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Best Credit Cards for Emergencies

*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 November 30, 2021 . Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

If you’re looking for a credit card to help cover an emergency expense, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is our top overall pick due to its long intro APR on purchases and balance transfers, valuable rewards rate and $0 annual fee.
Best Emergency Credit Cards of December 2021
Best overall emergency credit card Chase Freedom Flex℠
Best emergency credit card to finance purchases Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card
Best emergency credit card for instant access to credit The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Best emergency credit card for healthcare financing CareCredit® credit card
Best balance transfer credit card for emergencies U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
Best emergency credit card for students Discover it® Student Cash Back
Best emergency credit card for business owners Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Best emergency credit card for cash advances PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card

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 LendingTree database and the top cards offered by major issuers.

Best For Overall credit card for emergencies

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Apply Now
on Chase's secure site
Intro Purchase APR 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 14.99% - 24.74% Variable

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a well-rounded card that offers cash back on every purchase, an introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for over a year and a $0 annual fee.

Cardholders earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. Additionally, new cardholders 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.

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.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers a 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, then a regular APR of 14.99% - 24.74% variable.

And, you can move any existing high-interest card to the Chase Freedom Flex℠ with it’s balance transfer offer of 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months. After the intro period ends, the regular APR will be 14.99% - 24.74% variable. The balance transfer fee is either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days. Then, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

If you want to offset the cost of an emergency expense with a long intro APR period and cashback rewards, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a good option. Along with an easy-to-earn sign-up bonus, the card can help you save money by deferring interest charges for more than a year. Plus, it also offers a generous rewards rate in popular spending categories that rotate quarterly, like gas and groceries, as well as in ongoing categories, like dining and drugstores.

Just know, you must activate the rotating categories each quarter in order to earn the bonus rewards rate on those purchases.

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Cellphone protection
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Travel and emergency assistance services
  • 24/7 fraud monitoring

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a well-rounded card that offers cash back on every purchase, an introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for over a year and a $0 annual fee.

Cardholders earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. Additionally, new cardholders 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.

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.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers a 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, then a regular APR of 14.99% - 24.74% variable.

And, you can move any existing high-interest card to the Chase Freedom Flex℠ with it’s balance transfer offer of 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months. After the intro period ends, the regular APR will be 14.99% - 24.74% variable. The balance transfer fee is either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days. Then, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

If you want to offset the cost of an emergency expense with a long intro APR period and cashback rewards, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a good option. Along with an easy-to-earn sign-up bonus, the card can help you save money by deferring interest charges for more than a year. Plus, it also offers a generous rewards rate in popular spending categories that rotate quarterly, like gas and groceries, as well as in ongoing categories, like dining and drugstores.

Just know, you must activate the rotating categories each quarter in order to earn the bonus rewards rate on those purchases.

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Cellphone protection
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Travel and emergency assistance services
  • 24/7 fraud monitoring

Best For Emergency credit card to finance purchases

Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card

Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card

Apply Now
on Wells Fargo's secure site
Intro Purchase APR 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR

The Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card offers one of the longest introductory APR periods currently available for purchases. Cardholders receive a 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on purchases. After that, a regular 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR applies.

Additionally, the card offers a 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers. After that, a regular 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR applies.

The Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card comes with a $0 annual fee.

If you need to finance an emergency expense over time, such as paying for an unexpected medical procedure or car repairs, you can do so with the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card without paying interest for a year and a half. Plus, the card offers an intro APR extension of up to three months with on-time minimum payments during the introductory and extension periods.

That said, the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card doesn’t come with a rewards program, so you cannot earn cash back or points on the purchases you make using the card.

  • Cellphone protection
  • My Wells Fargo Deals
  • Free FICO® credit score access
  • Card account activity alerts

The Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card offers one of the longest introductory APR periods currently available for purchases. Cardholders receive a 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on purchases. After that, a regular 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR applies.

Additionally, the card offers a 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers. After that, a regular 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR applies.

The Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card comes with a $0 annual fee.

If you need to finance an emergency expense over time, such as paying for an unexpected medical procedure or car repairs, you can do so with the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card without paying interest for a year and a half. Plus, the card offers an intro APR extension of up to three months with on-time minimum payments during the introductory and extension periods.

That said, the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card doesn’t come with a rewards program, so you cannot earn cash back or points on the purchases you make using the card.

  • Cellphone protection
  • My Wells Fargo Deals
  • Free FICO® credit score access
  • Card account activity alerts

Best For Emergency credit card for instant access to credit

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

Highlights
  • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.49% - 25.49%.
  • $0 balance transfer fee. Balance transfers must be requested within 60 days from account opening.
  • 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x)
  • 1x points on other purchases.
  • Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

With The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, cardholders earn 2x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), and 1x points on other purchases. Additionally, new card members earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

The $0 annual fee card comes with an intro APR of 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, an ongoing APR of 12.99% - 23.99% variable applies.

