What Is AARP? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

You've seen the ads — now learn more about AARP membership.

If you’re turning 50 soon, you can be certain of a couple of things:

  1. You’ll be eligible to start making catch-up contributions to your retirement account.
  2. You’ll start hearing a lot more about getting an AARP membership.

AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, is a nonprofit, members-only organization that promotes positive social change and provides resources, advice, and discounts on healthcare, employment, income security, and travel for older Americans. Although there is no official AARP membership age — you can join as early as age 18 — the organization specializes in benefits for people ages 50 and up.

How Much Is AARP Membership?

The AARP membership cost is $16 a year, as of May 2018. If you sign up for multiple years, you can receive a discount of up to 25 percent:

  • $63 for five years ($12.60 per year, a 21 percent discount)
  • $43 for three years ($14.34 per year, a 10 percent discount)
  • $12 for the first year if you choose to auto-renew (a 25 percent discount)

Try These: 25 Ways to Maximize Your Retirement Benefits

What Are Some Financial Benefits AARP Provides?

Because AARP is such a huge organization — currently, it has about 38 million members — it is able to partner with other companies to provide members with various financial resources, advice and discounts through its affiliations, website and magazine.

Some AARP advantages include:

  • Helpful money management links and worksheets
  • Social Security benefits calculator, which helps you determine when you should start receiving benefits
  • Identity theft protection services
  • AARP podcast

AARP’s online tools include its Symptom Checker, which allows you to research any health issues you might have, and free tax preparation help and advice on how to watch out for scams. You can browse through AARP’s benefits to see its detailed list online.

What Kind of Discounts Can You Receive?

As an AARP member, you have access to a huge marketplace of discounts, including but not limited to savings on:

  • Health insurance and Medicare supplement insurance plans
  • Car insurance
  • Vacation cruises
  • Car rentals
  • Restaurants
  • Entertainment
  • Shopping

Many of the organization’s offerings cater specifically to the needs of members over age 50, such as discounts on eye exams.

Related: 20 Tips to Live Comfortably Off Just a Social Security Check

Travel-Related Discounts and Benefits

If you plan to travel in your golden years, joining AARP gives you access to a number of ways to save on car rentals, travel tours and packages, and more.

Examples of some past AARP travel discounts include:

  • $100 off per person on over 300 guided vacations and river cruises to Europe
  • 12 percent off at Park Ride Fly’s 150 locations near airports nationwide
  • 30 percent off Avis Rent-A-Car base rates and eligibility for vehicle upgrades

Don’t Miss: Best Travel Tips Only Retirees Get to Use

How to Join AARP

You can join AARP using one of two methods to sign up:

  1. Online: You’ll receive an AARP card in the mail, which might take three to four weeks. If you prefer, you can print your AARP membership card directly from your online account.
  2. By phone: If you’d rather talk to a person, you can call AARP: 888-OUR-AARP (1-888-687-2277).

AARP Alternatives

AARP is one of the most commonly known organizations of its kind, but it’s not your only option. Before you join, check out these alternatives to AARP to see if one is a better fit for you:

  • American Seniors Association: Similar to AARP, ASA focuses primarily on conservative values and reforming Social Security, Medicare and taxes. Membership starts at $15 for one year.
  • Association of Mature American Citizens: Founded in 2007, AMAC is another conservative option instead of AARP that offers similar benefits and discounts. Membership starts at $16 for one year.
  • National Association of Conservative Seniors: NAOCS promotes the value of military service, small business and faith-based living. Basic membership for the first year is free; after that, it’s $1 a month.

Keep in mind that if you’re over age 65, you can get senior discounts at a variety of places just by asking. But why wait till 65? By joining an organization such as AARP, you could start saving money now.