The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Wednesday, November 25, 2020

15 Best Credit Cards for Seniors & Retirees in 2020

Best Credit Cards For Seniors And Retirees

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: November 5, 2019
Advertiser Disclosure

With so many options available these days, it may seem impossible to know where to begin when searching for the best credit cards for seniors and retirees. Well, we’ve done some research for you — keep reading for some of our top choices.

It’s estimated that by 2030, a full 18% of the US population will be 65 and older, with a projected 10,000 people retiring each day. For most folks, aging and retirement come with many major lifestyle changes, including a number of shifts in their financial needs.

As you set out on new adventures, it makes sense to re-evaluate your current credit cards to determine whether they still merit a place in your wallet. You may also want to take a look at the options to see if there are replacements that will better suit your new lifestyle.

Travel Rewards | No Foreign Transaction Fees | Cash Back | 0% Intro APR | Low Ongoing APR

Best “Travel Rewards” Cards for Seniors

While the average Baby Boomer may spend around $6,300 on travel in a single year, those who use the right travel rewards credit card for their expenses may be able to cut that number down by an appreciable amount.

Travel rewards credit cards offer points or miles on every purchase, which can generally be redeemed for travel-related expenses like flights and hotel stays. Many of our favorite travel cards even come with nice signup bonuses to get you traveling faster.

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Redeem on travel—from vacation rentals to car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+See More Cards with Travel Rewards

In your research, you’ll come across two main types of travel rewards credit cards: co-branded and bank-branded.

Co-branded credit cards are typically aligned with a single airline or hotel brand and earn loyalty points for that brand (i.e., an American Airlines co-branded credit card earns American Airlines miles). While the rewards are generally limited to redemption on branded purchases, co-branded cards can often provide additional perks and benefits.

Travel cards issued directly by the bank tend to reward generic points or miles that can be redeemed toward travel purchases through the issuer’s own redemption system. This usually means no blackout dates or brand restrictions. Some travel cards will also allow you to transfer your points to partner airline or hotel brands for direct redemption.

Best “No Foreign Transaction Fee” Cards for Seniors

Of the millions of seniors planning trips in the next year, nearly half intend to travel internationally. With their security and convenience, credit cards can make traveling abroad much easier — but that ease isn’t always free.

For example, making purchases in foreign currencies is simple with a credit card that automatically converts it, but the 2% to 4% foreign transaction fees can get costly. To avoid these fees, you should choose a card that won’t charge foreign transaction fees, like our picks below.

4. Discover it® Cash Back

This card is currently not available.

Best Overall Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Redeem on travel—from vacation rentals to car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.99%-23.99% Variable
$550
Good/Excellent

+See More Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees

Some foreign merchants may offer you dynamic currency conversion (DCC), which basically means they’ll convert their prices to US dollars for you before running your credit card.

DCC can seem like a convenient way to avoid foreign transaction fees, but it’s rarely the best way to get a good conversion rate since the merchant can choose the rate. What’s more, your issuer may still consider the transaction to be foreign and charge you a fee anyway.

Best “Cash Back” Cards for Seniors

Those who see the articles on complicated schemes to maximize rewards for free travel may be intimidated into thinking credit card rewards are too complicated. But not all rewards credit cards come with convoluted transfers and three-digit annual fees.

For many, the simplest form of credit card rewards is cash back, with straightforward, flat-rate redemption that won’t require a spreadsheet to master. Some of our favorite cash back cards can provide up to 5% cash back on eligible purchases, with rewards redeemable as a statement credit.

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Chase Freedom FlexSM Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn cash back twice! Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance Transfers do not earn cash back and will have a fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • 24/7 access to customer service representatives
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% for 18 months
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

+See More Cards with Cash Back

By far, the easiest and most hands-off form of credit card rewards can be had from an unlimited cash back card that offers a single earning rate — typically between 1% and 2% — for every purchase.

If you want to take your cash back to the next level, you can try a card that offers bonus cash back for specific category purchases, like gas or restaurants.

You can choose between a card that offers the same bonus categories year-round, or a card that provides rotating categories throughout the year for seasonal savings. These cards often provide 3% to 5% cash back for category purchases, but they may have yearly or quarterly bonus rewards earnings caps.