If you need immediate access to a line of credit, you may want to consider a card that offers an instant credit card number, like The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express.

Immediately upon approval — and as long as American Express is able to instantly authenticate your identity — you can receive access to an instant card number, which can be used virtually anywhere American Express is accepted. So instead of waiting several days for your physical card to arrive in the mail, you can make charges on your The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express right away.

Just know, you may not have access to your full credit line until your physical card arrives.

  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Global Assist hotline
  • Access to American Express Experiences
  • Fraud protection
  • Dispute resolution
  • Terms apply

With The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, cardholders earn 2x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), and 1x points on other purchases. Additionally, new card members earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

The $0 annual fee card comes with an intro APR of 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, an ongoing APR of 12.99% - 23.99% variable applies.

If you need immediate access to a line of credit, you may want to consider a card that offers an instant credit card number, like The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express.

Immediately upon approval — and as long as American Express is able to instantly authenticate your identity — you can receive access to an instant card number, which can be used virtually anywhere American Express is accepted. So instead of waiting several days for your physical card to arrive in the mail, you can make charges on your The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express right away.

Just know, you may not have access to your full credit line until your physical card arrives.

  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Global Assist hotline
  • Access to American Express Experiences
  • Fraud protection
  • Dispute resolution
  • Terms apply
The information related to the The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Best For Emergency credit card for healthcare financing

CareCredit® credit card

Highlights
  • Promotional financing available for 6 or 12 months on health, wellness and pet care purchases of $200+
  • Use your card for dental and vision care, cosmetic treatments, insurance deductibles, veterinary care and more at over 240K locations.
  • Join the over 11 million people who have CareCredit to pay for their health, wellness and beauty needs.
  • Feel prepared knowing you have a way to pay for you and your family's healthcare
  • Manage your account, view your eStatements, and use your digital card with the CareCredit Mobile App
  • Apply online and get an instant credit decision

The CareCredit® credit card, issued by Synchrony Bank, offers special financing options for emergency and routine medical, dental and veterinary services, including hospital care, surgical procedures, annual checkups, spay and neutering for pets, and much more at over 250,000 healthcare providers and health-focused retailers.

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

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

The card’s regular purchase APR is 26.99%, meaning that any purchases you make that don’t qualify for a financing period or that do qualify, but you don’t pay off the balance in time, will be subject to expensive interest charges if you roll over a balance.

If you’re facing out-of-pocket medical costs, the CareCredit® credit card can be a useful tool for spreading your payments out over time.

You can apply for the card online, by calling 1-800-677-0718 (phone applicants must be 21 years of age or older), or at the healthcare provider’s office.

But beware, the financing options at 0% intro APR are subject to deferred interest. This means you will be charged all the interest accrued starting from the purchase date if you continue to carry a balance after the financing period ends. Your financing offer may also require you to make fixed monthly payments until your balance is paid in full.

  • Ability to view your credit score for free
  • CareCredit mobile app alerts

The CareCredit® credit card, issued by Synchrony Bank, offers special financing options for emergency and routine medical, dental and veterinary services, including hospital care, surgical procedures, annual checkups, spay and neutering for pets, and much more at over 250,000 healthcare providers and health-focused retailers.

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

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

The card’s regular purchase APR is 26.99%, meaning that any purchases you make that don’t qualify for a financing period or that do qualify, but you don’t pay off the balance in time, will be subject to expensive interest charges if you roll over a balance.

If you’re facing out-of-pocket medical costs, the CareCredit® credit card can be a useful tool for spreading your payments out over time.

You can apply for the card online, by calling 1-800-677-0718 (phone applicants must be 21 years of age or older), or at the healthcare provider’s office.

But beware, the financing options at 0% intro APR are subject to deferred interest. This means you will be charged all the interest accrued starting from the purchase date if you continue to carry a balance after the financing period ends. Your financing offer may also require you to make fixed monthly payments until your balance is paid in full.

  • Ability to view your credit score for free
  • CareCredit mobile app alerts
The information related to the CareCredit® credit card has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Best For Emergency credit card for balance transfers

U.S. Bank Visa<sup>®</sup> Platinum Card

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Apply Now
on U.S. Bank's secure site
Intro Purchase APR 0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on Purchases*
Annual Fee $0*
Regular Purchase APR 14.49% - 24.49%* (Variable)

The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers an extremely long intro APR on balance transfers: a 0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on Balance Transfers*. After that, a regular APR of 14.49% - 24.49%* (variable) applies.

The card also offers a 0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on Purchases*, then 14.49% - 24.49%* (variable).

The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card comes with a $0* annual fee; however, you will be subject to balance transfer fees of either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater.

If you find yourself in a bind where you racked up high-interest debt due to an emergency expense, you may want to consider a balance transfer card with an intro APR of a year or longer, like the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card.

