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The Best Credit Cards for Seniors

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Best for Medical Expenses
Best Cash Back
Best Basic Card
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How We Chose the Best Credit Cards for Seniors

Choosing which credit card to apply for can be challenging. To help, we’ve narrowed down the choices to what we believe are the best credit cards for seniors. We evaluated criteria like annual fees, perks and rewards, APR rates, and sign-up bonuses to create a curated list with an option for every older adult.

Pro Tip: Read our credit card guide for seniors to learn how to decide which credit card is right for you.

  • 1. Barclays AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard: Best for Medical Expenses

    Overview

    If you’re an AARP member and have medical expenses, you may want to consider the Barclays AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard. Designed exclusively for older adults, this credit card delivers 2 percent cash back on all medical expenses, including your out-of-pocket Medicare or Medicaid expenses. Since retirement medical expenses are unpredictable, getting that extra 2 percent back is a nice perk.1 Plus, you’ll get 3 percent back on gas and drugstore purchases and 1 percent back on everything else. To top it off, this card has no annual fee.

    Barclays AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard

    Barclays AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard

    You can redeem rewards for cash back, AARP membership, or other rewards on Barclays’ website. You can even use rewards to gift an AARP membership to a friend or loved one. Just remember, you must have an AARP membership to apply for this card. Visit Barclays’ site to learn more about the AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard.

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    Pros
    • No annual fee
    • Cash back on all purchases
    • Unlimited rewards never expire
    • Barclays donates 1% of eligible purchases to the AARP Foundation
    • Sign-up bonus
    Cons
    • Only for AARP members
    • Balance transfer fee
    • Foreign transaction fee

    Card Features

    Annual fee

    • $0

    Rewards

    • 2% cash back on medical expenses
    • 3% cash back on gas and drug store purchase, excluding Target and Walmart
    • 1% cash back on all other purchases

    Sign-up bonus

    • Earn $100 cash back bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days

    APR

    • 0% on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles
    • APR: 16.74% to 25.74% variable, depending on credit score
    • Cash advance APR: 26.24% variable

    Foreign transaction fee

    • 3% of each transaction in USD
  • 2. American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card: Best Cash Back

    Overview

    Whether you’re buying ingredients for a backyard BBQ or renewing your Netflix subscription, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card has you covered. This credit card offers 6 percent cash back on groceries and select streaming services, as well as 3 percent cash back on gas and transit, making it a smart choice if you use ride-share services or enjoy the RV life. Any cash back you accumulate can be redeemed as a statement credit, which keeps things simple.

    American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card

    American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card

    After the first year (which is free), you’ll owe $95 for the annual fee. Take a look at your spending to determine if the cash-back benefits outweigh the annual fee. You’ll also want to make sure the spots you regularly shop at accept American Express. Although popular, American Express isn’t accepted everywhere. Learn more about the card from the American Express website.

    Please scroll to the right for more info.
    Pros
    • Up to 6% cash back on certain purchases
    • Easy-to-earn introductory bonus
    • 0% introductory APR for 12 months
    • Return protection
    Cons
    • Annual fee
    • Not accepted everywhere
    • Foreign transaction fee
    • Earns a base cash-back rate of 1%

    Card Features

    Annual fee

    • $0 for first year
    • $95 per year after the first year

    Rewards

    • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year
    • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services
    • 3% cash back on gas and transit (taxis, trains, rideshare, buses, etc.)
    • 1% cash back on all other purchases
    • Car rental loss and damage insurance

    Sign-up bonus

    • Up to $350 statement credit if you spend at least $3,000 in the first six months

    APR

    • Introductory APR: 0% for 12 months
    • APR: 13.99% to 23.99%, depending on credit score
    • Cash advance APR: $25.24% variable
    • Penalty APR: 29.99% variable

    Foreign transaction fee

    • 2.7% of each transaction after USD conversion
  • 3. Citi Double Cash Card: Best Basic Card

    Overview

    Older adults who want something simple will appreciate the Citi Double Cash Card. This $0-annual-fee Mastercard gives you 2 percent cash back on all purchases, regardless of the point of purchase or category. You’ll earn 1 percent cash back when you make a purchase and then 1 percent cash back when you pay off that purchase. Citi calls their cash back “ThankYou Points,” which you can redeem for statement credit, a check, gift cards, travel rewards, and more.

    Citi Double Cash Card

    Citi Double Cash Card

    You won’t find fancy benefits with this card, but it’s a great everyday card to keep in your wallet. Plus, since half of your cash back is tied to when you actually pay off the purchase, it’s an extra incentive to stay out of credit card debt. Read more details about the Citi Double Cash Card on Citi’s website.

