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The AARP® Credit Card from Chase is a cash back credit card with no annual fee. It favors spending at gas stations and restaurants, offering unlimited 3% cash back in both categories, and sweetens the deal with an easily attainable sign-up bonus and solid introductory APR promotion. The card uses Ultimate Rewards points, Chase’s credit card rewards currency, to track cash back earnings. Ultimate Rewards points earned with this card are usually worth $0.01 per point, though point values can vary on merchandise redemptions.
Despite its name, qualification for the AARP Credit Card isn’t restricted to AARP members, who must be 50 or older. Chase and AARP say that the card is “designed for AARP members,” but anyone can apply and be approved, provided their credit profiles are good enough to qualify.
When you spend at least $500 within 3 months of opening your account, you receive 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points, equivalent to $200 cash.
Earning Cash Back Rewards
This card earns unlimited 3% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (3 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent). All other purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back (1 Ultimate Rewards point per $1 spent).
Redeeming Cash Back Rewards
You can redeem your accumulated cash back for bank account deposits, statement credits, gift cards from several dozen retailers, travel and general merchandise purchases made through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, and merchandise purchases made direct with online retailers (including Amazon). You can also redeem against the cost of your AARP membership, if you qualify. Some categories may come with redemption minimums, generally less than 2,000 points.
Charity Donation With Every Restaurant Purchase
Every time you use your card to pay for a restaurant meal, Chase donates $0.10 to the AARP Foundation in support of the organization’s long-running Drive to End Hunger. Drive to End Hunger helps provide meals to vulnerable, low-income older adults who suffer from food insecurity. Chase caps its cumulative Drive to End Hunger donations each year, so check with the program administrator for details.
This card has no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3%, while balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5% of the advanced amount. Late and returned payments cost up to $35.
This card has a host of additional benefits
- Purchase protection, which provides up to $500 in coverage on items damaged or stolen within 120 days of purchase
- 1-year extended warranties on items with existing warranties lasting 3 years or less
- 24-hour emergency card replacement in the United States and Canada
This card requires good to excellent credit, so your application is likely to be denied if you have any notable blemishes on your credit record.
- No Annual Fee. The AARP Credit Card does not charge an annual fee. That’s great news for frugal cardholders who don’t spend heavily enough to offset recurring fees, as well as cardholders who simply want to maximize the value of their rewards.
- Excellent Dining Rewards for Foodies. This card’s unlimited 3% cash back on restaurant purchases is among the best dining-out deals in the credit card business. Many other cards regarded as excellent dining choices, including Chase Sapphire Preferred, pay just 2% cash back on dining. Many also have annual fees – for instance, Sapphire Preferred’s is $95.
- Very Good Gas Rewards for Heavy Drivers. The AARP Credit Card’s unlimited 3% cash back on gas is also great, though it’s not the absolute best gas reward, as there are a handful of fantastic gas credit cards that offer 4% or 5% back on gas with high or nonexistent spending caps. Still, most cards that offer better gas rewards do so through temporary promotions with spending caps, such as the quarterly 5% cash back deals offered by Discover it and Chase Freedom. Both cap gas spending at $1,500 per quarter.
- Easily Attainable Sign-up Bonus. The AARP Credit Card’s $200 sign-up bonus requires new cardholders to spend just $500 in 3 months. For many cardholders, that’s not a very tall order. Some competing cards’ sign-up bonuses require upwards of $1,000 in spending.
- Restaurant Spending Helps Fight Hunger. Though it’s not going to change the world all by itself, it’s nice to see Chase putting real money behind a worthy cause. Whether it’s a $6 burrito or a $150 fine-dining splurge, every restaurant purchase made with this card triggers a $0.10 donation from Chase to the AARP Foundation’s Drive to End Hunger. Only a handful of other credit cards, including Bank of America’s Susan G. Komen card, have a charitable giving component.
- No Penalty APR. This card has no penalty APR. That’s great news for cardholders who occasionally miss payments due to temporary liquidity issues or circumstances beyond their control. Many other cards do charge penalty interest, in some cases indefinitely once it’s incurred.
- Open Eligibility, Including for Non-AARP Members. You don’t have to be an AARP member, or over age 50, to qualify for this card. As long as your credit is good enough to pass muster with Chase’s underwriters, you can take advantage of the AARP Credit Card’s benefits.
- Mediocre Rewards Outside Gas and Dining Categories. Outside the gas and dining categories, the AARP Credit Card’s cash back earnings are decidedly mediocre. If you don’t spend heavily in one or both categories, consider a card with higher earning rates in a broader range of spending categories – or a higher, flat earning rate on general spending, such as Chase Freedom Unlimited, which pays unlimited 1.5% cash back on all spending and has no annual fee.
- No Introductory APR Promotion. This card doesn’t have a 0% APR introductory APR promotion for new cardholders. That’s a big drawback for new cardholders dealing with existing high-interest credit card debts or planning major purchases – such as home improvement projects – that they’d like to finance at 0% interest.
- Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you spend a great deal of time overseas, this can be a costly disadvantage.
It’s a little odd that the AARP® Credit Card from Chase is available to everyone, but who’s complaining? This is a pretty good credit card, especially for people who drive and dine out a lot – pastimes that certainly aren’t reserved for people over 50. Plus, growing old is inevitable. Perhaps Chase and AARP are betting that, when they hit that magic 5-0, this card’s younger users will rush to submit their AARP membership applications.