The 10 Best Credit Cards for Seniors & Retirees [2021]

Senior man with credit card online shopping

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Whether you’re a senior whose priority is simply enjoying the good life you’ve earned or you’re reinventing yourself with a part-time career that focuses more on your passions than on earning potential, chances are your priorities have changed.

Perhaps your spending has shifted to everyday purchases, road trips, or even extended travel abroad, and a fresh look at your spending mix and your collection of rewards-earning cards is in order.

And, while no 2 seniors are alike, neither are rewards-earning credit cards. So today we’ve chosen to focus on a collection of popular cards that may appeal to a wide range of consumers, including seniors.

Join us now as we look at some of the best cards for earning rewards, each with special features that could spark your interest and provide value to you as a senior.

The 6 Best Everyday Credit Cards for Seniors & Retirees

Senior woman paying for groceries
It’s smart to earn rewards on daily purchases you’re already making. Image Credit: Seventyfour via Adobe Stock

1. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Best For: Seniors who prefer cash-back, spend $6,000 at U.S. supermarkets each year, use U.S. streaming services, and spend a lot on transit and at U.S. gas stations.

The welcome bonus offers good value the first year you have the card.

Since the card does have an ongoing annual fee, cardholders will want to have spending levels that will earn enough rewards to offset that fee. If U.S. supermarket spending alone is maximized at $6,000 each year, however, you would earn $360, which would more than accomplish this.

2. Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card

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Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card

Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card
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(at Chase's secure site)

  • 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 Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommendation (670-850)
  • Annual Fee: $0

Best For: Seniors who spend a lot on groceries and want consistent rewards earning at drugstoresdining, and purchases via the Chase travel portal. Cardholders will also enjoy added bonus spending categories each quarter that provide added 5% cash-back earnings.

If you spend more than $6,000 each year at grocery stores, like with the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card, you may want to consider the Freedom Flex card that offers 5% cash-back on grocery store purchases for the first 12 months, up to $12,000 in purchases. That’s a total of $600 in earnings — incredible for a no-annual-fee card.

After the first 12 months, you’ll still have bonus earning categories and quarterly 5% cash-back categories for earning ongoing rewards.

In addition, cash-back can be transferred to a premium Chase card, thus turning your cash-back into Ultimate Rewards for the ability to redeem for travel for up to 50% more in value, or transferred to airline and hotel partners for even greater potential value.

3. AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays®

Best For: Seniors who are AARP members who prefer a no-annual-fee card and spend a lot at drugstores, gas stations, and on medical expenses.

AARP membership is a natural draw for seniors with its educational offerings, discounts, and retirement resources. The AARP-branded card pairs nicely with your membership.

Cardholders can expect to earn cash-back on the following purchases.

  • 3% cash-back at drugstores and gas stations (excludes Target and Walmart)
  • 2% cash-back on medical expenses
  • 1% cash-back on all other purchases

Rewards can be redeemed for cash-back, to pay your AARP membership, gift cards, and more.

4. Citi® Double Cash Card

Best For: Seniors who want to earn on every purchase they make, don’t want a complicated earning structure, prefer cash-back, and don’t want to pay an annual fee. Seniors who have high-interest credit card debt could also find value with the card’s 18-month 0% APR period for balance transfers (regular APR, as indicated in the table above, applies after the introductory period).

If your spending is not focused on any 1 category and you want a no-annual-fee card with simplicity, the Double Cash card should be on your consideration list. You’ll earn 1% when you spend plus 1% when you pay your bill.

Another valuable feature of the Double Cash card is its introductory 0% APR period for balance transfers. Seniors who have high-interest credit card balances could save on interest charges for up to 18 months (from card approval date) when transferring balances within the first 4 months after card approval. Terms and fees apply.

Bottom Line: Selecting a card that earns rewards on purchases you’re making on a daily basis helps build your rewards balance quickly. To maximize earnings, determine which are the largest purchases you make on a regular basis and select a card that matches that specific spending mix. 

5. Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Paying for gas with a credit card
Fill up at Costco, or any gas station, and earn 4% cash-back. Image Credit: LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS via Adobe Stock

Best For: Seniors who shop at Costco, prefer cash-back, and spend a lot at gas stations, restaurants, and on travel.

You’ll need to be a Costco member to be a cardholder, but the Costco Anywhere card doesn’t charge an annual fee, so long as you have a Costco membership. We like that the card has elevated rewards of 4% cash-back at all gas stations, not just Costco stations, and also rewards travel, dining, and Costco purchases with 2% cash-back.

Earnings at gas stations are limited to $7,000 in purchases each year, but there is no limit on dining, travel, and Costco purchase earnings.

Card earnings are accumulated and are distributed annually.

6. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Best For: Seniors who prefer cash-back, yet still want bonus earnings at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets. Seniors who have a large purchase or purchases coming up could also save on interest charges with the 0% APR period.

The Blue Cash Everyday card doesn’t charge an annual fee but still offers plenty of earning opportunities with 3% cash-back earnings at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases each year) and 2% earnings at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.

In addition, the card comes with an introductory 0% APR period on purchases for up to 15 months after card approval. During this period, you can pay back your purchases and not incur any interest charges. Normal variable rates, as shown above, apply after that time period.

Bottom Line: Cash-back cards work well for those who prefer simplicity at redemption time. Cash rewards can even be accumulated to help cover the cost of an annual vacation. 

