Barclays revamps and launches new AARP cards for all applicants

Mar 22, 2021

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Towards the end of last year, Barclays acquired the AARP portfolio from Chase and announced a new lineup of cobranded cards coming in 2021 for AARP members. Today, Barclays announced the launch of a new suite of cobranded credit cards — The AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays and the AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays which are now open for applicants.

The information for the AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays and the AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The cards offer a generous cash-back bonus structure for today’s everyday purchases like gas stations, restaurants, drug stores, travel and medical expenses. There is no limit to the rewards that cardmembers can earn and rewards never expire as long as the account remains open and in good standing. Although an AARP membership is not required to apply for the cards and anyone can become a member regardless of age, AARP members can save considerably on travel expenses such as flights and hotels. Let’s take a look at each new card:

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In This Post

AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn $100 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Earning structure: 3% cash back on gas and drugstore purchases, 2% cash back on medical expenses, 1% cash back rewards on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $0

AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn $100 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Earning structure: 3% cash back on airfare, hotel stays and car rentals, 2% cash back on restaurant purchases, including food delivery services, 1% cash back rewards on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $0

Other benefits: Along with the useful bonus categories for each card, Barclays will donate $10 per new account opened (for both cards) and 1% of all eligible electronic and telecommunications purchases to the AARP Foundation on up to $1 million annually.

Why the new cards are worth a look

While the new Barclays cards are targeted at AARP members, you do not need to have an AARP membership to apply. The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard offers 3% cash back at drugstores and 2% back on medical expenses. The medical expenses category is a unique bonus category and is defined broadly by Barclays as:

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.

So if you have regular medical expenses and prescriptions, the Essential Rewards Mastercard may be a worthwhile addition to your wallet.

Related: Best credit cards for paying your medical bills

Next, the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard earns a solid 3% cash back on common travel expenses such as airfare, hotels and car rentals and 2% back at restaurants, including food delivery services such as UberEats, Grubhub and DoorDash. As far as cash-back cards go, the 3% back on those travel categories is competitive.

Both cards offer a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening and no annual fee. While each card comes with a modest sign-up bonus, the low minimum spend requirement makes it easy to earn the $100. Cardholders can redeem rewards at a 1:1 rate for cash back, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise and AARP memberships starting at $16 in rewards.

Bottom line

Though both AARP cards provide valuable cash back rewards on everyday purchases, including medical expenses, drugstore purchases, dining and more, there may be more compelling cash-back and travel rewards cards for your bonus category spend. Still, if you spend a considerable amount on medical expenses — a unique bonus category — the 2x cash back offered by the Essential Rewards Mastercard could be very valuable to you.


Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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