If approved, you can move your high-interest debt from a non-U.S. Bank credit card to the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card and 100% of your payments will go toward the principal of the debt during the 0% intro promotional period rather than the principal plus interest charges.

While the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card potentially offers a slightly longer intro period on balance transfers than the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card, know that the 21-month time period for that card is not guaranteed.

Additionally, the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card does not provide a rewards program. But when completing a balance transfer, it’s best to focus on paying off the transferred balance in full within the promotional period, rather than racking up rewards — which could ultimately lead to more debt.

  • Cellphone protection
  • Ability to choose your payment due date
  • Fraud protection
  • Unlimited, free credit score access upon enrollment

The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers an extremely long intro APR on balance transfers: a 0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on Balance Transfers*. After that, a regular APR of 14.49% - 24.49%* (variable) applies.

The card also offers a 0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on Purchases*, then 14.49% - 24.49%* (variable).

The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card comes with a $0* annual fee; however, you will be subject to balance transfer fees of either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater.

If you find yourself in a bind where you racked up high-interest debt due to an emergency expense, you may want to consider a balance transfer card with an intro APR of a year or longer, like the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card.

If approved, you can move your high-interest debt from a non-U.S. Bank credit card to the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card and 100% of your payments will go toward the principal of the debt during the 0% intro promotional period rather than the principal plus interest charges.

While the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card potentially offers a slightly longer intro period on balance transfers than the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card, know that the 21-month time period for that card is not guaranteed.

Additionally, the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card does not provide a rewards program. But when completing a balance transfer, it’s best to focus on paying off the transferred balance in full within the promotional period, rather than racking up rewards — which could ultimately lead to more debt.

  • Cellphone protection
  • Ability to choose your payment due date
  • Fraud protection
  • Unlimited, free credit score access upon enrollment

Best For Emergency credit card for students

Discover it<sup>®</sup> Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Apply Now
on Discover's secure site
Intro Purchase APR 0% Intro APR for 6 months on purchases
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR

With the Discover it® Student Cash Back, cardholders earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

Plus, get the following sign-up bonus: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

The $0 annual fee card also offers a 0% Intro APR for 6 months on purchases, then a regular 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR applies.

If you are a student, the Discover it® Student Cash Back is a solid credit card to use in emergency situations. Along with offering points on every purchase, the card comes with an interest-free period on purchases for half a year — which is rare for a student credit card.

The card also offers a 10.99% Intro APR for 6 months on balance transfers, then 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR.

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is intended for students with fair/limited credit. Just know, to apply, you need to be at least 18 years old, have a U.S. address, have a Social Security number and show proof of education.

  • Free Social Security number alerts
  • Ability to freeze card
  • $0 fraud liability
  • 100% U.S.-based, 24/7 customer service

With the Discover it® Student Cash Back, cardholders earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

Plus, get the following sign-up bonus: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

The $0 annual fee card also offers a 0% Intro APR for 6 months on purchases, then a regular 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR applies.

If you are a student, the Discover it® Student Cash Back is a solid credit card to use in emergency situations. Along with offering points on every purchase, the card comes with an interest-free period on purchases for half a year — which is rare for a student credit card.

The card also offers a 10.99% Intro APR for 6 months on balance transfers, then 12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR.

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is intended for students with fair/limited credit. Just know, to apply, you need to be at least 18 years old, have a U.S. address, have a Social Security number and show proof of education.

  • Free Social Security number alerts
  • Ability to freeze card
  • $0 fraud liability
  • 100% U.S.-based, 24/7 customer service

Best For Emergency credit card for business owners

Ink Business Cash<sup>®</sup> Credit Card

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Apply Now
on Chase's secure site
Intro Purchase APR 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 13.24% - 19.24% Variable

The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card lets cardholders earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Additionally, earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.

The $0 annual fee card comes with a 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months. After that, a regular APR of 13.24% - 19.24% variable applies.

If you are a small business owner in need of credit to finance company expenses, the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card could be a good fit. Along with earning a generous cashback rate that can help cancel out some of the cost of funding your business, cardholders can receive an interest-free period on purchases for a year.

Additionally, the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card charges a $0 annual fee.

That said, if you primarily spend on business travel, this isn’t the card for you, since it doesn’t offer an accelerated earning rewards rate in that category.

  • Free employee cards
  • Travel and emergency assistance services
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Purchase protection
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card lets cardholders earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Additionally, earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.

The $0 annual fee card comes with a 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months. After that, a regular APR of 13.24% - 19.24% variable applies.

If you are a small business owner in need of credit to finance company expenses, the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card could be a good fit. Along with earning a generous cashback rate that can help cancel out some of the cost of funding your business, cardholders can receive an interest-free period on purchases for a year.

Additionally, the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card charges a $0 annual fee.

