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Last updated on April 26th, 2021
AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays
Earn a $100 Cash Back Bonus
- Regular Purchase APR 16.74%, 20.74% or 25.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
- Balance Transfer APR 16.74%, 20.74% or 25.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
- Cash Advance APR 26.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
- Annual Fee None
- Credit Needed Excellent
- Processing Network Mastercard
- No annual fee
- 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers
- Earn 3% back on gas station and drug store purchases
- Earn 2% back on medical expenses
- Regular Purchase APR: 16.74%, 20.74% or 25.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
- Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 15 months from account opening date
- Balance Transfer APR: 16.74%, 20.74% or 25.74% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
- Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
- Cash Advance APR: 26.24% variable based on the Prime Rate
- Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
- Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
- Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
- Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $39
At a Glance
The AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays is a versatile rewards credit card for seniors over the age of 50. The card offers up to 3% cash back on gas and drug store purchases and 2% back on most medical expenses – all for no annual fee.
Ideal for Those Who:
- Are an AARP member
- Prefer cash back rewards over travel perks
- Have an existing credit card balance to pay down at a lower interest rate
- Don’t want to pay an annual fee
AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays Review
The AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays is an everyday cash back credit card that provides rewards where seniors need them most.
How to Earn Rewards
The Essential Rewards Card earns a similar rewards rate to the AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard, with the bonus categories being the major difference. Essential cardholders earn 3% cash back on both gas station and drug store purchases. However, keep in mind that both categories apply to standalone drug stores and gas stations and not locations within box stores (such as Target, Walmart, or other such retailers).
The card also earns 2% back on medical expenses, which can be valuable for many AARP members. Medical purchases are defined as:
“Dentists, Orthodontists, Osteopathic Physicians, Chiropractors, Optometrists, Ophthalmologists, Opticians, Optical Goods & Eyeglasses, Chiropodists, Podiatrists, Hospitals, Medical and Dental Laboratories, Hearing Aids, Ambulance Services, Orthopedic Goods, Prosthetic Devices, Nursing and Personal Care Facilities, Medical Services & Health Practitioners not elsewhere classified (NEC) and Doctors not elsewhere classified (NEC), as identified by the merchant category codes.”
All other purchases with the Essential Rewards card earn 1% back. There is no limit to the total amount of rewards earnable, and rewards never expire as long as the account is open and in good standing.
How to Redeem Rewards
Redeeming cash back with the AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays is very easy. Cardholders visit BarclaysUS.com and choose their award option from the usual selection:
- Airfare with leading airlines
- Hotel stays with the biggest names in the industry, plus boutique hotels and resorts
- Cash back as statement credits or deposits into linked external bank accounts
Cardholders also can use their cash back to pay the cost of their AARP membership dues. Account owners can redeem their rewards for an AARP membership – either for themselves or as a gift – with options starting at $16.
0% Introductory APR Offer on Balance Transfers
New accounts also enjoy a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. The introductory APR offer is an excellent addition to the card, especially given the promotional period’s length.
While the everyday APR on balance transfers (and purchases) isn’t exceptional, it is similar to the average APR for comparable cards. Still, if you have an existing credit card balance, 15 months is plenty of time to pay off that debt with no interest charges.
Special AARP Charitable Contributions
The AARP credit cards from Barclays offer unique AARP charitable contributions. Barclays donates $10 to the AARP Foundation for every new account, plus 1% of eligible purchases to the foundation.
Other Card Features
Other notable card features include:
- No annual fee
- Mastercard $0 Fraud Liability Protection.
- Mastercard ID Theft Protection
- Global Services emergency assistance access
Should You Apply for the AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays?
The AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays is the successor to the AARP Credit Card from Chase, and it offers exceptional value compared to the previous card.
The new version earns 3% back on gas and drug store purchases, which is a decent everyday type set of categories that will provide value for money. However, the 2% back on medical expenses is unique – and a great perk for health-conscious seniors. Since that category includes most services, it means AARP members can save on almost all their medical expenses and procedures – without an annual fee.
Other notable features, like 0% intro APR for 15 months and the ability to use rewards to offset AARP membership dues, are equally impressive – though the card does charge foreign transaction fees if used abroad (unlike the Travel Card version).
Overall, the AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays is a quality option for AARP members to consider when choosing their next credit card.