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Compare major credit cards

Major UK credit card providers

The major credit cards providers shown below are our most popular credit cards and are accepted almost universally.

Major credit cards

Check out a range of major credit cards available in the UK is rated Excellent | by 22,239 people
Fact checker
Last updated
April 13, 2023
57 results found, sorted by popularity.
Uswitch Limited is a credit broker, not a lender, for consumer credit.
Our services are provided at no cost to you. We may receive a commission from the companies we refer you to, but this does not affect what you will pay for the product you choose.

What are major credit cards?

A man is sitting on a sofa looking at his laptop with a credit card nearby

Major credit cards are the most popular credit cards that are accepted around the world.

The cards are provided by either Visa, Mastercard or American Express, who are UK's biggest payment services providers.

The credit is issued by a mixture of big banks, high-street retailers and credit providers, giving these major cards recognisable names.

The biggest UK credit card providers include Barclaycard, Lloyds Bank, HSBC, MBNA, Santander, Nationwide and Sainsbury's Bank.

Number of active credit cards in the UK[1]

Credit cards build up popularity through a combination of loyalty and great offers.

Major credit card providers are able to offer a wide range of benefits - often topping best-buy tables because they offer the best benefit for each category.

They may have the longest balance transfer period, or the longest 0% period for purchases.

People also frequently show loyalty to their existing providers - so people with HSBC bank accounts take out HSBC credit cards, people with Barclays bank accounts take out a Barclaycard and so on.

This can work out well, because your bank account provider will be able to offer you a tailored deal thanks to their familiarity with your finances.

Watch: What should and shouldn't you use your credit card for

What are the benefits of a major credit card?

There are no specific benefits beyond having a recognisable name on your card and large reputable company to deal with.

Having Visa or Mastercard provision is almost a guarantee that you will be able to use your card with any merchant that accepts major credit cards, wherever you are in the world.

It’s more important to look at the benefits of a specific card.

You could take comfort knowing you are dealing with a big recognised company, that is compliant with all consumer rules and regulations, both on an international and UK specific level.

Big providers have established customer service teams to help when things go wrong."

What types of major credit card are there?

A credit card is being used to pay contactless in a cafe

Major credit cards tend to be balance transfer0% purchase credit cards and ‘bad-credit’ credit cards, reflecting their popularity. This is due to the useful benefits they offer.

Balance transfer cards can be used to clear existing credit card debts and the majority of the leading ones don’t charge any interest for at least a year, provided you meet the minimum monthly repayments.

0% purchase credit cards offer free short term credit, typically offering no interest on card purchases for at least one year, but some offer this benefit for longer. Provided you can pay back your balance before the 0% interest period expires you could effectively borrow for free.

Bad-credit credit cards offer a way for those who have a poor credit history to borrow and improve their credit score. If you are applying for one of these remember to use it responsibility to avoid sliding into further debt.

If these types of credit cards don’t suit your needs, there are many other major credit card types – from low APR cards (one of the more sensible choices for sustained borrowing) to reward cards, that give you cash or loyalty points (such as frequent flyer miles) back as you spend.

Value of credit card transactions in June 2023[1]

Major credit cards FAQs

Should I get a major credit card?

While major credit cards often offer the most competitive benefits, you should always closely examine any credit card beyond the headline offers and think about what you need from a card.

Shop around thoroughly as it’s possible that less well known credit card companies might offer the best benefits for your personal financial situation.

What you need to apply for a credit card

In terms of what you will need to provide, it's generally quite straightforward. Questions you can expect on a credit card application include:

  • Your name

  • Contact information

  • Date of birth

  • Address and how long you have lived there

  • Residential status (tenant, owner, living with parents, etc)

  • Your annual income

On a balance transfer or money transfer credit card application, you will need to have the details of the other accounts you are transferring to your new credit card.

How many credit cards should I have?

There’s no prescribed number of credit cards you should have. It all depends on your personal circumstances. Conventional wisdom suggests that it’s a good idea for most people to have at least two credit cards. One for everyday spending that helps earn rewards or cashback, which you’d preferably pay off in full every month. Another which you keep for emergencies, to pay for unexpected expenses such as car repairs, or having to travel at short notice. 

What is APR?

APR stands for "annual percentage rate" - it's the interest rate charged on money borrowed on your credit card. 

It reflects the costs you'll pay over the course of a year and includes any standard fees associated with the card. 

So if you borrow £100 at 20% APR you'll pay £20 interest on that loan over a year.

In most cases you can avoid paying interest by paying off your credit card balance in full by the due date of every billing cycle.

How Uswitch compares credit cards

What does ‘most popular’ and ‘popularity’ mean?

When we use the term ‘most popular or ‘popularity’ on Uswitch in reference to credit cards, these cards are ranked by the number of clicks they have received on the site in the past 30 days.

The most clicked on cards are at the top, with the least at the bottom. This reflects how popular they are with visitors to Consequently, this is a good table to look at if you’re interested in seeing which cards most people think are worth getting.

Does Uswitch compare all the credit cards on the market?

We compare over 100 credit cards from all of the major banks and credit card providers.

However, we do not compare all the credit cards that are available in the UK.

This is because some credit card providers have offers that are only available exclusively through their own website or branch, or through other comparison websites - in the same way some credit cards are exclusively available through Uswitch.

There are also many credit cards that are only available to people in member organisations and clubs.

Credit card guides

Find out more about how credit cards work with our in-depth guides
How many credit cards can you have?
How many credit cards can you have?
How to use a credit card
How to use a credit card
What are the differences between credit and debit card?
What are the differences between credit and debit card?

About the author

James Andrews
James has spent the past 20 years writing about and editing personal finance articles and guides in the UK. His driving mission has been to help people make better decisions with their money.

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