Youth has its advantages, as we all know, but having to pay full price isn’t one of them. Whatever seniors choose to do, chances are good they can do it for significantly less thanks to senior discounts—whether its travel, dining, shopping, going to the movies or buying a carton of milk at the grocery store.
Yet many seniors fail to take advantage of this golden-age opportunity, sometimes because they’re not aware it’s an option or sometimes because they believe a stigma is attached. Either way, that’s regrettable. So we asked a group of bargain bloggers to share some thoughts on the availability of discounts, how to find them, why some seniors are shy about claiming them and where the best deals can be found once they’ve overcome their reluctance.
One reason shoppers who qualify for senior discounts don’t pursue them may be that they’re not aware of how many are out there. Though the simple truth is they could be available anywhere seniors are spending money—even if they’re not advertised. And finding them, according to self-proclaimed “coupon nerd” and Rather Be Shopping website founder Kyle James, can result in significant savings.
The big ones that seniors need to be aware of are discounts on travel, restaurants, and even retail stores. Fairly significant discounts too. We’re talking 10 to 20 percent off at certain restaurants, up to 40 percent off at a bunch of hotel chains, and 10 to 20 percent off at certain retail stores like Kohl’s, Michaels, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens.
And there’s even better news says Sean Graw, a Chicago-based business writer and deal expert at Brad’s Deals. Namely that discounts can show up in surprising places within those categories.
Sometimes the discounts come at places that aren’t typically associated with seniors. One example is Banana Republic, which offers 10 percent off to shoppers over 50.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get
So, how does one go about finding these fabulous discounts? James has a suggestion that’s simple but effective.
Some senior discounts are posted at the establishment, but many are not, and you need to ask about them before you hand them your credit card. Just politely ask if they might have any seniors discounts you could take advantage of whenever you are out to eat or checking into a hotel, or traveling anywhere for that matter.
Mir Kamin, who writes about money-saving tips on her blog Want Not and considers bargain hunting a competitive sport, agrees, but a bit more emphatically.
I always tell people if you don’t ask you don’t get. Don’t be afraid to just ask if in doubt. But if you’re planning ahead, Google is your friend. Googling “Does Store X offer a senior discount?” is worth the five seconds it’ll take.
While asking, don’t forget that age is a factor, naturally enough, in qualifying for senior discounts—one that varies from place to place. And one shoppers should be prepared to verify if need be, according to Laura Thornquist, founder of the Dallas-area bargain blog, My DFW Mommy.
Just as the discount can vary at each restaurant or retailer, so does the age. Some restaurants consider 50-55 as senior, others don’t consider you a senior until you reach 60-65. Be prepared to show proof of age. Some locations simply take the word of a mature person that they meet age requirements, while others require a driver’s license or state identification card.
A sign that you’re wise
Of course, some people find such verification painful to admit. And that goes a long way toward explaining why many are reticence to claim senior discounts says Catherine Block, a digital marketing expert and owner/manager of The Budget Fashionista.
You may feel like asking about a senior discount is like wearing a giant sign that reads, “I’m old!” Think of it differently. When you ask about a senior discount, that sign reads, “I’m responsible” or “I make good decisions.”
Reluctance to declare themselves old is one reason seniors don’t claim discounts, Thornquist says, but another is fear of seeming cheap. And both should be set aside.
Seniors shouldn’t be embarrassed of either. We’ve made it this far in life, we should be proud of our accomplishments. And being able to save a few bucks here and there is a small reward for paying full price for years!
After all, says Kamin, how concerned should seniors be about asserting their age when there’s money to be saved?
The most common protest I hear is, “But then people will think I’m old!” Look, age is just a number. Why would you leave savings on the table if you were entitled to them? It doesn’t change your age any.
The best of the bunch
Not all senior discounts are created equal, however. Some are more enticing than others and some of our experts didn’t mind recommending favorites. James, for example, favors a certain national pharmacy chain.
Walgreens has specific Senior Days every month that seniors should definitely claim when they roll around. You’ll get a healthy 20 percent discount on those days. Many seniors are dependent on medications and health supplements so it’s a great day to stock-up and save.
While Graw calls for an investigation of cell phone service.
Some of the best discounts out there are on cell phone plans. AT&T, Verizon and Jitterbug all have special plans designed for seniors who don’t use their phones much (i.e. non-smartphone owners who only use a basic phone for calling).
And Thornquist recommends airlines and movie theaters as hot tickets—in addition to tasty deals at the grocery store.
As a soon-to-be senior, I look forward to taking advantage of the airline and movie deals. You can save up to 50 percent off with certain airlines and 35 percent off the price of a movie ticket. Groceries is another great way to save daily. These are all great ways to keep more green in your pocketbook that you’ve worked so long for. Enjoy saving seniors!
Now that you have a better idea of the wide range of senior discounts that are available (see articles at Brad’s Deals and Rather Be Shopping for comprehensive lists), why not take full advantage? After all, you’ve earned it. Consider it a perk that comes with age, experience, and wisdom.