Guide to credit cards

A credit card can be a convenient way to buy everyday items like groceries and petrol or one-off purchases such as a holiday or new TV. It can also be useful for those unexpected expenses like a boiler breakdown or car repairs

As part of our commitment to help you make an informed decision, here are some things to consider when applying for a credit card.

What features and benefits can I expect?
What commitment do I need to make?
Are there any risks?
What else should I consider before I apply?

What features and benefits can I expect?

A credit card is a flexible and convenient way of borrowing money in the short term. It can offer interest-free, short-term credit on purchases, as long as you always pay the balance in full and on time. It’s a safe and versatile way to pay for goods and services and offers protection against fraud. Some credit cards allow you to transfer a balance from another credit or store card, however you may incur a fee. Find out more about balance transfers.

Your credit limit is based on an assessment of your income and borrowing commitments. We’ll tell you your limit after your application is accepted and this figure will appear on your monthly statements. If you would prefer a lower limit you can decrease it at any time after your card has been activated. If you would prefer a higher limit, after six months we can review your credit limit based on an assessment of your ability to pay the new amount.

We offer a variety of credit cards, all with different features and benefits as well as online servicing.

What commitment do I need to make?

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.

Are there any risks?

  • 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 balance.
  • 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, credit card cheques or cash withdrawals made on your credit card even if you pay your balance in full.
  • If you miss or your payment doesn’t reach us on time, 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.
  • Missing a payment could also affect your credit rating which can make it difficult to obtain future credit.

What else should I consider before I apply?

If you need to take money out of a cash machine, remember that credit cards are different to debit cards and you may be charged interest and a fee. If you withdraw cash overseas, you may also incur an additional fee.

When you apply for a credit card, we'll usually check your credit history with a credit reference agency. Making repeated applications for credit within a short period of time could have a negative impact on your credit rating.

You can close your credit card account at any time; our products have no tie-ins. However, you must clear any outstanding balance first.

Credit cards have many advantages but they may not be for you. Our other borrowing options may be more suitable for you.

Already have a Bank of Scotland credit card?

Find out about swapping your credit card or applying for a second credit card, in order to take advantage of a new card with different features and benefits to suit your current need and lifestyle. Please be aware that swapping your existing credit card for a new one may result in you losing your existing credit card benefits and offers.