Choosing the right credit card as a senior or retiree can sometimes be tricky. There are many options available, and it’s essential to find one that offers the best benefits for your current needs. Unfortunately, those needs and our preferences change as we age, so the card that was our ideal fit in our twenties or thirties is probably not the best fit for us today. This article will highlight five of the best credit cards for seniors and retirees in 2022. I’ll also explain why these cards stand out from the competition. So whether you’re looking for a new card to add to your stack or just starting to plan for retirement, read on for my top picks.
#1 The best travel credit card for retirement: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
If we were to do a poll asking all of America’s retirees or soon-to-be retirees what the top ten items on their bucket list are, traveling around the world or, at the very least, visiting another country is almost sure to be high on the list. But unfortunately, many people either don’t have the money or the time to travel as much as they would like when they’re young, so they always leave fulfilling that dream for their golden years. If that is your case and you plan to travel frequently in retirement, perhaps to visit your children or grandchildren or simply to be a tourist in a faraway land, then having a good travel rewards credit card is a must.
Travel rewards cards are great for people who love to travel, obviously. But they’re also great for retirees and seniors who might not be able to travel as often as they’d like. Why? Because most travel cards offer valuable perks and benefits that can save you a ton of money on your travels if used correctly.
Key perks of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the best travel cards out there, and it’s an ideal choice for seniors and retirees who love to explore the world. The first significant perk is a whopping 60,000 points welcome bonus after spending $4,000 on purchases from account opening in the first three months. This bonus alone is worth anywhere from $600 to $750, depending on how you redeem them.
After the first year, you’ll receive an annual $50 statement credit for hotel stays as long as you booked them through Chase Ultimate Rewards. After you add travel insurance (trip cancellation/interruption, baggage delay, and trip delay insurance, as well as auto rental collision damage waiver and travel and emergency assistance services) and the other benefits with partners like Lyft, DoorDash, and Gopuff, you’re looking at close to $900 worth of benefits.
What makes this a great travel card is that:
- You can redeem your points for travel at a valuation of 1.25 cents per point through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- You can transfer points at a 1:1 rate to many popular airline loyalty programs, where you can get even more benefits.
- The card doesn’t add foreign transaction fees.
Additionally, the card’s rewards on travel purchases are also great. You get 5x points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards (saving you close to 5% off the purchase price), 3x on dining, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services, and two points on all other travel purchases, and one point on everything else.
#2 The best premium benefits credit card for retirement: The Platinum Card from American Express
If you’re looking for hands down one of the best travel experiences, you don’t have to look much further than The Platinum Card from American Express. American Express is one of the best-known credit card brands globally, and it’s almost sure to be accepted everywhere your travel takes you. Amex offers different versions of the Platinum credit card for other countries, such as the American Express Platinum Card for Canadians. These cards all bring very similar perks, but the US version (“The Platinum Card”) is hands down the best.
Keep in mind that this is a premium credit card, so it comes with a hefty annual fee of $695. However, the welcome bonus offsets the fee several times over during the first year, and the long list of rewards, statement credits, and travel perks makes this a sweet deal even after that.
Key perks of The Platinum Card
The statement credits alone offset the annual fee. With this card, you get $200 back on hotel stays of more than two nights booked through American Express Travel. In addition, you can save $200 in airline fees, $240 on select streaming and entertainment services, $155 on Walmart+ memberships, $200 on Uber, and more.
In terms of luxury or premium travel, besides all the travel insurance you can think of, you get access to the Platinum Travel Service, which works similar to a concierge service that helps you set up custom-tailored itineraries every time you hop on a plane to your next destination.
You also get access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection that will make layovers and your pre-flight waiting times an absolute pleasure in more than 1,400 airport lounges worldwide. You can also breeze through airport security with a $189 statement credit on a CLEAR membership and even more credit for Global Entry and TSA Precheck services.
Once you’re approved for this card, you’ll also receive an instant upgrade in elite status on two of the most important hotel chains in the world. You’ll receive Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status just for owning this card. In addition, this can grant you complimentary hotel room upgrades and other on-site perks.
If you have a big budget set up for travel during retirement, having The Platinum Card from American Express will stretch that budget further than you thought possible, and it will help you enjoy your travels much more.
