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What are the different kinds of credit cards?

There are many different credit cards you can choose from. Some offer unique cash-backs and travel insurance benefits, while others allow you to access deals from a selection of local brands. We have a look at the options you have when you’re considering a credit card.

Online shopping and looking at credit card

Check your credit card offers

All the offers you see on ClearScore are tailored to your credit score and financial circumstances.

See my card offers

Credit cards are ideal for purchasing goods and services and they come with many benefits. You can borrow up to a certain amount (also known as a 'credit limit') and then you can repay over a certain time period. Most credit cards have up to 55 days interest-free, and thereafter your repayment will include interest.

You can apply for a credit card from either a bank or another financial institution and, if you’re approved, you can use it at any merchant that accepts your particular credit card.

During your application, your lender will consider your affordability and your credit profile. If both of these are favourable, you will receive a good interest rate and a large credit limit. If not, you may be approved with less preferred rates – or your application may be rejected altogether.

Log in to ClearScore and have a look at your credit report to see whether it’s favourable.

If you have a good credit profile and you think you may be approved for a credit card, you will have several options to choose from. Below we outline the three most popular types of credit cards in South Africa:

These are the general credit cards that you usually apply for through a bank.

Traditional credit cards have monthly service fees, an initiation fee, and unique benefits, such as being added to a rewards programme. There are usually different tiers, such as gold or platinum, and you can choose one that suits your income bracket and preferred benefits.

An example of a traditional credit card is the Nedbank Gold Credit Card, available on ClearScore. Your interest and credit limit will depend on your affordability and credit profile, and you will automatically be added to their Greenbacks Rewards Programme. See if you qualify on ClearScore.

These cards are very similar to the traditional credit cards, except you don't ever receive a physical bank card. You can apply for them online and receive your banking details/digital card within minutes.

Digital credit cards are usually compatible with any online store that accepts Mastercard, and you can also use it to pay in-store – usually through an affiliate app, such as SnapScan or Zapper. It can also be used for online subscriptions, such as Netflix or Uber Eats.

An example of a digital credit card is the FASTACard Digital Credit Card, available on ClearScore. You can borrow up to R8,000 and repay your debt within 3 months. See if you qualify on ClearScore.

In South Africa, store credit cards exist for many brands, such as Edgars and Woolworths. You can apply for these either online or in-store, and you will receive a physical card which you can use to purchase items from that particular brand.

This kind of credit card usually comes with brand-related benefits, such as personalised deals or vouchers, and it affords you the opportunity to settle your bill at a later stage. You can also usually earn points on your purchases, which can be used as a discount or cashback.

An example of a store credit card is a TFG Account, available on ClearScore. Unlike other store cards, this one allows you to shop at over 20 different South African retail brands and, similar to digital credit cards, you will be able to fully access your card details online. See if you qualify on ClearScore.


Isabelle is a freelance finance writer and journalist in Cape Town. She helps make managing your personal finances calm, clear and easy to understand.