First responders – police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) – are those dedicated and courageous souls who are the first to arrive and tend to victims at the scene of an accident or emergency.
First responders have stressful, dangerous jobs. They often put in very long hours usually for surprisingly low pay. But if you ask a first responder why he or she does it, you’ll likely be told that it’s to help others and make their communities better, safer places to live.
First responders give a lot to their neighbors, so it’s only natural that a lot of those neighbors want to give something back. Businesses show the love by offering exclusive discounts on their products and services. The catch is that these discounts often go unadvertised, and first responders simply don’t know they exist.
We’re here to fix that problem with this guide to retail savings for first responders. Below you’ll find over one hundred great discount opportunities designed solely for first responders and offered by some of the best known retailers in the world, as well as a few smaller ones you may have never heard of. There’s deals to be had for practically everything you spend money on – food, clothes, travel and entertainment – and even firearms, equipment and accessories for you professional life. Be sure to also check out our roundup of nurse discounts for 2020!
This guide is a great place to start your search for exclusive first responder bargains, but it’s only the start. If you don’t see a discount opportunity on what you’re in the market for, just remember the golden rule: Don’t be afraid to ask. You’ll be stunned at just how many of your favorite stores and online merchants will be glad to show their appreciation for what you do with a terrific savings discount.
Two Great Online Resources for First Responder Discounts
If you’re a first responder and you’ve spent anytime online looking for discounts and bargains on practically anything, then you’ve likely come across both GovX and ID.me. Dozens of retailers have affiliated with these two programs to provide first responders direct access to their discount programs, so they’re a great place to find bargains online. Here’s a look at both sites and how they save first responders lots of time and money:
GovX offers members access to great discounts on a wide range of products and services to current and retired military, and to first responder personnel. Members can find exclusive discounts on dozens of name brand products, as well as hotels, car rentals, theme parks and other family-related activities, and tickets to sporting events, concerts, and movies.
Membership is required to take advantage of GovX savings, but joining is free. Membership for first responders is open to federal, state and local law enforcement officers (state police, highway patrol, sheriff’s departments, city police departments, federal agencies such as the FBI, ATF, ICE, TSA, and others), federal and municipal firefighters (both professional and volunteer, and including federal agencies such as National Parks Service, US Forest Service, and BLM, etc.), and EMTs.
ID.me is an online identity system that allows users to quickly, accurately, and securely verify their identities and other personal and professional attributes, including affiliations with certain groups – like first responders. Dozens of online retailers use ID.me as their exclusive method for verifying the identities and affiliations of police, fire and EMS personnel seeking first responder discounts for their products and services. The verification process is free and there is no fee for shopping via the ID.me Marketplace, where customers have access to a dozens of online discounts.
100+ Great Retail Discounts for First Responders
Buying a Home
Retail savings opportunities for first responders aren’t limited to just the small stuff. There are a number of discount programs available for big ticket items, as well. Check out, for example, the first responder discounts from the major auto manufacturers listed below. For most of us, however, the biggest of the big ticket items is a new home. And, believe or not, there are special programs to help first responders buy a home, too:
HUD Good Neighbor Next Door Program
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recognizes the importance of the contribution first responders can make to revitalizing communities by becoming homeowners in those communities. To help make such home ownership possible, HUD established its Good Neighbor Next Door Program. Through the program, HUD offers first responders (law enforcement, firefighters, and EMTs), as well as pre-Kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, an incentive discount of 50% off the list price of a home located in a designated revitalization area. In return for receiving this discount, the first responder home buyer must commit to live in the property as his/her sole residence for at least 36 months.
Not surprisingly, there’s plenty of fine print to this program, so consider the details carefully. Nevertheless, potentially saving half the cost on a new home certainly makes this program worth checking out.
Homes for Heroes
Homes for Heroes is a nationwide network of affiliate real estate specialists and businesses that provide assistance to first responders (law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS personnel) and others (military, healthcare workers, and teachers) in saving money when buying, selling, or refinancing a home, and on home-related purchases. Homes for Heroes participants save an average of $1,500 when buying or selling a home.
Firearms, Ammunition and Related Gear
You’ll likely find discounts offered to law enforcement officers at most firearm dealerships, both big and small, and many extend their discounts to first responders of all kinds. Just remember the golden rule: always ask.
Examples of dealers offering first responder discounts include:
30% off on laser sights.
10%-15% discounts for law enforcement at this East Dundee, Illinois dealer.
