Choosing a credit card

What is a credit card?

  • Credit cards can help you manage your money by borrowing to spread the cost of your everyday spending and providing a secure way to pay.
  • Credit cards are typically used for short-term borrowing for everyday shopping such as groceries, or for larger purchases such as holidays.
  • A credit card can be used to consolidate balances from most credit and some store cards (cards must display a Visa, Mastercard® or Amex logo).

When it comes to credit, making an informed decision is important.

This section will give you a much better understanding of the things you need to take into consideration before choosing a card.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) - tells you how much your borrowing will cost over an average year.

It takes into account interest charged as well as any additional fees you'll have to pay (such as any annual fees). This figure is given to allow you to make an easy and fair comparison between different credit cards.

Balance transfer - is the process of transferring a balance from one credit card to another.

Balance transfers can help consolidate your debts into one place and often promotional rates may be offered which help to reduce the cost in the short term. Normally you will be charged a fee for this type of transaction. After a promotional rate has finished the balance will always go back to your standard rate, which will normally be higher.

More about balance transfers

Fees and Charges - Credit card providers may charge fees when using your card for:

  • cash transactions
  • non-sterling transactions
  • non promotional balance transfers and money transfers
  • statement copy fees.

You could pay an annual fee just for having a card, regardless of how much you spend. A single transaction may attract more than one fee. For example, for a cash transaction in a foreign currency we charge a cash transaction and a non-sterling fee.

Keep in mind that we do charge interest on fees, except annual fees, purchases during the interest free period and default charges. For awareness, no interest will be charged on default charges within the first 28 days after notice is given that these are payable. After this time interest will be charged.

Default charges may apply if:

  • you miss or your payment doesn’t reach us on time
  • your payment is returned unpaid.

Other borrowing options

Before you a apply for a credit card, it’s useful to ask yourself: 

  • Does this option suit my borrowing needs, or should I consider alternatives, such as a loan or an overdraft? 
  • Will I be able to make repayments, even if my circumstances change?
Other borrowing options

Types of card

Credit cards can fall under a few different categories. Understanding these will help you to decide the type of card you are looking for. Here are some of the types of cards that we have to offer.

  • Purchase Offer

    A Purchase card is often used for purchasing everyday goods or services and may have an introductory offer which can be useful if you make a large purchase. You will be required to pay the minimum payment each month, once the promotional period ends you’ll be charged your standard rate.

  • Combined Balance and Purchase

    Combined cards may have introductory offers for both purchases and balance transfers. A balance transfer lets you transfer the balance from one credit card, where you may be paying interest, to another. It can also be helpful if you want to make a large purchase in order to spread the cost for a promotional period

  • Low Rate

    This type of card may be useful if you don’t want to worry about promotional periods ending as it has one interest rate.

Balance Transfer

A Balance Transfer card can help reduce the amount of interest you are paying on your existing credit card debts. This type of card enables you to transfer all or part of a credit card or some store card balances onto a new credit card and you may be offered an introductory rate. When the introductory period has ended, any balance remaining on your account will be charged at your standard rate of interest.

What does it mean for me?

  • Your biggest commitment is to pay back what you borrow plus any interest charged and stay within your credit limit. Each month you must repay at least the minimum payment on time as shown on your statement. Please read your credit card terms and conditions carefully so you understand how your credit card works.

  • Even if your card offers an interest-free period on purchases, if you don’t make the minimum payment each month you will be charged interest on your purchases. By only paying the minimum each month, you pay more interest over a longer period and it takes longer to clear your balance. Interest charges will apply on any balance transfers (outside of a promotional offer), credit card cheques or cash withdrawals made on your credit card even if you pay your balance in full.

    If you miss or make a late payment, you’ll be charged a fee. To help avoid late payment fees, you can pay a fixed amount or the minimum or full amount by Direct Debit each month. It’s also important you keep within your credit limit to avoid incurring a charge. Missing a payment could also affect your credit rating which can make it difficult to obtain future credit.

  • When making a lending decision, we consider a number of factors: such as credit history (i.e. maintaining credit card payments and length of time the current account is held), current level of borrowing and financial commitments.

    If successful, you’ll get a credit limit and any applicable promotional rates based on your current status. At least 51% of successful applicants will receive the representative variable rate advertised. You may receive a different promotional period, rate or product offered which will be based on your individual circumstances.

    Please check all the features of the credit card to ensure they still meet your requirements as these may differ from the card you originally applied for.

  • Bank of Scotland Secure is a free service that gives you extra protection when you use your credit or debit card to shop online.

    Stay secure

    If you’ve bought something using your credit card, the credit card issuer and the merchant may be equally liable for compensating you if things go wrong.

    Payment disputes

Ready to apply?

Our handy guide covers eligibility, the information you'll need to provide and what happens after you apply.

How to apply for a credit card

Existing customers

If you already have a Bank of Scotland credit card then you may want to consider applying for a second card or swap your existing card. Find out about how to get more from your card.