Credit Cards » Credit Card Reviews » 2023 Review: The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays
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2024 Review: The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays

The AARP Essential Rewards is a gas card, with benefits for those who are over 50. But, if you're under 50 - it may not be the best choice
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024
The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024

The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.

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The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays
The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays review
 

Rewards Plan

1% – 3% 3% cash back on drug store and gas station purchases, 2% cash back on eligible medical expenses and 1% on all other purchases

Welcome Bonus

$200 $200 bonus when you spend $1,000 within 90 days of opening your account

Credit Rating

Good – Excellent

0% Intro

15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening

Annual Fee

$0

APR

21.99% – 29.99%
The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays
The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays review
 

Rewards Plan

1% – 3% 3% cash back on drug store and gas station purchases, 2% cash back on eligible medical expenses and 1% on all other purchases

Welcome Bonus

$200 $200 bonus when you spend $1,000 within 90 days of opening your account

0% Intro

15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening

PROS

CONS

APR

21.99% - 29.99%

Annual Fee

$0

Balance Transfer Fee

5% or $5, whichever is greater

Credit Requirements

Good - Excellent

The AARP Essentials Rewards Mastercard is a credit card designed specifically for AARP members, offering a range of benefits and rewards. This card provides cardholders with a variety of features to enhance their financial management and reward their spending.

One of the main advantages of the AARP Essentials Rewards Mastercard is its rewards program. Cardholders earn rewards on every purchase they make, allowing them to accumulate points that can be redeemed for a wide selection of rewards, including travel, gift cards, merchandise, and cash back.

Additionally, this credit card provides AARP members with exclusive benefits. These include access to special discounts and offers from various retailers, as well as travel perks such as travel insurance, car rental discounts, and emergency assistance services.

The AARP Essentials Rewards Mastercard is potentially a good card for those who want to support a good cause and earn rewards. However, there are limited rewards and redemptions, which some customers may find frustrating.

  • 0% Introductory APR
  • Flexible Redemptions
  • $0 Fraud Liability Protection
  • Free Access to Your FICO Score
  • Charitable Contributions
  • Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Limited Rewards
  • No 0% Introductory APR for Purchases

What are card income requirements?

There are no published income requirements for this card, but you do need to have good to excellent credit. Although Barclays will evaluate your income, it is not the only factor that will be considered when making an approval decision.

Can I get pre-approved?

There is no option for pre approval on the Barclays website, but Barclays may occasionally send out mailers offering pre approval to select customers.

How do I redeem rewards?

When you’re ready to redeem your rewards, you’ll need to log into your account and then you can explore the redemption options. There are redemptions available from $16, including AARP memberships that you can use for yourself or gift to someone else.

In this Review

Estimating Your Rewards: A Practical Simulation

Take a look at the table provided below to discover the potential rewards you could earn by utilizing the AARP Essential Rewards card. This simulation calculates the benefits you might receive by considering your everyday expenses across various categories.

Please note that the table serves as an estimate, and your actual rewards may vary depending on your individual spending patterns and other influencing factors. Nevertheless, it offers valuable insights into the potential advantages offered by this card.

The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays review
 
Spend Per Category
The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard from Barclays
$10,000 – U.S Supermarkets
10,000 miles
$3,000 – Restaurants
9,000 miles
$5,000 – Airline
25,000 miles
$4,000 – Hotels
8,000 miles
$4,000 – Gas
4,000 miles
Estimated Annual Avios
56,000 Miles

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Pros and Cons

Just like any other credit card, the The AARP Rewards Mastercard has some advantages and disadvantages:

Pros
Cons
0% Introductory APR
Foreign Transaction Fees
Flexible Redemptions
Limited Rewards
$0 Fraud Liability Protection
No 0% Introductory APR for Purchases
Free Access to Your FICO Score
Charitable Contributions

 Cardholdres earn 0% intro for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After the promotional period, the regular APR of 21.99% – 29.99% applies.

You can redeem your rewards for cash back, gift cards, and AARP memberships for either yourself or to gift to a family member or friend. The reward redemption options start at just $16.

However, rewards are unlimited and do not expire. Providing your account remains open and in good standing, you will continue to accumulate rewards.

This is fairly standard, but it is nice to know that you won’t be responsible for any unauthorized transactions or fraudulent charges.

As a cardholder, you can receive complimentary access online to your FICO score. This will help you to keep track of any changes in your score, if you’re looking to give your credit a boost with better financial habits.

