The best credit cards for retirees and seniors

Jun 23, 2022

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We spend a lot of time talking about travel and the best credit cards for things like no foreign transaction fees, restaurants, supermarkets and more. We also have guides to the best credit cards for students. Seniors and retirees deserve their own consideration, due to differences in lifestyles from these other groups.

In this guide, we’ll look at the best credit cards for retirees and seniors to help you navigate your later years with a solid credit card portfolio geared specifically toward you. We’ll break these cards down into two sections — everyday spending cards and premium travel cards — since they meet different needs for different people.

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In This Post

The best everyday credit cards for retirees and seniors

These cards offer quality earning structures, low annual percentage rates and other perks that should be attractive for people in their later years who may have less disposable income due to no longer working. Let’s take a look at the best everyday credit cards for retirees and seniors.

(Photo by MoMo Productions/Getty Images)

 

AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $100 cash bonus after spending $500 or more on the card within 90 days of account opening.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we like it: If you have a lot of medical expenses, you’ve likely noticed a severe lack of cards that earn bonus points on this type of spending. The AARP Essential Rewards card earns 2% cash back on medical expenses, as well as 3% cash back on gas and drugstore purchases. You’ll earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

You can redeem your earnings as cash back or toward the cost of an AARP membership for yourself or someone else. There are no earning limits in any of the categories and no annual fee. For those seeking a card that earns well on medical expenses but who don’t want to pay an annual fee, this card could be your solution.

The information for the AARP  Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after spending at least $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days from account opening.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we like it: The Customized Cash Rewards card has no annual fee and allows you to choose a category where you earn 3% back on spending on the first $2,500 of spending in these categories each quarter (then 1%), making it valuable for the area where you spend the most. Cardmembers also earn 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 of spending in these categories each quarter (then 1%) and 1% back on all other purchases.

Cardmembers can also enjoy a 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 16.24%-26.24% variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers.

Where this card can excel is if you are a member of Bank of America Preferred Rewards. Eligible members can earn an up-to-75% bonus on credit card rewards, which can almost double the Customized Cash Rewards card’s earning rates from 3%, 2% and 1% to 5.25%, 3.5% and 1.75%, respectively.

Read our Customized Cash Rewards card review for all the details.

Apply here: Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Welcome offer: Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card within the first six months.

Annual fee: $0 (see rates and fees).

Why we like it: This card has no annual fee, earning categories that match common daily spending and introductory rates on APR and “buy now, pay later” plans that can help you save money while financing large purchases. Cardmembers enjoy $0 Plan It® fees for BNPL plans created during the first 15 months after account opening. This can help you finance large purchases coming up, and then plan fees are 1.33% of the purchase amount after the introductory period, in addition to the standard purchase APR. Cardmembers also enjoy an introductory APR of 0% for purchases in the first 15 months, then a variable APR between 15.49% and 25.49%.

Another reason to like this card is its earning structure. Cardmembers earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 of spending per year (then 1%), 2% back at U.S. gas stations and 1% back on all other purchases.

Read our Blue Cash Everyday card review for all the details.

Apply here: Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Welcome offer: Earn a $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months.

Annual fee: $95 (see rates and fees).

Why we like it: This card earns well in common spending categories, has a moderate annual fee and the value of the rewards you earn should easily overcome the annual fee. Plus, you can enjoy $0 in Amex Plan It “buy now, pay later” fees for plans created in the first year of cardmembership (then up to 1.33% in monthly fees) and a 0% introductory APR for new purchases in the first 12 months from account opening (then a variable APR between 15.49% and 25.49% will apply).

Cardmembers earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending per year (then 1% cash back). This alone could provide $360 in cash back per year, if maximized. Cardmembers also earn 6% cash back on select streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis, ride-hailing apps, parking, tolls, trains and other commuting expenses) and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Read our Blue Cash Preferred card review for all the details.

Apply here: Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 on the card within the first three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $95.

Why we like it: The best thing about the Venture card is its simplicity. You can earn 2 miles per dollar spent on nearly everything. The exceptions are earning 5 miles per dollar spent on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel and 5 miles per dollar spent on cars booked through Turo (through May 16, 2023).

Capital One miles have gained value in recent years, thanks to a growing list of transfer partners. TPG values these miles at 1.85 cents apiece. That makes the sign-up bonus worth $1,388 and provides a 3.7% return on everyday spending.

Beyond the miles, the card also offers a decent amount of perks. These include application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, two complimentary passes to Capital One lounges or Plaza Premium lounges each year, and perks like travel accident insurance, secondary auto rental coverage, extended warranty protection and no foreign transaction fees.

Read our Venture card review for all the details.

Apply here: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Chase Freedom Flex

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we like it: The card has no annual fee but strong earning categories for cash back, and you can convert these earnings to Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you have or someone in your family has a card that earns these points and has an annual fee. That would unlock all of Chase’s transfer partners. The card also provides valuable World Elite Mastercard benefits, such as cellphone protection.

