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How Credit Cards and Charge Cards work?

How Credit Cards and Charge Cards work?

There are lots of different types of Cards. This section will explain how to choose and how to use a Credit Card and a Charge Card.

What is a Credit Card?

A Credit Card is a convenient way to borrow money to pay for your purchases. It gives you the choice to pay for your purchases over several months or all at once. You don’t need to carry cash, and can use it to pay online, over the phone or in person.

You can even use it to pay for goods and services in other countries. There are other advantages to having a Credit Card – most offer benefits such as rewards, travel insurance, purchase protection and a fraud protection guarantee.

Discover our Credit Cards

What is a Charge Card?

Charge Cards are another type of payment method. If you have a charge card you are required to pay off your balance in full every month. You do not have the option to carry over a balance. American Express Charge Cards have no pre-set spending or credit limit.

Although there is no pre-set limit your credit limit will be determined based on previous credit history and your spending patterns. If you are looking to make a large purchase right away it’s a good idea to give us a call.

Discover our Charge Cards

Discover American Express Card types

We have different types of Cards so that you can choose the one that best suits your individual needs and the way you spend

  • Hotel and Retail Rewards Credit Cards— To enjoy all the benefits, convenience and security of an American Express Card – with the added bonus of accumulating hotel and retail rewards.
  • No Annual Fee Cards – For those who’d like to experience benefits with a no annual fee.
  • Travel Rewards Cards and Frequent Flyer Cards - If you’re a jet-setter, this type of Card could earn you travel rewards or frequent flyer points for making everyday purchases on your Card.
  • Rewards Cards – Designed for those who enjoy earning points on their spend then redeeming them for exciting rewards.
  • Cashback Credit Cards – Enjoy cashback on every day spend, from purchases at the supermarket to paying for your bills.
  • Premium Cards— Earn Membership Rewards points or premium rewards.
Explore our Types of Cards
How to Apply for a Card?

To apply for a personal Card in the UK you need to meet certain eligibility criteria. To save time you can use the following checklist:

  • I am aged 18 or over
  • I have a current UK bank or building society account
  • I have a permanent UK home address
  • I have no history of bad debt

Some of our Cards may require different criteria in order to be issued. You may need to provide additional details in order to complete your application.

Find out how to apply for a Card
What is Credit Score?

Your credit score is one of your most important financial tools. Understanding your credit score can help you plan for the future and is a strong indicator of your likelihood of being approved for a credit card or loan.

Learn more about Credit Score
Understanding Card interest rate

When you use your Credit Card, you are borrowing money from a lender. It is important to remember that if you don’t pay off your balance in full every month you will be charged interest until full repayment has been received. This interest is applied to your closing balance at the end of every day, and then totalled up to form interest on your statement amount.

The amount of interest you will be charged depends upon:
  • The interest rate of your Credit Card
  • The amount you spend
  • When you pay your Credit Card bill
  • The type of spend whether purchases or a cash withdrawal
Learn more about Card Interest
Repayment of a Credit Card

At the end of your statement period, you can decide how much of your balance you want to pay off but you will need to pay the minimum repayment amount. You can find out about your minimum payment and how it is formed by looking at your credit card agreement. By paying off more – or all – of your balance by the due date, you will pay less interest. You can find out what the minimum repayment is for your Credit Card by looking at your Credit Card Statement.

Charge Cards differ to Credit Cards as they give you the financial flexibility of no pre-set spending limit, and no interest charges since you must pay the balance in full at the end of each month.

Learn more about Card Repayment

What is Credit Limit?

When you opened your Credit Card Account you were given a Credit Limit which is the maximum amount you can spend at any given time. Every Credit Card comes with a Credit limit.

Learn more about Credit Limit

Credit Card fees and charges

Some American Express® Cards charge an annual fee in return for rewards, features and benefits. The amount will vary depending on the Card you apply for. Typically, the more rewards or features your Card has, the higher the annual fee. There are other standard charges and fees that may sometimes apply.

Learn more about Card Fees and Charges

What is Card Surcharge?

A surcharge is a fee that a business charges a customer for using a Card to make a purchase. As of 13 January 2018, the government banned surcharging of consumer payment products in the UK . American Express welcomes the ban and believe the decision will create a level playing field for consumers and will give them the confidence to use the payment method of their choice.

Learn more about Card Surcharge

Using your Card Abroad

American Express® Cards are accepted around the world, so you can have peace of mind when using your Card to make purchases overseas.

Find out how to use your Card Abroad

Who accepts American Express in the UK

More Merchants in the UK are choosing to accept American Express. You can use your American Express® Card for purchases big and small, including the places you love to shop at every day. We are continuing to grow our network throughout the UK, ensuring when you want to use your Card, you can.

Find out where American Express is accepted

Useful terms

Statement period

The period in which the transactions reported on your statement relate to. Generally, your statement period will be every 30 days, the actual dates can vary slightly from month to month.


When you use your Credit Card, you are borrowing money from a lender – and will be charged interest unless you repay the full balance within a specified period. Interest is usually expressed as an annual percentage rate, also known as the interest rate.

Interest free days

Interest free days are the time from when you buy something using your Credit Card to when interest is applied to that purchase balance – usually at the beginning of your next statement period.


When your statement arrives, you will have a choice of repayment options. You can pay off the entire Credit Card bill on, or before, the statement due date – in which case you’ll avoid paying more interest.

Closing balance

The amount you owe at the end of a particular statement period.


Frequent Flyer Cards

Enjoy points for flights.
With the ability to earn Frequent Flyer points or Avios points on practically every purchase and often additional travel benefits like lounge access, complimentary travel protection and 24/7 global Card support.

Some of our Featured Cards

Credit and Charge Cards Explained

Has talk of interest, annual fees, rates and percentages left you feeling confused?

Our simple Credit and Charge Card guides are a great place to start.

How Credit Cards and Charge Cards work

Learn More

Where is American Express accepted

Learn More

What is surcharging

Learn More

Using your Card Abroad

Learn More

What Credit Card fees am I expected to pay

Learn More

What is Credit Limit

Learn More

How to choose a type of Card

Learn More

What is a Charge Card

Learn More

How to pay off your Card

Learn More

How to apply for a Credit Card

Learn More

What is Credit Score

Learn More

American Express Benefits


Your security and protection are our priority. Our technology has been designed to give you peace of mind when using your card

Learn More about Fraud Protection


Access to our customer service is available 24/7 by phone, text or email.

Learn More about Customer Service


Contactless is the quick, easy and secure way to make payments - Simply touch your American Express Card on the reader, wait for the beep and you're done. What's more, with Amex pay and Apple PayTM you can even pay with your phone.

Learn more about Contactless Payments

Explore Our Credit Cards

American Express Offers a range of Credit Cards with different rewards and benefits tailored to your lifestyle and interests.

5% cashback will be payable to you by us on all your purchases made in the first three months up to £125. Introductory offers are not available if you currently hold or have held any other Platinum Cashback American Express Cards in the past six months. Any cashback from introductory offers will be credited to your Account in your card anniversary month. Your Card anniversary month is the one month period each year following the date on which your Account was opened. Cashback is not earned on Balance Transfers, Cash Advances, American Express Travellers' Cheques, Foreign Exchange transactions, interest, any spending in excess of your credit limit, charges for returned payments, late payment or referral charges and American Express Credit Card finance charges. You will earn cashback at the rate of 0.5% cashback at warehouse retailers in the United Kingdom. You can find out which retailers we treat as warehouse retailers by checking the FAQ section of our website (

Terms and Conditions apply. Please see the Insurance Terms and Conditions for full details. Please read this to understand the limits and exclusions that may apply.