Best Credit Cards for Retirees: Which Should You Choose?

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By Kristin Colella

NEW YORK -- Making smart financial decisions is the key to a fantastic retirement, and that includes choosing the right piece of plastic to keep in your wallet. Whether you're looking to rack up rewards on everyday purchases, earn airline miles for travel or pay down debt, there are several credit cards available that are especially beneficial to retirees.

After consulting with credit experts, we've come up with a list of five of the best credit cards to use during your golden years. Read on to see which is right for you.

1. AARP Credit Card from Chase

If you're interested in a great cash-back rewards card without an annual fee, consider the AARP Credit Card from JPMorgan Chase (JPM). The card allows you to earn unlimited cash-back rewards, including 3 percent on restaurant purchases, 3 percent on gas station purchases and 1 percent on all other purchases. Rewards don't expire as long as your account is open. You can redeem rewards as cash, gift cards (from more than 75 major retailers) or travel (including flights, hotels, cruises and car rentals).

The card also offers a sweet sign-on bonus: you'll get $100 back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of opening the account.

"You're essentially getting paid to have this card, and your everyday spending can help supplement your income in retirement," says Greg Lull, head of consumer insights at Credit Karma.

The AARP Credit Card from Chase has a zero percent introductory annual percentage rate for the first 12 months, then a 16.24 percent APR after that. Although the card is a great choice for retired people, you don't actually have to be a member of AARP to apply for the card, Lull says.

Need more incentive? For every purchase you make at restaurants with your card, 10 cents will be donated to the AARP Foundation in support of Drive to End Hunger, which helps provide food to older Americans in need.

2. Citi Double Cash Card

Another great cash-back credit card is the Citigroup (C) Double Cash Card, which allows you to earn cash back twice on every purchase -- 1 percent when you buy, and an additional 1 percent when you pay. Unlike many other cash-back cards, the Citi Double Cash Card has no restrictive categories and doesn't limit the amount of cash back that you can earn.

The card charges no annual fee and has a zero percent introductory APR for first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 12.99 to 22.99 percent after that.

3. Venture from Capital One

If you plan to do a good deal of globetrotting during your retirement, consider signing up for the Venture card from Capital One (COF).

Venture allows you to earn two miles for every $1 you spend on purchases, and there's no cap on the amount of rewards that you can earn. You'll also get a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles (equal to $400 in travel) if you spend at least $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of signing up. Rewards don't expire unless you close your account, and you can redeem your miles for any flight or hotel stay, as well as car rentals, cruises and more.

Another plus: there are no foreign transaction fees when making purchases outside of the U.S., so this card is great if you plan to travel internationally.

While there's no annual fee for the first year, you'll have to pay an annual fee of $59 after that. The card also offers a 12.9 percent, 17.9 percent or 22.9 percent variable APR on purchases and transfers.

4. Chase Slate

Retirees who are looking to get out of debt can benefit from Chase Slate, an attractive balance transfer card.

"The Chase Slate is one of the few cards on the market that doesn't charge a balance transfer fee on transfers made in the first 60 days," says Erin El Issa, credit card analyst at NerdWallet. After the first 60 days, the balance transfer fee is either $5 or 3 percent of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

The card charges no annual fee and also offers a zero percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, then a variable APR of 12.99, 17.99 or 22.99 percent after that.

"Many 0% [APR] offers are for only 12 months, so the additional three months is nice," says Curtis Arnold, founder of and `. "The bottom line is that this card could easily save a senior hundreds of dollars depending on the amount transferred and the rate of the card you are transferring from. Even if you have a good rate of 10 percent or less, you still could save a lot."

5. Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Want to get rewarded simply for making everyday purchases? Check out the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express (AXP).

Blue Cash Preferred offers 6 percent back on groceries (up to $6,000 a year in spending, then 1 percent after that), 3 percent back on gas and select department store shopping and 1 percent back on other purchases. "This allows cardholders to earn big rewards on the spending they're already doing," says El Issa.

The card's sign-up bonus isn't too shabby, either: you'll get $150 back after you spend $1,000 on purchases with your new card in the first three months. (The reward comes in the form of a statement credit.)

Blue Cash Preferred has an annual fee of $75. There's an introductory APR of zero percent on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, then a 12.99 percent to 21.99 percent variable APR after that.
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