Your Complete Guide To Using AARP Benefits For Travel Savings

With 38 million members, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a nonprofit that focuses on encouraging older adults to live fulfilling, enriching lives after retirement. And when you have a clear calendar, with a lifetime of work responsibilities in the rearview, what's more fulfilling and enriching than traveling?

According to a survey conducted by RBC Wealth Management, nearly two-thirds of Americans over 50 report that traveling is an "important retirement goal." However, most retirees must also carefully budget their finances, which makes AARP membership so appealing for older would-be travelers.

AARP members can save in a wide range of travel-related categories. Currently, AARP membership costs a small annual fee of $16 (spouses and partners can join for free), and members can save on travel expenses, from dining out to hotel stays. While the organization caters to a demographic of 50 years and older, you do not — repeat, do not — need to be a senior or retired to join AARP. Since you're eligible, let's explore how an AARP membership may save you money on your next trip.

Enjoy savings and perks when staying at hotels

While AARP provides opportunities to save across multiple travel categories, the discounts on hotel stays may be the most straightforward. Members enjoy access to exclusive AARP deals at eight major hotel chains, which operate more than 90 hotel brands, according to The Points Guy.

From budget-friendly accommodations, such as Best Western and Days Inn, to the vacation resorts operated by Hilton Grand Vacations, members receive a significant discount by simply flashing an AARP membership card. While specific deals vary by hotel brand, AARP members typically enjoy at least 10% off the hotel's best available rates.

On top of this 10% discount, most hotels also offer additional perks for AARP members. For example, when possible, members enjoy a 2 p.m. late checkout at Hilton-operated hotels, such as LXR Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Grand Vacations, Conrad, and Canopy. In some cases, AARP members who are already in a rewards program with a specific hotel receive bonus points as well.

Fly with British Airways for excellent deals

Unlike the savings for hotel accommodations, airfare discounts are much narrower in scope for AARP members. However, the well-established partnership between AARP and British Airways may be reason enough to consider joining the organization, especially if you frequently travel internationally.

AARP members enjoy significant savings by flying with British Airways to over 130 cities across the globe. Currently, if you purchase a transatlantic roundtrip flight through the airline's website, you'll save $65 in a World Traveller (economy) or World Traveller Plus (premium economy) seat. AARP members also receive a $200 discount on Club World (business class) fare to international destinations, according to Thrifty Traveler.

To receive the discount, the flight must originate in the U.S., and the discount doesn't apply to one-way or open-jaw flights. American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines also offer various discounts to members over the age of 65. To access these discounts, AARP members must call the airlines directly before booking their flight.

Vacation for less as an AARP member

Along with discounts on hotels and airfare, AARP members can also save on railway travel and bus travel. Additionally, AARP members can save up to 30% on rental cars from Avis and Budget. AARP members may also receive an upgrade from compact to full-size cars when available.

AARP members can also access AARP-specific fares through Expedia and receive onboard credits when sailing with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney Cruise Line, per The Points Guy. In addition, a number of tour group companies, including Collette, Liberty Travel, and Grand European Travel, offer AARP discounts on group tours, cultural immersion experiences, and travel packages.

When you become a member of AARP, you can also save on airport parking, dining, and concert tickets. While the more obvious travel savings of AARP membership includes discounts on transport and accommodations, day-to-day expenses can add up quickly when vacationing, so minimizing these costs can keep your trip under budget.

Explore the AARP Travel Center

From discounts on hotel stays to rental car upgrades, the travel-related benefits offered to AARP members are pretty expansive. To help members create vacations that incorporate membership savings, AARP partners with Expedia to provide an AARP-specific dashboard called the AARP Travel Center, making it easy to reserve flights, book hotels, and rent cars. You can also book cruises and purchase vacation packages through the AARP Travel Center.

While some AARP discounts are only available by booking through the companies directly, other discounts are exclusive to the AARP Travel Center. For instance, members can only receive an AARP-exclusive deal on a vacation package, which bundles airfare and accommodations, by booking through the AARP Travel Center. The AARP Travel Center also features Expedia Local Expert Desks for popular destinations. By contacting this concierge service, members can access discounts on a variety of activities at specific destinations.

More than anything, the AARP Travel Center helps members to navigate the organization's various partners and vacation options. Similar to Expedia's main platform, the AARP Travel Center simply suggests flights, hotels, and other travel services that provide value to AARP members.

Consider an AARP co-branded travel credit card

If you want to maximize your rewards as an AARP member, you may consider getting an AARP-branded credit card. Similar to the AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard, which offers rewards on spending in a range of categories, the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard from Barclays provides rewards for travel-related expenses, such as accommodations and dining out.

Currently, cardholders receive 3% cash back on flights, hotels, and car rentals, as well as 2% cash back on restaurants. Although you don't need to be an AARP member to receive an AARP-branded credit card, you can receive travel-related membership discounts while earning cash back, maximizing your savings.

According to AARP, 62% of adults over 50 plan to take at least one vacation in 2023, though 52% of travelers over 50 cite cost as the main reason for delaying their travel plans. However, by taking advantage of AARP travel discounts, members may significantly reduce the cost of their next trip — a consideration for AARP-curious travelers of all ages.