The use of credit cards is a widespread practice in South Africa. It’s convenient because most merchants accept credit card payments. There are also perks included in the card that you can use to get discounts and freebies.

But why should you get one if you can pay in cash? This article looks at the best credit cards available as well as the pros and cons of having a credit card in South Africa:


–   Credit cards are accepted by most merchants anywhere in the world

–   They make online purchases more convenient

–   Credit cards help build your credit history

–   It can act as part of your emergency fund in case you’re short on cash for unexpected expenses


–   It can ruin your budget if misused

–   Holding on to several credit cards will hurt your credit score

–   Over-indebtedness is just around the corner if the balance is not eliminated quickly

–   Your debt piles up because of the high interest rates

The advantages can outweigh the cons of having a credit card so long as you know how to handle your finances. If you’re confident with your money management skills, then strongly consider getting a credit card.

More Info on Credit Cards

But hold your horses! Before you apply for one, look at the additional information we’ve listed below about credit cards. They’ll introduce you better on what to expect on credit cards.

–   Most banks in SA offer an interest-free period for 55 days; some even provide up to 60 days like African Bank.

–   Banks often offer personalised credit card interest rates based on your financial profile.

–   Banks decide on the maximum card limit based on your affordability. This is one of the reasons why there are several card brands to choose from, but rarely any credit cards for those with a bad credit rating. Instead, it might be easier to look at bad credit loans.

–   Although Discover and American Express are accepted by some merchants, there are far more shops that accept credit cards with the Mastercard and Visa labels.

Best Credit Card Brands in South Africa

Below are the most trusted institutions that offer credit cards to South Africans:

1) Absa

2) African Bank

3) American Express

4) Capital One

5) Capitec

6) Discovery

7) FNB

8) Nedbank

9) Standard Bank

10) Virgin Money

Making a Shortlist

Banks offer several credit cards and choosing the best one suited for you can be overwhelming. In selecting a credit card, consider the following criteria:

–   Credit card interest rates

When you use a credit card, you’re basically borrowing money you don’t have for the meantime. You get indebted to the bank and they charge you with interest. The interest rate varies depending on the type of card, as well as your current income and credit rating.

–   Credit limit

Your credit limit will be defined by your credit rating. The higher your credit score is, the larger the limit on how much you can borrow through your credit card.

–   Fees

Using and maintaining credit cards come at a cost. Annual fees can be waived though, especially if you have an outstanding credit rating.

–   Exclusive benefits

Waived annual and service fees, travel insurance, interest-free days, cashback rewards, travel miles points, discounts on shopping stores – these are the usual benefits you can get from credit cards.

The kind and number of perks associated with each card define the fees you’ll have to pay to maintain the account. It’s up to you to choose which of these benefits are useful for your lifestyle and budget.

Concluding Thoughts

Before you apply for a credit card, check your financial goals first, and see if the move is in line with your objectives. Credit cards play a huge part in building your credit history, so make sure they’ll work to your advantage and not as an added financial burden.

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