Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location



Rewards for Good Sweepstakes

Contests and

Rewards for Good Sweepstakes

Learn about Rewards for Good and you could win $25,000! See official rules.

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


Structured Products: The Hidden Cost

These investments are riskier than they seem

When you put money into a structured product, you're making an unsecured loan to the issuer — let's call it Bank A. Sometimes Bank A promises to return your principal (minus hefty fees and commissions). But this promise isn't backed by a government guarantee.

Your return depends on the performance of underlying financial instruments — like stocks, stock indexes, bonds, commodities, or foreign currencies. Bank A doesn't always buy the underlying investments — it often bets on their future performance through an agreement with another party. That agreement, called a derivative, has a value based on the underlying investments' price movements.

Your return is based on a complex formula that gives Bank A the lion's share of any gains. You're usually protected from losses, but only up to a certain point, after which you lose money. Here's a real-life example: a structured product with a three-year maturity. The underlying instrument is the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. You'll get 100 percent of your principal back in three years if the index hasn't fallen more than 30 percent at the end of the three-year term. If the index falls more than 30 percent, you eat all the losses. If the index rises, you'll earn 1.5 times the gain, up to a cap of 58.6 percent. The fees total 2.5 percent of your investment.

The bottom line

With this investment, all you own is the issuer's IOU and part of the bet. If the issuer gets into financial trouble, or the bet goes sour, you can lose money — often, a lot.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

membership benefit financial college aarp

Advice on saving for education from AARP® College Savings Solutions from TIAA-CREF.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

member benefit aarp financial service auto insurance

AARP® Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford offers members no-cost quotes.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points

Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.