Britain's newspapers reported on Saturday, while warning that his good fortune may not last.
The Sun called the premier "Cam of Steel".
"The prime minister returns from Brussels with his head held high," the tabloid said.
"He refused to back down over a freeze or cut in the EU budget. He showed some steel. Good for him.
"As the PM said, Brussels is living in a parallel universe where unelected eurocrats get fatter as member states suffer the pain of austerity.
"Britain's relationship with Brussels is now at a tipping point. We've been ripped off long enough and we'll be fleeced no longer," the paper opined.
Talks on the EU's trillion euro budget ended in deadlock Friday when leaders of the 27-nation bloc failed to overcome seemingly irreconcilable differences on spending.
The Independent said everyone came back from Brussels a winner.
It said that by Cameron arriving early to meet EU president Herman Van Rompuy, avoiding "wholly negative rhetoric" and stressing that Britain was not alone, he showed he had learnt how to handle an EU summit without riling the others.
"Clearly there has been a re-think. On a scale of good to appalling outcomes in Brussels, of which Britain has run the gamut over the years, this summit must rate not too bad, either for Europe or, unusually, for the UK," it said.
The Daily Mail said Cameron deserved "great credit for trying to force the spendthrift EU elite to join the real world, in which national budgets are being slashed and household incomes squeezed.
"A note of caution, however: the arrogant, self-serving, and unacountable EU elite rarely takes no for an answer."
Ludicrous list of budget demands
"The PM will need to be every bit as determined when they come calling with an updated but doubtless equally ludicrous list of budget demands early next year."
The Guardian said fudging had got the EU through many tricky negotiations before but governments have grown warier of taking their people for granted.
"With no one in Europe agreeing on anything, he could strike a moderate tone.
"But he ought not to assume that his good luck will last."
The Daily Telegraph said the blame game was already under way.
Stunning lack of vision
"The real culprit is not any national leader, but the European Commission, which failed to put forward any realistic proposals to trim spending," the broadsheet said.
"It is this indifference to the interests of the long-suffering taxpayer that is the real public sector scandal."
Cameron was slammed in the Daily Mirror.
"Our own prime minister is isolated with few allies," said the left-wing tabloid.
"Mr Cameron seeing failure as a victory betrays a stunning lack of vision and an inability to negotiate successfully." – Sapa-AFP