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Is AARP membership worth the cost?

If you're turning 50 this year, you qualify for an AARP membership, but is it worth it? Can you get senior discounts without joining?

By MSN Money Partner Aug 20, 2013 2:00PM

This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News. 

MTN logoOnce you've reached 50, you're likely to start hearing jokes about getting a senior discount at Denny's. But reaching a certain age actually does present some new opportunities -- like AARP membership.

Portrait of smiling senior couple on bicycles © Robert Daly, OJO Images, Getty ImagesAARP says that for just $16 a year, members have access to discounts on insurance and other products and services.

But is it worth the admittedly modest cost, or can people get similar discounts on their own without joining the group? We looked into AARP's benefits and their value to see what's what.


Members can sign up for auto insurance through the AARP Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford. An advertisement on their website says: "Drivers over 50 who switch their auto insurance save an average of $375."

To compare insurance rates, I used a base model: coverage for a 50-year-old Texas woman with no recent accidents who drives a 2010 Honda Civic, including comprehensive and collision, with low limits and high deductibles. I received these three quotes:

  • Allstate -- $215 per month.
  • AARP Auto Insurance Program -- $100 per month.
  • Geico -- $59.80 per month.

Since rates vary by age, location, driving record, and a number of other factors, you might find a good deal through AARP's plan, but you might also find a better price with another insurer. It's worth requesting a free rate quote from not just AARP but other insurance companies to find the best price.

Travel deals

Travel deals are another perk to AARP membership. Here are a few things you'll get:

  • Rental cars. Members get a discount at several car rental companies.
  • Hotels. Your membership will get you up to 20% off at several hotel chains, such as Sheraton and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. Other hotels offer smaller discounts.
  • Travel. You'll get access to the AARP Travel Center by Expedia, which posts members-only flight deals, plus you're entitled to a discount at Park Ride Fly USA for off-airport parking.
  • Cruises and trips. The AARP Travel Center offers cruise deals like 5% off select Norwegian Cruise Line cruises and other discounts, such as 10 percent off Endless Vacation Rentals.

However, if you're thinking of joining AARP just for the travel discounts, you'll likely find other senior discounts that don't require membership. For example, Best Western offers a 10% discount to anyone 55 years or older. If you're 62 or older, you'll get a 15% discount at Marriott locations.

Some airlines, including Southwest, offer senior fares. A few flight deal sites also post travel deals for seniors, such as OneTravel, CheapOair and Travelation. However, make sure the discounted fares -- whether you find them through AARP or elsewhere -- are actually the lowest available for your chosen flights.

Other discounts

If you're diligent about flashing your membership card, you can save some money -- easily enough to earn back your membership fee. Some examples:

  • 15% off lunch or dinner at participating Outback Steakhouse restaurants Monday through Thursday and 15% off weekend lunches.
  • A free doughnut with the purchase of any large or extra large drink at Dunkin' Donuts.
  • 10% off at Bonefish Grill.
  • 45% off the price of membership to Angie's List.
  • 5% off plans and 30% off accessories at Consumer Cellular.
  • 20% off local or one-way rentals at Budget Truck Rental.

You can read the full list of discounts by checking out the AARP Member Benefits Guide (.pdf file).

However, many establishments and businesses offer senior discounts -- no membership required. For example:

  • AMC Theatres. Discounted tickets on Tuesdays for anyone 60 and up.
  • Verizon Wireless. The 65 Plus Plan comes with 200 anytime minutes for $29.99 a month for customers 65 and older.
  • Kohl's. Customers 60 and older get 15% off in-store purchases on Wednesdays.

You can find plenty of lists identifying senior discounts that don't require an AARP membership (although take note that offers change and not all stores in a chain participate). Among them:

Wherever you're shopping, it doesn't hurt to ask if they have a senior discount and how old you have to be to qualify.

Other features

AARP memberships also come with a host of other perks. For example, if you're married, your spouse will automatically get a free membership. If you're single, you can sign up for AARP's new dating site, which is currently 50%off for members. Members receive AARP Magazine, which has articles on everything from travel to personal finance. And you'll get access to their freebie section, which has free samples and other freebie deals.

Should you sign up?

One main advantage AARP has is the age limit. Most senior discounts we found started at 55 or older, but you can qualify for AARP starting at age 50.

On the other hand, you can take advantage of discounts available to people in all age groups by signing up for a company's emails or liking companies on their Facebook page.

Before you decide whether to join, check out the Member Benefits Guide to see if you'll get good use from a membership based on where you spend your money.