#3 The best credit card for a retiree’s grocery purchases: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
There are few contenders to the Blue Cash Preferred Card for grocery purchases in the US. This card makes rewards simple: it’s a cashback card that offers four everyday-spending categories focusing on grocery purchases.
Key perks of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card
The biggest perks of the Blue Cash Preferred card are the card’s cashback rates, which are off the charts. For example, this card pays you back 6% on grocery purchases in select US supermarkets (with a cap of $6,000 per year) and an additional 6% on select US streaming services. Besides these two categories, you get 3% back on transit and gas and the standard 1% cash back on all other purchases.
This card even brings car rental loss and damage insurance, which can offset a good portion of your car rental costs if you ever need to rent a vehicle. But, while this perk comes with most premium cards, the key here is that the Blue Cash Preferred Card doesn’t carry an annual fee. That means you’re getting this benefit for free.
So, if you’re planning to settle down during your golden years to live a laid-back lifestyle, binge-watching your favorite shows, and take a road trip to visit friends and family, this may be the perfect card for you.
#4 Best business credit card for senior entrepreneurs: Ink Business Cash® Visa
Retirement is a great time to start a business. You can take advantage of your experience, budget, and know-how to increase your chances of success compared to younger entrepreneurs. If you don’t feel like getting up early and commuting to work anymore (after all, you did retire), you can always start a remote business. Hire a virtual mailbox service to handle all your incoming business mail, and handle everything else yourself from the comfort of your home.
Suppose starting a business is on your to-do list, or you already have a business up and running. In that case, a business credit card is a great tool to help you manage your business finances and earn rewards on business expenses.
One of the seniors’ best business credit cards is the Ink Business Cash® Visa from Chase.
Key perks of the Ink Business Cash® Visa
Perks start with a handsome welcome bonus of $750 in cash back after spending $7,500 in the first three months of opening your account. This is equivalent to an extra cashback rate of 10% on top of the standard cash back rates you’ll earn whether or not you’re a new Ink Business Cash card holder.
With this card, you can get 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cell phones, landlines, internet, and cable. This means this card can help you save up to $1,250 on office supplies and communications annually.
You’ll also earn 2% on the first $25,000 spent on gas and restaurants, plus 1% on everything else. So if you’re starting your business and require significant purchases, you can take advantage of the 0% intro APR for the first 12 months of account opening.
Add in free account management software to easily track business expenses and additional cards for your employees at no extra cost, without an annual fee, and you’re laughing.
#5 The best credit card for medical expenses: The AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays®
You would only expect that an AARP co-branded credit card would make it to the top spots on the list of the best credit card for retirees. After all, AARP’s mission is to “enhance the quality of life for all as we age, leading positive social change and delivering value to members through advocacy, service, and information.”
In collaboration with AARP, Barclays crafted the AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard, specially designed to help seniors and retirees save on medical expenses. And the best part is that it’s free; there’s no annual fee.
Key perks of the AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard
Besides not having an annual fee, the AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard brings home a $100 cashback welcome bonus that you’ll get after charging $500 worth of purchases in the first three months of card membership.
Apart from the welcome bonus, this cashback card also gives you an unlimited 3% cash back rate on gas and drug store purchases and an unlimited 2% cashback rate on medical expenses. While this may not seem like much for a healthy adult in their prime, it can add up significantly if you have any chronic health condition that requires regular medication or doctor’s visits.
The AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard can also help you save on travel expenses with a 0% APR introductory offer on balance transfers for 15 months (17.49%-26.49% variable APR after that). Finally, by applying for this card, you support AARP because Barclays donates $10 to the AARP Foundation for every new account opened and 1% of all eligible purchases made by cardholders.
The bottom line: Do I need a new card for retirement?
You might be thinking, “I’ve had the same credit card for years, and it’s working just fine. Do I really need to get a new one for retirement?”
The answer is maybe. It depends on your circumstances and what you’re looking for in a credit card. If you already have a rewards card with thousands of points begging to be redeemed on a trip to Hawaii but are still short by a few thousand points, by all means, keep using your current card (although signing up for one of the options mentioned above and earning a juicy welcome bonus could give you the points you’re missing in record time).
The key is to identify how your spending habits and preferences have changed or will likely change in the future and compare those against your current rewards card (or cards) and a likely candidate from this list to determine if you will do better by applying to the new card.
[Related: How many Credit Cards should I have?]