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This article was last updated Dec 02, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
We all know emergencies can happen. They are usually unexpected, unavoidable and expensive. I don’t know about you, but the emergencies that have happened in my life have always come at the worst possible times. This is why it is important to build an emergency fund, but sometimes the extra cushion of cash just doesn’t cut it.
What to Look for in an Emergency Credit Card
Having a credit card on hand during an emergency can mean the difference between a truly unfortunate event and sailing smoothly through the crisis. Emergency credit cards aren’t like other forms of plastic; you’re not going to use them for everyday expenses, so you don’t need to focus on rewards and perks.
Here are some key features to keep in mind when searching for an emergency credit card:
- Low interest: If an emergency happens, chances are that you’ll be responsible for paying off a large balance. By using a low interest credit card, or one that offers an intro 0% for 12 months or more, you’ll save money in the long run by avoiding additional charges.
- No annual fee: You should never pay to carry your emergency credit card.
- High credit line: Having access to a high credit limit on your emergency credit card will give you more cushion to work with in the event of an emergency. Plus, this method will also help your credit utilization ratio.
- Additional protections and insurances: Most credit cards have additional benefits that many cardholders are unaware of. These benefits can bring extra protections and insurances that may come in handy in the event of an emergency.
Best Credit Cards for Emergencies
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
$300 Annual Travel Credit, Airport Lounge Access, and Flexible Redemption Options
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
- Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: This card has a $450 annual fee and no intro period offers, but it does provide benefits for emergencies that may arise. You may be covered for medical services and transportation on up to $100,000 if you or a family member fall ill or are injured during a trip that requires evacuation. Other cardholder benefits include earning 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
0% for 12 months on Purchases
0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
- No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
- 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
- 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
- If you transfer a balance with this offer, after your 0% Intro purchase APR expires, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balances, are paid in full
- The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
- Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock and $0 liability on unauthorized charges
See additional details for Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever: This credit card is known for having the least amount of fees attached with it. It comes with a $0 annual fee, and an intro 0% for 12 months on Purchases and intro 0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers. The on-going APR is 16.24% - 26.24% (Variable) based on creditworthiness. The long intro rate makes the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever a great option to use for major purchases.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card: This low interest and easy to use card would be a good choice if you need to for an emergency credit card. It features a $0 annual fee and an intro 0% for 21 months on Purchases and intro 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers. The on-going APR is 15.24% - 25.24% (Variable). This is a pretty basic credit card that does not come with any complicated terms and conditions or confusing fine print.
Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically*
Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum, when you activate*
Any amount, any time. Cash back rewards never expire*
- INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
- Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
- Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
- Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
- Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
- Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
- No annual fee.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Discover it® Cash Back
Discover it® Cash Back: The Discover it® Cash Back card comes with an intro 0% for 14 months for both purchases and balance transfers, followed by an on-going interest rate of 13.49% - 24.49% Variable. This credit card comes with a $0 annual fee, so it doesn’t cost you to carry. The Discover it® Cash Back will also help cardholders earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Maintaining Your Emergency Card
We feel it’s wise to maintain at least one credit card for emergency purchases only, which has a relatively large credit limit. Since you won’t be using your emergency credit card regularly, you want to make occasional small purchases with the credit card to keep the account open and active.
It’s also a good idea to set up a PIN in case you need quick access to cash. Don’t wait until an emergency happens to request a PIN because banks need time to create and send you your PIN.