Getting old pays off
Dear Savvy Senior,
What types of discounts are available to baby boomers, at what age do they kick in, and what’s the best way to go about finding them?
One of the great perks of growing older in America is the many discounts that are available to boomers and seniors.
There are literally thousands of discounts on a wide variety of products and services including restaurants, grocery stores, travel and lodging, entertainment, retail and apparel, health and beauty, automotive services and much more. These discounts – typically ranging between 5 and 25 percent off – can add up to save you hundreds of dollars each year.
So, if you don’t mind admitting your age, here are some tips and tools to help you find the discounts you may be eligible for.
The first thing to know is that most businesses don’t advertise them, but many give senior discounts just for the asking, so don’t be shy.
You also need to know that while some discounts are available as soon as you turn 50, many others may not kick in until you turn 55, 60, 62 or 65.
Because senior discounts frequently change and can vary depending on where you live and the time of the year, the Internet is the easiest way to help you locate them.
To do a search, start by visiting SeniorDiscounts.com, which lists thousands of discounts that you can search for by city and state, and by the category you’re interested in, for free.
You can also look for discounts at TheSeniorList.com, which provides a large list of national and regional business chains that offer them, or you can Google them individually. Just go to Google.com and type in the business or organization you’re curious about, followed by “senior discount” or “senior discount tickets.”
If you use a smartphone, another tool is the Sciddy app (see Sciddy.com) that lets you search for senior discounts and can send you alerts when you’re at an establishment that offers them.
Join a Club
Another good avenue to senior discounts is through membership organizations like AARP, which offers its 50 and older members a wide variety of discounts through affiliate businesses (see AARPdiscounts.com).
If, however, you’re not the AARP type, there are other alternative organizations you can join that also provide discounts such as The Seniors Coalition or the American Seniors Association. Or, for federal workers, there’s the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.
Types of Discounts
Here’s an abbreviated rundown of some of the different types of discounts you can expect to find.
Restaurants: Senior discounts are common at restaurants and fast food establishments – like Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Subway, Wendy’s, Applebee’s and Golden Corral – ranging from free/discounted drinks, to discounts off your total order.
Retailers: Many thrift stores like Goodwill, and certain retailers like Banana Republic, Kohl’s, Michaels and Ross stores offer a break to seniors on certain days of the week.
Supermarkets: Many locally owned grocery stores offer senior discount programs, as do some chains like Albertsons, Kroger, Publix and Fry’s Supermarkets, which offer some discounts on certain days of the week but they vary by location.
Travel: Southwest Airlines provide the best senior fares in the U.S. to passengers 65 and older, while Amtrak offers a 15 percent discount and Greyhound offers 5 percent off to travelers over 62. Most car rental companies provide discounts to customers who belong to organizations like AARP. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Carnival cruise lines offer discount rates to cruisers 55 and over. And, most hotels offer senior discounts, usually ranging from 10 to 30 percent.
Entertainment: Most movie theaters, museums, golf courses, ski slopes and other public entertainment venues provide reduced admission to seniors over 60 or 65. And the National Park Service offers a lifetime pass for those 62 and up for $10 (see nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm).
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.