AARP Membership: The Best $12 Young People Now Spend

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I first joined AARP because of the discount their members get buying British Airways tickets. I’ve stacked the AARP and Chase discounts during BA sales to buy very cheap tickets, which I’ve then upgraded to first class using points. The hotel deals are great, too. And most people don’t realize you don’t need to be old to join.

The Wall Street Journal covers a trend in younger people joining AARP to take advantage of discounts, as effective methods of saving money become more focal in an era of inflation.

A rite of passage for those 50 and older, an AARP membership also is drawing younger folks determined to get discounts to cope with inflation. They shamelessly flash their cards at restaurants, often confusing the wait staff and amazing and embarrassing their friends and family.

…An AARP spokeswoman said the organization is seeing a definite uptick in younger members but won’t share specific member demographic data.

According to AARP, “Anyone 13 and older can join online and receive many of the same deals [as older Americans]. “It’s never too early to sign up!” according to AARP’s website.

Hotels have AARP rates. Some restaurants offer 10% discounts – they don’t actually check your age, and will extend those discounts with an AARP card.

BoardingArea’s Zach Abel (Monkey Miles) has become something of a TikTok star, and his video about AARP discounts was highlighted in the Journal. Apparently 150,000 people joined AARP off his TikTok.

@zacharyburrabel #stitch with @holterman I eat deals for breakfast, lunch, and a very early bird 4pm dinner #travel #travelhacks #traveldeals #aarp ♬ original sound – zacharyburrabel

AARP costs $12 for the first year (with auto-renewal), you get to pick a free gift, and a second membership in your household free.

aarp discount helped book british airways first class

And they promote hotel discounts up to 15% (can be better or worse than AAA); AT&T (up to $10 off per line per month, I’m an AT&T customer anyway), Avis deals, and Denny’s discounts (actually there are 21 restaurant chains that ‘officially’ offer discounts though many more may do so). There are numerous others as well.

Do this today. To be sure, you’re buying a coupon book, but a much less expensive one than an Amex Platinum card with different merchants and you can come out orders of magnitude ahead. At just $12 it is a great investment for many of you to make.

(HT: @crucker)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. As a 36 year old, I have proudly been a member of AARP for a while – discounts on hotels alone are worth the admission for the membership (same story with AAA), and the other discounts are icing on the cake.

  2. I have very mixed, mostly negative feelings, about AARP. It began as a very good idea, and the magazine occasionally has excellent advice for seniors, but it seems to have turned into just another big insurance company. And I don’t see that it any longer has as the main focus its professed constituency.

    A few years ago Obama abruptly ended the File and Suspend option in Social Security. This was frankly a loophole which allowed couples more benefits. While it was understandable to close it that was done without warning or time for adjustment; personally I was really counting on it and almost eligible. This is exactly the sort of thing that AARP should have made a fuss about–allow a little time for people to plan and maybe keep the door open till the end of the year. They did nothing, in fact an article soon appeared in their magazine about the wonderful changes the feds had made in the system.

    I was furious and wrote a serious letter to the organization’s president, expanding it to questions of what they planned to do as the Baby Boomers aged out and their numbers dropped, thus losing political and economic power. Got a less than brush off reply back. But the last straw was finding that the organization was helping to bankroll the American Legislative Exchange Council, a heavily pro-business and pretty far right organization which writes model legislation that assuredly is not consumer friendly. At that point I quit.

  3. One thing to consider….

    AARP is fully entrenched in the radical leftist death cult.

    No thank you, I will never give those scum even a plug nickel.

  4. Pretty hilarious comment section and a good microcosm of America in general. One person declaring AARP to be a far right organization and another claiming they’re radical leftists. At least one of you is wrong but probably both.

  5. I also joined for the BA discount, but still find it useful anyways. I have a subscription to MedJetAssist since I travel so much and there is an AA discount, so that one purchase per year pays for my entire AARP fee, everything else is just a bonus.

  6. Interesting Data Point: I’m an AARP member under 50 yrs old. I got quotes for their auto and home insurance and the savings were meaningful – especially if you did both. But when it came time to write the policies, the Hartford wouldn’t write my auto as they said it’s only for “AARP members” and when I said I am one, they said, but you have to be 50 yrs old … the agent was shocked anyone could join. She could not find a way to overwrite the system to issue me the policy so I used P2 as the primary, but still interesting.

