Updated on 05.05.17

Five Credit Cards You Can (and Should) Keep Forever

No annual fees and plenty of perks means there's no reason to cancel these cards.

If you’re trying to build a strong credit history that will last a lifetime, a credit card can be a valuable tool. Used regularly and wisely, credit cards can help you establish your credit profile, raise your credit score over time, and earn rewards in the process.

However, it’s important to note how your FICO credit score may change over time. Your credit score can fluctuate based on the number of cards you sign up for and how long you keep them. Here are the major factors that determine your FICO credit score:

  • Payment history: 35%
  • Amounts owed: 30%
  • Length of credit history: 15%
  • Credit mix: 10%
  • New credit: 10%

As you can see, the number of new accounts and the length of your credit history play a role in the health of your credit score. If you sign up for too many new accounts in a short amount of time, your score can take a hit. Likewise, cancelling your oldest cards will shorten your credit history and decrease your score.

Because of the way your FICO score is calculated, one of the best moves you can make is getting a credit card you can keep for the long haul – and maybe even forever. While you may want to get other credit cards throughout the years, this one long-haul “forever card” can serve as an anchor for your credit history.

Five Credit Cards You Can Keep Forever

A card you keep forever should come without an annual fee, but with enough perks to make it worth holding onto. Here are five cards that could definitely be the “forever card” in your wallet:

Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom® card is consistently named one of the top no-fee rewards cards on the market, and for good reason. Not only do you earn 1% back for every dollar you spend, but you also earn 5x points in categories that rotate every quarter. Here’s how the 5x bonus categories break down for 2016:

  • January-March 2016: Gas stations, local commuter transportation
  • April-June 2016: Grocery Stores, Wholesale Clubs
  • July-September 2016: Restaurants and more
  • October-December 2016: Holiday shopping

Since this card comes without an annual fee, you can use it as frequently or infrequently as you want without worrying about ongoing costs. And when you accrue enough points, you can redeem them for gift cards or cash back, or shop at Amazon.com with your points. If you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can even convert your Freedom card points into Ultimate Rewards points.

Chase Freedom®

Highlights:

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.74-24.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee

Discover it® Cashback Match™

Because it doesn’t charge an annual fee, the Discover it® card could also be a permanent fixture in your wallet. Like the Freedom card, it offers 1% back for every dollar you spend, plus 5% back in categories that rotate every quarter. And for a limited time, Discover it® Cashback Match™ automatically matches all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. So if you manage to earn $200 during the first 12 months as a cardholder, Discover will double that to $400.

In addition to never charging an annual fee, this card lets you track your recent FICO® Credit Scores for free on your monthly statements and online. You’ll also never pay an over-the-limit fee or foreign transactions fees for overseas purchases.

Discover it® Cashback Match™

Highlights:
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:

  • You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. 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 in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card

While the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card could be lucrative for anyone, the current offer on this card may be especially fruitful for Bank of America or Merrill Lynch customers. With this card, anyone can earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and now at wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas up to the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter. However, Bank of America customers can earn a 10% bonus every time they redeem their points into a Bank of America checking or savings account.

What makes this card perfect for the long haul is that it never charges an annual fee. You can earn unlimited rewards all year long if you want, or simply keep this card for emergencies, but you’ll never pay a penny for the privilege. Here are some additional details to consider:

BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card

Highlights:

  • No annual fee
  • NEW OFFER: $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas up to the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases AND for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 13.74% - 23.74% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is perfect for moderate spenders who want a “forever card” that helps them earn rewards. With this card, you’ll earn 3% back on your first $6,000 in U.S. supermarkets spending each year, plus 2% points at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% cashback on all other purchases.

What makes this offer good for the long haul is that this card comes without an annual fee. Before you sign up, consider these details:

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Highlights:

  • $100 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • No annual fee.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 13.74% to 24.74%.
  • Expanding merchant acceptance: Over 1 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in the last year.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a signup bonus after you spend just $500 on your card within 90 days, plus an unlimited 1.5% cash back for every dollar you spend. Your cash back will never expire and you can redeem it in any increment of your choosing – and as often as you like.

The best part about this offer is that it comes without an annual fee — although another reason to get this card is access to a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for a limited time. Read more details here:

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Highlights:

  • One-time $100 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories and no sign ups needed to earn cash rewards
  • Redeem the cash back you earn for any amount, any time
  • Your cash back doesn't expire
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers until January 2015
  • No annual fee

The Bottom Line

If you want to build a strong (and long) credit history, a credit card may be your best bet. However, the best cards to keep forever generally come without an annual fee, but with plenty of ongoing perks.

Remember, a good relationship with credit requires the right credit card for your needs. By getting a card with no annual fee, you’re signing up for one you can keep for a lifetime. And if you use it wisely and carefully, you’ll be on your way to building a lifetime of good credit in no time.

What credit cards do you plan to keep forever? What is your favorite card?