Methodology for rating credit cards
Here's how we come up with the stars that tell you how good a credit card is.
We review the vast majority of credit cards available in the UK.
Together with our experts’ commentary, star ratings are an essential part of those reviews: they help you figure out at a glance whether or not a card is good at doing its job – and our expert analysis tells you why, what and how much.
So, how do we come up with those scores?
We rate credit cards using a system of one to five stars.
How it works
Credit cards are all slightly different – there’s no best credit card that works for everyone. You may need a credit card for different reasons: paying off debt, making a big purchase, travelling, earning rewards and so on. So our scoring is tailored to each card type.
We’ve excluded cards from our ratings if they’re not available yet or are virtual cards only. We’ve also excluded cards if there’s little info available about them.
What we take into consideration when rating:
- Purpose. We score how well a card does the job it was designed to do. For example, when rating a purchase card, the purchase 0% introductory offer and revert rate is included in the “‘Purpose’” rating.
- Costs. Any kind of charge you may expect from using the card is included in here, such as purchase and balance transfer rate, annual fees, cash withdrawals, late payment fees etc.
- Rewards. Some credit cards offer rewards, including airport lounge access and cashback. We know that looking for rewards won’t be a high priority for most card categories so this section of our rating doesn’t greatly affect the credit card’s overall score, unless it’s a rewards card.
- Extras. This covers any information which either doesn’t fall into any of the above categories or isn’t typically included in most credit cards in a particular category, but a card may have it anyway. For example, a credit building card, typically used by people with poor or no credit history, might have a 0% balance transfer period.
Costs and purpose get the greatest weight. The categories where rewards carry more weight are rewards and travel cards.
Balance transfer credit cards
You use these to pay off debt you’ve accumulated, so the main factors we look at are the length of the balance transfer deal, balance transfer rate and the cost of the balance transfer fee. Other fees, rewards, the interest rate or any deals on purchases also form part of the final score.
0% purchase credit cards
The most important aspect is the length of the 0% purchase deal, which shows how long you have until your purchase(s) start accruing interest if you haven’t paid for them. . We also look at the purchase revert rate – the rate after the 0% introductory offer. And we consider other fees, such as balance transfer, and rewards.
“All-rounder” credit cards
These cards offer both a long purchase 0% deal and a balance transfer 0% deal. We consider the length of the introductory period as well as the revert rates and balance transfer fee. Again, any rewards and extras are also included in the final score.
Rewards credit cards
Here the most important element is obviously the rewards. We consider the intro bonus, earn rate, cashback, travel perks and other rewards. Secondly, we include fees and any additional extras in our rating.
Credit builder credit cards
When you start your journey with a credit builder credit card, you’re usually offered a high interest rate and your main goal is improving your credit score. Sowe look at whether a card allows you to review your rate after a while, gives you access to your credit report or offers any other kind of credit management feature. Fees, rewards and purchase rate also form part of our scores.
Travel credit cards
For this category, we take any travel-related perks or fees into consideration. This includes foreign transaction fees, airport lounge access and travel insurance.
Student credit cards
The range of features we consider for rating student cards is pretty wide and covers rates and fees, whether there are any budgeting or credit management features, plus rewards or perks and fees for using the card abroad.
Business credit cards
We score every business card equally, but for our top picks, we select cards which best suit different needs of businesses, such as cards for businesses which need to travel a lot.
Business charge cards
We rate these similarly to the business credit card category, but only included charge cards which don’t charge interest.
Ethical credit cards
These are rated based on how ethical the provider is, including whether they are carbon-neutral, have a net-zero plan, support local communities and provide carbon footprint tracking. We categorise cards from ethical providers by card type including purchase, balance transfer and rewards cards.
Customer score (survey)
In December 2022, we ran a customer satisfaction survey on credit cards. 2,749 people responded and gave us their opinion on their current credit card provider.
The survey asked respondents how satisfied they are with their credit card provider (using a 1–5 rating) and whether they’d recommend the brand to a friend. We converted the responses into customer satisfaction star ratings and used these results to decide our award winner. If there was a draw, we used the recommendation score (the percentage of customers who said they’d recommend the brand to a friend) as a tie-breaker.
Their answers would then turned into an overall star rating that takes into account:
- How many people would recommend the companyIf you say you’d recommend your credit card provider to a friend, it’s likely you think it’s very good. This measure forms 50% of our customer satisfaction star rating.
- The proportion of people who rated a provider 5/5. This counts for 25% of our customer satisfaction star rating.
- The average score each brand got. This tells us if a brand offers a solid service even though it doesn’t have loads of maximum ratings… or if it’s just not that great. This parameter forms the last 25% of our customer satisfaction star rating.
Like with Finder’s expert ratings, the final rating was then rounded to the nearest half star, to give the following 1-5 customer satisfaction range:
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