By Jim Miller, columnist
Dear Savvy Senior,
I just turned 60 and would like to find out the best way to go about locating senior discounts.
Looking to Save
One of the best, yet underutilized perks of growing older in the United States is the many discounts that are available to older adults.
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, most don’t 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 locate them.
A good place to start is at TheSeniorList.com (click on the “Senior Discounts” tab), which provides a large list of discounts in categories, i.e., restaurant dining, grocery stores, retail stores, prescription medications, travel discounts and more.
You can also search for discounts by provider. Go to a search engine like Google and Yahoo and type in the business or organization you’re curious about, followed by “senior discount” or “senior discount tickets.”
If you use a smartphone, there are also apps you can use like the “Senior Discounts & Coupons” app (available on the App Store and Google Play), which categorizes discounts by age and type.
Another good avenue to senior discounts is through membership organizations like AARP, which offers its members age 50 and older a wide variety of discounts through affiliate businesses (see AARPdiscounts.com).
If, however, you don’t like or agree with AARP, there are other organizations you can join that also provide discounts like the American Seniors Association (AmericanSeniors.org), the American Automobile Association (AAA.com), or for retired federal workers, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE.org).
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 Applebee’s, Arby’s, Burger King, Chili’s, Denny’s and IHOP – ranging from free/discounted drinks, to discounts off your total order.
Retailers: Many thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army, and certain retailers like TJ Maxx, Banana Republic, Kohl’s, Michaels, Ross and Walgreens stores offer a break to seniors on certain days of the week.
Grocery stores: Many locally owned grocery stores offer senior discount programs, as do some chains like BI-LO, Piggly-Wiggly, Fry’s Food Stores, New Seasons, Fred Meyer, and Hy-Vee, which offer discounts on certain days of the week, but they vary by location.
Travel: American, United and Southwest Airlines provide limited senior fares in the U.S. to passengers 65 and older, while British Airlines offers AARP members discounts of up to $200. Amtrak provides a 15 percent discount to travelers over 62. Most car rental companies give discounts to 50-plus customers or those who belong to organizations like AARP. Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity and Carnival cruise lines offer discount rates to cruisers 55 and over. And, most hotels offer senior discounts, usually ranging from 10 to 20 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 senior pass for those 62 and older for $80 (see nps.gov/planyourvisit/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.