The Best Credit Cards For Canadian Retirees (Dec 2022)

September 9, 2022
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Best Credit Cards For Canadian Retirees

The financial rules and habits you followed when you were 20 are not the same financial rules and habits you should follow today. As we age, our priorities change, and making the right choices around products like our credit cards can save us thousands of dollars and a lot of headache.

I recommend the three cards below because they all carry strong insurance policies and offer excellent value, two essential traits for a credit card for retirees. With its impressive welcome bonus and low monthly fee, I strongly believe the American Express Cobalt Card offers the best overall value for most Canadian retirees.

Whether you've recently retired or stopped working years ago, there's a good chance that you haven't taken the time to choose a credit card that sets you up for financial success. But as you dip into your nest egg and watch your savings decline, taking a few minutes to choose a card that supports your financial goals is an absolute must.

Below, I've curated three cards that are especially good for retirees, but before we get into those, let's take a quick look at what you should be paying attention to as you choose a card.

What retirees should look for in a credit card

Every credit card offers a different set of features and benefits, but as a retiree, there are a few key things you'll want to look out for:

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  1. No minimum income requirements: With your primary earning days behind you, it becomes more difficult to be approved for many credit cards, since they often require you to demonstrate income of $50,000 or above. That's why I've chosen three cards with no minimum income requirement: whether you're earning or not, you'll still get approved for these cards.
  2. Comprehensive insurance coverage: One of the main reasons I've chosen several American Express cards below is that they come with extremely generous insurance policies for travel medical insurance, flight delay & baggage coverage, purchase coverage, and more. Other Canadian credit card issuers, like RBC and CIBC credit cards, offer credit cards with less impressive insurance coverage, just one of several reasons American Express is #1 in my books.
  3. Excellent value: Each of the cards on this list offer exceptional value both in the first year and beyond: the SimplyCash Card is free, and the Cobalt and Marriott Bonvoy Cards both have welcome bonuses worth at least 8x their annual fees. As a retiree with a reduced income, getting great value is especially important for you.

Now let's look at the three cards I recommend.

What Are The Best Credit Cards For Canadian Retirees?

Best Overall Card For Retirees

American Express Cobalt Card

Great for exchanging MR points with other rewards program and high MR earn rate
  • Annual Fee
    $156
  • Interest Rate
    20.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances
  • Welcome Bonus
    30,000 MR points
  • Rec. Credit Score
    660+
  • Features & Benefits

    • Earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points as a welcome bonus after you spend $6,000 within a year ($500/month)
    • $300 in statement credits towards purchases charged to your card
    • $225 credit in American Express Prepaid Cards
    • Access to American Express Experiences
    • Access to American Express Front Of The Line presales
  • Pros & Cons

    Why we like it

    Great for exchanging MR points with other rewards program and high MR earn rate

    Pros

    • 30,000 MR bonus points
    • Earn 5 points per $1 spent on eligible eats & drinks purchases
    • Transfer points 1:1 to other loyalty programs (Aeroplan, Marriot Bonvoy, and more)
    • Access to presale tickets and VIP seating in select events through American Express' Front Of The Line program
    • $100 Travel Credit and 4 complimentary visits to Plaza Premium Lounges
    • Comprehensive travel and medical insurance
    • Relatively low annual fee ($156)

    Cons

    • Needs a fairly good credit score (660+)
  • More Details

    Bonuses and fees

    The American Express Cobalt Card is a premium credit card with an annual fee of $156. This card is unique because its Membership Reward points can be exchanged 1:1 with some of the best rewards programs, including the Aeroplan and the Marriot Bonvoy program.

    Rewards

    You can earn MR points at a rate of:

    • 5 MR points per $1 spent on eats & drinks
    • 3 MR points per $1 spent on streaming subscriptions
    • 2 MR points per $1 spent on travel & transit
    • 1 MR point per $1 spent on everything else

    Redeeming your points

    The American Express Cobalt Card offers plenty of options to exchange your points. You can spend them directly on categories like streaming subscriptions, various eats & drinks, movie tickets, or statements of credit.

    Additionally, you can Exchange your MR points for Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles, Hilton Honors, Choice Privileges, or Marriott Bonvoy points.

    Insurance

    This card offers very complete coverage, including categories like:

    • Emergency Medical Insurance
    • Flight Delay Insurance
    • Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
    • Mobile Device Coverage
    • $250,000 Travel Accident Insurance

American Express Cobalt Card

The American Express Cobalt Card was the most popular credit card among Canadian retirees aged 65 and over in 2021. There's no minimum income requirement for getting the card, and it comes with some pretty spectacular perks.

Cobalt cardholders earn 5X points on food and beverage purchases (including groceries, food delivery, and restaurant purchases), 2X points on travel purchases, and 1X points on everything else. But it gets even better: those points can be redeemed at a value of 2-3 cents each, which means you're essentially getting 10-15% cashback on food purchases, 4-6% cashback on travel purchases, and 2-3% cashback on everything else.

