AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays Review [2024]: No Annual Fee and Generous Rewards

CREDIT CARDS - TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS
You may not need an AARP membership for the AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays. But should you apply? Find out whether it’s a good fit for you.
Updated June 14, 2024
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The AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays is a new cashback credit card with a focus on travel-related bonus categories, such as airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars, though cardholders also receive accelerated cash back on restaurant purchases as well.

This AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard from Barclays review will give you the breakdown of the card’s benefits and features, as well as whom the card is best for. Read on to decide whether the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard from Barclays deserves a spot in your wallet.

Earn Generous Cash Back

AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays
3.8

AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays

Current Offer

Earn $100 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

3% cash back on airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars; 2% cash back on restaurant purchases; and 1% cash back on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

In this AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard from Barclays review:

Who should get the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard from Barclays?

It may seem like only AARP members should get the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard, but an AARP membership isn’t actually required to qualify for this card. That said, the AARP branding, being able to redeem your rewards toward an AARP membership, and having the opportunity to give back to the AARP Foundation could appeal to AARP members.

In addition, this card is focused on earning cash back in travel-related categories, so despite its name, it’s not a travel rewards card connected with a particular loyalty program. However, it could still make sense for frequent travelers who want to earn bonus cash back on their travel purchases, such as airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars.

If you’re interested in extra cash back on everyday purchases, such as groceries or gas, this card likely wouldn’t make sense for you as it doesn’t offer bonus rewards in those categories. But it does include a bonus category for restaurant purchases, which might be helpful if that’s a common spending category for you.

Card basics

Card type Cash back
Credit card issuer Barclays
Credit card network Mastercard
Annual fee $0
Intro bonus Earn $100 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days
Rewards rate 3% cash back on airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars; 2% cash back on restaurant purchases; and 1% cash back on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Good, Excellent
Intro APR 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months (then 21.99%, 25.99% or 29.99% (variable))
Foreign transaction fee None

AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard from Barclays benefits and perks

  • Generous welcome offer: Earn $100 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days.
  • Bonus categories: This card’s bonus categories could line up with your spending and make it easier to earn more cash back if you travel and eat out often. It offers 3% cash back on airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars; 2% cash back on restaurant purchases; and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redemption options: Cardmembers can redeem cashback rewards for bank deposits, statement credits, gift cards, AARP memberships, or merchandise. Each reward is worth 1 cent, so 100 cashback rewards would be worth $1, and 1,000 cashback rewards would be worth $10.
  • Low annual cost: You have a $0 annual fee, which means you’re able to focus on earning valuable cash back instead of trying to offset an annual cost.
  • No membership required: This is an AARP credit card, but you don’t need an AARP membership to apply. Anyone who qualifies can take advantage of this card’s benefits and features.
  • Intro APR: If a balance transfer makes sense for your financial situation, this card offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 15 months (then 21.99%, 25.99% or 29.99% (variable)). After that, the interest rate increases to the regular variable APR, based on your creditworthiness.
  • No foreign transaction fee: Because this card focuses on travel, it makes sense that you can use it on purchases while traveling abroad without having to worry about a foreign transaction fee. This can help you save money during trips abroad.
  • Charitable contributions: Barclays will donate $10 for each new AARP credit card approval from Barclays and another 1% of each eligible purchase made with AARP-branded credit cards from Barclays.

Drawbacks to the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard from Barclays

  • No premium benefits: Many of the best travel credit cards offer premium benefits, such as free airport lounge access or annual travel credits. This card doesn’t offer premium benefits to help enhance your travel experiences.
  • No travel redemptions: You would expect a travel-focused credit card to offer travel redemption options, but this card, as a cashback credit card, doesn’t have any. However, having cash back as a redemption option means you basically get to use your rewards on anything because cash is accepted virtually everywhere.
  • Limited charitable contributions: If the Barclays donations to AARP are appealing to you, note that they do have a few limitations. The charitable contributions are slated to end on March 31, 2022. In addition, the 1% matching donations apply only to specific electronic and telecommunications purchases, which may not align with your typical spending habits. Total donations are also capped at $1 million annually.

Earning and redeeming cash back

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look at how your cash back can add up with the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard from Barclays.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

Year one earnings: $571

Year two earnings: $471

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model, which looks at points earned via spending, the sign-up bonus, and the annual fee. However, if you use your card frequently in this card’s bonus categories, you might see more value from it in years one and two.

Best ways to earn

The best way to earn cash back with the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard from Barclays is by using it on purchases that fall within its bonus categories. For bonus earning, this card offers 3% cash back on airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars, as well as 2% cash back on restaurant purchases.

If you spend $2,000 on airfare, $2,000 on hotel stays, and $2,000 at restaurants, you’d earn $160 worth of rewards. In comparison, the same $6,000 spent in non-bonus categories would earn only $60 worth of rewards.

Categories Rewards rate
Airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars 3%
Restaurant purchases 2%
All other purchases 1%

Maximizing your redemptions

The AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard from Barclays earns cash back, which can be redeemed for bank deposits, statement credits, gift cards, AARP memberships, and merchandise. Cashback rewards are worth 1 cent per reward, so 10,000 rewards would equal $100.

The best option for redemptions will vary depending on your situation and goals, but bank deposits and statement credits will typically make a lot of sense on this card. These two options give you plenty of flexibility because cash back or statement credits can be used for most things, including the other available redemption options.

For example, you could redeem rewards for a bank deposit or statement credit and then use the extra money for a gift card or any number of other purchases or expenses. Using your rewards in this manner gives you more options for your cash back.

AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard from Barclays FAQs

Is the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard a good card?

If you're interested in applying for a new credit card, the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard could be a good card if it aligns with your spending habits and lifestyle. This card is focused on travel, with 3% cash back on airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars, as well as 2% on restaurant purchases. If you travel frequently and enjoy dining out, the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard could be a good fit for you.

What credit score do you need for the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard?

You typically need a good or excellent credit score to qualify for the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard. That would mean at least a 670 FICO Score or a 661 VantageScore is likely required for approval.

What are the best credit cards for older adults?

Here are a few of the best credit cards for seniors:

Which credit cards does the AARP offer?

AARP partners with Barclays to offer these two rewards credit cards:

  • AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard: Travel-focused cashback card offering bonus rewards for airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars, as well as restaurant purchases.
  • AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays: Cashback credit card focused on everyday spending categories, including gas and drug store purchases (except for Target and Walmart), as well as medical expenses.

Other cards to consider

If the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard isn’t a good fit for you, it’s best to compare credit cards for additional options. To get started, consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays as alternatives.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is also a cashback card, but it offers you the opportunity to be a part of a travel rewards program if you pair it with a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve. This means the 3% cash back you earn on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and the 1.5% you earn on all other purchases can be put toward travel redemptions, including flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and transfers to travel partners.

To learn more about this card, read our Chase Freedom Unlimited review.

The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard is similar to the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard, but offers different earning categories. This credit card offers 3% cash back on gas and drug store purchases (except for Target and Walmart); 2% cash back on medical expenses; and 1% cash back on all other purchases. If these bonus categories align more with your spending habits, this card would likely be a better fit for you than the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard.

Earn Generous Cash Back

AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays
3.8

AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays

Why We Like It

Earn $100 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days

See how these cards compare:

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • High base rewards rate of 1.5%
  • $0 annual fee
  • Valuable welcome bonus for new cardholders
  • Intro APR offers for purchases and balance transfers
AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays
AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays
  • Earn $100 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • up to 3% cash back
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, then 21.99% to 29.99% (variable)
  • $0 annual fee

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.