If you’re in your 40s, you’ve had some time to build up savings, further your career, and pay off student loans from college. But that doesn’t mean that things are easy. People in their 40s are certainly not immune to major life events that affect finances. Job loss and divorce can hit finances hard, even if you have savings. You may be traveling a lot to tend to aging parents, and your own children may be in college or close to college-age.
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Choosing a credit card for your 40s should be about maximizing rewards, paying down existing debt, and if you’re lucky, maybe racking up some travel rewards to enjoy once the children leave the nest. You can also finesse your card benefits to stretch them even further. For example, if you transfer balances to a 0% balance transfer card, you can sock away the money you save on interest into an IRA.
In general, it’s a good idea to keep credit card balances as low as possible, so that you’ll have credit available to you for large purchases, or to tide you over periods of low cash flow, should you quit work to start your own business, lose your job, or elect to stay home with your children. If you’re smart, you can use credit cards to your financial advantage.
Here are three good credit card choices for people in their 40s.
Citi Dividend Platinum Select MasterCard
If you have children in college, and if you have the option of paying their fees with a credit card, you can ring up a nice cash back reward if you do it right. To do this, it is critical that you have the actual cash on hand to pay the statements so that you don’t carry a balance and run up interest charges.
The Citi Divident Platinum Select MasterCard offers $100 cash back if you make $500 in purchases within 90 days of opening your account, a 12-month, 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases, 1% cash back on purchases, and 5% cash back on rotating categories of purchases. And there is no annual fee.
Discover More Card
This credit card is no longer available.
If your goal is to pay down credit card debt, this card offers an 18-month, 0% APR on balance transfers, plus 0% APR on purchases for six months. There’s no annual fee, and 5% cash back categories that rotate throughout the year.
Take the money you would be paying on interest and put it into your IRA so you can boost your retirement savings while avoiding interest charges.
The Discover it Cash Back Replaced the Discover More Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Card
If you plan to travel more frequently once your children leave home, this card has no annual fee and offers 1.25 miles for every dollar spent, plus 10,000 bonus miles.
You also get 0% APR on purchases until June 2012. There are no foreign transaction fees either, a big plus if you plan to go abroad.