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Money November 2013

Dollar Sense

Penny Pinchers Unite! Discounts for Seniors are Out There

By Teresa Ambord

But there are still plenty of discounts available to those of us with gray or graying heads (or heads that would be gray if we gave in to the march of time). Here are just a few discounts to scoop up while the scooping is good.

Is there a discount for that?

David Smidt – president of SeniorDiscounts.com – tells people, “Always ask. That’s the #1 tip we try to get through.” It’s worth the risk. We need to take advantage of available discounts while we can, said Smidt. He believes as the population of boomers and other older consumers continues to swell, we might begin to see fewer discounts.

“The one area where we’ve seen pullback is in travel-related sectors. That’s largely due to the takeover of online booking for car rentals, airlines and hotels.”

But there are still plenty of discounts available to those of us with gray or graying heads (or heads that would be gray if we gave in to the march of time).

Here are just a few discounts to scoop up while the scooping is good.

 

Pets

Licensing: Recently I renewed license for my three dogs. I would not have thought to ask if there was a senior discount. But the officer asked, “Are you over 55?” She softened the question by adding, “You don’t look it, but I figured I’d ask since there is a discount.” I give her kudos for diplomacy, and took the discount, which saved me $33.25. Not bad!

Pet Food and Supplies (if you are 50+): If you order online from Petsmart.com you can save $10 on an order of at least $50. That’s a hefty savings. Use the promo code NEXTTEN. This is listed as a temporary discount, although no expiration date listed.

Entertainment: Many major movie theaters have their own senior savings programs. AMC theaters have discounts if you go on Tuesdays (60+). Cinemark has discounts on Monday (62+). Landmark Theatres vary by location.

 

Eating Out

A long list of restaurants have senior discounts, but chances are you have to ask. Don’t be shy. Here are just a few.

  • Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill: those 60+ get a 10% discount. Some locations may ask you to sign up for their senior discount card, others will just give a discount.    
  • Arby’s for those 55+. The discount varies, but could be 10%, or a discounted drink.
  • Boston Market, age 65+ get a 10% discount on orders. SeniorDiscounts.com says to ask for the discount even if you are not 65. Some locations will be lenient as long as you are in the age-ballpark.
  • Chik-fil-A gives discounts to those of us 55+. Each location is independently owned, so the discount varies. It might be 10% off your order, or a free small drink.

 

Travel/transportation/vacations

Again, travel discounts aren’t what they once were. But there are still some out there.

  • Southwest Airlines actively promotes a senior discount program. The discounts at airlines may not be substantial, said Smidt, but the tickets are generally fully refundable and there may not be charge change fees.
  • Amtrak will give a 15% senior discount on the lowest fare available for those 62+ on most trains. If you’re crossing the Canadian border on Amtrak trains and VIA Rail Canada trains, you could get a 10% discount (60+).
  • Cruising. Choose the carrier you want, then go to their website and type in “senior discount.” Some may not offer discounts. Carnival and Royal Caribbean do.
  • National Park Services offers a $10 senior pass to all citizens or permanent residents age 62+. This pass is good for a lifetime to get you in more than 2,000 federal recreational sites including national parks. There are also discounts on things like guided tours and boat launching, swimming, camping.
  • Ski vacations for seniors can be huge, said Smidt. “You can save up to 90% off lift-ticket rates or season passes, depending on the ski area and age requirement.”

 

Car Insurance

Some insurers will give those 55+ a 5 % to 15% discount if you complete the “I Drive Safely” course online. The course costs $19.95. Before you sign up, ask your insurer if the company will honor the discount, or if they perhaps have a defensive driving course of their own. As I wrote this article I called my insurer, Allstate, to inquire and was told they do indeed have a defensive driving course which will secure me a discount.

As for mature driver discounts, in general, insurers apply those automatically as you get older, but that doesn’t mean they won’t miss some. Ask once a year if you’re getting the best price for your age and record.

 

Household Bills

Smidt says discounts are often available through a variety of sources, cell phones, cable, trash pick-up, utilities, and property taxes. They are not often announced, so you need to ask, or at least check on their websites. Type in “senior discount” if you don’t see it. Or just call customer service. There may be income eligibility rules. Property tax discounts vary by location, but often are retroactive, making it well worth asking.

 

Retail

  • Ace Hardware, in most locations, gives a 10% discount to those 60+.
  • AVON gives customers 50+ a 20% if you shop online at MyAvon.com.
  • Kohl’s offers 15% every Wednesday to those 60+. Be prepared to present ID.
  • RITE Aid gives those 50+ a card which can be used to develop discounts up to 20%.

Discounts are everywhere, but often you have to take the initiative to ask. Smidt puts out a newsletter, seniordiscounts.com which, as the name implies, specializes in finding and informing seniors about discounts. You can get a free subscription by logging onto the site, or upgrade to get even more information.

 

If You’re a Vet

Veterans, whether active duty or retired, have earned whatever favor they can get. If you’re shy to ask in person, call ahead.

  • here are a lot of restaurants, sit down and fast food which offer discounts to veterans up to 20 percent. To name a few: Applebee’s, IHOP, Cracker Barrel, and Longhorn Steakhouse. Also Wendy’s, Golden Corral, Chick-fil-A, and Arby’s.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts gives a 10 percent discount.
  • For home improvements, check out Lowe’s and Home Depot for 10% to 15% off.
  • General Motors says they help military (active and retired) with an average discount on a car purchase of $750.
  • For tax preparation, H&R Block offers discounts of 10%, plus free filing.

The list goes on and on… but you need to ask. Don’t be embarrassed. If you served in the military, a discount is a minor way businesses are able to recognize your sacrifice. Let them.

 

Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.

Meet Teresa