Millions of people aged 50 or above are relying on their banks for credit cards and missing out on getting the best deals.
One in three does not shop around before picking out a credit card and is happy to settle for an average deal, according to Saga 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 therefore 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
In the credit card market 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.
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.
The table below shows the top five cards for 0% purchase deals and several, such as the cards 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.
Our article - The best reward credit cards - lists the top cards in this range and here I've listed the top five on offer.
Each 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. Read The best cashback credit cards for a full run down.
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.