Barclays will make donations on your behalf as a cardholder. There is a $10 donation to the AARP Foundation for opening a new account and then a further 1% of eligible purchases made with your card.

Unlike many of the Barclays co-branded cards, the AARP Essentials Rewards Mastercard has foreign transaction fees. 

Although this is the fairly standard 3%, this small charge can quickly add up if you’re using your card abroad. If you spend $1,000 on vacation, you’ll get hit with a $30 charge!

Although it is nice to be supporting the AARP, the rewards for this card are quite limited, if you're under 50. There are other rewards cards that have no annual fee and offer far greater rewards for youngers.

While you can benefit from a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers made, there is no promotional rate for purchases.

Who Should Consider The AARP Rewards Mastercard?

This card is designed for those who want to earn rewards and support a good cause. It could also provide an easy point of entry to AARP membership for yourself or a family member. You can earn decent rewards on everyday purchases, with the knowledge that Barclays will make donations according to your purchases.

The card could also be a good option if you’re interested in paying down a credit card balance. Providing that you arrange the balance transfer within 45 days of opening your account, you can benefit from 0% APR.

If you would like to check more options for a reward card, here are some alternatives:

Card
0% Intro
Rewards
Annual Fee

chase freedom unlimited card

15 months on purchases and balance transfers Go to APR after that will be 20.24%–28.99% variable
1.5% – 5% 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services, 3% on drugstore purchases and 1.5% cash back on all purchases
$0

15 months on purchases and balance transfers G o to APR after that will be 17.24% – 28.24% Variable
1-5% 5% cashback on up to $1,500 in rotating category purchases each quarter when you activate the bonus category (then 1%), as well 1% percent cash back on all other purchases
$0
citi-custom-cash_
15 months on purchases and balance transfers G o to APR after that will be 19.24% – 29.24% (Variable)
1-5% 5% cash back on your highest eligible spend category each billing cycle up to the first $500 spent and 1% cash back thereafter
$0

Wells Fargo active cash card

15 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers G o to APR after that will be 20.24% to 29.99% variable APR
2% 2% cash rewards on purchases (unlimited)
$0

Chase Freedom Flex

15 months on purchases and balance transfers Go to APR after that will be 20.49%–29.24% variable
1-5% 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases on selected categories each quarter and 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Also, you can earn 3% cash back on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services), drugstore purchases , and 1% on all other purchases
$0
Amex-Blue-Cash-everyday
15 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening Go to APR after that will be 19.24% – 29.99% Variable
1-3% 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets / U.S. online retail purchases/ U.S. gas stations on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards

15 billing cycles on purchases Go to APR after that will be 18.24% – 28.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $0) applies to all balance transfers
1-3% 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The 3% and 2% cash back available on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter (then 1%)
$0

Tips for Using the AARP Card

As a gas credit card, here are the main ways to leverage it maximize your benefits:

If you’re planning a vacation or business trip abroad, try to avoid using this card. Many cards don’t charge a foreign transaction fee, which has the potential to save you a great deal.

We’ve already touched on this, but it is important to reiterate. Your balance transfers need to have been posted to your account within 45 days of opening the account.

So, don’t delay and ensure that you arrange your balance transfers as soon as you receive confirmation that your new account is opened.

Since you have free access online to your FICO scores, be sure to set up alerts. This will provide a notification when any changes to your FICO score occur.

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Rewards Plan:
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Welcome Bonus:
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Welcome Bonus:
80,000 points 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership

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Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

FAQs

You do need to have good to excellent credit to qualify for the AARP Essentials Rewards card, but if you have decent credit, you shouldn’t find it too hard to get this card.

This card is not a good idea if your main focus is on maximizing rewards. There are a number of $0 annual fee cards that offer higher rewards rates and could provide a better option for you.

Unfortunately, car rental insurance is not included in the AARP Essentials Rewards Mastercard benefits package.

Picture of Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
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1X – 5X 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (per calendar year), 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
80,000 points 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership

amex brilliant

Rewards Plan:
2X – 6X 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 3 points at Worldwide restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2 points on all other eligible purchases
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95,000 points 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership

Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum card

Rewards Plan:
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Welcome Bonus:
50,000 miles 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in your first six months
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The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
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amex platinum

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1X – 5X 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (per calendar year), 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
80,000 points 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership

amex brilliant

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2X – 6X 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 3 points at Worldwide restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2 points on all other eligible purchases
Welcome Bonus:
95,000 points 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership

Amex Delta SkyMiles Platinum card

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60,000 miles 60,000 bonus miles + 500 Premier qualifying points (PQP) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

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