The best credit card for emergencies is a no annual fee Visa or Mastercard with a high spending limit, so you know you’ll be able to handle a big expense if need be. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are best because you can use them anywhere. And no annual fee (or at least a low one) is important because you probably don’t want to pay for a card you’re not going to use regularly. Just bear in mind that cards with fees tend to have much higher limits. For example, Capital One Venture’s $5,000+ limit comes with a $95 annual fee that kicks in year two. The highest minimum limit you can expect on a no annual fee card is $500, from Citi Double Cash.
And if your emergency credit card offers rewards, you’ll want to make sure those rewards won’t expire due to inactivity. For example, unredeemed Citi Double Cash rewards expire after 12 months with no purchases on your account. Luckily, that’s not standard.
Here are the best emergency credit cards:
Citi Double Cash: $0 annual fee. $500 minimum credit limit.
1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off. Rewards expire after 12 months of inactivity. 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months (3% fee). Good credit needed.
Amex Everyday: $0 annual fee. No minimum credit limit disclosed.
0% APRs on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. No transfer fee for the first 60 days. 10,000 points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. 2 points per $1 on $6,000 spent at supermarkets annually (1 on everything else). Rewards don’t expire as long as your account stays open. Good credit needed.
Capital One Venture: $0 annual fee the first year, $95 after. $5,000 minimum credit limit.
10 miles per $1 spent at hotels.com/venture and 2 miles per $1 on all other purchases. Miles don’t expire as long as your account stays open. Good credit needed.
Capital One QuicksilverOne: $39 annual fee. $300 minimum credit limit.
1.5% cash back on all purchases. Rewards don’t expire as long as your account stays open. Available to applicants with limited or fair credit.
Discover it Secured: No annual fee. $200 minimum deposit/limit.
2% cash back on your first $1,000 spent on gas and dining per quarter and 1% on everything else. Discover matches your first year’s cash back on your account anniversary. You can get this card with bad credit.
If you have good credit, you should definitely opt for a card with no annual fee, so you won’t have money drained from your account each year for nothing. And if your card has rewards on top of that, all the better.