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TravelHow to use your AARP discount on travel

How to use your AARP discount on travel

When AARP — the 38-million-strong organization for people over 50 — starts contacting you about becoming a member, you may freak out. My first reaction was, “I am not that old.”

But after I got over my initial consternation, I realized that becoming an AARP member might open up a treasure trove of travel savings for me, including some that are always available and others that come and go periodically.

And it’s a small investment: Either pay $12 a year for a multiyear membership with automatic renewal or $16 if you rejoin annually.

“One of the strengths of the AARP program is it’s always on and always available,” said Matthew Phillips, director of travel for the membership organization. “Another strength is there’s the AARP discount and AARP member rate, and you also get those awards points with the programs you are enrolled in.”

Members have access to discounts and member-specific deals at more than 10 hotel chains and their brands. There are also exclusive AARP deals for Avis Budget Group car rentals and through a cobranded AARP Travel Center powered by the Expedia portal.

Here are all the ways that you can use AARP discounts on travel, including a few you might not know about.

AARP travel deals

Hotel stays


Hotel savings for AARP members are between 5% and 10% off the best available rate. Some hotels offer additional perks, too, such as a late checkout at 2 p.m., when available. The ongoing travel discounts are clearly spelled out on the AARP travel benefits website.

Members can click through to the AARP Expedia booking portal or link directly to the booking sites of select providers.

With an AARP membership, you can score discounts for brands in the portfolios of companies such as Hilton and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. Wyndham, for example, offers up to 10% off, plus a late checkout when available. When you click on the AARP rate during the booking process, you should be able to see the terms, conditions and benefits.

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The savings are 5% or more off stays at Best Western Hotels & Resorts and up to 10% off Choice Hotels, whether booked through the AARP Expedia portal or directly with the brands. AARP members also save 10% on stays with budget brands Motel 6 and Red Roof Inn.

At some point during the booking process, you may be asked for your AARP membership number. In some cases, you will need to show your membership card at check-in at the hotel.

Airline tickets

This may come as a surprise, but AARP has a long-standing relationship with British Airways.

The deal is for $65 off World Traveller (standard economy) and World Traveller Plus (premium economy) fares, as well as $200 off Club World (business class) fares. The discount does not apply to basic economy fares.

The savings offer applies to round-trip transatlantic tickets purchased online. Connections to more than 130 destinations in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa are available.

With the offer, you can collect British Airways Executive Club Avios based on the fare booked.

Car rentals

AARP’s car rental partnership with Avis and Budget gives members discounts of up to 30% on base-rate rentals when you pay in advance. Other perks from the Avis and Budget brands include an upgrade on a booking for a compact through full-size car, based on availability, and you can add an additional driver at no cost. There’s also a 5%-off deal on Payless rentals.

As with hotels, you may need to show your membership card at the car rental counter.

Other AARP deals

Through the Expedia portal, AARP members booking cruises have access to whatever sale fares are being offered, plus an onboard spending credit of up to $100 you can use for drinks, massages or other purchases on the ship, according to Phillips. Featured cruise companies include Princess Cruises and Holland America Line.

AARP members booking vacation packages with flights and hotels or rental cars on the Expedia portal receive the bonus of a $50 prepaid Visa card.

Three escorted and guided tour companies — Collette, Grand European Travel and Vacations By Rail — also offer discounts to AARP members.

Additionally, there’s a discount on airport parking — 12% with ParkRideFly — available at nearly 40 airports throughout the U.S. Popular locations include New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Midway International Airport (MDW).

Exclusive AARP offers

In addition to the anytime deals, there are other targeted sales of travel products. For example, if a car rental company is having a sale open to the general public on SUVs, there may be an added offer exclusive to AARP members.

Plus, AARP members receive the organization’s magazine and printed bulletin, both of which include some travel content, and can sign up for various newsletters like “Hot Deals,” which has limited-time offers in a number of areas, such as dining and insurance products — and sometimes travel.

How to become an AARP member

While AARP is focused on people over 50, there is no minimum age to join. Anyone of any age can take advantage of the travel offers and the discounts on a lot of other products.

AARP provides access to 200-plus benefits, according to the company. While most are available to any member, products that are age-restricted by vendors, such as certain insurance products, are only available to members who are at least 50 years old.

A catch for anyone younger than 50 is that everything AARP does is geared and heavily marketed toward those age 50 and up. As such, you’ll get pitches that may be irrelevant to your age group.

If you decide to enroll, it’s fast and easy to sign up on the AARP website.

Bottom line


Is an AARP membership worth It?

The low cost of joining AARP makes it a good bet for all ages, even if you only take advantage of the travel discounts. You’ll get an immediate return on your $16 membership investment with just one car rental or hotel stay.

In addition to multiple travel benefits, including hotel, car rental and airline discounts, you can take advantage of dining discounts at over a half-dozen brands — why not save 10% off your oysters, steak and truffle fries at McCormick & Schmick’s?

Ultimately, for a small annual investment, your wallet will thank you.

Ready to take the plunge? Join AARP for free.

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