Why You Should Join AARP, Even If You’re a Young Whippersnapper


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I’m not a senior citizen, even though I’m fussy, dislike loud restaurants and sometimes grunt when getting out of chairs. And yet, I’m also a card-carrying member of senior citizen advocacy group AARP, which qualifies me for all sorts of discounts when shopping. That’s because, contrary to popular belief, there’s no minimum age requirement to join—anyone who can pay an annual $16 membership fee is entitled to the same benefits as those in their golden years. And the deals are pretty good, too!

How does an AARP membership work?

Formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, AARP advocates for the interests of people over age 50 on issues that affect them most, such as social security or access to healthcare. Their members also happen to get good deals on travel, restaurants, and entertainment purchases, and there’s no age restriction to sign up for a membership (the only exception to this would be deals that do have a minimum age requirement, like supplemental Medicare coverage, or some life insurance policies).

Membership is $12 for your first year with automatic renewal and $16 per year after that. You can also save 10% or 21% off the annual rate if you sign up for a three-year or five-year commitment, respectively.

What kind of deals can you get through the AARP?

  • Car rentals: Considering that car rental prices are through the roof, one of the best benefits is up to 30% off base rates for car rentals from Avis, Budget, and Payless. You can also get 43% off an annual Zipcar membership.
  • Airfare: As part of a partnership with British Airways, you qualify for either $65 (economy or premium economy) or $200 (business class) off flights for more than 130 worldwide destinations, if booked online.
  • Hotels: Membership qualifies you for a 5-15% discount for a bunch of hotel chains, including Wyndham, Radisson, Hilton, and Best Western.
  • Restaurants: The selection is limited to 14 chain restaurants, but you can get 10-15% off at Denny’s, Rainforest Cafe, Outback Steakhouse, and Bonefish Grill.
  • Entertainment: You can get up to 20% off Regal Cinema standard tickets, and $3 off popcorn and soda combos if you already have a Regal membership. There’s also two-for-one tickets on select shows through Ticketmaster (i.e., Vegas shows, musicals, minor league sports) and $2 off the monthly cost of an Audible subscription.

As a member, you can also find deals on pharmacies, fraud protection products, vacation packages, financial products, and of course, AARP’s complimentary glossy magazine focused on aging (for what it’s worth). Here’s a full list of their benefits.

Is AARP worth the membership cost?

It is, considering the membership cost is low enough that you barely need to use it to get some value from it—maybe the odd car rental, hotel room booking, or buying movie tickets.

For example, I easily offset the $12 membership cost in a single online purchase of two Regal movie tickets, which were $14.80 less than what I could get without AARP. As a frequent moviegoer, the membership is worth it just for the Regal discounts alone, even if I never use it for any of the other discounts (I’m not a big fan of the Rainforest Cafe, anyway—too loud).