Why I’m joining AARP — even though I’m only 44

AARP website on iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

No, I don’t eat dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon. I don’t have any grandkids, and there’s no bowl of butterscotch candies on my coffee table. Yet, I’m about to sign up for AARP as a 44-year-old.

That’s right - the American Association of Retired Persons. While the nonprofit’s main mission is to help those who are 50 and older, it turns out anyone can join, and get a bunch of discounts in the process.

Those who are 50 and older are eligible for a full membership, but if you’re younger than that, you can sign up for an associate membership, which confers most of the benefits you’d get with the full membership. An AARP membership costs $12 for the first year and then $16 a year after that. I paid more for a month of Netflix.  

I have to give credit to my cousin Greg (not that cousin Greg) who sent me this Twitter thread about someone who discovered AARP through the last place you’d expect: TikTok.

AARP Twitter

(Image credit: Twitter)

Intrigued, I started poking around AARP’s site to see what sort of discounts were available, and found that there were a good many deals that would appeal to those a long way from the  Brimley/Cocoon line.

For example, you can get up to 25% off Norton 360, which we consider to be one of the best antivirus programs; one of our only complaints with Norton is that it’s pricey, so this discount would take some of the sting out of it. You can also get 15% off Simplisafe, one of the best DIY home security systems

Similarly, if you have the AT&T Unlimited Elite plan — AT&T’s most expensive unlimited plan — you can get $10 off each line per month. So, rather than paying $85 per month for a single line, you’d be paying just $75 — the same as AT&T’s Unlimited Extra Plan — and you’d be getting unlimited 5G data and HBO Max for free. 

Other benefits include discounts of up to 30% on Avis and Budget car rentals, up to 43% off an annual Zipcar membership, and 20% off Allstate Roadside assistance plans. There are also a lot of hotel discounts (Hilton, Wyndham, Radisson, and Best Western, among others), though it seems the majority are for 10% off your reservation, plus late check-out for free. If you’re not an early riser, this is a real perk. 

AARP also offers 20% off 1-800 Flowers, Harry & David’s, Shari’s Berries, and a few other delivery services.  

Yeah, I know the idea of a bunch of young whippersnappers flashing their AARP membership cards at a Denny’s to get 15% off their Grand Slam at 2 a.m. sounds ridiculous. But AARP offers enough deals to make its really inexpensive membership pay for itself in no time. Now get off my lawn.

Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.