When I hear “AARP card,” my mind immediately jumps to the scene of Arrested Development when Lucille 2, 60-something, takes her 30-year-old boyfriend Buster to a movie.
“I’m sorry, I was told my AARP card was good for one and a guest!”
In typical Arrested Development fashion, the comment serves to highlight their 35-year age gap for the laughs. In reality, however, Buster totally could’ve whipped out his AARP card, too.
You probably know the AARP card as the “discount card for old people” – AARP formerly stood for American Association of Retired Persons, after all – but what you may not have known is that AARP membership technically doesn’t have an age requirement.
Per their membership landing page:
“Full AARP membership is available to anyone age 50 and over…”
But just below that, in fine print:
“Members under 50 will get access to all of the great benefits that come with a membership…”
So what are the benefits of joining AARP in your 20s? How much could you save, and where? And how much does AARP membership cost?
Let’s investigate why you should join AARP in your 20s!
What is AARP?
AARP was founded in 1958 as the American Association of Retired Persons – a non-profit interest group supporting the welfare of Americans 50 and over.
AARP is a multifaceted entity that’s hard to pin down with a single label – it’s equal parts lobbyist organization, magazine, union, non-profit, and insurance provider for tens of millions of retired Americans.
In 1999 the group shed its longer name, opting for its acronym only to signify that it no longer required members to be retired or even old. Despite embracing their street name, AARP wasn’t an overnight hit with Millennials or Zoomers, most of whom still have no idea they qualify.
Now that you know you do, what are the costs and benefits of membership?
What is an AARP membership?
Joining AARP is like joining AAA. It’s a pretty low-key commitment that comes with a massive bundle of perks, tools, and benefits.
Most of the benefits of an AARP membership are surprisingly helpful for people our age. Before I dive into them, let’s cover the cost.
How much does an AARP membership cost?
A full AARP membership costs $12 for your first year, then $16 each year thereafter.
Yep, that’s it.
Your membership also includes a free second household membership, so you and your roommate or SO can split the cost and become bonafide AARP members for less than the price of a Chipotle burrito bowl.
For your $0.50 monthly investment, here’s what you get in return:
What are the best perks of an AARP membership for a 20-something?
AARP has been around for over 60 years, and in that time they’ve built a lot of relationships with name-brand vendors, restaurants, and organizations.
In total, AARP membership grants you 289 “benefits,” ranging from discounts to professional services. Here are some of the highlights that a 20-something can take advantage of:
You may have heard legends of the AARP’s travel discounts, and the legends are true. With savings of up to 43% on hotel stays and rental cars, an AARP membership can easily pay for itself several times over during your next holiday.
- 43% off annual ZipCar membership.
- Up to 30% off Avis Rent A Car.
- 10% off dozens of hotel chains like Best Western, Hilton Grand Vacations, Hampton by Hilton, Radisson, Sleep Inn, Ramada, Comfort Suites, Home2 Suites by Hilton, LaQuinta, EconoLodge, Days Inn, Waldorf Astoria, Wyndham Grand, and more.
- $50 – $100 instant savings on cruises and guided tours by Collette.
- And more!
All things considered, a $12 AARP card could easily save you $100 or more on your next vacation.
AARP members save up to 20% on tickets to Regal theaters and live shows with Ticketmaster. Take back those stupid “convenience fees” with a vengeance!
AARP members get 10% to 20% discounts at popular chain restaurants, like:
- Corner Bakery.
- Carabba’s Italian Grill.
- McCormick & Schmick’s.
- Bonefish Grill.
- Outback Steakhouse.
Granted, these aren’t the most organically-sourced, trendy restaurants per se, but if you tend to hunt for carbs at Corner Bakery before work, an AARP membership could pay for itself pretty quickly.
Chocolates, flowers, and UPS discounts
In AARP’s “shopping and groceries” category, you’ll see 10% – 25% discounts including:
- 1-800 Flowers.
- Simply Chocolate.
- The UPS Store.
- Tanger Outlets.
Would’ve been nice to see an actual grocery store here, but hey, if you send flowers and chocolates often, you can save big bucks in this category.
Tech and mobile plan discounts
AARP’s tech-related discounts are fewer in number but offer potentially massive savings:
- AARP® Identity Theft Protection by NortonLifeLock™: 20% off.
- AT&T Unlimited Elite plan: save $10 per line per month, plus up to $45 in waived activation and upgrade fees.
Career and financial planning tools
Finally, AARP members of all ages get access to some helpful tools for career and financial planning.
First, you can take advantage of a free resume review with AARP Resume Advisor℠, as well as a 20% discount on writing packages through the service.
Next, if you’re looking to pay off your student loans more quickly, you’ll love AARP’s complimentary student loan repayment and eligibility review with Savi – as well as a discount on Savi Essential or Savi Pro.
Are there any AARP perks that 20-somethings don’t qualify for?
Although AARP officially began welcoming members of all ages in 1999, some of its third-party vendors still prefer older clients.
Which discounts are you and I too young and spry to qualify for?
(Most) insurance discounts
Some of AARP’s longest-standing discounts are with insurance companies that cater exclusively to senior citizens.
The Hartford, for example, offers discounted home, renters, boat, RV, and auto insurance to AARP members, but only if they’re over 55. Similarly, UnitedHealth offers discounted health insurance, but only to members who qualify for Medicare Part D.
There’s still at least one insurance discount that we young ’uns probably qualify for. AARP members get a 10% discount on pet insurance through Petplan, plus a complimentary $35 prepaid Visa card for signing up online. That’s a nice-to-have, although you may still find better overall rates on pet insurance with Lemonade or Pumpkin.
Though traditionally known for saving retirees 10% on their travel plans, AARP membership is becoming an increasingly attractive value proposition for young folks. For just $12 per year, you can get a fully-fledged AARP membership (plus a free second household membership) and begin taking advantage of perks like endless travel discounts, a cheaper unlimited mobile plan, and even a free resume review.
The front desk at the Waldorf Astoria may look at you funny when you pull out your AARP card, but your instant $50 savings will be worth it.