I can still remember the first time I heard about AARP from my late father forty-some years ago. We were getting these AARP magazines for what seemed like every day to me. Back then, there was no Internet and every time his subscription arrived in the mail, I could tell that my dad was always excited to read it.
Honestly, up until two years ago, I always thought AARP membership was only meant for old folks and that you must be a retired person to join.
Now that I am in my fifties-ish, I decided to take a serious look at the program to see if becoming a member can benefit me.
I went to their website to see what my options are and was surprised to see all the benefits that come with the membership. I decided to give it a shot and signed up to their $12-a-month subscription.
The same email also reminded me that my membership will automatically renew in one year, and the standard annual membership rate of $16-a-month will be applied then.
What is AARP and what are the benefits of becoming a member?
The American Association of Retired Persons or AARP is a subscription-based organization for Americans who are retired or approaching retirement age. The AARP is a non-profit organization which seeks to better the lives of its members by providing advice, resources, discounts on travel, healthcare, employment, and income security.
They also offer discounts on entertainment, shopping, and dining–up to 10%-15% off at chains such as Denny’s, Carrabba’s, Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, McCormick & Schmick’s, Rainforest café, etc.
How old do you have to be to join AARP?
Contrary to popular misconceptions, you don’t have to be old, bent and gray to join the AARP. Membership is open to everyone. The average American retirement age is 63, but you can join AARP well before then. That means you can begin early to enjoy all the discounts and resources being offered.
Although there’s no official age limit for membership, the association dedicates itself to securing benefits for older Americans–50 and above.
Are there things that could add value to your lifestyle?
If you’re the traveling type like me, or you could use discounts on eye care and other health services, or maybe you might be interested in learning how to improve your finances, then you should take another look at the association.
Going back to my AARP subscription, as I mentioned earlier, I received my package in the mail two weeks after I signed up online. It came in a red envelope and at the front, it said, “Open to Start Your AARP Journey”, which I thought was pretty cool.
The package contained a Magazine, a members’ benefits guide booklet and two membership cards. Yes, two. One for me and one for my wife, and that was a surprise! I did not know that spouses are automatically enrolled in the program when one spouse signs up.
Here are some salient facts about AARP that you should know before you part with your $16.
Cost of AARP membership
To join AARP, you’ll have to pay an annual fee of $16. However, this fee can dramatically drop to $12.60 a year if you sign-up for multiple years. A multiple-year AARP membership can earn you a discount of up to 25% in the first year.
You can join the AARP with any of the following payments plans:
- 5-year membership – $63 or $12.60 per year, with a 21%discount
- 3-year membership – $43 or $14.34 per year, with a 10% discount
- Auto-renew – $12 for the first year
An AARP membership qualifies you for numerous discounts. When you join, you’ll gain access to discounts from a vast number of retailers and service providers. These range from healthcare to entertainment to travel.
Here is a decidedly incomplete list of discounts and resources you’ll stand to enjoy with an AARP membership:
- Healthcare: Aging typically comes with a few health issues. AARP has got you covered. The organization partners with several healthcare providers to offer members discounts and benefits on health and wellness. Some of these include:
AARP also has discounts from other providers, such as discounts on glasses through Glasses.com and hearing aids through HearUSA.
- Retail: AARP has negotiated reasonable discounts for members in select retail outlets. Some participating chains include 1-800-Flowers.com, The Chocolate Factory, Tanger Outlets, Harry & David, Simply Chocolate, etc.
- Travel: Sign up with AARP already if you are an adventurous, nomadic spirit. The discounts you’ll get will cover the $16 registration fee several times over. On their website, the AARP features a travel page which lists all the juicy packages and deals you can get. There are hundreds of vacations and cruises to various exotic destinations all over the world you can choose from.
Saving money while having the time of your life is as simple as clicking on any of the deals that interest you. You will see the package details and the contact details to call for further information.
AARP can handle your insatiable wanderlust. Membership qualifies you for deals on car rentals, with companies like Avis Rent A Car, Budget Rent A Car, Budget Truck Rental, Payless® Car Rental, and Zipcar.
Then there are the cruise packages–Grand European Travel and Collete River Cruise amongst others.
There are also flights and vacation packages – Explorations by Collette, Grand European Travel, Medjet, Park Ride Fly USA, Xanterra Travel Collection. And discounts on hotels all over the world
- Restaurants: Includes Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Denny’s and Rainforest Café. Others are Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Chart House®, Claim Jumper Restaurant & Saloon, Corner Bakery Cafe, Landry’s Seafood®, Landry’s® Inc. Restaurants, McCormick & Schmick’s®, The Oceanaire® Seafood Room, and sweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt.
- Entertainment: Catch you well-deserved fun with discounts on AARP Games, Ancestry, Cirque du Soleil, Movies for Grownups, Regal Concessions, Regal Movie Tickets, Ticketmaster® and TV for Grownups.
See the AARP’s Member Benefits page for a complete list of benefits
The AARP Now App
One of the fastest and easiest ways to access members’ benefits is through the AARP Now app. You can download this free app from your Android or iPhone. With this app, you can enjoy these additional benefits.
- Discover local events and workshops
- Exclusive daily news
- Neighborhood discounts
- Exclusive offers
The app also allows you to set up push notifications which will alert and remind you about community events and offers you’re interested in.
Other features of an AARP membership
While lots of businesses and places offer senior discounts, they usually start at age 55 or older.
This is one distinct advantage of joining AARP – you can start enjoying their benefits as early as age 50.
Other perks of an AARP membership include automatic free membership for your spouse if you are married (I found out about it later). And the singles aren’t left out: you can sign up for the AARP’s dating site.
AARP advocates for issues that concern senior citizens through their AARP State Offices, and AARP Foundation Litigation. They also organize community events. These include AARP in Your City and AARP Block Party.
Members also receive the AARP Magazine, a bi-monthly publication which focuses on issues concerning seniors. It covers everything from investment advice to travel to personal finance.
Is AARP worth it? Should you become a member?
I really think so!
But don’t take it from me, I recently had a brief conversation with my golfing buddies about AARP and here’s what they said about it:
Mel D.– Bolingbrook, Illinois.
Gene F. – Darien, Illinois.
I know that it’s important that you become particularly deliberate about the way you spend your money once you start edging towards the golden age. This is because your earning capacity will significantly reduce when you retire but for a $16-a-month subscription for both you and your spouse, with all the benefits I mentioned above, it is money well spent.
An AARP membership might not increase your earning power, but it surely will make whatever you have, go a long way.
By all means, register with the AARP if you enjoy eating out, shopping, traveling and having access to loads of educational resources to grow your money.
Not fully convinced? Just pay for a year’s subscription and observe how the discounts you receive will have helped you.