3 credit cards I’d consider keeping for life

Posted: 5 June 2019 12:39 pm News

Macro photograph of credit cards in a wallet

With 0% deals that expire only to be replaced by uncompetitive rates, or cashback “welcome bonuses” that are only good for the first few months, savvy card users know they’ll need to keep switching deals every year or so. But does this always have to be the case?

OK, so it’s pretty hard to say a credit card that’s a decent bet now will still be a smart prospect in 5, let alone 10 years’ time. Cards without fixed introductory deals are subject to change at the card issuer’s whim and will also invariably be affected by trends in the market generally, like Bank of England base rate movements, regulatory changes etc.

But there are a few cards on the market where I wouldn’t necessarily set myself a calendar reminder to switch deals. Naturally, you should always keep tabs on all the accounts you have open, but with these deals, I believe there’s less chance of getting stung if you take your eye off the ball.

If you want to save interest on existing card debt or spread the cost of a large upcoming expenditure, there are more-suitable, specialised (at least for the short-term) deals out there. But for ongoing general use when you expect to clear your balance in full each month, here are my three recommendations:

The NatWest Credit Card

1. The NatWest Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • 0% fees on overseas spend
  • Low ongoing rates

Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).


Approval for any credit card will depend on your status. The APR shown represents the interest rate offered to most successful applicants. Depending on your personal circumstances the APR you're offered may be higher, or you may not be offered credit at all. Fees and rates are subject to change without notice. It's always wise to check the terms of any deal before you borrow.

An excellent travel companion (and a very respectable option even when you’re at home), this ultra-simple card converts currencies at the standard Mastercard rates. Plus, while some card issuers start charging interest on overseas transactions from the day your account is debited, provided you clear your balance in full each month, you won’t pay interest on purchases at home or abroad – the card comes with up to 56 days of 0% interest each billing cycle.

The standard rate on purchases is a respectably low 9.9% (this is a variable rate, but it’s not a promotional rate with an expiry date), so if you do need to carry a balance for a few months, you won’t pay through the nose for the privilege.

The downside? You need to be an existing NatWest customer.

Like all the cards listed here, there’s no annual or monthly account fee to worry about. With credit card account fees being anywhere from £20 to £400+, if your circumstances change, these easily forgotten charges can really take you by surprise.

American Express Rewards Low Rate Credit Card

2. American Express Rewards Low Rate Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • 2,500-point welcome bonus
  • Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent

Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).


While it used to be a sticking point, American Express acceptance in the UK and globally is much better than it used to be, and is only on the rise. Additionally, Amex Membership Rewards points, which you’ll earn on virtually all your spending with this card, are highly versatile and can even be transferred to a wide range of alternative reward-point programmes. You’ll want to put as much of your spending as possible through the card to earn substantial points, though.

Again, the standard rate on purchases is a respectably low (albeit variable) 9.9%, so carrying a balance for a few months shouldn’t break the bank. Clear your balance in full each month though and you’ll avoid interest thanks to up to 56 days of 0% interest each billing cycle.

Yes, there’s an intro points bonus (subject to a minimum spend), but with Amex’s referral programme, if you refer a friend or family member at any point you’ll enjoy a tasty lump sum of points. You just might have to become an Amex evangelist!

The card also comes with all the benefits of the American Express Experiences (formerly “Invites”) programme, including presale gig tickets.

An alternative if you have limited or bad credit would be Asda Money’s Cashback Start credit card.

British Airways American Express Card

3. British Airways American Express Card

  • Earn 1 Avios per £1 spent
  • 5,000-Avios welcome bonus
  • Refer a friend bonus

Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.9% APR (variable).


Fellow Avios collectors may have been frustrated by the demise of the Avios-earning Lloyds-Amex collaboration, but this card lets you earn Avios on all your day-to-day spending, without charging you an annual fee.

The standard rate on purchases (22.9%) isn’t about to top any tables, but pay off your full balance each month and you’ll avoid interest thanks to up to 56 days of 0% interest each billing cycle.

If you can make your peace with an annual fee (or, more importantly, if you expect to spend enough on the card for your points to outweigh the fee), then B.A. offers a “Premium Plus” version of this card, offering an even better Avios earn-rate.

Find more recommendations in our pick of 2019‘s best credit cards.

We exist to help you find better. The offers we've compared on this page are from a range of products whose details we can track; we don't cover every product on the market...yet. Unless we've indicated otherwise, products are shown in no particular order or ranking. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't product ratings, although we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it; this is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, it's wise to consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own financial circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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