At the YMCA where I used to work out, there was always a large stack of AARP magazines available for perusal during my 30 minutes on the elliptical or treadmill.
Despite being in my 30s, it was always my favorite magazine to borrow for a workout—although I’d sometimes hide the cover like I was reading something illicit.
I thought of AARP as an organization for…well, older people. It’s called the American Association of Retired Persons, after all. It felt a little odd to be a 30-something young mother who spent her workouts engrossed in an article in AARP’s flagship magazine.
Table of Contents
AARP Membership Age
“Do you have to be 50 to join AARp?” is the most common question when discussing the association with anyone under 50.
But just because most people join AARP when they turn 50 (or beyond) doesn’t mean the association is only for folks in that 50+ demographic. In fact, there are no age restrictions for joining AARP, so anyone can enjoy the benefits of membership.
For the low price of $16 per year (which is reduced to $12 if you sign up for auto-renewal), you can access all of the benefits available to AARP members—and you can add your spouse to the membership for free. But is AARP worth it?
Let’s investigate. But first, you should know…AARP offers a great deal of excellent free information and free tools to help folks prepare for retirement at any point in their career, even if you do not specifically join the association.
Before you leave money on the table, make sure you are fully aware of all the AARP benefits available to folks under 50:
Free AARP Tools Available Without a Membership
There are a number of tools, information, and assets available for free from AARP’s website, with no membership required.
Ace Your Retirement
Whether or not you join AARP, you can take full advantage of their Ace Your Retirement tool. When you navigate to the site, you’re met by a cute digital retirement coach nicknamed Avo, who asks you some simple questions.
In less than three minutes, Avo will give you a personalized action plan that highlights your top three tasks to help you prepare for retirement.
The tool fully explains exactly what you need to do to take care of these action items, and also provides you with a way to jump-start the action item.
Once you have completed your top three action items, you will find an additional 5-6 action items to add to your plan to make sure you’re ready for retirement.
When I used the Ace Your Retirement tool, Avo let me know that my top three action items as a 39-year-old self-employed freelancer were:
- Do It Yourself. Since I am self-employed, it’s vital that I get an IRA or Solo 401(k) set up for myself—although I already have this one taken care of.
- Get Paid to Wait. Avo explains how I can maximize my Social Security retirement benefits by waiting until age 70 to take them. That can provide me with benefits that are 124% of my benefit at full retirement age.
- Picture Yourself Post-Retirement. Avo suggests that I estimate my monthly retirement income and expenses so I can get a better sense of how much I will need.
AARP Now Mobile App
This free app, which is available for iPhone and Android, offers a number of great benefits to users.
News: The app offers daily stories covering the latest news, with a particular focus on how national and global issues will affect you.
Local Events: You can also explore events close to you, including career workshops, movie showings, and kid-friendly events. The app allows you to register for these events right from your phone.
Member Discounts: With the app, you can search for various benefits and discounts in your neighborhood for AARP members.
Push Notifications: You can set up your app to provide you with push notification reminders for events or deals happening near you.
Best of all, you do not have to be a member to take advantage of this app—and if you decide to become a member, the app will allow you to apply right from your phone.
AARP Brain Games: Free Online Games
Crossword puzzles, Sudoku games, Solitaire, strategy games, card games, and arcade-style games are more than just a fun way to spend your downtime. They can also help sharpen your vocabulary, math skills, or problem-solving skills.
AARP’s website has a host of free online games, including several games that have been created exclusively for members. You can get your online and mobile gaming fix through AARP without having to spend a cent.
AARP Membership Benefits
While you can get a lot out of AARP by simply using the free tools available to everyone, the best benefits are reserved for members.
In addition to receiving a subscription to the AARP magazine that I so enjoy reading at the gym, you will also benefit from discounts in the following areas:
AARP Travel Discounts
You can save up to 25% off of car rentals as well as additional perks like discounted GPS rates and free vehicle upgrades from car rental chains like Avis and Budget.
Once you get to your destination, you can save 10% off your stay with a number of major hotel chains, including Wyndham, Best Western, and La Quinta.
