If your upcoming family vacation ideas include a multigenerational trip with one or more seniors, or a grandparent-grandchild skip-gen vacation, chances are you’re already familiar with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). That organization has touted special membership travel deals for decades, and although some of its best offers are no longer around, AARP discounts can still be a useful option if you can’t find a better deal somewhere else.
The best AARP discount that almost anyone can use is its hotel discounts program. AARP has winnowed its list down to four giant multinational chains plus two large independents. But those four giant chains—Choice Hotels, Hilton, Radisson, and Wyndham—together operate more than 50 individual brands that cover the complete price spectrum, and AARP discounts can come in handy when booking with them.
Also participating in the AARP discounts program are Best Western, Motel 6, Studio 6, and Extra Holidays. The deal is generally “up to 10 percent off” the usual rate, and 15 percent at a few. Lots of other organizations, notably AAA, get the same kinds of travel discounts, and many other hotels give similar discounts to any seniors. This AARP discount is a classic fallback option that’s useful if you can’t find a better price some other way.
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In the past, many U.S.-based airlines offered some really helpful senior discounts on flights, but the days of cheap flights for seniors are long gone. AARP’s only current airline deal is a discount on British Airways’ round-trip flights: $65 off in economy class, $200 in other classes. It’s helpful if you happen to find yourself flying on British Airways, but otherwise of limited value.
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AARP’s rental car discounts are with the Avis family—Avis, Budget, and Payless—and these same AARP discounts are generally available elsewhere. However, the AARP discount with Avis and Budget does include a waiver of the annoying extra-driver fee and a discounted GPS, so you could potentially save more money with an AARP car rental discount than through other discount offers.
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AARP continues to offer various percent-off, dollars-off, and other promotions on tour packages and cruises with Collette, Grand European Travel, and Vacations by Rail. It also provides up to 20 percent off Medjet enrollment, and 12 percent discounts at Park Sleep Fly airport hotels.
One advantage AARP has over many other discount programs is that you book your travels through special AARP links to the actual suppliers’ websites. That means you don’t have to forego any “book direct” benefits that might be available.
In sum, don’t look to AARP discounts for any huge savings—but AARP is there when even a little discount helps.