  7. Like the new PayPal and other woke companies, I don’t share AARP’s political agenda. It’s too bad some of their competitors like AMAC don’t have the same discounts but I’ll pass on AARP.

  8. I have never had a bad experience with AARP. I joined in my early 60’s, and am now beyond that. I’m sorry I didn’t know about the BA discount since I am a fan of BA, and recently took a pretty pricey trip with them. I’m happy to have their supplemental Medicare insurance. It’s costly, altogether with Medicare part B and drug plans for my husband and me almost twice as expensive as commercial insurance. On the plus side, I no longer have co-pay and co-insurance charges.

  9. You don’t have to be an AARP member to enroll in the AARP United Healthcare Medicare supplemental insurance. They lend their name to the program but have nothing to do with the administration of the plan.

  10. To those who say that AARP doesn’t WORK for their members, I call BS! I’ve been a member since I was in my 30’s and now retired, they have been wonderful. The knowledge and resources they provide to seniors (AND EVERYONE) IS amazing, but they go a step further, they actually contacted me based on some comments I had made on their website about medical issues and the ridiculous prices I have paid and currently pay for medicines. I shared that I have paid in excess of $3,000. per month every month for insulin and other drugs in addition to the premiums I paid to BCBS before Obamacare and that even though they were greatly reduced they were still outrageous. They asked to interview me to share stories like mine with Congress when the recent legislation was up to reduce the costs of medicines, particularly placing the caps on insulin and allowing Medicare to negotiate the costs of drugs. They lobbied hard for Seniors! And my REPUBLICAN Senate and house members? The worthless dogs gave me some BS story about why they wouldn’t support Medicare being able to negotiate the costs…IT WAS A BUNCH OF JUNK and I’m being polite. They are bought and paid for by big Pharma! Call them liberals all you want, they (AARP) HELPED EVERYONE, even those of us stuck in Red States with criminals for representatives! And yes, I could insult the Republicans in this forum but I choose not to name call. They should actually READ about the bills that were passed and see how many people like me were actually helped, I guarantee that they or someone they love will benefit from it as well.

  11. @DaninMCI-What “woke” political agenda is it that you think they represent? Pushing for medicare reform? Health insurance reforms? Encouraging seniors to take good care of themselves by being and staying active, getting regular health care and checkups and eating well? Telling seniors how to save money and helping them to get discounts by using their huge purchasing power to negotiate with large retailers? Teaching them how to avoid fraud and not be subjected to criminals? Teaching them how to better manage their finances with tutorials, videos and encouraging them to educate themselves? I am literally on their website weekly or daily and I can say I have NEVER seen anything I would REMOTELY consider to be political in nature! You sound like you’re regurgitating some Fox News off the wall bull$hit because if you have EVER spent five minutes on the site or read their newsletter you’d realize you have no idea what you’re talking about! They may support candidates with financial donations who support the causes and programs that BENEFIT and work for seniors (like the legislation that was just passed to HELP SENIOR CITIZENS WITH DRUG AND MEDICAL COSTS) BUT I DID NOT once see them mention a political party. They wrote and asked you to contact your reps IF YOU WANTED THIS LEGISLATION…THEY ARE NOT A PAC AND DON’T PRETEND TO BE ONE! So get your facts straight and quit talking out of your rear!

  12. Interestingly silly.comments from some folks, especially the one about the “radical leftist death cult” comment by Amazing Larry. Amazing.

    But to get back to what this. Log is about: did you know you. An buy Airbnb gift cards at a 5% discount? Stack that with the PayPal Mastercard and you end up with an 8% discount. Or watch a few of those workout videos for free gift cards in all kinds of categories. You gotta be stupid (like that Amazing dude) to leave this money lying around. To be on the conservative side I’d say that my $12 membership yields an easy $200 annual profit. And I support a good cause.

  13. AARP and ABA membership are two memberships that have been more open and cheaper than many would expect to get from these associations which provided some useful travel benefits on the relative cheap. Unfortunately, at least in the case of the ABA, the benefits aren’t all what they used to be since the travel service providers have become much less willing to discount in order to maintain or build occupancy/booking volumes than they used to be.

  14. I am a member but see very little benefit to membership. As far as the BA discount, I wasn’t aware of that, but doubt that it would be of use to the majority of members. As for the hotel discounted rates, I get equally good rates with my AAA membership.

    My perception is that AARP definitely leans left politically, but that is only a perception based on their magazine articles. They generally push for more and more senior benefits at taxpayer cost which strikes me as a bit selfish. Having taxpayers pick up your expenses means someone is paying either in higher taxes, or a burden of interest on the national debt. When will the American dream implode on the weight of the debt burden?

