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Credit Cards and Older Adults 


Photo by Romain Dancre on Unsplash


With so many credit card options available these days, it may seem impossible to know where to begin when searching for the best credit cards for senior adults. Whether it’s to earn rewards toward vacations or just finance everyday purchases, there’s strong demand for credit cards among older adults.

It’s estimated that by 2030, a full 18% of the US population will be 65 and older, with a projected 10,000 people retiring each day. For most folks, aging and retirement come with many major lifestyle changes, including a number of shifts in their financial needs.

Why Older Adults May Get Denied

You might think that older adult's chances of getting approved for a credit card would be high. But many are not finding that to be true.

According to Nerdwallet.com, the 4 major reasons for senior adults being denied are:

  1. Less income

  2. Credit file is too thin

  3. Poor mix of credit

  4. Co-signing gone wrong

So, if you’re fully free of debt — say, you’ve long ago paid off your home, your car and other loans and haven’t had any other credit activity in a year or more — the bureaus simply may not have enough information about you. Your credit file may be too thin. According to a 2019 analysis from credit bureau Equifax, about 91.5 million consumers in the United States either have no credit file or have insufficient information in their files to generate a traditional credit score ways older adults can boost their odds of credit card approval.

Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash


Ways Older Adults Can Boost Their Odds of Credit Card Approval

Even if you’ve paid off your mortgage, have a thin or invisible credit file or have never used credit cards at all, there are still ways to improve your chances of getting a new credit card.

  • Check your credit report: Check your credit report regularly to make sure there are no errors. A credit card issuer could have incorrectly reported a late payment, or your report could show accounts that don’t belong to you at all. If you find anything wrong, dispute the errors right away.

  • Don’t close long-held accounts: Avoid closing any cards that you’ve held for years. The length of your credit history and the average age of accounts are factors in your credit scores. Keep your oldest accounts open.

  • Build credit with a secured credit card: A secured credit card requires an upfront deposit. It which acts as your credit limit and protects the card issuer in case you’re unable to pay back what you charge. Use a secured card to help build credit in the near-term.

  • Consider a credit-building installment loan: A credit-builder loan holds the amount you borrow in a bank account while you make the payments. You generally won’t be able to access the money until you’ve paid off the loan, but those payments are reported to at least one of the credit bureaus.


Best Cards for Older Adults

Cardrates.com has reviewed and ranked these 3 cards as the best for older adults in the respective categories. None of these cards are endorsed and this is only for information only. Thoroughly do your research before applying for any credit card.

Best Travel Rewards Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card —enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel

  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day

  • Miles won’t expire for the life of the account and there’s no limit to how many you can earn

  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®

  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of trip options

  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase — or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel

  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

  • No foreign transaction fees

Best Cash Back card

Citi® Double Cash Card — Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.

  • Balance Transfer Only Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% — 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.

  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back. Intro APR does not apply to purchases.

  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.

  • There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).

  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% — 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

Best “0% Intro APR” Cards for Seniors

Chase Freedom Unlimited®-INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back!

  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).

  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!

  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 14.99% — 23.74%.

  • No annual fee — You won’t have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card

No single credit card is better than all others in all categories — or for all people. But by understanding your options and asking the right questions, you can find the card that’s the best fit for your spending habits and credit situation.
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