Are the best cashback credit cards a good alternative to miles and points cards?

Cashback credit cards are not a core focus of Head for Points due to, erm, their lack of points.

That isn’t going to change, but as the benefit packages on reward cards continue to be squeezed it is worth keeping an eye on the best alternatives.  After all, you could use the cashback to pay for travel directly or even buy points in your preferred programme.

American Express cashback products

The best cashback cards come from American Express because these have not been impacted by the 0.3% cap on interchange fees.  With retailers paying more to accept the cards, Amex can pass back more to you.

You can find details of the Platinum Cashback card here and the Platinum Cashback Everyday card here.

The Platinum Cashback card pays you cashback at the following rate:

  • 5% cashback on all your spending in the first three months, up to £2,500 of purchases
  • 1% back if you spend under £10,000 from month 4 to month 12 (and annually thereafter)
  • 1.25% back on your spend over £10,000 from month 4 to month 12 (and annually thereafter)

It comes with a £25 annual fee.  The Platinum Cashback credit card has a representative APR of 28.2% variable, including the £25 fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit.  The interest rate on purchases is 22.9% variable.

Meanwhile …..

The Platinum Cashback Everyday card (free) has a tiered reward system:

  • 5% cashback on all your spending in the first three months, up to £2,000 of purchases

After the first three months, you will earn:

  • 0.5% on the first £5,000 of spend (but you get nothing if you spend under £3,000)
  • 1% back on your spend over £5,000

Cashback is paid in a lump sum at the end of each card year.  The card has a representative APR of 22.9% variable.

To save you getting your calculator out, the break-even point for getting the £25 card is £10,000 of spending per year.  For everyone except the highest spenders, you are better off with the free Platinum Cashback Everyday card.

American Express Platinum Cashback credit cards review

MasterCard and Visa cashback products

Cashback Visa and MasterCard products are not hugely generous following the recent cap on interchange fees.  However, they are arguably no worse – and in some cases better – than the two main Avios alternatives which are:

Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express & MasterCard (£24 fee, representative APR 23.7% variable including fee) – 0.25 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard, a poor deal but MasterCard spending counts towards the upgrade voucher you receive for spending £7,000

Tesco Clubcard MasterCard (free, representative APR 18.9% variable) – 0.3 Avios per £1, based on 1 Clubcard point per £8 spent.  However Tesco rounds down each transaction to the nearest £8 which means your actual earning rate is lower.

There are a number of cashback Visa and MasterCard products which offer the equivalent of 0.5% back, either in cash or ‘as good as cash’ vouchers.  My favourite options include:

ASDA Cashback Card (representative APR 19.9% variable) – free, 0.5% cashback, 1% cashback in ASDA, cashback paid in vouchers which can only be redeemed in ASDA

Amazon Platinum MasterCard (representative APR 21.9% variable) – free, 0.5% cashback, 0.75% cashback at Amazon, cashback paid in Amazon credit

I don’t think there are any cashback cards which offer more than 0.5% in cash or vouchers on your general spending.  Some of these cards also offer 0% deals on purchases or balance transfers.

Conclusion

I am not suggesting that you should drop your existing reward credit cards and switch to cashback cards instead.  It depends what value you place on your miles and points.

Importantly, these calculations don’t take into account the other benefits offered by travel loyalty cards, such as the 2-4-1 voucher on the British Airways American Express.  It is always good to be aware of the alternatives though.   If you have tried and failed to get your friends to switch from ‘no rewards’ cards to a ‘miles and points’ card, at least do them a favour and tell them to get a good cashback card instead.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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Comments

  1. How does having a cash back card affect your 6 month “holiday” if you are reapplying for the Amex Gold or Platinum card and aiming for sign up bonus points?

  2. If they pay out of course – they didn’t for me! Hopefully they won’t switch affiliate network again. Thankfully Amex sorted it out, although most other companies probably wouldn’t!