  15. I left AARP when they were actively advocating for an increase in the state income tax in Illinois recently. Not something I wanted to support even if i get some discounts from them.

  16. Garry, I signed up for it. However I can not find in answer to following question. If I book a AARP rate through Marriott or Hilton’s website
    a) will I still count towards status?
    B) will I still get my status benefits?

  17. When a fast food merchant questioned a 13-year-old about using his AARP membership for discounts on chicken nuggets, he replied, “you get two memberships for the price of one. Did you know, In Massachusetts with parental consent, you can marry at 12? So, I gave my 80-year-old wife my second free membership. Why yes, I want a discount on my Rainforest Cafe, Fuddruckers, and Denny’s AARP food. Thanks, AARP.”

  18. Moral of the story, is that while AARP membership is available to those 13+, since it’s a senior organization, expect a few programs to be for just seniors. Don’t get a gray hair over it.

    The Hartford Insurance is for AARP Members who are 50+. There I’ve clarified the rules for you since they and AARP did not do this. I ran into an AARP age gate problem a few years ago when Walgreens used to offer free AARP memberships after purchasing $15 in qualifying purchases. The register coupon directed you to a website with a registration code. The first year I enrolled using my real <50 year old birthday it was accepted. The second year, the website rejected me saying the offer was for 50+. However, I successfully renewed upon mailing the coupon.

  19. Amazing Larry’s comment goes too far but yes AARP pushes a political agenda that is not limited to senior issues and is always on the D side. They also want to sell you insurance. If you don’t like those things or don’t want to be on a mailing list in exchange for some discounts, then simply don’t join.

  20. AARP’s website does a poor job explaining the actual member discounts — they discuss them in general terms. Is there a complete listing of the specific deals? While $12 isn’t a lot, I”ve got the feeling that most people would not benefit from membership, unless there is a specific merchant they use and this is better than other discounts they would easily qualify for. For instance, I also joined severala years ago to take advantage of a specfic BA business class deal that ACTUALLY saved me hundreds of dollars. I do know at Outback they give you 10% off, so if you’re a regular customer there you’d likely pay for your membership. But the hotel and car rental discounts are puffery; you can get similar discount for just being a human and using a different code. Not sure about the cell phone offers, but you probably should have a known benefit useful for you before giving money to this otherwise very dubious organization.

  21. I signed up for this in the fall and just recently made my first AARP-discounted booking, for a rental car in Cabo.

    Now, I didn’t go for the cheapest overall option (not eager to deal with some of the local agencies), but for what I wanted to book, going through AARP was the best choice — rate was equal to or less than what I found via AutoSlash and AARP also got me an additional driver at no cost.

    I don’t expect AARP to be the best option very often, but it was this time and for me that made it worth the first year’s fee.

  22. It’s a left-wing liberal lobbying organization with a marketing sleeve that just wants to sell stuff and your information. They should offer the membership for free at this point.

  23. Thank goodness, some of us are “left-wing” and actually care for certain members of our diverse population. Nobody forces you to join.

  24. The AARP was taken over by liberals in 2007. Their leadership abuses their authority to promote their own enrichment and advance leftist causes at the expense of their members.

    AARP survives based upon the apathy of their poorly informed membership. AARP uses their huge membership to wield substantial influence in DC to the detriment of every American.

    AARP discounts are generally small and rarely the best savings available. Are the few dollars one saves worth the cost to our nation?

  25. AARP is definitely a radical left wing operation! Now excuse me as I am at the street corner and me and this stop sign are about to get into a fist fight (no one tells me what to do).

  26. Amusingly, for those of us actually old the hotel discount is now worthless as the chains have an identical “senior” rate not requiring AARP membership.
    I let my membership lapse a few years ago and haven’t missed it.

    As for their feeble lobbying efforts, too bad. AARP is not a wealthy organization, nowhere near enough resources to buy a congressman for example.

  27. “during BA sales to buy very cheap tickets, which I’ve then upgraded to first class using points. ”

    Can you tell more details about this?

  28. I used the recent Chase offer to sign up for 5 years and I’m really reaping the value! I get Sooooooo much junk snail mail now it’s a fantastic return on my investment!