Through its Blue Label program, Glock offers special discounts on its Glock LE pistols. Available to federal, state, county and city law enforcement officers (active and retired), firefighters (active and volunteer), EMTs, and paramedics. Purchases can be made directly from Glock, or from one of its law enforcement distributors or sub-distributors.
Osage County Guns
Osage’s Armed Professional Program offers discounts on Sig Sauer handguns and rifles to current and retired law enforcement officers and other active first responders.
Shooter’s Pro Shop
10% discount for police, firefighters, nurses and EMTs.
Urban Ops Armory
Exclusive discounts on tactical gear, body armor, clothing, eyewear, and more.
Apple offers exclusive deals and special pricing on select Apple products for personal use to government-employed first responders and their families through its Apple Store for Government.
Columbia’s Professional Purchase Program provides products at a discounted rate to professionals who actively work in the outdoors, including local and national government employees. Register by filling out and submitting the online form.
First responders receive three free products plus other savings worth over $60 when they join online at ID.me.
Data Vision is an online retailer of computer, TV/entertainment, audio, photography, and sporting goods equipment. It offers first responders discounts on purchases with a one-time use coupon.
First responders receive a 10% discount on Eight mattresses, pillows, and sheets. Verify status online and receive the discount code.
25% off online purchases of GelPro floor mats for work and home.
Heated Clothing 4U
Active and retired police, firefighters and EMS personnel enjoy 15% off all regularly priced heated clothing and accessories. ID required for discount.
Jockey offers a 10% discount to active and retired police, firefighters, and EMTs on all online purchases at its website. Verification through ID.me.
Joe Bob Outfitters
Law enforcement officers and reserves with arrest powers receive a 5% discount on uniform purchases.
Public service personnel – including police, firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics – are eligible for a 20% discount on Lasik Plus eye surgery procedures. Present valid proof of employment at the time of the appointment.
First responders receive discounts on Leatherman product with membership in the Leatherman Pro program.
Special discounts for first responders on Oakley SI eyewear and accessories through the Oakley Standard Issue program.
Police officers, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs receive free membership in Overstock.com’s Club O Gold program, which offers members a range of price discounts, dining reward, and other exclusive perks. Validation through ID.me.
Police and firefighter first responders receive a 25% discount on Outlaw Eyewear aluminum sunglasses and prescription glasses frames. Verification requires department issued ID.
First responders receive exclusive discounts on select flower arrangement orders through GovX membership.
Government employed first responders receive 20% to 50% off retail purchases. A valid government email address is required to authenticate eligibility.
Pure Formulas is a leading online health and supplement retailer. It offers a 10% discount on purchases to active police, fire, and EMT customers. Verification through ID.me.
15% off on Ray-Ban sunglasses and eyeglasses. Verification through ID.me.
First responders receive 15% off their order, in addition to any other discounts, with ID.me verification at checkout.
15% off regularly priced Saddleback Leather products, including bags, briefcases, backpacks, wallets, and more.
First responders save 15% on all purchases. Customer submits an online application for discount and receives discount code to use at checkout.
Sun & Ski
Police, firefighters, and EMTs receive 10% off entire online or in-store purchases. Present valid government ID or badge for in-store discount. Online shoppers must call customer support to receive discount.
First responders verified by ID.me enjoy 15% off online orders of Tervis insulated drinkware products at the company’s website.
10% off entire online order of cigars and smoking accessories. Select “First Responders” at checkout.
Offers 10% discount to active duty first responders on both its website and at all Under Armour stores. Verification through ID.me.
Monthly discount rates available to government employed first responders whose organizations have an agreement with Verizon.
Food and Dining
Almost all of the major restaurant chains provide some kind of discount to first responders, particularly police officers. Lots of small local chains and single-location restaurants also offer first responder discounts. In most cases, these discounts are not advertised, and the types and amounts of discounts are often determined by the individual franchisee.
Oftentimes, discounts are available to first responders in uniform, but may also be given to those carrying a valid ID indicating their first responder status. The trick, therefore, is to ask about available discounts before you order.
Here are a few discounts you’ll likely fine when eating out:
Acapulco Restaurant Y Cantina
Law enforcement and firefighter personnel with proper ID or in uniform will normally enjoy a 20% savings on their bills at most Acapulco locations. The discount may not extend to family or friends dining with the first responder, however.
Chevys Fresh Mex
First responders in uniform or carrying a proper ID receive a 20% discount on their bill at most Chevys locations. As with Acapulco Restaurants, the discount is normally limited to the first responder and does not extend to others in the first responder’s party.
