Getting older isn't always fun. Still, as my father quipped, "It beats the alternative." Aging also brings some great things, like grandchildren, retirement, and...senior discounts.
There are so many discounts for older citizens that it would be impossible to list them all here. They also change over time and new ones are constantly being added. The discounts mentioned here give you a sense of the extent of available savings. Note that many discounts are offered to those who present an AARP membership card, for which you qualify beginning at age 50 and that costs $16 per year. Plenty of other discounts don't require an AARP membership at all.
Below are lots of great discounts organized by category, many found at theseniorlist.com. Make sure you read the terms because some offers may have special conditions, such as not being valid at every location or your not being able to combine the discount with other discounts.
Food and dining
- Dunkin Donuts: Show your AARP card and receive a free doughnut whenever you buy a large or extra-large beverage.
- Dairy Queen: Many locations offer 10% off or a free small drink.
- McCormick & Schmick's seafood and steak restaurants offer 10% off to AARP members.
- Outback Steakhouse and Denny's offer 15% off all meals to AARP members.
- Kohl's offers 15% off to those 55 and older every Wednesday.
- RiteAid offers 20% off on the first Wednesday of each month for those 65 and up, via its wellness65+ program.
- 1-800-Flowers.com offers AARP members 20% off.
- Kroger offers 5% off to those aged 60 and up every Thursday.
Entertainment and recreation
- Ticketmaster and Live Nation offer discounts of 25% or more to AARP members when they buy four or more tickets to an event.
- Many museums offer senior discounts. In New York City, for example, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum charge seniors 28% less, $18 instead of $25, for admission.
- Showcase cinemas offer discounted admission (recently $6.50 for most) to seniors aged 60 and up on Wednesdays. Regal Entertainment Group, operating Regal Cinemas, United Artists Theatres, and Edwards Theatres, offers $8 tickets to AARP members who buy them online. AMC theaters offer discounted tickets to those 60 and older.
- One of the coolest senior discounts comes from the U.S. government, in the form of a lifetime "Senior Pass" to more than 2,000 recreational areas managed by five federal agencies, including all national parks. Pass holders enjoy free admission and often discounts on amenities or activities at the locations, too. You can buy a Senior Pass for just $10 once you turn 62 at most such areas or online, which will cost an extra $10 for processing.
Health and fitness
- Free SilverSneakers memberships are available to many group health plan retirees or those on Medicare health plans. Membership gets you free or discounted access to more than 13,000 participating fitness facilities.
- Many gyms offer discounted memberships to seniors, so just inquire at your local gym.
- With an AARP membership, you can get up to 38% off of prescription drugs not covered by your health insurance plan.
Travel and transportation
- Zipcar offers 33% off its membership fee to AARP members.
- Amtrak offers 15% discounts on most fares to travelers aged 62 and up.
- Marriott offers 15% or more off room rates at more than 4,000 hotels worldwide to those 62 and older.
- Many Ramada hotels offer discounts of up to 20% off the best available rates to AARP members.
- Best Western hotels offer at least 10% off to AARP members and those aged 55 and up.
- Plenty of airlines, car rental companies, and cruise operators also offer senior discounts, so ask about those when looking to travel.
Retirement savings bonus
This is more of a bonus than a discount, but it's so important and valuable that it's worth mentioning here. When you're 50, you can contribute more to your retirement accounts, by way of "catch-up" provisions. For example, most people can contribute only up to $5,500 to IRA accounts for the 2015 tax year, but those 50 or older get to contribute an extra $1,000, for a total of $6,500 per year. When it comes to 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plans, the 2015 contribution limit is $18,000 for those 49 and younger, but those 50 and up can add an extra $6,000 to that for a total limit of $24,000 per year. These contributions add up over time and, thanks to compounded growth, can become powerful retirement tools.
The best strategy
Remember that this list is far from comprehensive. There are many more categories of companies and organizations that offer discounts to seniors. These include continuing-education programs and colleges, utility companies, car-repair specialists, cable and phone companies, waste-collection companies, and automotive insurers. You might even get a break on your property tax by inquiring about senior discounts. Although some companies don't advertise senior discounts, it's always worth asking to see if one exists.
To save the most, think about the companies you patronize a lot, like retailers, airlines, restaurants, service providers, recreation and entertainment providers, and others. Make a list of them. Then check with each one to see if they offer a senior discount. Together, small discounts can add up to a lot. Even if you only save $5 at 10 different companies each month, that's $50 per month and $600 per year. In 10 years, you'll have saved a very significant $6,000. And you can probably do even better than that!