    I’m pretty sure I’m going to let this lapse after my 5 years for $7 or whatever it cost runs out…

  29. Check your Chase Offers to see if you have one for $8 off a $12 or more AARP membership purchase!

    I found one on my Bonvoy Boundless so I decided to sign up.

  30. Recycled article? If only Walgreens brought back their free membership promo. Thanks to them, I had AARP free for 2 or 3 years. As soon as you enroll, update your privacy and contact options to opt out of phone calls, junk mail, etc. If you don’t do this you WILL get more junk mail and phone calls. Even better – in the phone number I added the Walgreens store that generated the offer.

  31. I signed up with the recent Chase statement credit offer… I’ve clearly made it on their email and snail mail spam lists, it’s amazing how much spam I’m getting from it. And it’s all branded AARP!

  32. I bet PennyinAL is still VERY ANGRY at me for saying AARP is a special interest group that pretends to be for seniors. However, overall they are still just a lobbying group. 98% of their political donations go to Democrats. This borderline “non-profit” parent controls two for-profit entities. AARP Services, Inc. and AARP Financial. They use the non-profit entity member information to market insurance and many other products while getting a kickback or licensing money from those related companies. That would be fine but they pretend that it’s all unbiased “safe” advice for seniors. The leadership is littered with ex-Democratic and RINO operatives and they direct this major entity in very liberal directions. They profited off of Obamacare by pretending to be unbiased all while making billions on the back of seniors by partnering with United Healthcare to pimp senior supplement plans. AARP also supports the “Death Tax” so seniors can’t leave their estates to family without high taxes being attached. They support ESG, Abortion, and a host of other liberal ideas. So if all that matches what you want to spend your money on go ahead. Do you get some discounts? Sure but at what cost?

  33. AARP also offers a $200 lifetime membership. You have to call to order it. Do the math. I bought one for a 20 something family member. This organization is dedicated to helping seniors live vibrant, productive and healthy lives. Forget about the idea of it being a leftist anything. Don’t you like like walkable, safe streets? Community events? Discounts on many things? Check out their website on all the things they offer and advocate for on their website. Pro Tip: I don’t get any spam or calls from third parties because I simply opted-out of those mailings under my profile. Be happy peeps.

  34. I can’t believe this is still coming up If Republicans weren’t trying to eliminate or lower Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, we wouldn’t need organizations like AARP. And every penny of the $12.00 is worth it!

  35. Signed up about 7 months ago on a 5 year for $15 deal. We are AAA members.

    Haven’t saved 1 nickel, but have gotten an unending stream of snail mail insurance offers for life, auto and Medicare. Was getting frequent email offers as well, but finally unsubscribed, because they were worthless and repetitive.

  36. It’s fascinating to see how AARP membership is becoming increasingly valuable for young people. Many of us typically associate AARP with the older demographic, but it’s refreshing to see how they’re broadening their appeal. $12 seems like a minimal investment for the potential benefits and resources one can access. It’s essential for young people to be informed about all the tools and opportunities available to them, especially in these unpredictable times. Thanks for shedding light on this unexpected topic, Gary. 🙂

  37. @ DaninMCI — Thanks for the info. Now I want to get multiple memberships. BTW, death taxes are a good thing for society. People like you always seem to forget that their hard work and/or good fortune is only part of the equation is accumulating wealth. Without a properly functioning society/government funded primarily by taxes, we would all be much less wealthy. Those missiles and tanks and roads and sewage treatment plants and hospitals, etc. did not appear out of thin air…

  38. It’s not worth selling my beliefs to AARP as I’ve said in the past. AARP is a lobbying and insurance group. Some discounts on travel just aren’t worth it to me. I don’t the reason to join is because you like more death and more taxes. Any travel savings via AARP will be eroded in their support of liberal plans and candidates. Maybe @Gene will share one of his memberships with you.

  39. Stop Regurgitating old articles…….. why not talk about where you can smoke on a plane if you want to keep old crap to talk about. Or how about how high the “Girls” skirts should be! Or the $1,000 Econ tickets on Transcon flights.

    I mean if you want to talk about old stuff then bring it all back.

  40. Why is it always “radical” left? Why the adjective and invective? Any group of people who promote the common man and woman is okay in my book. The other side is only pro business, mainly corporations and espouse a trickle down economic plan. The problem is this plan has been around for a while and it has resulted in extreme income inequality. Nothing is trickling down, it is more of a slow drip. All tax benefits are heavily weighted on the corporate side. For those who think the “radicals” are knee deep in giveaways, read up on how much you “give away” to corporations.

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