You'll also get a 50,000 points welcome bonus (worth $1,000 – $1,500), $100 USD annual hotel credit, complimentary hotel room upgrades, and more. The card also comes with American Express' suite of insurance policies, which includes extremely strong travel medical insurance (up to $5,000,000), mobile device insurance, flight delay and baggage insurance, purchase coverage, extended warranties on your purchases, and more.

The Cobalt Card is ideal for retirees who want to earn major rewards while having a strong, reliable safety net. It's our #1 rated card for retirees in Canada, and we can't recommend the Cobalt Card highly enough.

  • Annual fee: $156
  • Welcome bonus: 50,000 MR points (worth $1,000 – $1,500)
  • Earn rate: 5X the points on all grocery, food delivery, and restaurant purchases.
  • Income requirement: None
  • Insurance coverage: Very strong
  • Additional benefits: 2X points on travel, $100 USD annual hotel credit, complimentary hotel room upgrades

Best No-Fee Card For Retirees

SimplyCash® Card from American Express

promotional cash back on gas & groceries, plus road trip and flight insurance
  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Interest Rate
    20.99% on purchases, 21.99% on cash advances
  • Welcome Bonus
  • Rec. Credit Score
    660+
  • Features & Benefits

    • No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn
    • Access to exclusive virtual events and special offers
    • Access to American Express Experiences
    • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Pros & Cons

    Why we like it

    Great for promotional cash back on gas & groceries, plus road trip and flight insurance

    Pros

    • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible gas purchases
    • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible grocery purchases
    • Earn 1.25% cash back on all other purchases
    • There's no annual limit to how much cash back you can earn
    • Book your travel with the SimplyCash® Card to get road trip & flight insurance
    • Earn up to $750 cash back bonus when referring friends & family

    Cons

    • Cash back rewards can be redeemed once a year
    • It isn't as widely accepted in Canada as Visa or Mastercard
  • More Details

    Bonuses and fees

    The SimplyCash® Card from American Express is a no-fee cash back card that offers 2% cash back on gas and grocery purchases, plus 1.25% back on all other purchases.

    Insurance

    This card offers very complete coverage, including categories like:
    • Emergency Medical Insurance
    • Flight Delay Insurance
    • Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
    • Mobile Device Coverage
    • $250,000 Travel Accident Insurance

Best Travel Card For Retirees

American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card

American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business Card Canada

The Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card is an excellent travel credit card for Canadian retirees. It comes with an impressive welcome bonus of 65,000 points (worth $1,300 – $1,950, required spend $1,500), a $100 statement credit, plus more than a few other valuable travel benefits.

For example, cardholders receive a free hotel night each year that they hold the card, which they can use at thousands of hotels across Canada, the US, and internationally. Some of these hotels cost $500+ per night, which pays for the card's $120 annual fee several times over.

The card comes with all of the insurance policies mentioned above, including travel medical insurance up to $500,000, mobile device insurance, flight delay and baggage insurance, purchase coverage, extended warranties on your purchases, and more. And there's no annual income requirement on the Marriott Bonvoy Card, so anyone can get approved for it immediately.

Overall, the Marriott Bonvoy Card is an excellent, low-fee travel card that's ideal for Canadian seniors who still travel at least once per year.

  • Annual fee: $120
    • Welcome bonus: 65,000 points (worth $1,300 – $1,950)
  • Earn rate: 5X points on all participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 2x points on all other purchases
  • Income requirement: None
  • Insurance coverage: Very strong
  • Additional benefits: Annual free hotel night, 2x points on all other purchases forever, complimentary hotel status and room upgrades

Why Are American Express Cards So Good?

Having strong insurance coverage attached to your card is essential, which is part of the reason I've chosen three American Express cards as the best cards for Canadian retirees. Here are a few other things I like about American Express:

  • Easy to use website & app: Some banks have confusing websites and mobile apps, which makes online banking nearly impossible, especially for retirees. American Express' website and app, on the other hand, are extremely user-friendly, and you'll have no problem getting the information you need.
  • Best-in-class customer service: Many credit card companies make you wait on hold for 30 minutes or more before you can talk to a human being. American Express, on the other hand, prides itself on its short wait times (5 minutes or less) and helpful customer support agents who are there to solve your problem, not just read from a script.

In Summary

As a retiree in Canada, there's a class of financial products specifically designed for you. Just as it no longer makes sense for you to dress or spend your time the way you did when you were 20, you shouldn't hold the same credit card you did when you were 20, either.

I recommend the three cards above because they all carry strong insurance policies and offer excellent value, two essential traits for financial products for retirees. With its impressive welcome bonus and low monthly fee, the American Express Cobalt Card offers the best overall value for most Canadian retirees.

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