The AARP Credit Card from Chase is not one of our top-rated rewards credit cards. You can review our list of the best rewards credit cards for what we think are better options.
Full Review of AARP Credit Card from Chase
Generous cash-back rewards at restaurants and gas stations
No annual fee
Certain purchases help charitable efforts
Generous one-time offer
Foreign transaction fee
No introductory APR
Mediocre cash back on most categories
- Generous Cash-Back Rewards at Restaurants and Gas Stations: This card comes with 3% cash back for two highly popular spending categories: restaurants and gas stations. This compares favorably with other cards, like the American Express Blue Cash Everyday, which only offers 2% cash back on gas stations.
- No Annual Fee: The AARP credit card from Chase comes with no annual fee, so cardholders don’t have to make sure their cash back amounts to more than the fee charged.
- Certain Purchases Help Charitable Efforts: For each purchase made at restaurants using the AARP card, 10 cents is donated to the Drive to End Hunger, a charitable initiative of the AARP Foundation. For those interested in doing a little good with their credit card purchases, this can be a definite benefit.
- Generous One-Time Offer: There's a one-time offer of $100 for new cardholders who spend $500 in the first three months of membership—in effect, a 20% return.
- Foreign Transaction Fee: This card charges a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. Obviously, it's one to leave at home if you’re going abroad.
- No Introductory APR: There is no introductory APR offer with this card for purchases or balance transfers. Other cards, like the Amex Blue Cash Everyday, offer 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for those who are looking for a break on their interest.
- Mediocre Cash Back on Most Categories: While it offers a nice 3% cash-back rate at restaurants and gas stations, the AARP card features a rather mundane 1% back on all other purchases, including everyday ones like groceries. Many cards, like the SavorOne and the Blue Cash Everyday, offer more of a tiered system that includes a 2% rate on common items. The Blue Cash Everyday offers 3% on groceries at U.S. Supermarkets up to $6,000 per year and the SavorOne offers unlimited 2% cash back on groceries, for example.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Primarily responsible for household grocery and other major purchases
Incurs gasoline or other commuting expenses each month
Obviously, this card can be good for AARP members: They can use their rewards to pay their AARP membership fees, and also support the organization’s Drive to End Hunger charitable program with their purchases.
In terms of the general public, the AARP credit card from Chase is best for those who expect to spend more on dining out and filling up. Because the higher 3% cash back is offered at restaurants and gas stations, it’s possible to earn more if those are heavier spending categories.
AARP Credit Card from Chase Bonus
New cardholders receive $100 after spending $500 in the first three months. The 90-day period is typical, but the amount you have to buy is pleasantly low; with many cards, expenditures have to run into four figures to trigger the bonus. Compare the AARP card to the Amex Blue Cash Everyday card, which has a $150 bonus offer, but requires consumers to spend $1,000 in the first three months. A payback that amounts to a 15% return on your expenditures is a pretty good one.
Rewards Earning Details
Earning rewards is fairly straightforward: This card offers 3% cash back on purchases made at restaurants and gas stations, and 1% cash back on everything else.
There are no caps on earnings, however. With some cards, like the Discover it cash back card, higher earnings categories are limited to the first $1,500 spent in each quarter, and the Amex Blue Cash only pays its highest-tier earnings on the first $6,000 spent in a year.
Also, cardholders don't have to worry about rewards expiring, as they are available as long as the account is open.
Rewards Redemption Details
Even though cash back is expressed as a percent, the rewards are actually listed as points that can be redeemed for various rewards.
The main redemption is for cash back rewards, which come with no minimum. It’s possible to redeem cash back for statement credit or to have it directly deposited into a checking or savings account.
However, it's also possible to redeem rewards for gift cards starting at 500 points, which translates to $5. Points can also be put toward an AARP membership, either for the cardholder to renew their own or gift a membership to someone else. You do have to wait for a letter with a redemption code before you can complete the process.