Have you been an AARP member? Has membership provided value to you?

More on Money Talks News:

Aug 20, 2013 3:19PM
AARP represents no one but themselves. Don't give them a dime!
Aug 20, 2013 4:14PM
I made the mistake of joining AARP. All I got for my $16 was endless junk mail and E-mail solicitations for everything under the sun. Don't do it if you value your privacy.
Aug 20, 2013 4:25PM

The one thing the article didn't mention is that with AARP membership comes a constant bombardment of mail asking for donations to support one of their causes.  At times it gets overwhelming.

Aug 20, 2013 4:13PM
AARP is the biggest trap and most never see it. They boast themselves as something they are not, and that is for their members. Case in point, they said how Obamacare was the best thing since sliced bread. Then they send you crap for you to send or reply to your congressman about how bad this and that is...Making it look like your congressman's fault. They serve only Democrats and only Democrat agenda's. They never ask for a vote with the membership....just the upper pundits! then they make it look like everyone in AARP is behind them.....Been there done I will not renew!
Aug 20, 2013 4:18PM

AARP is nothing short of a rip-off.  According to them, they have two divisions; one is non=profit, the other for profit.  Guess how their accounting system works.  Guess how much they receive annually as kickbacks off insurance policies and the like that they endorse but do nothing beyond that.  Do you really think they're looking out for you?


Aug 20, 2013 4:11PM
AARP has health insurance through United Health Care.  I had UHC before through my employer and now with AARP.  UHC has always worked very hard at finding ways to deny your legitimate claims.  I'm looking for another insurance. I understand AARP receives a finders fee for their service to UHC.  If AARP is for the retired, they could offer an option.  They don't. UHC pays them and AARP takes their money and endorses UHC at the cost of harming AARP's membership.
Aug 20, 2013 4:17PM
I was a member for a year and I didn't find anywhere that I saved anything by being a member except at hotels, and even then I found my AAA membership saved me more off the bill. I also kept getting stupid emails from them even after I'd requested them to unsubscribe me about 4-5 times, I finally had to report them as spam. I dropped my membership. 
Aug 20, 2013 4:09PM
AARP simply funnels money to the liberal and progressive causes of the Democratic Party just like unions.  Remember AARP strongly endorsed Obama Care.  If you like that,  join.  If not, spend your money elsewhere.
Aug 20, 2013 4:31PM

They have been badgering the crap out of me......very irritating.


All your garbage goes in the shredder AARP. If I need you, I'll let you know.


Aug 20, 2013 4:21PM
AARP is a left wing organization that is used persuade the elderly to vote for the Democratic Party. I will never join and they will never speak for me.
Aug 20, 2013 3:58PM

why would anyone pay to belong to this outfit.  Liberal maniacs.

Aug 20, 2013 4:06PM
They are just another special interest lobbying organization advocating redistribution of wealth and peddlers of products who pray on the unsuspecting.  I hope they go broke from declining membership. 
Aug 20, 2013 4:38PM
I joined AARP for a few years when I turned 50, but dropped it after being deluged with junk mail from insurance companies.  I never found a discount that I couldn't beat elsewhere, e.g., through AAA. 
Aug 20, 2013 4:44PM
AARP is screwing millions of seniors by supporting ObamaCare.  The poor seniors don't even know it.  AARP stands to make millions by selling insurance.  My wife & I were members and have now dropped it.
Aug 20, 2013 4:02PM

arrp  is out for itself and the agenda of obama and the democratic party. They really don't give a **** about you, all they want is your money.

Aug 20, 2013 4:25PM
I am not a member of AARP but have been solicited by them everywhere I have gone for the last 18 years.  Remember, if you go to the North or the South Pole a solicitation will be awaiting you from AARP. 
Aug 20, 2013 4:40PM

AARP is garbage! Liberals hiding in plain sight. Pretending to friends to seniors.

When you sign up and then later decide to leave, endless mail.

Everyone needs to write on their junk mail, "Return to sender"

This way they have to pay for the return postage.

Did you know it was AARP who lobbied and got the last deciding vote from our senator, which passed the Health Care Law.



Typical MSN blah blah blah article...


"Is it worth the cost?" Was the title but no definitive answer at the end of the article..


"Check the Members Benefits Guide" [at AARP] before you decide..


&^%$ I could have done that and never read the article....


Worthless journalisim to fill air space....  



Aug 20, 2013 4:21PM
Only the lobbyists make give them a nickel
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