How to Save Big with Senior Discounts

By Pam O’Brien · May 30, 2023 · 7 minute read

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How to Save Big with Senior Discounts

Did you know that you can start taking advantage of what are known as senior discounts well before retirement age? In fact, you can often save money when you are as young as 55 and in some cases even 50.

In fact many “senior” discounts can be accessed through membership in the AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons). Anyone age 50 or older can join (membership runs $16 a year, though discounts may be offered).

And, the sooner you start working those senior discounts, the more you could potentially put into retirement savings, which could lead to a more significant nest egg when you really do reach retirement age.

Read on to learn about some smart ways you might start saving as a senior or soon-to-be senior.

Travel Senior Discounts

Many major airlines, hotel chains, cruise lines, and rental car companies offer senior discounts, sometimes as much as 30 percent off, which can help bring down vacation costs.

These deals aren’t always obvious, however. You may have to track them down on company websites or simply call directly and ask.

💡 Quick Tip: Typically, checking accounts don’t earn interest. However, some accounts do, and online banks are more likely than brick-and-mortar banks to offer you the best rates.

Here are some different ways you may be able to score senior deals on travel.

Airline Senior Discounts

You may not always find a code or a drop-down menu when booking online, but you can often get good discounts on air travel if you call the airline directly.

Some airline discounts to look for:

•   Delta offers senior discounts in certain markets, but not online.

•   United Airlines may offer senior fares to selected travel destinations for customers who are 65 and older (when booking online or over the phone).

•   British Airways offers exclusive AARP Member offers, including up to $200 off.

Car Rentals

AARP membership can get you some significant discounts on car rentals and there are some companies that offer independent discounts. Some to look for:

•   Alamo provides deals through its Senior Circle program.

•   Avis gives AARP Members up to 30% off Avis base rates.

•   Budget offers AARP members up to 30% off, and sometimes also a free upgrade and other exclusive benefits.

•   Hertz offers travelers 50 and up to 20% off base rates, and they can also take advantage of additional program benefits.

Cruises

Cruise lines, such as Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Royal Caribbean, commonly offer discounts to those travelers that are 55 and older.

It’s best to call the cruise line before booking to see what is currently available, as some won’t advertise specific deals on their websites, yet may have special senior offers.

Another savvy savings tip is to wait to get the best deal available to you, and then ask to apply your senior discount on top.

Hotels

Senior discounts are available at many hotel chains, but are not always advertised.

Again, many of the programs are aligned with AARP membership, but there are plenty of others that offer their own independent discount.

A few deals to keep an eye out for:

•   Cambria Suites offers up to 10% off with advance reservations to those 60 or older, as well as to AARP members (50+).

•   Travel Lodge gives guests age 60 and older special savings off the best available room rate when booking online or over the phone (ask for the “senior rate”).

•   Choice Hotels gives those who are 60+, or an AARP member, up to 10 percent with advance reservations.

•   Motel 6 offers adults 60+ a discount of 8% off of their best available nightly rates at each of their 1,400+ locations across the United States and Canada.

•   Hilton Hotels & Resorts gives adults 50+ 10 to 25 percent when booking online through Hilton’s AARP page .

National Parks

For just $80, those age 62 or over can get a lifetime pass to the National Parks , which also includes access to more than 2,000 other federal sites.

An annual pass to all of these parks is just $20.

Applicants must provide documentation of age and United States residency or citizenship.

💡 Quick Tip: When you feel the urge to buy something that isn’t in your budget, try the 30-day rule. Make a note of the item in your calendar for 30 days into the future. When the date rolls around, there’s a good chance the “gotta have it” feeling will have subsided.

Amtrak

If you like the idea of traveling by train, then you may want to look up the Amtrak senior discount–travelers 65 years of age and older are eligible to receive a 10% discount on most rail fares on most Amtrak trains.

Retail Discounts for Seniors

As a senior, you can often save big with many retailers. Some stores provide a senior discount on a specific day, such as every Wednesday or the first Tuesday of the month.

One of the best (and best known) is Kohl’s, which typically offers 15% off every single Wednesday for those 60 and older. The money you save could help build your retirement savings.

According to The Senior List, other major retailers that may offer discounts to those 55+ include:

•   TJMaxx

•   Belk

•   Ross Stores

•   Lenscrafters

•   Michael’s

Restaurant Deals for Seniors

This is probably one of the richest sources of discounts available to seniors.

Whether it’s on a certain day or during a specific block of time, many restaurants offer something, so it’s a good idea to ask around at your favorite places and to also check restaurant websites.

Many eateries also have senior menus that offer discounts to diners over a certain age.

Promotions vary according to location, but here are a few deals you may keep an eye out for.

•   Arby’s: 10% off purchases for seniors and a free drink at participating locations.

•   Denny’s: a 55-plus menu, which offers discounted prices for seniors.

•   McDonald’s: discounts on beverages and coffee at some locations.

•   IHOP: a 55-plus menu, which offers deals for seniors.

•   Outback Steakhouse: AARP cardholders can score 10% off.

•   Bubba Gump Shrimp Co:. 10% off for AARP cardholders.

Senior Discounts on Groceries

Many major grocery stores offer senior discounts on certain days. Some local independent grocery stores will offer small discounts too, so it never hurts to ask your go-to market about senior deals.

You may also want to look for these commonly offered discounts to save money on food:

•   Fred Meyer: 10% off on select items on the first Tuesday of every month for those 55 and older.

•   New Seasons: 10% off for seniors on Wednesdays on select items.

•   Hy-Vee: 5% off on Wednesdays for seniors at participating locations.

💡 Quick Tip: If you’re creating a budget, try the 50/30/20 budget rule. Allocate 50% of your after-tax income to the “needs” of life, like living expenses and debt. Spend 30% on wants, and then save the remaining 20% towards saving for your long-term goals.

Senior Deals on Movie Tickets

Major movie chains often offer great discounts on tickets for seniors. Some deals are all day every day, while others require going on a specified day and/or block of time.

Regal, for instance, offers 20% off for AARP members purchasing tickets online, plus discounts on popcorn and other snacks.

Another example is Showcase Cinemas, which usually offers lower-priced tickets to adults 60 and over (as well as deals on popcorn and drinks) on Wednesdays.

Local, independent theaters also commonly offer discounted tickets to seniors, so it’s always worthwhile asking.

Senior Discounts at Drug Stores

Almost every pharmacy out there is interested in getting your business, and offers some sort of senior discount program.

Rite Aid, Costco, CVS, and Walgreens all commonly offer types of membership programs (and sometimes also special monthly discount days) for older adults with savings that can really add up.

It can also be wise to check for discounts with local, independent pharmacies for senior deals as well — they’re not always advertised.

Recommended: Ways to Cut Back on Spending

Senior Cell Phone Savings

T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon all typically offer cell phone plans with senior discounts.

If you’re 55 or older, you can very likely get a good deal on a plan.

Some smaller carriers also provide special services and more ways to save. For instance, Consumer Cellular, which already offers affordable, customizable, no-contract plans, has an established relationship with AARP, so there’s a discount on monthly service for any existing member.

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The Takeaway

You might not even think to look for, let alone ask for, a “senior discount” if you’re under age 65. But if you’re 50 or older, you may be missing out on a great way to cut back on spending.

Senior discounts are offered by many retailers, movie theaters, airlines, rental cars, cell phone carriers, restaurants and more.

Some are tied to AARP membership (available to those 50+ for a small annual fee), while others are offered independently, with varying age limitations. Whatever you save could help build your savings or help you make special purchases for less.

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