t find a better value credit card than British Airways American Express in terms of redemption rate, annual fee and use of points.

I highly recommend it because you can buy airline tickets and you can redeem your daily purchases without any extra cost.

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