Last week in a post about retirement options in Ecuador, I commented on the many great discounts that seniors (both expat and nationals) enjoy. My favorite was definitely the law that states seniors never have to wait in line. While I think most of us would be risking bodily harm if we were to walk to the head of the line at the movies or the grocery store, I thought a listing of some of the best discounts that seniors can enjoy right here at home in the good old USA was definitely in order.
For some strange reason, the term “senior” seems to be a moving target based on age alone. Let’s start with 50 (which seems very young to me, but whatever) At 50 you can officially join AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons. For only $16 a year, an AARP membership is a great resource for discounts.
Ask and you just might receive. It sounds crazy, but not every senior discount is advertised so next time you are booking a trip, making a purchase or eating out (especially at a chain restaurant) – ask “what is your senior discount?” I’m getting bolder in my old age and I figure you won’t know the policy (or get the discount) if you don’t ask.
I did a little research and here are eight great ways to save money with a senior discount.
1. National Parks ~ There are more than 2,000 National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands in this country, and if you are age 62 or better, for a one-time $10 fee ($20 if you apply online) you can visit every one of them. Hubs got his a few years ago and has already used it on his annual “hiking with the boys” adventures and at Mt Saint Helens when we visited last year. In some cases there may also be additional discounts for motels, cabins, camping, boating and more within the parks.
2. Planes, trains and automobiles ~ Airlines do offer senior discounts. It’s best to call and ask if you aren’t sure, but here’s what I found: Alaska offers travelers 65 and older a 10% discount, American says it offers various discounts (best to call), Southwest offers a variety of discounts and United offers a discount to seniors 65 and older who call before booking. In my research, you have to be pro-active in seeking and asking for airline discounts. These days they are giving nothing away.
When you’ve got the time, riding the rails can be a great way to travel. Amtrak offers a 15% discount for travelers 62 and older. This is generally off their lowest available fare but not always. If you are interested in train travel in Canada and you are over 60, you can also enjoy a 10% discount on cross-border services operated jointly by Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada. Some limitations do apply – you will not get a senior discount on the Acela Express train for example.
Renting a car? Check out these discounts – Alamo has discounts up to 25% off for AARP members, Budget Rent-A-Car offers a 10% discount for seniors 55+ and with an AARP membership you get a 15% discount. Hertz gives AARP members a 25% discount. National Car Rental offers a 30% discount to AARP. Obviously if you are renting a car on your next vacation, it pays to be an AARP member and to shop around.
3. Hotels ~ Many of the major hotel chains are catering to us older folks with reduced rates. Here are a few good options: Marriott offers senior discounts of 15% at more than 3,600 hotels worldwide. You have to be 62 or older. Best Western offers guests 55 and older and AARP members a 10% discount. Hampton Inn & Suites offers a 10% discount but you have to book 72 hours in advance. Hyatt Hotels generously offers seniors 62 and older a 25-50% discount.
4. Phone Service ~ AT&T and Verizon both offer customers over 65 a senior cell phone plan. Looks like it’s a basic 200 anytime minutes for $29.99 – a data plan would be extra.
5. Movie Theaters ~ Pretty much everyone knows and uses the senior discounts on movie tickets. AMC Theaters, Regal Cinemas and Cinemark/Century Theaters offer discounts of 30-35% on tickets and refreshments. At Regal, AARP members pay just $5.50 for a soft drink and popcorn.
6. Restaurants ~ With all of the amazing food options we have here in Portland, we don’t eat at chain restaurants like we used to, but many of them offer senior discounts and you don’t have to eat dinner at 4:30 any more to claim them. You simply get smaller portions (which I love) for less money. It is sort of the kid’s meal in reverse, but as long as they don’t offer me a booster seat and a coloring book, I am OK with it.
7. Shopping ~ Wednesday is grocery shopping day at our house and hubs is the shopper. Why Wednesday? Because that’s the day our favorite local grocery store, New Seasons, offers their 10% senior discount. It adds up! Most grocery stores offer a senior discount one day mid-week. Many retailers do the same thing. Ross, Kohl’s, Stein Mart and Banana Republic all offer senior discounts. I’m waiting for Macys and Nordstrom. Even Goodwill has a senior day.
8. But wait…there’s more ~ Look for senior discounts at your gym, the zoo, many museums, chain hair salons like Great Clips and Super Cuts, most pharmacies and even Sea World.
So I guess there is an upside to being over 50. Fifty sounds quite young to me these days and sixty does too. But, hey, if somebody wants to give me a discount for making it this far, why on earth would I not take it? Seriously though, the first time I was offered a senior discount at the movies I said “No Thank You”. Once I got over admitting my age in public, it’s been easy. Call me a senior, call me an honored citizen, call me grandma – but please, call me when you want to give me 25% Off.
Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite senior discounts? What did I miss in my list above? Inquiring minds want to know.