    Please scroll to the right for more info.
    Pros
    • Unlimited cash back on every purchase
    • No annual fee
    • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months
    Cons
    • Foreign transaction fees
    • Balance transfer fee
    • No sign-up bonus

    Card Features

    Annual fee

    • $0

    Rewards

    • 2% cash back on all purchases

    Sign-up bonus

    • None

    APR

    • Introductory balance transfer APR: 0% for 18 months
    • APR: 13.99% to 23.99% variable, depending on credit score
    • Cash advance APR: 25.24% variable
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99% variable

    Foreign transaction fee

    • 3%
  • 4. Capital One Ventures Reward Card: Best Travel Rewards

    Overview

    Plan to spend your retirement years traveling? Earn rewards when you travel and toward future travel with the Capital One Venture Rewards Card. This card earns two miles per dollar on every purchase and five miles per dollar when you book a rental car or hotel through Capital One Travel. Redeem your miles for past travel or future travel purchases, like anytime you purchase from airlines, hotels, cruise lines, etc. If you want, you can also redeem miles for a check, account credit, gift cards, or other rewards.

    Capital One Venture Rewards Card

    Capital One Venture Rewards Card

    The card costs $95 per year, but if you’re a big traveler, the card will easily pay for itself. Other perks include no foreign transaction fees and a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck, which gets you through the airport security line faster. Plus, you can access the exclusive Capital One airport lounge twice per year. What a nice vacation perk! Visit Capital One’s website to learn more about the Venture card.

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    Pros
    • 60,000 sign-up bonus miles
    • No foreign transaction fee
    • Flexible reward redemption
    • High reward rate
    Cons
    • No introductory APR offer
    • No balance transfer offer

    Card Features

    Annual fee

    • $95

    Rewards

    • Earn unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase
    • Earn unlimited 5 miles per dollar on rental cars and hotels booked through Capital One Travel
    • 2 free annual visits to the Capital One airport lounge
    • $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
    • Hertz Five Star status
    • Access to premium Capital One experiences
    • Travel accident insurance
    • Access to Capital One travel deals
    • Auto rental collision damage waiver

    Sign-up bonus

    • Earn 60,000 miles when you spend $3,000 within the first three months

    APR

    • APR: 15.99% to 23.99% variable, based on creditworthiness
    • Cash advance APR: 23.99% variable

    Foreign transaction fee

    • No foreign transaction fees

    FYI: If you’re not a fan of annual fees, check out the VentureOne card from Capital One. It earns 1.25X miles with no annual fee.

  • 5. Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card: Best Introductory APR

    Overview

    The Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card is our pick for seniors who are planning to make a large purchase and need to pay for it over time. This card has a zero percent APR for the first 15 months, giving you time to pay before interest starts accumulating. Other perks include 5 percent cash back on bonus categories and travel (including gas), 3 percent cash back on pharmacy purchases and restaurants, and 1 percent cash back on everything else.

    Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card

    Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card

    With no annual fee, there aren’t many drawbacks to the Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card. Just know that this may not be the best card to bring when you’re vacationing abroad, as Chase does charge a 3 percent foreign transaction fee. Visit Chase’s website to learn more about the Chase Freedom Flex card.

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    Pros
    • No annual fee
    • Up to 5% cash back on certain categories
    • Sign-up bonus offer
    • 0% introductory APR
    Cons
    • Low base cash-back rate
    • Foreign transaction fee

    Card Features

    Annual fee

    • $0

    Rewards

    • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in changing bonus categories (changes each quarter)
    • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    • 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible delivery services
    • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
    • 1% cash back on all other purchases
    • 3 free months of DashPass, which saves you money on DoorDash deliveries
    • Auto rental collision damage waiver
    • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
    • Cell phone protection for theft or damage

    Sign-up bonus

    • Earn up to $200 when you spend $500 within the first three months
    • 5% cash back on gas station purchases on up to $6,000 spent in the first year

    APR

    • Introductory APR: 0% for first 15 months
    • Ongoing APR: 14.99% to 23.74% variable, based on credit score
    • Cash advance APR: 24.99% variable
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%

    Foreign transaction fee

    • 3% of the amount of each transaction in U.S. dollars
  • 6. Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card: Best for Savers

    Overview

    Saving for retirement can be challenging. The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card makes adding to your savings a little easier. This card earns you a generous unlimited 2 percent cash back on every purchase. However, you receive the full 2 percent only when you deposit your rewards into an eligible Fidelity account. This includes brokerage, IRA, HSA, cash management, and 529 plan.

    Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card

    Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card

    If you’d rather redeem your cash back for gift cards or other rewards, its value drops to 1 percent. That’s why this credit card is truly for older adults who love to save. Forbes estimates the annual rewards potential at $500 or more, as long as you’re depositing it into a Fidelity account.2 Learn more about how the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card helps you grow your money on Fidelity’s website.

