Is AARP Membership Right for You?

There are many advantages to growing old, including the discounts and promotions many companies offer exclusively to senior citizens

. AARP caters to older people looking for benefits and a sense of community. The organization offers an annual membership that provides access to senior discounts and offers. In addition to saving money, AARP membership comes with perks such as subscriptions to publications and information on topics that directly impact seniors.

If you’re wondering if AARP is worth it, you can start by understanding what is involved. “AARP membership can be a valuable resource,” said Ryan McCarty, a Chicago-based certified financial planner with experience in retirement, in an email. “However, weighing the costs and benefits is essential.”

When considering an AARP membership, it can be helpful to know:

— What is AARP?

— The age you can join AARP.

— The cost to join AARP.

— The benefits of AARP membership.

— AARP discounts.

— If AARP is worthwhile for you.

— AARP advocacy.

What Is AARP?

In 1958, retired high school principal Ethel Percy Andrus founded AARP with the goal of advocating for productive aging and health insurance for retirees. At the time, private health insurance wasn’t available for most older Americans. Medicare didn’t begin until 1965. Andrus approached insurance companies and found one that would cover older people. The organization went on to develop additional benefits and programs that aimed to promote independence and dignity among seniors, provide them with a sense of purpose, improve their quality of life and encourage them to look for ways to serve others.

Today, AARP is the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan group that empowers seniors to choose how they want to live as they age. The organization has nearly 38 million members and offices in every state. AARP also advocates on issues that impact older people with a focus on topics such as health, safety and financial soundness.

The Age You Can Join AARP

AARP is dedicated to serving individuals aged 50 or older, although there is no minimum age to join. If you have not yet reached age 50, you can still become a member. However, younger members may not be able to access all the benefits, as some have age limitations and are only available to people who are 50 or older.

Jill Taylor, a homesteader and founder of Happy Farmyard in Tulsa, Oklahoma, became a member the day after turning 50. “I’d heard they offered discounts on everything from travel to groceries, and I wanted to see if their membership was worth the price,” Taylor said in an email.

[READ: What Are the Average Retirement Ages Around the World?]

The Cost to Join AARP

Those who decide to join AARP must pay a membership fee of $16 per year. With the purchase of your membership, you receive a free second membership that you can give to any adult in your household. You will only be charged $12 for the first year if you sign up for automatic renewal. You can also save between $5 and $17 by signing up for a multi-year membership: $43 for three years or $63 for five years.

When joining, you’ll be asked to provide information such as your name, birthday and address. You can create an AARP account online and immediately receive a digital copy of your membership card followed by a physical card sent by mail within four weeks.

The Benefits of AARP Membership

As a member of AARP, you can access games and activities designed to stimulate brain health, including puzzles and quizzes. You can also get help managing your finances through money tools and assistance with security through the fraud resource center. If you have questions about Social Security, you’ll find information to guide you through the benefits available to you. There are free educational resources and services to help you find ways to volunteer in your community.

[READ: Frequently Asked Social Security Benefit Questions.]

AARP Discounts

With your membership, you’ll receive deals and discounts that can be applied to travel, restaurants, delivery services, health and wellness products and more. “The AARP has already saved me hundreds of dollars on my travel expenses,” Taylor said. “Plus, I get a discount on my car insurance and my home insurance.”

Is AARP Worth It?

If you take advantage of the discounts and promotions available from AARP, you may find that the amount you save is greater than the cost of membership. Individuals who don’t take advantage of the discounts might instead weigh the value of other benefits such as advocacy work, Social Security information and access to publications. If you do get a membership, you may want to evaluate after a year to see if it is worth it to continue.

“You always will be required to pay that annual fee even if you do not utilize much of the membership benefits throughout the year,” said Lisamarie Monaco, an independent life insurance agent in Jacksonville, Florida, in an email. “If you ever find yourself not in need of this service, you can cancel at any time. You are not locked into a specific term.”

[Read: How to Create a Retirement Budget.]

AARP’s Advocacy

Continuing with its founding principles, AARP works to provide benefits for older Americans. It advocates for the continuation of Social Security benefits, along with programs to help workers grow their retirement savings. It is also actively involved in efforts against age discrimination in the workplace and in society. AARP strives to lower prescription drug costs for seniors and improve care coordination and the use of technology in health care.

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Is AARP Membership Right for You? originally appeared on

Update 04/08/24: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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