As if that weren’t enough, you can also get discounts on flights, railway tickets, cruises, national parks, tours, and vacation packages.
AARP Movie Tickets & Entertainment
You can save money on select tickets through Ticketmaster, which could potentially make your entire membership pay for itself if you regularly go to live events.
In addition, movie lovers who are also AARP members can save with Regal Entertainment Group. You can get $9.50 movie tickets when you buy Regal ePremiere Tickets online (with some geographical exclusions and restrictions), and you can also save $3 on any size popcorn and soft drink combo when you flash your AARP card and your Regal Crown Club card at the theater.
The Movies for Grownups program also offers free screenings of popular movies in select cities.
Finally, Cirque du Soleil offers 20% off select shows in Las Vegas and other cities, as well as 15% off of touring shows for AARP members.
Speaking of entertainment, AARP has some nice content on their Youtube channel:
AARP Restaurant Discounts
AARP membership entitles you to 10% to 15% off at chains that include Carrabba’s, Denny’s, Bonefish Grill, Outback Steakhouse, and McCormick & Schmick’s.
AARP Health & Wellness Benefits
There are a number of discounts and opportunities for preferred access with vision, dental, hearing aid, and other healthcare providers.
Perhaps the biggest money saver for the under 50 crowd will be your ability to link your Walgreen’s Balance Rewards card with your AARP membership card, which will help you earn additional Balance Rewards benefits—like 50 points for every $1 you spend on Walgreen’s brand health products and 1,000 points for vaccinations. Flu shots for everyone!
AARP Prescription Discounts
A big benefit of membership is automatic access to the AARP Prescription Discounts program through Optum RX, which can help you save an average of 61% on FDA-approved medication that isn’t covered by your current insurance.
This is program is a major money saver for any members who do not have great insurance coverage for prescription drugs, especially if you have a chronic health condition and take daily prescriptions.
As an added bonus, this prescription discount program extends coverage to all dependents of the AARP member, regardless of their age.
AARP Automobile and Home Insurance
Becoming a member grants you access to insurance coverage and exclusive benefits through the AARP Auto & Home Insurance Program through The Hartford. Not only will you receive an increased discount for bundling auto and home insurance, but you will also be eligible for Lifetime Renewability in most states.
This renewability allows you to have coverage renewed each year provided you meet just a few simple requirements, and you get 12-month rate protection on your auto coverage.
You can also potentially reduce your auto insurance premium by taking the AARP Smart Driver course. Depending on your insurance, you may qualify for a discount after completing the course, and AARP members also get a discounted rate on the course itself.
Finally, the AARP Auto Buying Program also provides you with valuable information if you are in the market for a new car. This program can help you find a vehicle with the features you need and help you save money on your new car purchase.
AARP Financial Benefits & Help
Membership also grants you access to a number of benefits that can help you get your finances in order. To start, the AARP Credit Card from Chase offers 3% cash back rewards on restaurant and gas station purchases and 1% cash back on everything else.
AARP Investments Services from Ameritrade offers members personalized guidance, education, and investing resources. With their help, you can make confident investment decisions–and there are exclusive benefits for AARP members.
Finally, the AARP College Savings Solutions from TIAA can help you with advice on saving for your kids’ college education. You’ll also benefit from information about potential tax advantages of your savings strategy.
AARP Job Search Help
Despite having the word “Retired” right there in their association title, AARP is also a great place to go for help with finding a new job. Members can access the AARP Job Board, which is a search tool geared toward experienced workers—which means you won’t have to sift through low-paying job postings that are focused on new graduates.
The search tool allows you to filter results by part-time/full-time opportunities, location, and other categories.
Is AARP Worth It for Those Under 50?
Believing that the AARP was just for people who are nearing or past retirement used to cause me a little embarrassment when I read the AARP magazine at the gym.
But that misconception did more than just keep me from really enjoying their magazine—it made me overlook all of the great benefits I could be taking advantage of long before I hit my 50th birthday.
Rather than leave money-saving benefits and discounts, helpful tools, and free stuff on the table, why not explore all that AARP has to offer you, no matter your age?
Join AARP today, and starting reaping those benefits.