We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Million Mile Secrets reader, Tara, writes:
Would you please write about retirees and miles and points? Is it more difficult to get the bank to approve the credit card application due to reduced income or age?
Hi, Tara! Many of our readers in their golden years are traveling the world on miles and points! And you can do it too!
I’ll explain how you can still get approved for the best reward cards, even with a smaller income.
Can You Get Approved for Reward Credit Cards in Retirement?
You don’t need a 6 figure income to get approved for rewards credit cards. So even if you’re in retirement and on a budget, you can get into the miles and points hobby!
Your credit score is the most important factor banks consider when evaluating your credit card application. They want to know you will pay back any credit they extend to you.
You’ll need a credit score of at least ~700 to get approved for most reward cards. You can get your estimated score for free on sites like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. If you’d like to bring it up a bit, see my tips and tricks for giving your credit score a boost!
By the time many folks retire, they’ve mastered the art of budgeting and paying bills on time. So they likely already have a solid credit score.
And many retirees aren’t saddled with debt, like big mortgages or student loans. So their debt-to-income ratio is better. Banks may also look at the equity you have in your home and any investments you hold to determine whether they’ll extend you credit.
Plus, retired folks probably have a long history with their bank. Having a good relationship with your bank makes it more likely they’ll approve you for their cards.
This, combined with the fact that retirees have more flexibility and free time, gives them a leg up in this hobby.
Before You Get Started
Link: Beginner’s Guide
Here are things to think about before you start applying for credit cards:
- Read the Beginner’s Guide – This will show you how to earn Big Travel in 10 easy steps!
- Know the Dangers of Applying for Credit Cards – While earning miles and points comes with incredible benefits, there are risks.
- Start Out Slow – I recommend applying for 1 or 2 cards at 1st, until you’re comfortable.
- Determine Your Application Strategy – Some folks sign-up for multiple cards each quarter and others prefer to wait for the big sign-up bonuses.
- Set Your Travel Goals – Are you interested in budget, luxury, family, or adventure travel? Determining this can help you apply for cards that will help you meet those goals. Otherwise, you may wind up with points that aren’t useful to you. Cards that earn flexible points are often the best place to start because they give you more options.
- Make Sure You Can Meet Minimum Spending Requirements – See my post on 40+ Ways to Meet Minimum Spending for tips.
- Chase Has New Rules – If you’ve opened 5 or more new credit cards (with any bank!) in the past 24 months, you may NOT get approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, Ink Business Cash Credit Card, or Freedom cards. Though folks do report there are exceptions.
Chase has some of the best rewards cards available. So even though I don’t think folks who are new to the hobby need to worry too much about these new rules, you may want to apply for Chase Ultimate Rewards cards 1st to ensure you’ll get approved.
Applying for award credit cards that offer sign-up bonuses can quickly earn you enough miles and points to travel the world. And even if you’re a retiree on a reduced income, you can still get approved for these credit card deals!
The key is having a great credit score! This is the major factor banks consider when approving credit card applications.
Are you retired and still earning miles and points or know someone who is? Share your experience in the comments!