    Please scroll to the right for more info.
    Pros
    • No annual fee
    • Unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase
    • Helps you save your money
    • Visa Signature card perks
    • Low foreign transaction fee
    Cons
    • No welcome bonus
    • Can’t redeem as a check or statement credit
    • Must have a Fidelity account to receive full cash-back value

    Card Features

    Annual fee

    • $0

    Rewards

    • Unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase
    • Auto rental collision damage waiver
    • Lost luggage reimbursement
    • Travel accident insurance
    • Roadside dispatch

    Sign-up bonus

    • None

    APR

    • APR: 13.99% variable
    • Cash advance APR: 23.99% variable

    Foreign transaction fee

    • 1% of each foreign transaction
  • 7. Secured Sable ONE Credit Card: Best Credit Builder Card

    Overview

    If you have no credit or bad credit, this one’s for you. The Secured Sable ONE Credit Card helps you build credit while earning cash-back rewards. It’s a great solution for older adults who need to improve their credit score but who can’t get approved for the other cards on this list. Sable reports to all three major credit bureaus and helps users graduate to an unsecured card in as little as four months.

    Secured Sable ONE Credit Card

    Secured Sable ONE Credit Card

    First, you put money down, which is the same as setting a spending (or credit) limit for the card. You’ll need to transfer money from a Sable bank account, so if you don’t have one, you’ll need to get one. Then, you make on-time payments and achieve milestones set by Sable so that you can “graduate.” The Sable app tracks your progress and helps you understand your credit score. So, if you’re a senior with a smartphone who wants this card, download the app! Take a look at Sable’s website to see how the Secured Sable ONE credit card can help you build credit.

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    Pros
    • No annual fee
    • No credit check
    • Reports to credit bureaus monthly to help you build credit quickly
    • Very low APR
    Cons
    • Low cash-back base rate
    • Must have a Sable bank account
    • Foreign transaction fees
    • Secured credit card; requires money upfront

    Card Features

    Annual fee

    • $0

    Rewards

    • Unlimited 2% cash back on select purchases, including Amazon, Netflix, Uber, and Hulu
    • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
    • Dollar-for-dollar cash-back matching at the end of your first year
    • Cell phone theft and damage protection, including cracked screens
    • Rental car insurance

    Sign-up bonus

    • None

    APR

    • 10.24% variable, depending on your credit score

    Foreign transaction fee

    • 2% of each foreign transaction, including online purchases through foreign merchants

Do I Need a Credit Card?

When used wisely, a credit card is a useful tool for managing your finances. But whether or not you need one depends on you. Some older adults find credit cards too tempting, causing them to spend money they don’t have on goods they can’t afford. Others like using credit cards for the perks like travel rewards and cash back. Still others need one to help build up credit so they can get approved for a loan in the future.

Whichever side you lean toward, it’s important to know that seniors aren’t immune to credit card debt. As of the fall of 2021, adults over the age of 60 owe more than $145 billion in credit card debt, which is more than other age groups.3 If you decide to get a credit card, make sure you have the means to pay off your balance each month. That might be Social Security funds, other retirement funds or a pension, savings, or earnings from a part-time job.

How to Choose the Right Credit Card

Even with a narrowed down list to choose from, you might still be wondering, how could I possibly pick one? Here are a few questions to ask yourself before choosing.

1. What is your credit score?

Your credit score helps determine your approval for a new credit card. Most credit card companies, or affiliate companies, advertise the score range needed for approval. Check your credit score online and compare it to that range. Doing this can help you narrow down your options, especially if you don’t have stellar credit.

2. What are your financial goals?

You need a credit card that will help you meet your financial goals. So, what are they? Are you looking to build credit, save money on interest, or earn rewards? Choose a card that gets you closer to your goals, whether that’s frugally paying for a trip abroad with airline miles or making a large purchase, like a new appliance, without worrying about interest.

3. Do the benefits outweigh the cost?

When evaluating a credit card, make sure you read the fine print carefully. Does the card have a yearly fee? How much does it cost to transfer a balance? If there’s a zero percent introductory APR, what’s the ongoing APR? You need to decide if the cash-back or travel perks make up for any annual fees, foreign transaction fees, or a higher APR.

Written By

Sarah Goldy-Brown

Writer & Researcher

Sarah covers a range of senior lifestyle topics, from reviews of walk-in tubs and hearing aids to overviews of Medicare and Medicaid. Her close relationship with her grandparents gave her a firsthand look at the evolving life needs of older adults, and… Learn More About Sarah Goldy-Brown

Citations
  1. Forbes. (2019). How Much Will You Spend Out Of Pocket For Retirement Medical Expenses?

  2. Forbes Advisor. (2021). Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card 2022 Review.

  3. Federal Reserve Bank of New York. (2022). Center for Microeconomic Data.