Best “0% Intro APR” Cards for Seniors

Whether you’re actively retired or simply planning to be, paying for large purchases on a set budget can put a dent in your savings. And charging it to a typical credit card can mean hundreds in interest fees depending on your card’s APR.

Credit cards with 0% introductory APR offers can be a useful way of financing large purchases that you want to pay off over a period of months. Some of the best intro-APR offers, like our top-rated picks below, can offer 12 months or more of 0% interest on new purchases.

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+See More Cards with 0% Intro APR Offers

The most important thing to remember about intro-APR offers is that they are, by nature, temporary. Your new purchase APR will increase to the default rate once your promotional period expires, and any remaining balance will be charged the higher rate.

Furthermore, be cognizant of the exact terms of your offer. While many intro-APR offers will apply to both new purchases and balance transfers, some offers may only apply to transactions of one type or the other.

Best “Low Ongoing APR” Cards for Seniors

Depending on the source of your retirement income, you may receive sporadic payments or be required to withdraw funds in certain increments or at specific times of the year. This inconsistent income can mean you may need to carry a balance from time to time as you await funds to hit your account.

While introductory low-interest offers can be a good stop-gap for a specific occasion, they don’t last forever. A better option for those who may need to periodically carry a balance is a credit card with a low ongoing APR, like our picks below, that can provide year-round savings.

Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • Better than Prepaid...Go with a Secured Card! Load One Time - Keep On Using
  • Absolutely No Credit Check or Minimum Credit Score Required
  • Automatic Reporting to All Three National Credit Bureaus
  • 9.99% Low Fixed APR - Your Rate Won’t Go Up Even if You Are Late
  • Activate Today with a $200 Minimum Deposit - Maximum $1,000. * Increase Your Credit Limit up to $5,000 by Adding Additional Deposits Anytime
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
9.99%
$48
Poor/Fair/Limited/Damaged
Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn 3% cash back for up to $2,500 spent on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months
  • Earn 1% cash rewards for all other purchases
  • 0% Intro APR offers on purchases and balance transfers (balance transfer fee applies)
  • Flexibility to use cash rewards toward travel, gift cards, merchandise, cash redemption options , and more
  • Access your FICO® Credit Score, credit education, and tools with Wells Fargo Online
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 6 months
11.15% - 21.15% Variable
$0
None/Limited
Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent on airline, hotel, taxi (including Uber and Lyft), limousine, rental car, train, bus, restaurant, fast food, and takeout food dining purchases, and 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive a statement credit of up to $350 per account, per calendar year for Qualifying Airline Purchases.
  • Receive a statement credit of up to $550 per account per calendar year with $50,000 yearly spend – for any airline lounge club worldwide.
  • Apply for Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program, using your Crystal Visa Infinite Card to pay your application fee and receive a $100 statement credit.
  • Access to a global network of more than 1,200 Priority Pass Select airport lounges
  • A 24/7 concierge at your fingertips. Receive customized assistance with airline, hotel and restaurant reservations and virtually any personal or business requests.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
13.99%
N/A
Excellent

+See More Cards with Low Ongoing APRs

Most credit cards will have a specific range of potential APRs, i.e. 14.99% to 19.99%. Those who are approved for a given card will be offered an APR from within the set range, with the specific APR dependent upon the cardholder’s credit profile.

Although improving your credit is the best way to ensure a low APR, you can reduce the chances of receiving a high APR by choosing a card with a low APR range. Keep in mind that most credit cards have variable APRs, so your APR can change with the US Prime Rate over time.

Spend Wisely in Your Retirement

For those of us still chugging along through our working lives, retirement is the proverbial light at the end of the 9-to-5 tunnel, the ultimate vacation. And for some retirees, that can certainly be true — but many others will be on tighter budgets than we often imagine.

If you can use them responsibly, credit cards can be a useful way of making your retirement a little less expensive, helping pay for travel or simply saving you a little on every purchase.

Of course, always remember that credit card rewards can’t make up for poor credit card management. Interest fees allowed to grow can quickly outpace even the best rewards, and late payments or delinquencies can ruin the credit you’ve spent a lifetime building.

While tried-and-true methods of keeping track of your finances, like tracking receipts and balancing your check book, can still have their place, don’t forget to embrace some new tools to stay on top of everything. For example, setting up automatic bill payments can make sure you never forget a due date, giving you one less thing to worry about as you set off on new adventures.

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