65 is the new 35! Isn't that grand. What our grandparents used to dread we can now look forward to. We're "in" - we're "cool" - AND we get all sorts of goodies when we turn that magic age. Of course, Social Security and Medicare are ones we all know about. But have you heard of some of the other great freebies just waiting for seniors? Here are a few options to think about - and apply for, when necessary.
1. AARP - This is definitely a BIGGIE - the grand-daddy of senior discounts, if you will, for just $16/year. You qualify for their discount card at 50, which opens the door for a TON of great deals. My favorite is at Walgreens. I registered my card with them and now I get coupons automatically on my receipt. That always puts a big smile on my face. Before we moved, we used to get a hefty savings at the optometrist we used in Virginia because of AARP. I have several hotel frequent-stayer cards and my favorite is with Best Western as they combine it with AARP to give me great discounts. That's such a big help when visiting the grandkids! Many restaurants offer discounts if you flash your AARP card including Papa John's, Carraba's, Outback, and Denny’s (which normally only gives senior discounts if you are over 55). I just wrote a long distance senior that her beloved Schwann's has an AARP discount plan. Toys “R” U, Babies “R” Us and Michael's Crafts all offer a discount. Plus AARP provides you with a printable discount card for prescriptions. And the list goes on…and on…and on. It's well worth your while to head over to their website and spend an hour or so perusing all the various places that offer a discount to those of us fortunate enough to qualify for this excellent discount card!
2. Restaurants - Did you know that many restaurants actually start giving the senior discount early? As I mentioned above, Denny's gives the senior discount to those 55 and over as does IHOP (International House of Pancakes), Arby's, and Chili's. At 60, many KFCs will give you a free drink or a side dish (I confirmed that with my local KFC in Lakewood, Washington. Others may just do the drink) and McDonald's will give you a free regular drip cup of coffee. Many of the Applebee’s offer a Golden Apple card giving discounts at 60. Golden Corral also starts their senior discount at 60. Once you hit the magic age of 65, you will find plenty more including one of my special treats - Boston Market.
3. Travel- My favorite airline, Southwest, offers senior discounts for travelers over 65. And the best part, for me, is that those tickets are fully refundable. That's very handy, especially for those of us caring for elderly parents or grand kids with health issues, as our trips may need to be cancelled at the last minute. United Airlines and other airline companies also offer senior discounts but only to some destinations. If you don't want to fly, Amtrak and Greyhound offer discounts that start at 62. For any of these though, I would definitely compare prices. Even with Southwest, if you don't need the luxury of non-refundable tickets, sometimes their sale prices are cheaper than the senior discounts. So do double-check.
4. Hotels - Don't forget those hotel discounts. Most hotels offer senior discounts in addition to AAA, AARP, and military. It can definitely pay to check all the discounts you qualify for and pick the best one.
5. Amusement Parks – Some amusement parks may offer senior discounts. Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California offers a senior discount, as does Kings Dominion in Virginia (a favorite of my grandkids). Most parks, though, do not seem to offer senior discounts. You can, however, purchase discount tickets from many through your AARP membership site.
6. Shopping - Many stores offer senior discounts at varying ages. Sometimes they are limited to one day out of the week. Our local Kroger offered a senior discount on Tuesdays. We were rarely there on Tuesdays, but when we were, my sweet mom's face would light up when she realized she had gotten an extra discount.
The bottom line: There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of senior discounts out there. Being proactive and asking "Do you offer a senior discount?", and you might just discover a new one! While you're at it, if you have the AARP card, also ask if they offer a discount for AARP. You may have to choose between AARP or a plain senior discount, but that's the kind of choice I like to make. How about you?
Written by senior living writer Kaye Swain