15 Best Credit Cards for Seniors & Retirees in 2018

15 Best Credit Cards for Seniors & Retirees in 2018

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: August 15, 2018
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

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
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

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 $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+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.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50K 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®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $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 & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • 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
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$450
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
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.99% - 25.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 15.99%-26.99% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
15.99%-26.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+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.

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 13.49%-26.99% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Credit Card
  • Easy access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
  • Zero Liability protection for promptly reported unauthorized transactions
  • Convenient tools to help create a budget and manage your spending with My Money Map
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 18 months
0% for 18 months
13.49%-26.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.99% - 25.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 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
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.99% - 25.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+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.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® Balance Transfer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
$0
Good/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.