TL;DR: The AARP offers some great discounts/benefits and the best part is you don’t even have to be retired (or even old to sign up for a membership with the organization.
A lot of people worry about getting older, but hey, it’s not all bad. You finally have some money stashed away, you have a lot of experience in life, and probably got some life wisdom under your belt. You can also join the AARP and get some nice benefits!
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a membership group for Americans as they get older and closer to retirement. AARP members get a ton of benefits, from travel and food discounts to resources for healthcare and financial advice.
Here is the cool thing too: You don’t actually have to be retired to join. The AARP allows full membership for anyone older than 50 years and associate memberships for younger individuals. So even if you are 20-something, you could join the AARP and get some nice benefits.
But is it worth the membership cost? Let’s figure out.
As an AARP member, you get a lot of benefits, discounts, and more from partner institutions.
- Dining. AARP members get 10%-15% off at select restaurants and chains, including Outback, Denny’s Bonefish Grill, and more.
- Shopping. AARP members get daily shopping offers and discounts. For example, you can often get gift cards to retailers for a majorly discounted price. The AARP also has regular deals on certain days of the month.
- Entertainment. AARP members get a lot of benefits for entertainment options. They get discounted Regal ePremiere movie tickets when purchased online, which are much cheaper than the asking price at the box office.
- Travel. AARP members also get access to exclusive travel benefits, such as 30% off Axis car rentals, discounts on Hilton. Wyndham, and Radisson hotels, and deals on vacation packages from various travel providers.
- Health/wellness. AARP members also get access to health and wellness services at a discount, such as discount purchases at Lenscraft and Target Optical and a free annual hearing test via phone. Members will also get access to the AARP Stay Sharp program which is designed around improving brain health as you age.
- Finances. AARP members also get a ton of free online tools to help them plan their finances and wealth. AARP tools can be used to calculate retirement costs, Social Security benefits, and provide alerts and guidance against fraud companies.
As you can see, AARP full members get a ton of special discounts all over the place.
Who Is Eligible to Join AARP?
AARP offers full memberships to any American citizen 50 years of age or older. You do not have to actually be retired to join the group and you do not even have to be planning to retire.
Full memberships are reserved for Americans age 50 and older but younger people under 50 can still get an Associate Membership with the AARP. Associate members get access to all the same discounts and benefits full members get, aside from benefits restricted by vendor requirements such as age requirements on certain insurance products. So even if you are 20-something, you can still join the AARP and get most of the benefits.
How Much Does an AARP Membership Cost?
AARP full memberships start at as low as $12 a year for the first year then $16 a year for every year after that. Subscriptions are risk-free and can be canceled at any time without additional cancellation fees. You can also sign up for a multi-year membership plan and save up to 10% annually by signing up for 3 years, and 21% annually by signing up for 5 years.
Also, any member can also add their spouse or partner to their membership for free, so they get access to all the benefits as well at no extra cost. So in other words, you can get two AARP memberships for the price of one.
AARP Membership Pros & Cons
- Lots of discounts. AARP members get discounts for dining, travel, shopping, healthcare, and much more. Discounts also change every week so there is always something new.
- Low membership fees. $16 a year is very cheap and comes out to just over $1 a month. You can also add your spouse or partner to your membership entirely for free so they get the benefits too. Multi-year memberships offer an even further discount on membership fees.
- Cancel any time. You can cancel a membership at any time without having to pay an additional cancellation fee.
- Useful knowledge about retirement. The AARP also has a regular publication and online resources that cover virtually every aspect of navigating the world of retirement, from financial guidance, vacation plans, and more.
- Political dealings. The AARP has a large hand in lobbying in the political realm, and many people will not be comfortable supporting an organization that does so.
- Lots of junk mail. AARP members tend to get bombarded with a lot of junk mail in their inbox. Every now and then these emails might have a useful promotion but many people report still receiving junk mail even after canceling their membership.
- Conflict of interest. Many people claim that the AARP has a conflict of interest with its members because it makes so much money selling them third-party products. Many believe that this relationship with partner companies compromises the organization’s goal to represent senior citizens.
Final Words: Is AARP Worth It?
AARP members get some nice benefits and discounts when they sign up and yearly membership fees are extremely cheap. You can become an AARP member for a little more than $1 a month (less if you buy a multi-year membership) and there is actually no age restriction for joining (you do have to be over 50 to have a full membership though). So, even younger people have something to gain from joining the AARP. It is possible to find much of the benefits and discounts the AARP offers from other places, but with an AARP membership, they are all there in the same place.