Top tips for managing your credit card

Sometimes we all need a little help when it comes to money. A credit card is a convenient way of borrowing in the short term, and knowing how to stay in control of it will help you avoid financial difficulties. Here’s our advice on how to make your credit card work for you.

1. Only borrow what you can afford to repay

It can be tempting to apply for a credit card with a high credit limit. However, we recommend that you only borrow what you need and what you can afford to pay back. It’s also wise to keep some of your available credit for emergencies.

2. Stick to your credit limit

From time to time, we may offer you a higher credit limit. Get in touch with us if you don’t want your limit increased. You can also lower your credit limit at any time if you feel it’s too high.

3. Know your interest rates and fees

Understanding the interest rates and fees that can be charged to your credit card will help you avoid unexpected costs. If you’re unsure about any of the terms we use, read our guide.

4. Keep your receipts

Keep receipts for all your credit card transactions. This will help you check your statement is accurate. If you see a credit card transaction you don’t recognise and the company that’s taken the payment can’t help, contact us to raise a payment dispute.

5. Take control of your repayments

If you want to pay off your card quickly, don’t just make the minimum payments. Give yourself a target date for clearing your balance, and plan your payments to fit your goal. Setting up a Direct Debit can help – the payment will automatically be taken each month and will mean you’ll avoid late payment fees.

6. Be aware of your credit score

The higher your credit score, the better your chance of being able to borrow money. Having a credit card can actually increase your credit score because it proves to lenders you can be trusted to pay them back on time. Just make sure you don’t miss payments or go over your limit, as these can lower your score and have a negative impact on your finances in future.

Understanding card declines

We’re sorry that your transaction was declined. Take a look below to see why this might have happened. 

Your card is not activated

If you’re using a credit card, double check that it’s been activated and follow the instructions on the sticker if it hasn’t. 

You have a card freeze in place

This is when you have applied a temporary card freeze on our app or by calling us. If you’re registered on the app, please check to see if you’ve applied a card freeze, or you can call us on 0345 964 5645. Lines are open 8am – 8pm, seven days a week.

You’ve reached your agreed credit limit 

That’s the total amount of money you can borrow on your credit card at any one time. You may have reached it, or your transaction may have taken you over it. You can learn more about your credit limit on our website, app or by calling us on 0345 964 5645. Lines are open 8am – 8pm, seven days a week. 
Not all Telephone Banking services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Your card has expired

Double check the expiry date. We’ll send you a new card before the last week of your expiry month. If you haven’t received it, please give us a call on the number below. 

You’ve reached your daily Cashpoint® withdrawal limit

We set a daily withdrawal limit of £500 and you may have reached it. It’s also worth knowing that other lenders and Cashpoint operators can set their own limits as well. 


If your card was declined while paying for something online or over the phone, it could be because of these reasons:

Your name and address don’t match our records

It’s worth checking that your name and address details match our records. If you need to update any details, you can find out how to do it on our updating your contact information page

Incorrect CVV number

This is the 3 digit number on the back of your card. You’ll always be asked for it if you pay for something online or over the phone. Double check that you’ve entered it correctly. 


If none of those answers have helped you, please get in touch

You can phone us on 0345 964 5645, or if you are calling from abroad or would prefer not to use the 0345 number, you can call us on +44 (0) 173 357 4121. Lines are open 8am – 8pm, seven days a week.
Not all Telephone Banking services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Please note: Calls to 03 numbers are charged at no more than local rate.

Card freezes

A handy feature in our secure Mobile Banking app that lets you quickly freeze and unfreeze different types of transactions on your credit card whenever you need to.

Using card freezes

It’s really useful if you’ve temporarily forgotten where you put your card (but you know it’s definitely not lost or been stolen) – or if you just want to control how and where your cards can be used.

In many different ways

There are all sorts of ways you can freeze your cards, whether they’re used online, at tills, terminals or ATMs across the globe. You can now even freeze them for gambling.


Money worries? We're here to help

If you’re struggling to make your credit card payments, please let us know.

Our trained advisers can give you guidance on paying off your credit card debt. We can talk to you about payment options and we may be able to offer a more affordable plan based on your personal circumstances.

Get in touch:

  • Call us on 0345 964 5645 or +44 (0) 1733 574 121 if you're calling from abroad. Lines are open Mon-Sun 8am – 8pm.
    Not all Telephone Banking services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Visit your local branch. Find a branch

Making sure you get a fair deal

We want you to find a product that's right for your circumstances, which is why we adhere to the Standards of Lending Practice, which are monitored and enforced by the Lending Standards Board.

To find out more you can read the statement of responsibilities, which details what's expected of us, the lender and you the borrower.

Download the statement of responsibilities (PDF 60KB)

Reducing the cost of your credit

If you are paying more in interest, fees and charges than you are paying back, you may be in persistent debt.

Our guide explains what this means and how to manage it. 

Bank of Scotland plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC327000. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 169628.