Boomers or Bust: Barclays Debuts New AARP Rewards Cards

An older couple strides confidently along a rocky shoreline.
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Barclays has doubled down on the golden years, introducing an uncommon rewards-earning category among cash-back rewards cards that caters to people 50 or older. The company announced on Monday the launch of a pair of AARP rewards credit cards that feature unlimited cash back or travel rewards available to the organization’s nearly 38 million members.

The new card duo includes the AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard and the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard. The Essential Rewards card provides an unlimited 3% cash back on most gas and drug store purchases, and 2% back on medical expenses—also unlimited. The Travel Rewards card provides an unlimited 3% back on airfare, hotel stays, and car rentals, 2% back on restaurant purchases, and doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. All other purchases on both cards earn 1% cash back and neither has an annual fee.

Despite their targeted nature, the earning rates of both new AARP-branded cards are competitive with rates offered by cards marketed to a wider audience. The 2% back on medical expenses particularly stands out—that’s not a bonus rewards category featured on any of the 300-plus cards currently tracked in The Balance’s database. Paying for medical expenses with a card that offers 2% back on all purchases would be the next-best way to earn rewards on medical purchases specifically, but there are only a handful of cards offering that rate, including the Citi Double Cash card.

Until Barclays’ announcement, Chase was the only issuer to offer an AARP credit card. Consumers who have the Chase card will be automatically switched to a Barclays card this September, and any points that Chase customers have accrued will be transferred over to their new Barclays card. A Barclays representative indicated Chase cardholders may be converted to a third, non-rewards AARP Mastercard.

The cards also feature:

  • A $100 new cardholder bonus after you spend $500 in the first 90 days, but you can find better bonuses elsewhere.
  • A 15-month 0% APR on balance transfers for new cardholders—a common balance transfer offer among cards currently.
  • A $10 donation to AARP Foundation for every newly approved AARP-branded card and 1% of all eligible electronic and telecommunications purchases through March 31.

Both cards are accepting applications on the Barclays U.S. website.

"With these new credit cards for AARP members from Barclays, we are offering a suite of products designed to help Americans live life to its fullest... while also helping those facing social isolation become active members of their community,” Nichelle Evans, managing director of Barclays’ travel and affinity programs, said in the press release.