Credit Card Application Advice

Hi all, I’d like to get a credit card to help build my credit score, but I’m unsure which provider to go with.

I had my first credit card from my bank in Canada when I was 18, and eventually added a second for rewards, but neither of them have had much use since I moved abroad more than 7 years ago.

At the end of April I’ll have lived in the UK for 3 years (though I only moved into my current address at the beginning of May that year). Currently my credit here is based on bills, my phone contract, and Monzo Flex (where my limit is only £250).

I don’t have any other chequing accounts in the UK so can’t get advice from a bank. I checked Money Saving Expert and it appears I’m pre-approved for a Capital One credit card. But from reading other topics on this forum, American Express sounds more appealing to me based on the customer rewards and an app experience similar to Monzo. However, the eligibility checker on AMEX’s website requires me to input a second UK address prior to my current address, which I don’t have. Should I wait until the end of April to apply? Should I just go with the Capital One card? Any other suggestions for next steps are welcomed!

Why are you wanting to improve your credit score?

Don’t fall into the trap in believing this is the only deciding factor companies use when giving you finance.

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Don’t worry about the best credit card. Get any credit card and build up slowly and sensibly from there.

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You say you lived in the UK for the past three years but that you don’t have an address prior to May 2021?

Get on the comparison sites and check out all the offers, most will do a good job of showing you what you’d be guaranteed to get, before even doing a hard search.

Also check out the MSE guides to credit building / credit cards, they are in-depth and helpful.

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I have an Amex credit card, but I wouldn’t have it as my only credit card. Acceptance may be better than it was several years ago but its not universal.

I’d suggest going for a Visa credit card at this stage, ideally one that does not charge foreign transaction fees. Since you already have Mastercard through Monzo, adding a Visa card may be beneficial just in case there is ever a problem with the Mastercard network, albeit an unlikely scenario.

Barclaycard Rewards, Zopa, and Tymit perhaps all worth considering. All Visa, none charge foreign transaction fees, and I believe all have decent apps.

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Not really cards someone just starting out with credit cards would likely be approved for. Not sure about Zopa

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I love AMEX mainly because their transaction dispute service is so great. It’s the card that I use always for flights, hotels, hire cars, large online purchases, anything where disputes are a very high risk.

Still, I say if credit building is the main goal just get the capital one, or any card, for now. You can still apply for Amex later - more than one credit card is normal! Initially you will probably get a low limit (maybe £1500 or lower?) and to build a credit score you’ll want to cycle no more than about 30% of that each month paying off in full. So it’s only a few hundred pounds we are talking about.

In my opinion, you really want an Amex with a nice big limit, so that you can still buy those £1000 flights without denting your scores.

I know it’s something you know probably, but don’t fall into the trap of not paying it off.

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if you have a good credit rating then you will more than likely want to avoid thimbi , vanquis etc , but they also almost accept every one

I’d get the Capital One card.

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Have a read through the Money Saving Expert guide below: it really has a lot of useful info, particularly if you may not be all that familiar with how finances work in the UK. If you do nothing else, definitely read their “golden rules”:

Then, whatever you do: don’t apply willy nilly, especially if your credit credit record isn’t the best, as rejections can further hurt your credit record.

Have a look at the Money Saving Expert eligibility checker to minimise that risk (or any other for that matter, but MSE is a good start):


Edit: only read the final portions of your first post now :man_facepalming: :laughing: Definitely second @j06 then: Get the Capital One, and consider Amex in 6-12 months.

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Put your Canadian address if needed. But amex is tough to get as a first card, they often refuse for arbitrary reasons and are picky.

A decent card usable every day and for travelling is always nice. I would recommend Tymit and Barclaycard Rewards card. Both have no fee foreign transactions. Tymit has split in 3 for free, whereas Barclaycard has small cashback. Note that Barclayscard does not support Google Pay, they offer their own NFC phone payment app on Android.

I would advise against capital one. It has crap support.

Never had an issue with capital one personally, I always message through online banking and get a reply within a day.

Sure, if you can get a rewards/cashback card, don’t get capital one. But if your credit rating is bad that might not be an option…

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If I were you, I’d close that Monzo Flex facility.

Having such a low credit limit really harms your credit as it shows other lenders that you’re only trusted with a very small amount.

People have got to start somewhere. I’m sure I’ve seen subprime cards with £50 starting limit too

there’s no magic formula that once you figure it out you’re instantly sent an Amex Centurion. Some lenders are looking for people who pay back in full every month. Some for people who carry a balance so they can charge interest. Some just care about income/outgoings ratio

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The rule of thumb back in the day used to be to apply for a credit card from your main bank. You’d probably be on firmer ground if you’d had a Natwest account since living here or another high street account, then applied for a credit card.

As it is, just do the mse eligibility checker and apply for the most likely card, whatever it is.

On the other hand it’s a short term credit function. It’s actually very difficult to know how lenders view buy now pay later, they probably don’t know themselves yet either.

If credit building was my main focus I’d probably avoid it for the time being.

I don’t think the fact it’s short term would reflect in any way, would it? The report would just show a credit line being used from time to time and being paid off – like a regular credit card

It’s not like a credit card because it’s at 100% utilisation, so it’s clear it’s a loan. The amount will make it clear it’s a short term loan, not like a ‘renovate your house’ loan.

So it’s clear what it is (short term loan), it’s just a matter of how they treat that

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