How credit cards work

Credit card

A credit card lets you borrow money to pay for goods and services. You then repay the card provider what you owe at a future date, with interest added.

Difference between a credit card and a debit card

A credit card lets you borrow money to pay for goods and services. This sits as debt until you pay it off. 

A debit card lets you spend your own money directly from your current account. You can have an overdraft, which is a way of borrowing money through your current account. 

Both credit cards and debit cards have 16-digit card numbers, expiration dates, and personal identification number (PIN) codes. 

What you need to apply for a credit card

You can apply for a credit card if:

  • you’re a UK resident, aged 18 or over
  • you have a guaranteed annual income of £10,500 or more (before tax)
  • you haven’t been declared bankrupt, had a CCJ or an IVA within the last 6 years.

Before you apply, you can choose to use our eligibility checker. This will show you how likely we are to accept you for a credit card and an indication of the credit limit we'll offer you. You’ll need to fill in some basic information like your name, address and a few other details. 

To use our eligibility checker, please visit our credit cards page, pick the credit card you’re interested in, and use the checker. 

Credit checks

When you use our eligibility checker, we perform a ‘soft search’. This doesn’t affect your credit score. This means it can’t be seen by other lenders and won’t affect you when applying for other products. 

However, if you go ahead and apply, we’ll then do a full credit check. This will be recorded on your credit file and may impact your credit score.

Apply for another credit card

If you have a credit card with another lender, you may be able to apply for a Santander credit card. You can check your eligibility before you apply.

If you already have a Santander credit card, then you might be able to apply for another.

If you’re struggling with your finances, visit our money worries page to find out how we can help.

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