Getting a Credit Card in the UK

Having a credit card is almost a must in today’s technology driven world. From simplifying transactions to eliminating the need to carry cash; credit cards, when used responsibly, help make life easier.

Given the UK’s status as one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of technology, economy and finance, it makes a lot of sense that Britons last year spent about 13.8 billion pounds sterling using their credit cards.

If you’re thinking of applying for a credit card in the UK then there are some conditions and steps you should know about, and we’re going to list them below.


  • 1

    You must be 18 or above

    Unfortunately you can’t apply for a credit card until you reach the age of 18. So if you are still a minor then your credit card application is going to have to wait for a while longer; however, you may be allowed to use your parent’s credit card. 

  • 2

    You must be a UK citizen or resident

    This point is self explanatory: non- residents of the UK, such as tourists, cannot apply for or receive credit cards in the UK.

  • 3

    Choose a Bank/Service Provider

    You will need to have a current account with the bank you wish to apply to for your credit card. Banks have different terms of service and other conditions so you should carefully consider each bank’s offering before you go ahead and open your current account with them.

  • 4

    Get started with a Credit Builder credit card

    For applicants with no previous credit history such as new migrants or individuals making their first credit card application, your lack of prior credit data will count against you and make it significantly harder for you to get a credit card. To get around this barrier, you may apply for a credit builder credit card which works like a regular credit card but is much easier to acquire and much more expensive to maintain.

    You should do your best to avoid taking cash advances or making late payments on a credit builder credit card as these will serve to hamper your efforts at getting a proper credit card subsequently.

  • 5

    Rate Your Application

    You should check that you have met all the criteria to receive a credit card before you apply because each failed credit card application will reflect negatively on your future applications. Some banks such as Barclays offer free online credit application reviews to let you know up front if you should bother applying at the moment.

    Also you may be able to find out which credit rating company your bank or credit card issuer uses. Finding out what your rating is with this agency will help you determine the potential for your application to be successful.

  • 6

    Decide on a credit card type

    There are quite a few different types of credit cards in the market, each with its own unique features and conditions. You will need to carefully review the various kinds of credit cards and decide on the one most appropriate for your financial needs.

  • 7


    Once you've completed the steps outlined above, the next thing to do is simply apply. Most banks have some provision for you to make your application online, making everything much simpler for you.

    The waiting time to receive your card upon approval of application is usually around two weeks for most banks in the UK.

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