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Best Credit Cards for Emergencies – October 2020

Best Credit Cards for Emergencies – October 2020

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Oct 01, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Unexpected emergencies — such as car repairs or medical procedures — can happen at any time. If you don’t have enough cash on hand to cover these abrupt expenses, resorting to an emergency credit card may be the answer.

Here are our top picks for the best credit cards to use in an emergency, based on the cards available in the CompareCards database and the top cards offered by major issuers.

Best emergency credit card for saving on interest charges — Wells Fargo Platinum card

The Wells Fargo Platinum card provides one of the longest interest-free periods currently available for a credit card. Cardholders receive an intro APR of 0% for 18 months on purchases. Once the introductory period ends, an ongoing APR of 15.49%-24.99% (variable) applies to any remaining portion of the balance.

Also, like the other cards in this post, the Wells Fargo Platinum card charges a $0 annual fee.

What to look out for. The Wells Fargo Platinum card card does not offer rewards for the purchases you make using the card. However, if you plan to take advantage of the card’s introductory APR, it’s best to focus on paying your balance in full within the promotional period over earning rewards.

Best emergency credit card for a cashback sign-up bonus — Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

  • 14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Highlights
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.

See additional details for Chase Freedom Flex℠

More Info

If you want to offset an emergency expense with a cashback sign-up bonus while also enjoying an intro 0% APR period, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ can be tempting.

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Additionally, the $0 annual fee Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers a 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, then a regular APR of 14.99% - 23.74% variable.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ rewards can be redeemed for statement credits or direct deposits into most U.S. checking and savings accounts, gift cards, travel or Amazon.com merchandise.

Cardholders also receive the following rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.

What to look out for. If you choose to use the card, once any emergency balance is taken care of, know that you are required to activate the rotating bonus categories each quarter to earn the elevated cashback rate. Otherwise, those purchases will only earn 1% cash back.

Chase Freedom 5% Bonus Category Calendar 2020

Best emergency card for instant approval — The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

If you need instant access to a line of credit, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express may be a good fit. Instead of waiting to use your card until your physical credit card arrives in the mail, American Express gives you access to your credit card number online or by email immediately upon approval.

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express comes with a $0 annual fee and offers an intro APR on purchases of 0% for 15 months, then a 12.99% - 23.99% variable APR applies. Plus, cardholders earn 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases.

What to look out for. Although you can start making charges using your credit card number right away, know that you might not have access to your full line of credit until your physical card arrives in the mail.

How to Get Instant Approval on Credit Cards

Best emergency credit card for cash advances — PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers a reasonable cash advance APR of 17.99% variable. As for cash advance fees — there are none.

The $0 annual fee card also offers rewards on gas and grocery purchases: Earn 5X points on gas at the pump, 3X points on groceries, 1X points on all other purchases. Plus, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers the following sign-up bonus: Earn a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 in first 90 days.

What to look out for. Keep in mind, interest starts accruing immediately after taking a cash advance. So it’s best to pay off the cash advance as quickly as possible.

Best emergency credit card for health care financing — CareCredit

If an unexpected surgery, dental procedure or pet surgery pops up, you can finance the expense and pay it off over time with CareCredit. CareCredit offers special financing options for health, wellness, beauty and veterinary services.

Depending on the amount you need to finance, CareCredit provides the following introductory APR offers:

CareCredit financing options

Purchase amountFinancing optionsRegular purchase APR
$200-$9990% intro APR for 6, 12, 18, or 24 months26.99% APR
$1,000 or more14.90% APR for 24 months, 15.90% APR for 36 months or 16.90% APR for 48 months26.99% APR
$2,500 or more17.90% APR for 60 months26.99% APR

What to look out for: Beware that CareCredit’s financing options are subject to deferred interest. That means if you continue to carry a balance after the financing period ends, you will be charged all the interest accrued starting from the purchase date. Additionally, your financing offer may require you to make fixed monthly payments until your balance is paid in full.

How Does Credit Card Interest Work?

What to look for in an emergency credit card

Having a credit card available during an emergency can mean the difference between a truly unfortunate event and sailing smoothly through the crisis. Here are some key features to keep in mind when searching for an emergency credit card:

  • High credit line: In the case of an emergency, having access to a credit card with a high credit limit can help ensure you have enough room to cover any unplanned expenses.
  • Low interest rate: Using a low interest credit card or one that offers a 0% intro APR for an extended period of time can help you save money on interest charges when paying off an emergency expense.
  • $0 annual fee: If you’re only intending to use the credit card to cover an emergency expense, it doesn’t make sense to use one that charges an annual fee.
  • Low fees. If you need to access emergency cash, in addition to a card with a $0 annual fee, you should opt for one that doesn’t charge high ATM fees or cash advance fees. Just know, because interest starts accruing on cash advances immediately, this option can get extremely costly.
  • Revolving credit account. Since you’ll want the ability to pay off the emergency expense over time, your credit card should offer a revolving line of credit. This is opposed to a charge card, which requires that you pay your balance in full each month.

Should you use a credit card for emergencies?

Ideally, an emergency fund is the best way to save for unexpected expenses, but a credit card can serve as a great tool to help you out of an unexpected jam. However, to avoid racking up a large amount of additional debt and interest charges, we recommend that you only use the card for the emergency expense (and not for other purchases), and that you pay off the balance in full as quickly as possible.

The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.


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