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TPG reader credit card question: What's my credit strategy now that I've retired?

May 17, 2021
5 min read
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A credit card is only as good as the current needs it solves for. The best card for one person may not be the best card for someone else. And as we move into different life stages, our needs and spending habits will change. Our wallets should reflect that constant evolution.

This leads us to a common question TPG readers have: How do I shift my credit card strategy as I head into retirement?

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First off, congrats on hitting retirement. It’s a huge milestone.

The first question to ask when you are considering a shift in credit card strategy is what your new goal will be. I’ll give a few options on strategies moving forward depending on what you and your family will be looking for after retirement.

If you want to move away from points and miles

At this point, you may have built up an impressive stash of points and miles from business travel and card spending and may want to start looking at other rewards options. If that’s the case, you should consider cash-back cards.

Cash-back cards can get a bad rep from some points gurus, but it’s a valuable rewards currency. You can pretty easily save hundreds of dollars each year with a solid cash back strategy. That money can be used to cover non-travel expenses, used for investments or bulk up your savings account.

A simple-yet-effective cash-back card is the Citi® Double Cash Card. You’ll earn 2% on every purchase — 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay your bill. And the card comes with no annual fee, so it’s a low-risk card to add to your wallet.

Related: Citi Double Cash Card review

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But there are also so many great cash-back credit card options depending on your specific spending habits. Check out our guide on the top cash back cards, and keep and eye out for cards that earn bonuses within your specific spending categories.

Related: My mom got her first rewards card after using cash for 50 years

For example, if your main expenses are groceries at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express might be a good fit. If you still travel a lot and want to earn rewards on those expenses, the Chase Freedom Unlimited could be a solid choice, since it earns 5% on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

Related: Best cash-back credit cards of 2021

If you want a card that levels up your earnings on travel

On the other hand, retiring could mean having even more time to travel making that a greater priority. If you want to add cards to your wallet that help you maximize your spending so you can book even more award travel, you have a lot of options.

If perks such as lounge access (which can be a godsend when flying often because airport gate seats are definitely not what I’d call comfortable) and hotel elite status sound valuable to you, The Platinum Card® from American Express is the way to go. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Related: Amex Platinum review

Alternatively, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a more affordable travel card that offers a ton of flexibility when it comes to redemption options. Not only can you redeem these miles via a growing list of hotel and airline transfer partners, but if you’re hoping to take more cruises, you can always use your miles to redeem for cruises (and any other travel charge) for 1 cent each — a travel expense that is harder to cover with other points and miles currencies.

Related: Capital One Venture review

An underrated card that might be a great choice is the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card. It earns points you can redeem for cash back or travel purchases, and for a low annual fee (just $95) you’ll get some pretty solid benefits — an up to $100 airline incidental statement credit each year and up to $100 for your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee every four years.

But the real benefit to the card is the potential to unlock an up to 75% earning bonus. If you have a solid chunk of change in a Bank of America savings or investment account, you can take advantage of the Preferred Rewards program, which comes with significantly higher earning rates for your credit cards and many other Bank of America benefits.

Related: Bank of America Premium Rewards review

Bottom line

With so many credit card options out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the strategies you can choose from. Hopefully, this rundown is a helpful starting point as you prepare for this new life (and travel) stage.

The biggest hurdle is deciding what you want your new goals to be. From there, it’s easier to narrow down which cards will help you best meet that goal based on what you already have in your wallet and your spending habits.

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

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees