How to Save Money – Senior Edition

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Once you turn 50, a whole world of savings opportunities become available to you. Whether you’re emotionally ready to claim them is a different matter, but I wanted to make sure you were prepared nonetheless. Check out this list of senior discounts, benefits, and deals for you to enjoy in your “golden years”. Keep in mind that while some discounts are available for people 50+, the access to discounts increases with age, leveling off at 65, the sweet spot for senior discounts. 

AARP

The mother of all discount destinations for people of a certain age is AARP. You can actually join AARP any time but the discounts start to kick in at age 50. Memberships are typically $16 a year–less if you commit to multiple years–which also includes your partner if they live with you. Your AARP membership gives you access to discounts on everything from travel to prescriptions to insurance. Here are a handful of favorites:

Travel

  • Rental cars: AARP Members can save up to 30 percent off base rates at Avis and Budget car rentals and up to 20 percent off Budget truck rentals.
  • Airlines: Members can save up to $349 when booking a flight & hotel vacation package through the AARP Travel Center. You can also receive up to $200 off flights with British Airways.
  • Hotels: Members receive discounts at dozens of major hotel brands including up to 15 percent off at Best Western, and up to 10 percent off at Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Comfort Suites, and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. Seniors age 62+ can reserve a senior discount rate (based on availability) at Marriott hotels and resorts. Many of the available hotels also offer a late checkout when available.
    • Don’t like to plan ahead? Check out the AARP Travel Center for exclusive, last-minute savings of up to 40 percent off at select hotels.
  • Transportation: Many public transportation systems like buses, subways, and rail systems offer senior discounts. This is location-dependent, so be sure to check with your local transportation.
    • Amtrak offers 10 percent off on most rail fares for seniors over 65. Retired military service members can get 10 percent off full-price tickets for themselves and their families when purchased at the station
  • Cruises: Depending on when and where you’re looking to go, senior discounts are available from some of the world’s most well-known cruise lines including Celebrity Cruises (veterans only), Carnival, and Royal Caribbean.
  • Airfare: With Delta Airlines, senior discounts are available in some areas and verified over the phone. United and Delta offer some senior discounts as well. 
  • National Parks: The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series provides seniors with discounted access to over 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance and standard amenity fees. If you’re 62 or over, you can purchase a lifetime pass for $80 or an annual pass for $20.
  • Attractions: Many popular attractions, including museums and historical sites, offer special discounts for seniors. Some examples:
    • Enjoy a discount admission fee of $17 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
    • Save $5 on admission to The National Baseball Hall of Fame
    • Pay only $5 on Wednesdays at the Dallas Zoo

Health & Wellness

  • Prescriptions: Members (and non-members) can save on FDA-approved prescriptions by opting into a program with AARP partner, Optum RX, which offers a free prescription discount card that can be used at over 66k pharmacies nationwide. The program is open to anyone, but AARP members receive extras, like home delivery and deeper Rx discounts.  
  • Vision Discounts: Save 50 percent on prescription lenses with the purchase of a frame and 30 percent off non-prescription sunglasses at LensCrafters.
    • Save 30 percent on a pair of glasses (frames and lenses) at Glasses.com.
    • Save an additional $10 on a complete pair, $10 off non-prescription glasses, and $20 off a pair with Transitions® lenses at Target Optical.
  • Hearing: Members can receive a free telephone hearing test from the National Hearing Test. You can also receive 20 percent off of digital hearing aids.

Remember to investigate savings at the pharmacy:

  • Wellness65+ members get 20 percent off of eligible purchases at RiteAid on the first Wednesday of every month. 
  • Get a RxFreeCard for discounts on prescriptions at thousands of locations. Also, check out the OptumRX card I mentioned above. 
  • Walgreens hosts exclusive Seniors Day savings with a 20 percent discount. Sign up for their emails so you know when those days are.

Everyday Savings

  • Auto: Earn points on gas, car washes, and convenience store purchases with Exxon. Earn double the points on special AARP Member Days!
  • Food: Earn 10 percent off and more at dozens of major restaurant brands like Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s, and Outback Steakhouse.
  • Shopping: Receive an exclusive coupon book at Tanger Outlets with discounts of up to 20 percent at top brand name stores.
  • Audible: Seniors save $2 on a monthly membership or $30 on an annual membership with Audible.

And there are savings beyond AARP, like discounts on food, shopping, education, and more. Read on…

Food

Restaurants

Restaurants are one of the most common places to snag a senior discount, with many restaurants offering a seniors-only menu or specials on certain days of the week. Be sure to ask!  Here are a few: 

  • Chili’s offers a 10 percent senior discount
  • Get 10 percent off of your ice cream purchase at Ben & Jerry’s
  • Seniors 60+ can get 10 percent off at Burger King plus discounts on beverages
  • Old Country Buffet offers daily discounts for seniors
  • IHOP has a 55+ menu with special deals 

Grocery stores

Seniors can save at grocery stores too! Here are a few examples of the savings you can expect: 

  • Save 5 percent every Thursday at Harris Teeter.
  • Piggly Wiggly and Bi-Lo offer a 5 percent discount every Wednesday.
  • Fry’s Food Stores gives seniors 10 percent off on the first Wednesday of every month

Shopping

Lots of retailers offer senior discounts as well! Here are a few examples:

  • Kohl’s offers a senior discount of 15 percent every Wednesday.
  • Joanne’s offers 20 percent off on Senior Discount Days on select days. Sign up for their emails so you know when the next one is.
  • With a Michaels Rewards Account, seniors can get 10 percent off their entire purchase.

Education

One of the most incredible benefits out there for seniors is the ability to attend college undergraduate or graduate courses in-person or online for free. Major universities like Clemson University, University of Delaware, Georgia Tech, University of Illinois, will waive tuition for seniors. Keep in mind that some universities have prerequisites like residing in the same state or meeting general entrance requirements.

Cell Phone Service

If you use a smartphone, you know that the bills can be outrageous! Here are a few examples of senior discounts. 

  • Verizon has discounts for folks 55+ with savings of up to $40/month.
  • T-Mobile offers an unlimited 55+ plan with special discounts and benefits like Netflix included at no extra cost.
  • Seniors living in Florida can get a special 55+ plan with AT&T.

Federal, State, And County Programs

There are even more discounts that you can take advantage of, including food & nutrition, utilities, tax relief, income assistance, health care, and more.

  • If you’re a senior or a Medicaid recipient, you may be eligible for discounted utilities in states like Georgia, California, North Carolina, and New York. Check with your specific area and review the requirements for qualification. 
  • Explore benefitscheckup.org, which is run by the National Council on Aging, to learn about available benefits based on location, gender, marital status, income, and other factors. The program is dedicated to “improving the health and economic security of 40 million older adults by 2030.” 
  • Also, take a look at the National Library Service’s incredibly comprehensive list of resources for senior citizens and their families.

Save Even More

Out of necessity, Covid forced many late adopters – typically seniors – to become more adept at shopping online. If this is you, be sure you have installed at least one free browser extension. Two that I like are the CouponCabin.com Sidekick and Slickdeals, which will allow you to save more on top of any senior discounts! With both platforms, popups will alert you to available savings as you browse. With CouponCabin, you can earn cashback and discounts, which are paid out by Check, Paypal, Venmo, gift cards, or direct deposit. Slickdeals specializes in discounts and coupons that you’ll receive right away. It will even test coupons for you at checkout!

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Smart Shopping Expert

Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist, TV presenter, spokesperson, and educator, specializing in beauty, tech, apps, toys, gift guides, and smart shopping. She has appeared as an expert on dozens of TV shows and radio networks, including Today, Rachael Ray Show, Inside Edition, CNN, Reuters, CNBC.com, Sirius Radio, and numerous FOX, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. Trae has been featured as a beauty tastemaker in Elle, Redbook, InStyle, and Essence, and her work has appeared on Yahoo Finance, Marketwatch, USNews.com, Credit.com, CBSNews.com, Time.com.