Top credit cards to use for seniors

Using a rewards credit card can be a smart way to earn free travel or cash back from purchases you’re already making. However, not all cards are created equal, and seniors may find that some programs are difficult to navigate and redeem for rewards.

For seniors who like to travel, Barclaycard Arrival Plus gets high marks from all three experts for being both lucrative and easy to understand. Cardholders can earn double miles on every purchase made and then redeem those miles for a statement credit toward their travel expenses.

The Arrival Plus card also offers 40,000 bonus miles to new cardholders who spend $3,000 in the first 90 days after receiving their card. Those bonus miles offer the equivalent of a $400 statement credit. However, the credit can only be applied toward travel expenses, which means this card is best for those who travel regularly.

The Capital One Venture card is almost identical to the Arrival Plus card. It lets cardholders redeem miles for travel statement credits, and it also offers 40,000 bonus miles worth $400 to new cardholders who spend $3,000 in purchases during the first three months.

However, the Arrival Plus has a slight advantage in that it offers a 10 percent rebate on all travel redemptions. For example, if you redeem 40,000 miles, the card puts 4,000 miles back in your account for future use. On the other hand, the Venture card has a lower annual fee of $59, also waived in the first year, which could appeal to some seniors.

Seniors who already belong to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs may be inclined to look for cards affiliated with these programs. However, travel experts say it’s better to look for a card that will let you transfer points and miles to a number of partner programs. These cards give seniors the flexibility to earn points for multiple loyalty programs without having to juggle multiple cards.

Among these cards, Chase Sapphire Preferred gets high marks. Cardholders earn Ultimate Rewards points that can be either redeemed through Chase or transferred at a 1:1 ratio to other travel programs, including United MileagePlus, Hyatt Gold Passport, Marriott Rewards and Amtrak Guest Rewards.

Rewards credit cards can be a great way to earn money or free travel from everyday spending, but carrying a balance and paying interest negates those benefits. Seniors on a fixed income should carefully monitor their spending to ensure they aren’t charging more than they can comfortably repay each month.

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