The 4 best credit cards for seniors

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In a Nutshell

There aren’t many credit card products specifically tailored to seniors, but here are our best credit cards for seniors on a fixed income or wanting to travel.

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At a glance: Best credit cards for seniors

Best travel rewards card Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Best low-interest card Simmons First Visa Platinum
Best low-fee rewards card AARP® Credit Card from Chase®
Most flexible redemption options Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

As you age, your financial priorities and spending habits often change.

Seniors often have less household income and according to 2014 to 2016 data from the U.S. Department of Labor, seniors spend less than people in their 40s or 50s who are in their prime earning years.

Some seniors also live on a fixed income, either relying on Social Security or retirement savings to pay their bills.

With all these considerations, choosing a credit card that doesn’t lead to huge debt is critical for seniors. However, there aren’t many credit card products specifically tailored to this demographic.

Seniors looking at new credit card offers should weigh interest rates, rewards and fees before they apply.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out these options.


Best travel rewards card: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Who’s it for?

Seniors who are planning to travel.

Why we like it

According to AARP travel research from 2017, 99 percent of baby boomers will travel at least once this year, with an average of five or more trips planned.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can help seniors earn rewards for their travels. Another plus? The card has no foreign transaction fees, so using your card abroad won’t come with additional charges.

With this card, you can earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. This is the equivalent of $625 toward travel when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal — your points get a 25 percent boost when you redeem them for travel through the Ultimate Rewards® portal.

Aside from the bonus, you’ll get two points per dollar spent on travel and dining and one point for all other purchases.

Watch out for

There’s no annual fee the first year, but it jumps to $0 intro, $95 after first year after that.

Also, Ben Woolsey, president and general manager of CreditCardForum.com, explains, “travel cards can have pretty high interest rates.”

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is no exception: Its variable APR ranges from 16.99 to 23.99 percent for purchases and balance transfers, based on your creditworthiness — and with no intro APR period, you’ll need to be diligent about paying off the balance every month to keep interest fees from eating into your rewards.

How to use it

With no foreign transaction fees and a 1:1 points-transfer program with 11 airline and hotel travel partners, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card incentivizes road warriors and globetrotting seniors.

You’ll need to spend about $400 a month in travel and dining purchases to offset the annual fee after the first year. Be sure to pay your balance in full every month to avoid interest.

Best low-interest card: Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum Card 

Who’s it for?

Any senior who needs a convenient card for everyday purchases, doesn’t care about rewards and is worried about amassing more debt.

Why we like it

The Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum Card is more about utility than flashy rewards.

The card has no annual fee and boasts an 9.25 percent variable annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases and balance transfers.

With average credit card interest rates typically starting around 17 percent for consumers with good credit, the interest rate for this card is strikingly low.

Another benefit of the card is zero balance transfer fees. This benefit gives cardholders the option to transfer a balance from a higher-interest rate card without paying extra in fees.

Watch out for

The 2 percent foreign transaction fee makes this card less ideal if you plan to travel in your later years. But the card does come with up to $1 million of travel accident insurance and separate car rental coverage.

Finally, since this card doesn’t come with rewards, it’s not the best fit for big spenders.

How to use it

This card is best for everyday purchases or to transfer a balance. If you have existing credit card debt, you’re unlikely to find a better long-term interest rate.

Heads up: Unlike this card, other cards offer 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers for a certain period of time (along with no balance transfer fee for a certain period of time).

So, if you think you can pay off your transferred debt within the promotional period, that may be a better option than transferring the debt to this card with an 8 percent APR and no promotional rate period.

Best low-fee rewards card: AARP® Credit Card from Chase

Who’s it for?

Seniors who want to earn cash back.

Why we like it

The only card in our list specifically designed for seniors, the AARP® Credit Card from Chase comes with a $100 cash back bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months.

This card offers unlimited 3 percent cash back at restaurants and gas stations and 1 percent on everything else. Points don’t expire as long as your account is open.

There’s no annual fee, and there’s a nice introductory APR of 0 percent for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers.

Watch out for

There’s a 3 percent foreign transaction fee, and after the introductory period ends, the card’s interest rate jumps to a variable 16.99 to 23.74 percent, based on your creditworthiness.

Woolsey says rewards may be enticing, but retired seniors should pay close attention to interest rates and consider whether they’ll be able to pay off the balance in full each month with their retirement income.

He says, “If they’re carrying a balance or carrying interest, I wouldn’t recommend they get another credit card unless it’s a balance transfer card.”

How to use it

The card has a simple rewards structure – you can maximize your earnings by using it primarily at gas stations and restaurants.

Redemption options include cash (statement credit or direct deposit), gift cards and travel. Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash or gift cards and vary for travel. You can redeem rewards for cash starting at 2,000 points.

Most flexible redemption options: Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Who’s it for?

Seniors with a Fidelity account who want to top off their retirement accounts or help their children or grandchildren save for higher education.

Why we like it

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers unlimited 2 percent cash back (the equivalent of two rewards points per dollar) on every eligible purchase and no annual fee.

But what makes it ideal for seniors is that cardholders can deposit rewards in up to five eligible Fidelity accounts, including a retirement account or 529 college savings account.

Watch out for

There’s no sign-up bonus, and you’ll pay a 3 percent balance transfer fee ($5 minimum) and 1 percent foreign transaction fee, making this card a less attractive option if you want to transfer a high balance or use it abroad.

How to use it

When you link your card to an eligible Fidelity account, Fidelity will automatically redeem your rewards as a deposit into that account each month as long as you’ve earned the 5,000-point minimum redemption threshold.

The card offers flat, unlimited rewards, so you can use it for everyday purchases to steadily build your nest egg or college savings for loved ones.


Bottom line

Fifty percent of baby boomers have less than $100,000 saved for retirement, according to a 2016 PWC Employee Financial Wellness Survey. And with people living longer, you may have to fund a 10- or 20-year retirement.

With this in mind, incurring more debt can be dangerous, especially high-interest credit card debt. When you’re looking for the best credit cards for seniors, you should carefully read the fine print for information on interest rates, fees and potential rewards.

“For people that can just use a credit card as a convenience item and pay it off in full each month, it makes sense to take advantage of rewards that are offered,” Woolsey says. “But if you know you won’t be able to pay it off every month, then definitely look for a low-interest rate card [and keep your budget in mind when using your card].”


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