That said, if you primarily spend on business travel, this isn’t the card for you, since it doesn’t offer an accelerated earning rewards rate in that category.

  • Free employee cards
  • Travel and emergency assistance services
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Purchase protection
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

Best For Emergency credit card for cash advances

PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card

Highlights
  • Member access to extra savings and special offers
  • Complimentary 24/7 concierge service
  • EMV chip technology

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

By contrast, other credit cards often come with cash advance APRs upwards of 25.99% (variable) and cash advance fees of 3% or 5% of the amount of each transfer.

The PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card charges a $0 annual fee and offers 5x points on gas paid at the pump and EV charging stations. 3x at the supermarket (including most Target and Walmart locations), restaurants and TV, radio, cable, streaming services. 1x points on all other purchases. Plus, get 15,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in first 90 days.

If you need access to emergency cash, taking a cash advance from your credit card can be a quick solution. However, because these transactions often come with high interest rates and fees, they’re typically not a good idea.

That said, if you have no other options, it’s best to use a card with a $0 annual fee, no cash advance fee and a sensible cash advance APR, like the PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card.

Just know, because interest starts accruing as soon as you take the cash advance, it’s important to pay back the advance as quickly as possible.

  • 24/7 fraud monitoring
  • Access to member discounts
  • Tokenized account numbers in your mobile wallet

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

By contrast, other credit cards often come with cash advance APRs upwards of 25.99% (variable) and cash advance fees of 3% or 5% of the amount of each transfer.

The PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card charges a $0 annual fee and offers 5x points on gas paid at the pump and EV charging stations. 3x at the supermarket (including most Target and Walmart locations), restaurants and TV, radio, cable, streaming services. 1x points on all other purchases. Plus, get 15,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in first 90 days.

If you need access to emergency cash, taking a cash advance from your credit card can be a quick solution. However, because these transactions often come with high interest rates and fees, they’re typically not a good idea.

That said, if you have no other options, it’s best to use a card with a $0 annual fee, no cash advance fee and a sensible cash advance APR, like the PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card.

Just know, because interest starts accruing as soon as you take the cash advance, it’s important to pay back the advance as quickly as possible.

  • 24/7 fraud monitoring
  • Access to member discounts
  • Tokenized account numbers in your mobile wallet
The information related to the PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Side-by-side comparison of the best emergency credit cards

Credit cardBest forAnnual fee
Chase Freedom Flex℠Overall emergency credit cardEarn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.$0
Wells Fargo Reflect℠ CardFinancing purchasesNone$0
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American ExpressInstant access to credit2x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), and 1x points on other purchases$0
CareCredit® credit cardHealthcare financingNon-rewards card$0
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum CardBalance transfersNone$0*
Discover it® Student Cash BackStudents5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically$0
Ink Business Cash® Credit CardBusiness ownersEarn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.$0
PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® CardCash advances5x points on gas paid at the pump and EV charging stations. 3x at the supermarket (including most Target and Walmart locations), restaurants and TV, radio, cable, streaming services. 1x points on all other purchases.$0

The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, CareCredit® credit card and PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Methodology

To select the best card for each of these categories, our credit card experts compared a broad range of credit card offers, including cashback credit cards, 0% intro APR credit cards, balance transfer credit cards and more, on LendingTree.com, as well as major issuer and credit union sites.

We chose our top picks based on a variety of factors, including rewards earning potential, annual fees and interest rates. Other factors that came into play when making our selection include the benefits offered by the card, such as cellphone insurance and extended warranty protection, and the ability to access your line of credit instantly.

What should I look for in an emergency 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 cover 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.

Best emergency credit card FAQs

A balance transfer is a transaction that involves moving debt from one or more credit cards to another credit card. Since balance transfer credit cards offer introductory APRs that typically are much lower than standard interest rates, they provide a means to pay down your credit card debt more quickly, since they allow more of your payments to go toward the debt principal rather than the principal plus interest. Just know that you can’t transfer a balance between cards from the same issuing bank.

Select issuers, such as American Express, offer instant credit card numbers, which allow you to use your credit card immediately upon approval, instead of waiting for your physical card to arrive in the mail.

Select issuers, such as American Express, offer instant credit card numbers, which allow you to use your credit card immediately upon approval, instead of waiting for your physical card to arrive in the mail.

Tracy Brackman

Tracy joined LendingTree in June 2019 as a senior writer. She began working in the credit card space in 2009 as the editorial department manager for FlexOffers, an affiliate marketing company. She went on to work as product information manager for Bankrate, where she managed the financial and credit card product details for two affiliate networks, as well as Bankrate owned and operated sites. Prior to joining LendingTree, Tracy worked as products editor for CreditCards.com, where she developed the credit card products section and created content focused on breaking credit card news.

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The above offers and/or promotions may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available. Check the Issuers’ website for more details.