AARP Rewards for Good – Any good?

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Now that old and young alike have AARP memberships (thanks to their generous $400 discount on British Airways business and first class flights), you might be wondering about those points that show up at the top of the screen when you log into your AARP account.  You may see something like this:

AARP Rewards for Good Points

If you haven’t played with the Rewards for Good program yet, your point total may be less.  And, you might not see “Hi, Greg” if your name isn’t Greg, but I’m betting that you’ll see “Hi” something.

AARP Rewards for Good Register

Once you confirm your AARP membership and register for Rewards for Good, you should find over 5,000 points in your account.  Woohoo!  And, it gets better.  You’ll soon get emails that offer easy bonus points:

AARP Rewards for Good WELCOME150

AARP Rewards for Good WELCOMESWEEPS

Aside from free points like those shown above, you can also earn points easily by filling out quizzes, trying out various health and financial calculators, signing up for additional newsletters, etc.  Best of all, it’s fun!  Don’t believe me?  Just look at how much fun this couple is having:

AARP Rewards for Good Hula Hoops

After a few quizzes, calculators, and Hula Hoop attempts, you too will be 8,000+ points richer!

Redeeming points

When it comes time to redeem your points, you may feel less interested in Hula Hooping.

At first glance, the program looks promising.  For example, after clicking “Redeem Points”, I searched for hotel options and found this:

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem hotel

It looks like I can redeem 8,200 points for an $82 discount.  While 1 cent per point isn’t huge, it’s competitive with most other points programs.  But, is the $209 starting price legit?  Let’s see what Kayak has to say:

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem hotel

OK, so that’s not bad.  Compared to $199, the $127 Rewards for Good price would save me $72.  That comes to .87 cents per point.  Not great, but not terrible.

What if I book directly with SPG and apply an AARP discount directly on the SPG site?  Now we can book the room for only $188, plus we get Club Lounge access.

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem hotel

Let’s ignore the lounge access for a moment…  The $127 Rewards for Good price would save me $61.  That comes to .74 cents per point value.

But, look closer at the Kayak result above.  It says that I can save up to 35% by logging in.  Here’s the result after I clicked the “Unlock now” button and logged in:

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem hotel

Wow. $92. That’s much cheaper than the Rewards for Good price!  In this example, it would actually cost me money to use my points.

That test may have been a strange fluke.  Every now and then Kayak has off-the-charts great Private Deals.  This seems to be one of them.  Let’s try a Rewards for Good SPECIAL PRICING hotel instead:

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem hotel

As you can see above, I received an opportunity to spend 5,900 points for $59 off their SPECIAL PRICING rate of $242.29.  How SPECIAL is this?  Let’s ask Kayak:

AARP_RewardsForGood_Redeem_hotel_Radisson_Kayak1

Kayak dug up a $200 rate.  I guess that $242 Rewards for Good rate wasn’t so SPECIAL after all.  Now, let’s see what I get by logging into Kayak…

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem hotel

Kayak wins again!

It appears to me that it’s theoretically possible to save some money using Rewards for Good points, but only in situations where no special discounts are available elsewhere.

Gift cards?

Maybe we can get 1 cent per point value by redeeming points for gift cards.  Yeah, we can… sort of.  As with hotels, you can use points to get a discount, but not to buy gift cards entirely.  Here are a few examples:

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem gift card

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem gift cardAARP Rewards for Good Redeem gift card

 

While its often possible to buy gift cards like those above at a discount, those discounts are not necessarily available when you need them.  So, using Rewards for Good points to secure a discount seems reasonable.  Not great, but reasonable.

Then there are some truly awful options…

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem gift card Uber

Spend 2000 points to get $20 off your first Uber ride!  Or, find a referral link from anyone and get the same deal for free.  Plus, your friend will get a free ride too.  Or, just let Rewards for Good take you for a ride.

Here’s another:

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem gift card hotel

Get two $50 gift cards for 5,000 points!  Woo hoo!  Unfortunately, in order to use one of those $50 gift cards, you must book at least two overpriced nights through myhotelgiftcard.com.  No thanks.

Auctions?

Rewards for Good offers the ability to use points to bid on items in their auctions.  Here are a few examples of recently closed auctions:

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem Auction

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem Auction

AARP Rewards for Good Redeem Auction

In all of the above auctions, the winning bidder got much less than 1 cent per point value.  For example, someone seemingly paid almost 35,000 points for a $10 Cold Stone Creamery gift card!  Someone really wanted ice cream.

While it is theoretically possible to get good point value for auction items, it doesn’t appear to happen in practice.

Wrap up

If you’re an AARP member, it can’t hurt to participate in their Rewards for Good program.  Points are easy to earn, after all.  And, if you think of those points as being roughly equal in value to stickers handed out by kindergarten teachers, you won’t be too disappointed when it comes time to redeem your points.

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