Credit card help and guides
Credit cards

Your guide to credit cards

Helping you to understand credit cards

Using a credit card

Using a credit card in a shop works in the same way as a debit card, but there’s an important difference to remember. With debit cards, you’re spending the money that’s in your bank account. But with credit cards, you’re borrowing money from your credit card provider.

The total amount you owe on a credit card is made up of your spending, combined with any interest and fees – this amount is referred to as the card’s balance.

It’s important to remember to spend sensibly when using a credit card, as you’re spending borrowed money which has to be paid back. Also be sure to avoid late payment fees by making sure you have enough income to make your payments on time.

Cancelling a credit card

Credit cards are a great way to build and protect your credit score if they’re used responsibly. Cancelling a card can impact your score, so you should take this into account before making a final decision.

Our Credit Card Services team can help you cancel your credit card if you decide that cancelling is the best option for you. They’ll also be able to discuss your options further and help you make an informed decision that is right for your finances.

Before cancelling a credit card, remember you’ll need to:

  • Pay off the card in full
  • Consider your credit score and make sure you’re not in the process of applying for any new forms of credit

Applying for a credit card 5 step guide

Applying for a credit card is a quick and easy process. In most cases, your application will be complete in under 30 minutes. But, to increase your chances of a successful application, you need to keep a few things in mind.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get a credit card in the UK:

1. Find the right credit card

Not all credit cards are the same, and you need to find the right offer for your spending needs.

If you’re looking for a card you can use abroad, you should look for a travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees. If you're looking for manageable monthly payments, you could look for a low rate credit card You can even find cards that reward you for shopping. If you want to clear some debt, you could find a card that offers 0% on balance transfers.

Visit our credit card comparison hub to find the right card for you.

Eligibility applies. Over 18s only.

2. Organise a credit score check

Your credit score lets providers know if you are suitable for a specific card. The better your score is, the greater choice you have when it comes to applying for credit cards and larger credit limits.

Companies, such as Experian, keep files that show how financially reliable you are. Your score is based on your history of making payments (bills), paying back credit products (mortgages, loans, etc.) and even how often you apply for credit.

Remember, unsuccessful credit card applications could affect your score, so make sure you know your credit score before starting the application process.

You can visit Experian to request your free credit score file.

3. Make sure you understand credit card offers

You need to understand what your credit limits and APR mean before accepting an offer. Credit limits and APR are based on your personal circumstances and your credit score, and if you don’t know how much you can spend and the rate you have to pay it back, you risk going over your credit limit.

If you have any questions or are unsure about the terms of the offer, ask us for a little more clarification and we can help.

4. Check your eligibility

Rejected applications for credit have a negative effect on your credit score. Each time you're rejected by a lender, it can be harder for future applications to be accepted.

If you decide that a NatWest credit card best suits your needs, you can check your eligibility before you choose to apply. This happens at the start of your application and lets you know your indicative credit limit and whether you'll be accepted, before a full credit check is completed.

5. Complete the application

The easiest way to apply for a credit card is to apply online. It's safe, secure and usually doesn’t take long.

Take a look below at what you will need with you when applying.


What you'll need

It’s likely you’ll need to have the following documents to hand:

  • Your address details for the last 3 years
  • Your income, outgoings and employment details
  • A note of any cards you wish to transfer a balance from
  • Your bank account details if you're an existing NatWest customer

Looking for more help?

See our credit card range

We have a range of credit cards that could meet your needs. See our range and compare the benefits today. Eligibility criteria applies. Over 18s only.

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Find the borrowing option for you

If you need to borrow money and you are not sure which product might be right for you, use our helpful tool to compare the features of different types of lending.

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Can we help with anything else?