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You may use an AARP membership for discounts on travel, insurance, and financial planning. Even if you don’t, you may be excited to know that Barclays is launching two co-brand AARP credit cards that can earn cash rewards. They come with different bonus categories, giving cardholders more opportunities to maximize their purchases.

Use an AARP credit card to earn more rewards. The drive from New Orleans. Credit: Johnny Jet

AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard

The information for the AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays is best for earning cash rewards. There is no annual fee, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.

$100 Signup Bonus

New cardmembers can also get a $100 cash signup bonus after spending $500 in the first 90 days.

Earn Up to 3% on Purchases

Purchases earn up to 3% back:

  • 3% back on gas and drug store purchases (excluding Walmart and Target)
  • 2% back on medical expenses
  • 1% back on everything else

You can earn unlimited purchase rewards, and the rewards points don’t expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.

This card can help you maximize your daily spending. It can also be useful for taking a road trip.

Redemption Options

Redemption options include:

  • Cashback (statement credits or bank deposit)
  • AARP membership
  • Gift cards
  • Merchandise

The redemption minimum is $25 but only $16 for AARP membership renewals.

Additional Card Benefits

There are several add-on benefits to having an AARP credit card.

  • AARP Foundation donations from Barclays
  • Free FICO credit score
  • $0 fraud liability protection

Opening a new AARP credit card lets Barclays make a $10 donation to the AARP Foundation to combat senior poverty. Barclays donates $10 when a new credit card is used for the first time in the initial 90 days.

Also, Barclays donates 1% of the following purchases to the AARP Foundation (up to $1 million per year):

  • Cable and satellite TV
  • Phone
  • Internet
  • Streaming services
  • Electronics stores

In addition to earning credit card rewards, qualifying purchases can help others with financial and social needs.

AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard

The information for the AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Those who prefer travel rewards may prefer the AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays.

The card rewards and benefits are similar to the AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard. It doesn’t have an annual fee, yet one primary difference is earning bonus points on travel purchases.

Another difference is that the AARP Travel Reward Mastercard doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee.

$100 Signup Bonus

New cardholders can earn a $100 cash signup bonus after making $500 in purchases during the first 90 days.

Earn 3% Back on Travel Purchases

This AARP travel credit card can be the better option if you want to earn bonus rewards on travel-related purchases.

  • 3% back on airfare, hotel stays, and car rentals
  • 2% back on restaurant purchases
  • 1% back on all non-bonus purchases

As a quick comparison, the AARP Essential Rewards earns more on gas, drug store, and medical purchases.

Redemption Options

The redemption minimum is $25 for cash, gift card, and merchandise redemptions and $16 for AARP membership renewals.

While this card earns bonus rewards on travel purchases, there isn’t a redemption bonus or point transfer options like some travel rewards cards offer. But you can enjoy the flexibility of cash redemptions into a bank account or a statement credit.

Additional Card Benefits

The additional card benefits include Barclay’s donations to the AARP Foundation when you make qualifying purchases. You can also access your FICO credit score for free and get $0 fraud liability protection.

Other AARP Benefits

Applying for an AARP credit card makes sense if you have an AARP membership. Annual membership costs $16.

While being age 50 or older can give you the most membership benefits, adults of any age can join and enjoy these AARP member discounts:

For example, you may be able to earn 10% Walgreens Cash on Walgreens purchases plus any credit card rewards. Travel discounts can help you save money on flights, hotel nights, car rentals, and vacation packages.

You can look for other merchants that offer an AARP discount to maximize your membership.

What Happened to the Chase AARP Credit Card?

Current AARP members and other credit card enthusiasts may recall seeing offers for an AARP® Credit Card from Chase. This card is no longer accepting new applications as Barclays handles the AARP credit card portfolio.

Current Chase AARP cardholders can continue using their card as usual. They will receive correspondence from Barclays in the summer of 2021 about transitioning to a Barclays AARP credit card.

What is the Best AARP Credit Card?

Both card versions have no annual fee and similar redemption options. But your spending habits can determine which card is better for you.

When to Choose the AARP Essential Rewards Card

You should choose the AARP Essential Rewards Card in these instances:

  • Want to maximize gas stations and drug store purchases (3%)
  • Have recurring medical expenses (2%)
  • Don’t make foreign-based purchases

Being able to earn 2% on medical purchases can be an easy way to earn bonus cash. You can use the points on most unreimbursed healthcare expenses.

Some of the eligible medical purchases include:

  • Dentists and orthodontists
  • Chiropractors
  • Hearing aids
  • Optometrists and ophthalmologists
  • Optical goods and eyeglasses
  • Hospitals
  • Ambulance services
  • Medical and dental laboratories
  • Medical services and health practitioners
  • Nursing and personal care facilities

Your insurance plan or health savings account can pick up the first portion, and you can charge the remaining balance to your AARP Essential Rewards Card to earn 2% back.

You can also use this card to pay for non-covered treatment that requires cash payments.

Related: The Best Credit Cards For Medical Bills

When to Choose the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard

The AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard is better for these spending habits:

  • Book travel directly from the airline, hotel, or car rental agency
  • Dine at restaurants and fast food establishments often
  • Make foreign purchases

If you love to travel and have minimal medical bills, this card can be a better fit. But you will need to book your vacations directly from the travel providers.

One downside is that gas station purchases don’t earn bonus cashback like the alternative. However, these best credit cards for gas station purchases might be a good alternative if you want to earn more.

Summary

Both of the new AARP credit cards make it easy to maximize significant, recurring expenses. The redemption options are flexible and not having to pay an annual fee is nice too. Either card can help you maximize your AARP membership.

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Josh Patoka
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