Finally, it's also possible to redeem points for travel purchases. When redeeming through the Chase travel portal, the points are worth 10% more. For example, getting $300 cash back would take 30,000 points. However, getting $300 worth of a travel-related purchase through the Chase portal would only require about 27,000 points.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
The best way to maximize rewards from the AARP credit card from Chase is to use it in conjunction with other cash back credit cards. Priority one would be to use it for dining or car refueling, since those are the categories where the juicy 3% cash back applies. The potential for earning a higher rate at gas stations is unusual, since some other tiered rewards cards, like the Blue Cash Everyday, offer only 2% at such locales. However, the Blue Cash Everyday card also offers 3% cash back on groceries at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year. As a result, it can make sense to use the AARP card on gas, while using the Blue Cash on groceries at U.S. supermarkets.
When redeeming, the best way to maximize the rewards is to use points to pay for travel through the Chase portal. This offers an extra 10% in point redemption value. The average consumer spent close to $2,109 in gas and $3,459 at restaurants in 2018. With 3% cash back, that amounts to 16,704 points for redemption, or $167.04. However, when used for travel through the Chase portal, the value increases to $183.74. That doesn’t include additional spending at the 1% rate, however.
Plus, it doesn't include the combination of using other cash back cards in tandem. Someone who uses the Blue Cash Everyday can earn another $133.92 in cash back on groceries if they spend the average of $4,464. Plus, with the Capital One SavorOne card, which provides 3% cash back on entertainment as well as dining, it’s possible to spend the average of $3,226 on entertainment and receive another $99.78 in cash.
With the right strategy attached to using these three different cards, it's possible to get at least $400 in cash back, just by using specific cards for certain spending categories.
AARP Credit Card's Outstanding Benefits
- Donations to a charitable cause
- 10% redemption bonus on travel through the Chase portal
- Purchase protection (theft or damage coverage)
- Extended warranty protection
- Zero liability on unauthorized charges
- 24/7 customer service
- Chip-enabled cards
- 24-hour emergency card replacement
JP Morgan Chase Bank, which issues the AARP card, has a score of 807 in the latest J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction survey for credit card issuers. This ranks it in third place (tied with Capital One) behind Discover and American Express.
The Chase mobile app is ranked #7 in the Finance category in Apple’s App Store and has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. On Google Play, the app has 4.4 out of 5 stars.
It's also worth noting that new purchases made with this card are protected for up to 120 days against being damaged or stolen. This coverage is worth up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
Cardmembers can call 1-800-283-1211 any time to speak with a representative.
With the AARP credit card from Chase, it's possible to receive fraud alerts via text message or email, keeping cardmembers up to date with potential problems. Additionally, this card comes with zero liability protection against fraudulent purchases and emergency card replacement within 24 hours in the United States.
The AARP credit card from Chase has a competitive one-time offer, and offers ongoing cash back at restaurants and gas stations at a highly respectable rate. But it is pretty middling on other everyday purchases; unlike others, it offers no middle tier, going straight from generous (3%) to mundane (1%) in cash reward rates. It might not make sense for those whose high-spending categories include groceries, travel and other everyday purchases.
Also, given that rewards are optimized if used through the Chase travel portal, it seems odd that AARP card charges a hefty foreign transaction fee. There are numerous cash back cards that don’t, such as those from Capital One. Something like the Capital One SavorOne might be a better option for international travelers—especially as the SavorOne offers an even better one-time offer: New members can get $150 cash back after spending $500 in the first three months.
It makes sense for consumers to carefully analyze their spending before deciding on the AARP card as a primary payment method. Still, given that it has no annual fee and a competitive bonus, it might be a solid addition to the wallet, especially if used in tandem with other cash back cards. For those who don’t mind coordinating multiple cards, the AARP Visa from Chase could be an ideal way to reap 3% cash back in spending categories that they might not yet have covered.