There’s nothing like enjoying retirement. You can sit back, relax, and take up some new hobbies, or perhaps indulge in some travelling.

But once you retire, your income may drop to the point that many premium credit cards will be out of your reach. Some of them have income requirements of up to $150,000 household, after all.

Lucky for you, there are ways around it.

So we’ve created this handy guide on ways to get premium credit cards, without having a large income. We also focused on credit cards that provide emergency medical coverage for anyone over 65. This way, when (or if) you’re travelling, you’ll at least have some medical coverage while you’re away from home.

And while this article is focused on seniors, these strategies can work for anyone.

Related: Credit Card Travel Insurance for Age 65 & Over

Summary of credit cards that offer emergency medical coverage over 65

Credit Card Length Of Medical Coverage Over 65 Also Provides Coverage Over 75 Annual Fee, Income Requirement Apply Now
Scotiabank American Express 3 days (terms) Yes * No annual fee
* 12K personal income requirement
Apply Now
Scotiabank Gold American Express 3 days (terms) Yes * $120 annual fee
* 12K personal income requirement
Apply Now
Scotiabank Platinum American Express 10 days (terms) Yes * $399 annual fee
* 12K personal income requirement
Apply Now
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite 10 days (terms) Yes * $139 annual fee
* 60K personal/100K household income requirement
Apply Now
National Bank Platinum Mastercard 10 days (terms) No * $89 annual fee
* No income requirement
Apply Now
National Bank World Mastercard 15 days (terms) No * $115 annual fee
* 60K personal/100K household income requirement
Apply Now
National Bank World Elite Mastercard 15 days (terms) No * $150 annual fee
* 80K personal/150K household income requirement
Apply Now
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Ways to get a premium credit card

So, how can you go about getting a premium credit card while not meeting high income requirements?

Here are a few ways:

Credit cards with no (or low) income requirements

Obviously, the first thing to do is see which credit cards have low income requirements.

While most premium Visa and Mastercards have income requirements, there are still a few out there that offer great insurance and benefits, without heavy income restrictions.

A great option is the .

For an annual fee of $89 and no income requirements, it comes with a great insurance package that includes 10 days of emergency medical coverage for anyone between the ages of 65 – 74.

And you’ll still earn flexible National Bank travel rewards at a rate of 1 point per $1 spent.

And of course, all American Express cards have low income requirements, or even none at all. They issue all kinds of premium credit cards, and all of them have no requirements.

Scotiabank also issues several American Express cards with emergency medical coverage over 65, but they do have low personal income requirements of $12,000. This is still pretty accessible for many low-income Canadians.

The is a hard one to beat.

For a low personal income requirement of $12,000, you’ll earn up to 5 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent:

  • 5 points per $1 on groceries, restaurants, and entertainment,
  • 3 points per $1 on gas, transit, and select streaming services, and
  • 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

Plus, it also offers no foreign transaction fees, saving you money while travelling abroad. On top of that, it provides 3 days of emergency medical coverage for anyone over 65.

Or, if you want a no fee option, the provides great insurance as well.

You’ll earn 1 point per $1 spent, and still get access to 3 days of emergency medical insurance for anyone over 65.

But if you prefer more peace of mind, for an annual fee of $399, the will provide you with 10 days of emergency medical coverage.

It’s obviously a lot to pay, but don’t let it scare you – it offers a lot in return. You’ll earn up to 4 points per $1 spent on 4 different categories:

  • gas,
  • groceries,
  • dining, and
  • entertainment purchases.

And you’ll get 1 point per $1 on everything else you buy.

It also comes with a bevy of perks, including a Priority Pass membership with 10 free passes, Hertz #1 Club Gold membership, and a premium concierge service, to name a few.

Owning large assets

If a lot of your money is tied up in your assets (i.e. a retirement fund), many premium cards will consider you based on that, instead of your income.

One such card is the .

While it has a personal income requirement of $60,000 (or $100,000 household), you can also qualify if you have a minimum of $250,000 worth of assets.

When it comes to travel insurance, it’s one of our top credit cards. In fact, it also provides the longest duration of emergency medical coverage for anyone over 75 at 10 days.

And it earns up to 2 Scotia Reward points per $1 spent, and has some other great benefits as well.

Like the , it also charges no foreign transaction fees, saving you 2.5% compared to most credit cards while travelling abroad.

On your travels, this card also gives you a complimentary priority pass membership with 6 free passes, allowing you to relax at the airport before your flight.

Request an upgrade to a premium card through spending

If you have an existing credit card with an issuer, some of them will allow you to upgrade to a premium version if you meet a certain spend threshold in a year.

National Bank is a great example of this.

Let’s take a look at the .

While it has a high personal income requirement of $80,000 (or $150,000 household), if you have an existing National Bank credit card (like the ), you can request an upgrade if you spend $25,000 annually on the card (or $2,083 per month).

Alternatively, you can also qualify for this card if you have $400,000 in investable assets.

And with this upgrade, you’ll get even more rewards:

  • 1.5 points per $1 on the first $40,000 in annual spend,
  • 2 points per $1 on the next $40,000, and
  • 1.5 points per $1 after that.

It also provides increased insurance coverage, including up to 15 days of emergency medical coverage between the ages of 65 and 74. In fact, that’s the longest emergency medical coverage of any credit card in Canada for those over 65.

This card also gives you access to the National Bank lounge for you and a guest at Montreal-Trudeau airport (only available to international passengers).

Plus, this card also will refund you up to $250 in travel fees every year:

  • $100 for airport parking,
  • $100 for baggage fees, and
  • $50 for seat selection.

If spending $25,000 a year is a little steep, you can qualify for the by only spending $15,000 per year ($1,250 per month) on your National Bank Platinum Mastercard.

You’ll still get increased rewards compared to the Platinum Version:

  • 1.25 points per $1 on the first $20,000 in annual spend,
  • 2 points per $1 on the next $10,000, and
  • 1.25 points per $1 after that.

This card also has the exact same insurance coverage as the World Elite card, but you lose out on the lounge access and travel fee reimbursements.

Similar to the World Elite, you can also qualify for this card if you have investable assets of $250,000.

Related: 3 National Bank Travel Mastercards Reviewed & Compared

Maintaining a strong banking relationship

The last thing you can do is maintain a strong banking presence with a credit card issuer. Keep an active bank account and credit card with them, and they may invite you to upgrade your card.

Or, you can always call your bank after you have a card with them for a year, and ask to upgrade your card. The worst they can do is say no.

There’s no hard and fast rule on this, but it can be an option to get that credit card you’ve been eyeing .

Wrapping things up

So there you have it. 4 different strategies on getting a premium credit card that gets around various income requirements.

And remember, while this was focused on seniors these strategies can actually work for anyone.

Have you tried any of these strategies before?

How was your experience?

Let us know in the comments below.