2017 AARP Credit Card Review – WalletHub Editors
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The Verdict: You might know that AARP stands for the American Association of Retired Persons, but you probably don’t realize the AARP Rewards Credit Card stands to help qualified applicants of any age save money on everyday expenses. More specifically, the AARP Rewards Card is available to anyone with good credit or better, regardless of AARP membership (which costs $16 per year). And it offers 3% back at gas stations and restaurants plus a 1% base earning rate to supplement the $100+ initial bonus that you’ll receive for spending at least $500 within three months of account opening. That’s a pretty good deal, especially when you consider that the total package would net the average person roughly $1,100 over the first two years of use.
But the AARP Card’s benefits don’t stop there. It also offers 0% introductory rates for new purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months your account is open, though a 3% transfer fee complicates the second part of that equation. Similarly, a 3% foreign-transaction fee makes the AARP Card ill-suited to traveling abroad or buying from merchants based internationally, so it’s best to look elsewhere if seeing the world is on your bucket list.
Still, the AARP Card’s generous rewards and lack of an annual fee make it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a low-cost way to save on everyday expenses. And you can learn more about why that’s the case below.
- $100+ Initial Bonus: 10,000 bonus points are yours if you can spend just $500 during the first three months your account is open. Most of us could meet that threshold with utility payments alone. So this bounty, redeemable for $100 in cash or roughly $125 in travel, is well within reach.
- Up To 3% Back On Purchases: You will earn 3 points per $1 spent on purchases made at gas stations and restaurants as well as 1 point per $1 back on everything else, which equates to 3% and 1% back, respectively, upon redemption for either cash or travel.
0% Financing For The First 12 Months: This particular feature is best if you have a big-ticket purchase that will take a few months to pay down in your near future. Using this card in conjunction with a credit-card calculator to make sure you’re debt-free by the end of the 12-month 0% financing period would enable you to avoid finance charges entirely. In fact, this would save you about $387 relative to the average credit card with a $5,000 starting balance, according to WalletHub calculations.
That cannot be said for balance transfers, though. Such transactions also benefit from a 0% intro rate lasting 12 months, but a 3% transfer fee ruins a lot of the appeal.
- No Annual Fee: Paying an annual fee can make sense for high-spenders who can more than make up for what they pay with rewards earnings. But forgoing this burden also saves you $16.43 relative to the average credit card, according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report. It may also allow you to keep your account open for longer than you would otherwise, thus saving you undue hassle and benefitting your credit score.
- 3% Foreign-Transaction Fee: This aspect of the offer is a major bummer for retirees who suffer from wanderlust that can’t be satisfied by domestic travel alone. If that describes you, you’ll want to leave your AARP Rewards Credit Card at home before heading abroad in order to avoid spending 3% more than necessary on every purchase that you make. A no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card, in contrast, will save you 2.05% relative to the average card, while enabling you to save up to 11% on currency conversion.
- 3% Balance-Transfer Fee: You don’t want to transfer a balance to the AARP Rewards Card solely because of this 3% transfer fee. People with good credit can get longer 0% terms on balance transfers for less money, and it’s as simple as that.
Other Things To Consider
- Redemption Variety & Restrictions: The points that you accrue with the AARP Card can be redeemed for a statement credit, a bank-account deposit, gift cards or travel. Unlike other Chase rewards cards, however, the AARP Card unfortunately won’t allow you to transfer points to other Chase credit-card accounts for pooling purposes. Redemption also requires a minimum of 2,000 points.
- Below Average Regular APR: A 16.49% interest rate isn’t cheap in absolute terms, but it is below the 17.97% average for credit cards that require good credit for approval. That’s nice to know in case you ever slip up, but it’s still best to approach this card with the mindset that you will always pay your bill in full.
- Percentage Of All Purchases Donated To Charity: You will earn not only 3 points per $1 spent at restaurants, but also $0.10 from every such transaction will be donated to the AARP’s Drive to End Hunger, up to a total of $1.1 million in 2016. This is no way diminishes your ability to earn rewards, so it’s nothing but a nice touch.
- 24/7 Live Customer Service: Anytime you have a question about your account, day or night, you’ll be able to speak with a real, live customer-service representative. That’s always nice to know.
Compared To The Competition
Options are an important part of making your wallet happy, so we took the liberty of comparing the AARP Rewards Credit Card to other leading credit cards in terms of six fundamentally important categories. Hopefully this will clarify the best choice for your needs, whether they involve rewards or financing. You can check out the results below.
AARP Rewards Credit Card
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
|Annual Fee||$0||$0||None 1st yr, $89 after||$0|
|Rewards Bonus||10000 points||N/A||50000 miles||N/A|
|Rewards Rate||1 - 3 points / $1||1% + 1% Cash Back||2 miles / $1||N/A|
|Purchase Intro APR||0% for 12 months||Not Offered||Not Offered||0% for 15 months|
|Transfer Intro APR||0% for 12 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|0% for 18 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|0% for 12 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|0% for 15 months|
Transfer Fee: $0 Intro Fee on Transfers made within 60 days of Account Opening.
|Regular APR||16.99% - 23.74% (V)||14.49% - 24.49% (V)||16.74% - 23.74% (V)||15.74% - 24.49% (V)|
|Editors’ Rating||4.6 / 5||5.0 / 5||5.0 / 5||5.0 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
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