Published On: Mon, Oct 14th, 2019

Martin Lewis says cash is ‘not a safe way to spend’ & he only shops on credit cards

This isn’t a militant call to ditch paper and coins. Cash can be convenient, help impulse control and budgeting, and needs supporting to help many older people who won’t or can’t change. Yet most people should now use plastic for all significant purchases.

Chargeback is the basic protection on most plastic

With credit, debit and most charge and prepaid cards you get chargeback protection (full info at, meaning if you don’t get what you paid for, you can complain within 120 days and ask the card provider to give your money back.  This isn’t a legal protection but it is part of the Visa, Mastercard and Amex rules. 

I prefer credit cards though

I do all my spending on them as DONE RIGHT, i.e. repaid IN FULL each month so there’s no interest, credit cards rule as:

  • They’ve stronger protection

As well as chargeback protection, all UK credit cards are also protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 for items costing £100-£30,000 (full info This means the card firm is JOINTLY liable with the retailer, and that’s powerful – eg, if you go to Brazil and bulk buy your wax, then bring it home and find it’s faulty, you can simply ask the card firm to sort out a refund.

  • Section 75 protects the WHOLE transaction, eg, pay 1p for a £10,000 car and it’s ALL protected 

Pay even a penny on a credit card, and the card firm’s liable for the entire amount – yet with a debit card, you’d only get back the amount paid on the card.  One woman contacted me to thank me as she’d read my info and put a £200 deposit for a £23,000 kitchen on her credit card – the kitchen firm went bust before delivery and she got the whole amount back.

The top credit cards for rewards

The key to using a credit card is to neuter its debt ability and turn it into a pure transaction card by paying it off IN FULL every month, preferably by direct debit, and never using it to withdraw cash.

Then do all your monthly spending on the card rather than cash or debit cards – though do stick within the credit limit and don’t see it as an excuse for additional spending.

There are a lot to choose from, and which is right for you is a personal choice.  There’s a full list at, but here’s a few of the top ones:

  • Earn five percent cashback on spending

The Platinum Everyday card gives five percent cashback on all spending in the first three months (max £100), then up to one percent after (22.9 percent rep APR if you don’t fully repay). You’ll need to spend £3,000+/yr on it to get any cashback.

  • Free £25 at M&S for buying a banana

New cardholders get 2,000 bonus M&S points worth £20 if you spend anything on the card in the first 90 days – plus there’s a 500 bonus point voucher for M&S spending, so buy a banana in M&S and you’ve made £25 (19.9 percent rep APR if you don’t fully repay).

  • Earn 0.5 percent cashback with overseas spending

As well as paying cashback on all spending, the credit card is a specialist cheap overseas card – so it doesn’t add the usual three percent-ish exchange rate fee and you’ll get the same near-perfect exchange rate the banks do when you spend on it overseas (18.9 percent rep APR if you don’t fully repay). It’s beatable for cashback and spending abroad individually, but it wins as a one-card spending solution. 

What about people who don’t trust themselves?

While these are the strengths of credit cards if DONE RIGHT, done wrong they can be a dangerous temptation. So if you have impulse control issues or don’t trust yourself, don’t risk switching to a credit card – getting yourself into a steaming pile of unneeded debt is a bigger risk than a lack of protection and missing out on cashback.

Martin Lewis is the Founder and Chair of To join the 13 million people who get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to

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