Over 50s not being savvy with credit card deals

Research carried out by Saga, found that people over the age of 50 own more credit cards than any other age group. Nearly half (49%) of all respondents said that they use more than one credit card to manage their finances, with 7% carrying more than five cards in their wallet. Only 23% of those over 50 don’t own a credit card

But millions of cardholders are relying on their banks for credit cards and missing out on getting the best deals. One in three doesn’t shop around before picking out a credit card and is happy to settle for an average deal, according to the research

The main reason for not seeking out the market-leading deals is because of the hassle involved. But this means millions are losing out on extras such as extended 0% purchase periods, cashback and rewards, and free overseas spending

Settling for a poor credit card

When choosing a credit card, a third of those aged over 50 will take whatever credit card is offered by their bank while a quarter will choose a card based on the freebies it includes, such as airmiles or shopping vouchers

Balance transfer cards, which offer a certain period of 0% interest, are also not being used efficiently. A third of people in this age bracket won’t switch credit cards at the end of the 0% period and are left paying expensive interest payments on the balance left on the card

A smaller number (11%) will choose a card based on the overseas charges but only 6% will pick a card because of the introductory 0% interest rate

Cards for over the 50s

Surprisingly, the only card specifically for those aged over 50 is the Saga credit card. It’s a good all-rounder and offers nine months of 0% interest on balance transfers and new purchases. The interest rate is also attractive at 11.9% and it doesn’t charge foreign currency fees. However, as with any credit card, the interest rate won’t apply to all cards as it’s only the headline rate and could be higher depending on your credit history

It’s a competitive card but there are better deals around which are open to everyone. Just because a card is aimed at those over 50 doesn’t mean it’s the best deal and it’s important to shop around first to get the best card for you

Picking the best credit card for you

Whatever age you are the main thing to look for is a card which meets your individual needs. There are a lot to choose from but a little research will pay off in the long run

There are hundreds of different types of reward credit cards available, including cash back and air mile credit cards

The best way to choose the right card for you is to consider what items you spend a lot of money on each month. For example, if you enjoy grocery shopping and like to splash the cash on luxury food items, perhaps a Tesco or Sainsbury’s card would be ideal because you can earn extra Clubcard/Nectar card points to spend in store, as well as the chance to earn points on your shopping elsewhere

Alternatively, you might like something to contribute towards your annual holiday, making a Virgin card a good option because it offers 10% discounts on Virgin holidays

0% purchase cards

When looking for a card with a 0% purchase period, Halifax and Tesco are top of the tables with 17- and 16-month 0% periods on offer. They are followed by one from M&S with a 15-month 0% period. All of these have an average interest rate of 16.9% - so higher than the Saga card - but you can get loyalty points with the Tesco and M&S cards. You can also buy travel money through M&S with no cash advance or foreign exchange fees

Barclaycard, NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland also offer longer 0% periods so if this is what you’re looking for in a card go for one of these. Many of the cards, such as those from NatWest and M&S, also have attractive freebies thrown in

Credit card freebies

Freebies are a big draw for the over 50s, the Saga research shows, and there are a few good cards on the market offering attractive incentives for signing up.

Each card offers a different type of reward so it’s important to pick one which has freebies you’ll actually use. For example if you usually shop at Tesco the ClubCard for purchases is a good option. Alternatively, if you fly a lot the Avios points from the Lloyds TSB Duo Avios Credit Card will be a benefit

If you can’t find anything useful a cashback card might be better, such as the 123 card from Santander which pays tiered cashback on your household spending

What else is on offer?

Overseas spending is a key extra for more than one in ten over 50s and the Saga card is one of the best as it has no foreign currency fees. The Halifax Clarity card is also free from overseas charges and open to anyone. There are no fees with the M&S Bank and Post Office cards on cash advance or foreign exchange money either, while the Post Office also cuts the fees on overseas purchases

The research from Saga says those over 50 aren’t keen on finding long 0% interest-free deals, probably because they’re less likely to have a lot of credit card debt then younger people

But for those who do, right now the longest deals from the likes of Barclaycard, Halifax and Tesco last two years or more which is a good option for those looking for a long break from interest payments

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