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