The 2 Best Travel Rewards Cards for Seniors & Retirees

Guys walking on beach
Travel rewards cards earn flexible points that can offer greater value at redemption time. Image Credit: Kindel Media via Pexels

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best For: Seniors who travel, want to earn rewards that have flexible redemption options, and want to receive travel insurance benefits.

Earning the generous welcome bonus by meeting minimum spending requirements in the first 3 months after card approval delivers a nice bank of Ultimate Rewards points to fund your next travel adventure.

We like that the card allows rewards redemptions via the Chase travel portal with 25% more value and the ability to transfer points to travel partners for even greater potential value.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card also has 1 of the best collections of travel insurance benefits, including primary car rental insurance, trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, baggage insurance, and travel accident insurance.

2. Capital One Venture Rewards Card

Best For — Busy seniors who don’t want to be bothered with complicated earning structures yet want options to use their rewards for travel.

This card earns a straightforward 2x miles on every purchase so there are no categories nor rotating bonuses to remember. Plus, you can use your miles on flights, hotels, and more since you can transfer your miles to nearly 20 travel loyalty programs.

Seniors could also consider the Capital One VentureOne Rewards card, a no-annual-fee card with the same simple rewards-earning structure and the option to redeem rewards for travel.

If you’d like to compare the CapOne Venture card and the CapOne VentureOne card, we’ve gathered all the details in our card comparison article.

Bottom Line: Travel rewards cards that earn flexible points can offer tremendous value at redemption time. Having the option to redeem points for statement credits, to purchase travel, or to transfer points to travel partners helps ensure you’ll receive the best possible value for your rewards. 

The 2 Best Premium Travel Rewards Cards for Seniors & Retirees

Senior man at airport lounge
If airport lounge access is a priority, you’ll enjoy the perks of premium travel rewards cards. Image Credit: Executive Lounges by Swissport

Premium credit cards come with lots of benefits that can save you money and make your travel more comfortable. Premium cards also come with higher annual fees, so it’s important to review the list of benefits and determine the value you’ll receive with each card.

We frequently get asked if the benefits that come with these premium cards have an age limit for coverage, and we eagerly respond that indeed they do not.

Here are 2 of the most popular premium travel rewards cards that can offer value to traveling seniors:

1. The Platinum Card® from American Express

Best For: Seniors who value luxury travel benefits such as worldwide lounge access, including prestigious Centurion Lounges, hotel elite status, and car rental perks will find value in having the card. Seniors can also save hundreds of dollars with statement credits for specific purchases.

We like that Membership Rewards points earned on the card can have great value at redemption time when transferring points to airline and hotel partners. Points can also be redeemed via Amex Travel.

The card also offers a nice package of travel insurance benefits, including emergency evacuation insurance (no stated limit on coverage), trip interruption/cancelation insurance, and secondary car rental insurance with an option to purchase Premium Protection for 1 low fee that covers the entire rental period.

2. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Best For: Traveling seniors who want to earn well on travel and dining purchases and who value a long list of travel-related benefits will like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

The card offers a $300 annual travel statement credit that is easy to use and elevated earnings on travel and dining purchases.

The card comes with $100,000 in emergency evacuation insurance, a limited emergency medical and dental benefit, roadside assistance services up to $50 per service call, primary car rental insurance, trip interruption, cancellation, and delay insurance, and more.

While the travel benefits that come on either of these premium travel rewards cards are not meant to replace a comprehensive travel insurance policy, you will find benefits you can use.

To learn more about how the Amex Platinum card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card compare side by side, we’ve done the homework for you in this informative article.

Bottom Line: We like that both of these premium travel rewards cards have elevated travel benefits for cardholders of all ages that can make travel more comfortable, save money, and provide assistance if something goes wrong. We also like that both cards earn flexible points that can be transferred to airline and hotel partners for potentially greater value. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to rewards-earning credit cards, one size certainly does not fit all! To find the best credit card for your situation, regardless of whether you’re a student, a business owner, a frequent traveler, or a senior, your spending mix and redemption priorities always play a key role.

You’ll also want to find a card with an annual fee you’re comfortable paying and one that comes with benefits you can actually use and from which you can gain value.

Additionally, 1 card may not meet all your needs, so a combination of cards might be worth consideration.

The information regarding the Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card, AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays®, Capital One Venture Rewards card, and Capital One VentureOne Rewards card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently asked questions

Which is the best credit card for seniors?

The best credit card for seniors will be the card that has an annual fee that matches their preference, rewards their greater expenses, has redemption options that match their goals, and offers benefits they can use.

The best card will differ for each individual, also depending on whether the person is a frequent traveler or prefers a card that simply earns cash-back on everyday expenses.

Is the AARP credit card worth it?

The AARP Essential Rewards card can be worth it for seniors who want a no-annual-fee card and spend a lot at drugstores, gas stations, and on medical expenses.

An alternative card such as the Double Cash Card may accomplish similar earnings, however, as the card earns a total of 2% on every purchase, not just bonus categories, and also does not charge an annual fee.

Can senior citizens get credit cards?

Yes. Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, card issuers cannot discriminate based on age (and other specified criteria).

Since income and credit history are considered in whether you will be approved, however, you might want to access a copy of your credit report prior to applying for a card. Card issuers will want sufficient income and credit activity that can be verified in order to approve you for a specific card.

Why should seniors get a credit card?

One reason to have a credit card is to earn valuable cash-back, points, or miles. Other reasons include keeping your credit history active and having an immediate source of temporary cash flow in case of emergency.

Even if you don’t travel, earning rewards on expenses you’re making anyway can make good economic sense.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

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