Cardmembers earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined spending each quarter on rotating bonus categories (you must remember to enroll for these each quarter) and 5% cash back on travel purchased through the Chase travel portal. Cardmembers also earn 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining, including restaurants, takeout and delivery. You’ll earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. Cardmembers can also enjoy 0% introductory APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR ranging from 16.49% to 25.24%.

Read our Freedom Flex card review for all the details.

Apply here: Chase Freedom Flex

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $95.

Why we like it: Aside from our recommendation that this should be the first card in any points and miles collector’s wallet, it’s more than just a starter card. The card provides compelling benefits, like a $50 annual hotel credit, a 10% annual points bonus, a year of complimentary DoorDash DashPass for food delivery with no fees, and a slew of travel protections, as well as no foreign transaction fees. If you want a travel card for your later years but don’t want a hefty annual fee, this can be a great card for your purse or wallet.

The earning structure is also excellent when compared to other cards with a sub-$100 annual fee. You’ll earn 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Chase travel portal, 5 points per dollar on Lyft (through March 2025), 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services and online grocery store purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs), 2 points per dollar on all travel not booked through the Chase travel portal and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Chase Ultimate Rewards — the points this card earns — are extremely valuable for their many uses, and this is the card with the lowest annual fee that unlocks all of Chase’s transfer partners.

Read our Sapphire Preferred review for all the details.

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn $200 cash back if you spend $750 or more on new purchases within the first three months after account opening.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we like it: Many cards require you to choose your preferred earning categories in advance, keep track of categories that change each quarter or sign up for bonus earnings to be eligible. Instead, the Custom Cash card automatically doles out bonus earnings in the category where you spend the most each month. There’s nothing to keep track of in that regard, and you don’t have to enroll for the extra earnings.

Cardmembers earn 5% cash back on up to $500 spent in their top spending category each billing cycle. The applicable categories include purchases you’re likely making on a regular basis, such as dining out, drugstores, gas, groceries, transit and travel. You also can earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases, including purchases past your $500 limit in the top spending category each billing cycle. Members can redeem their earnings as a statement credit, deposit, check, Amazon purchases, gift cards and certain travel purchases.

Read our Custom Cash card review for all the details.

Apply here: Citi Custom Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: No bonus points offer. However, there is an introductory APR of 0% for 18 months on balance transfers only; after that, the variable APR will be 15.49%-25.49%, based on your creditworthiness.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we like it: The Citi Double Cash got even better this year when its earning format changed. The card previously earned 1% cash back on all purchases and then another 1% when you paid your bill. However, the card now earns 1 Citi ThankYou point per dollar spent on the card and another 1 ThankYou point when paying the bill.

Previously, you needed to take an extra step to convert cash back into ThankYou points. Additionally, you didn’t have access to transfer partners without having another Citi credit card. That has changed, making the card more powerful and adding value to your rewards-earning. Plus, cardmembers can still cash out their rewards at 1 cent apiece, if they desire.

Since there’s no annual fee, you won’t find beefy perks on this card. However, the card does offer access to Citi Entertainment, which provides special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, and ID theft protection.

Thus, you won’t earn a windfall of points from a sign-up bonus, but the introductory APR offer can help you finance a large purchase. Additionally, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar (1 when you spend, 1 when you pay the bill) on your purchases, and TPG values those points at 1.8 cents apiece.

Read our Double Cash card review for all the details.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: None.

Annual fee: $0, but a Costco membership is required.

Why we like it: For seniors who shop at Costco or spend a lot of money on gas, this card is a winner for its 2% cash back on Costco purchases online and in store and 4% back on gas purchases, which isn’t limited to Costco gas stations. The 4% earning rate is limited to the first $7,000 spent on gas per year, however.

Cardmembers also earn 2% back on travel and dining, though other cards can earn at higher rates in these categories. However, if you spend a lot on gas or shop often at Costco, you may be looking for a card that earns well on these purchases, and this could be it.

Read our Costco Visa card review for all the details.

Apply here: Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: None.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we like it: It’s not often that you find a card where you earn rewards that can be deposited into a retirement account, health savings account or college savings account. With the Fidelity Rewards Visa, you can do all three, which presents an interesting prospect for seniors and retirees who want to grow their retirement savings, plan for medical expenses or help their children and grandchildren prepare for the rising costs of tuition.

Cardmembers earn unlimited 2% cash back on purchases, and your earnings can be deposited into several types of eligible Fidelity accounts. As the name implies, you must have a Fidelity account to work in tandem with the credit card. Since the card has no annual fee, no earning limits and no reward categories to keep track of, it could be a great card for those who want to use their credit card rewards to plan for the future.

The information for the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: No bonus points offer. However, there is an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening and on purchases within the first 20 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR of 16.74% to 26.74% will apply.

Annual fee: $0.

Why we like it: A common reason for opening a new credit card is getting away from high interest rates on a current credit card where you have a balance. Another reason can be a large upcoming purchase where you are hoping to avoid interest while paying off the balance over time. The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum offers solutions to both of these problems through an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers. You should note that you will pay a balance transfer fee of 3% (with a minimum of $5).

If you want to take advantage of the introductory APR to help you reduce the interest on existing debt or finance a large purchase, it’s important to understand that the variable APR after the introductory period ranges from 16.74% to 26.74%. Thus, if you don’t pay off your balance by that point, you may be back in the same spot where you started. However, this could be a great card for those who are able to take advantage of the introductory APR and save money while making payments during the first 20 billing cycles of cardmembership. That’s longer than the majority of introductory APR offers available today.

Apply here: U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

The best premium travel cards for retirees and seniors

No discussion of the best credit cards would be complete without discussing travel rewards-based cards. The cards above are quality cards to use for everyday purchases. However, being older doesn’t mean people stop traveling.

In fact, if you’re retired, you may find that you have more time for travel, now that you don’t need permission from your boss. Let’s look at the best credit cards for retirees and seniors who want premium travel perks since these benefits don’t end at a certain age.

(Photo by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images)

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X_2_2021_CCSL
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Welcome offer: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening.

Annual fee: $395.

Why we like it: The Venture X has the lowest fee of the cards in this section but still offers quality everyday benefits, a decent earning rate and travel perks that should make your trips more enjoyable.

The card provides a $300 annual travel credit for bookings with Capital One Travel, 10,000 anniversary bonus miles each year, reimbursement for your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee, Priority Pass select membership and access to Capital One lounges and Plaza Premium lounges for you and two guests.

You’ll also get Hertz President’s Circle status for rental car perks, cellphone protection and the ability to add up to four free authorized users. These users can enjoy a slew of perks in their own right.

Cardmembers earn Capital One miles, which TPG values at 1.85 cents each and can be used with numerous travel partners. The card earns 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked with Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked via Capital One Travel, 10 miles per dollar on Turo rentals (through May 16, 2023) and 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases. There are also no foreign transaction fees.

Read our full Venture X review for all the details.

Apply here: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Annual fee: $550.

Why we like it: Despite a higher annual fee, the perks and benefits offered by the card can easily be justified by those who travel often and are able to use the card’s benefits. These include an annual $300 travel credit that applies automatically to a broad range of travel expenses; access to numerous Priority Pass lounges and restaurants; Pay Yourself Back and travel portal redemptions at elevated rates; application fee reimbursement for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or Nexus; and numerous travel and shopping protections. There are also no foreign transaction fees.

The card earns Ultimate Rewards points that TPG values at 2 cents apiece. You’ll earn 10 points per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked through the Chase travel portal, 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 2025), 5 points per dollar on airfare booked through the Chase travel portal, 3 points per dollar on dining and other travel spending and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. (Note that you do not earn bonus points on purchases covered by the $300 travel credit.)

For those who are able to utilize the card’s perks, the annual fee can be justified, and the travel protections can provide peace of mind when something goes wrong.

Read our Chase Sapphire Reserve review for all the details.

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Ryan Patterson for The Points Guy)

Welcome offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months from account opening.

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees).

Why we like it: While the annual fee can be a bit shocking at first, the Platinum Card offers premium travel perks and benefits plus everyday lifestyle credits that add up to well more than the annual fee if you are able to use them.

This includes up to $200 in prepaid hotel credits per year, up to $240 in streaming credits per year, reimbursement for a Walmart+ membership, up to $200 in airline incidental credits, up to $200 in Uber Cash (which you can also use for Uber Eats), Clear membership fee reimbursement and access to a wide range of airport lounges (with up to two guests, depending on the lounge), among other benefits. Note that enrollment is required in advance for select benefits. The card also offers several travel protections and shopping protections.

The card also earns Membership Rewards points that TPG values at 2 cents apiece: 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with an airline, 5 points per dollar on prepaid flights and hotels from Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 of these purchases per year, then 1 point per dollar) and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. This won’t be your best card for everyday spending, but using it to pay for travel and taking advantage of the perks can really elevate your travel experience.

Read our full Platinum Card review for all the details.

Apply here: The Platinum Card from American Express

Bottom line

One size does not fit all here. Seniors and retirees are not all alike, and you may even find that one card from our list does not meet all of your needs. You should consider your spending habits and personal goals (including travel) at this stage in your life to find a card that rewards you for purchases you make often and provides perks that you can actually use in a way that more than compensates for the card’s annual fee.

(Photo by skynesher/Getty Images)

Some people in their later years will have more disposable income than others. Some seniors and retirees will keep the credit cards they’ve had for years, while others will need to reassess their credit card portfolio to find cards that fit their new season in life. Whether you’re looking for cash back, 0% APR for large purchases coming soon, a card that rewards a particular spending need or a card that offers premium travel perks, you should be able to find a card or two that merit a place in your wallet.

Featured photo by Mirko Vitali/EyeEm/Getty Images.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here.

Updated on 7/6/22.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.