First responder customers receive a discount at participating Chick-Fil-A restaurants throughout the U.S. Discount amount varies by location.
Uniformed first responders with a valid ID receive a 20% discount on food purchases at the nearly 40 El Torito restaurants located throughout California.
With a name like Firehouse Subs, you’d expect some sort of perk for firefighters, and they get one in the form of a free drink with the purchase of a meal.
One of the best discount deals going. Police officers and firefighters in uniform receive up to a 50% discount on their food purchases at select Johnny Rockets locations.
Glory Days Grill
Firefighters, EMTs, and police officers in uniform enjoy a 25% discount at corporate-owned Glory Days Grill locations in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland.
Firefighter, law enforcement, and EMT personnel receive a 10% discount with the presentation of a valid first responder ID at participating Golden Corral locations.
Select Schlotzsky’s locations offer a 15% discount to firefighters, police officers, and EMTs with presentation of a valid first responder ID.
Shoney’s offers a 15% discount to police, firefighter, and EMT personnel with presentation of a valid first responder ID at locations primarily in the south and southeast.
Steak ‘n Shake
First responders in uniform receive a 20% discount on food purchases at select Steak ‘n Shake locations throughout the United States.
Police officers and firefighters enjoy a 50% discount when dining in at Texas Corral’s steakhouse locations in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.
First responders enjoy 20% off food and drink purchases at participating Wienerschnitzel locations throughout the U.S.
Other chain restaurants where first responders commonly receive discounts include: America’s Dog & Burger (Chicago metro area); Barmuda (Iowa area restaurants including Becks Taproom Grill, The Stuffed Olive, VooDoo Lounge, Soho Sushi Bar & Deli, and others); Detroit Style Pizza Company (Detroit metro area); Lone Star Steakhouse (primarily in the south and eastern U.S.); and Texas de Brazil(primarily in the eastern U.S.).
Automobiles, Trucks, and SUVs
Some major auto manufacturers offer first responder discounts to those purchasing their cars and trucks for personal use. Below are a few examples of those manufacturer discount programs. In most cases, however, it will be the individual dealer offering the discount, so if the model you have your eye on isn’t built by one of the manufacturers below, you may still be in luck.
And, as always, if you can’t find any advertised discount program, don’t hesitate to ask if one is available.
Through the Chrysler Emergency Responder Incentive Program (ERIP), first responders that use their personal vehicles when called upon for emergency response may be eligible for vehicle (Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge Ram) discounts utilizing the same government fleet concessions used by their agencies. Eligible first responders may include EMS, law enforcement, firefighters (both paid and volunteer), National Guard, and others. Contact your local dealer to learn more about eligibility and discount details.
Ford’s First Responder Appreciation Program currently offers cash discounts on a select number of Ford and Lincoln vehicles. These discounts are available exclusively for eligible active members of the First Responder Association. See your local dealer for program details and eligibility.
General Motors offers discounts in varying amounts on a range of Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC vehicles. Customers start by beginning the shopping process and obtaining an authorization number on the ID.me website, then continuing on to a nearby dealership.
The Volkswagen Military & First Responders Bonus Program currently offers a $500 bonus to first responders toward purchasing or leasing select new Volkswagen vehicles. Eligibility is open to police officers, sheriffs and sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers, state troopers, federal law enforcement officers, firefighters (career or volunteer), EMTs and paramedics, 911 dispatchers and operators, and their family household members.
Auto and Truck Rentals
First responder discounts are available from a number of well-known car and truck rental companies, including: Alamo (government-employed first responders); Budget Truck Rentals (20% on local moves, 15% on one-way moves for police, fire fighters, and EMTs); Dollar (government-employed first responders); Hertz (government-employed first responders); and Sixt (police and government personnel).
Exclusive discounts for Alamo, Enterprise, Groundlink and National car rentals are also available to first responders who are GovX members.
First responder discounts on motorcycle purchases may be offered by individual dealerships, as opposed to manufacturers themselves. Harley-Davidson, however, currently offers its Riding Academy New Rider Course to first responders and their spouses for the special price of $99.
Vehicle Parts and Accessories
Examples of vehicle accessory merchants offering first responder discounts include: CARiD (10% off); Ameriguard (special discounts for police, fire fighters, and EMTs); and Subimods (email Subimods support from your qualifying group email account and request to be added to the merchant’s Military Discount Program.)
Amtrak offers special discounted fares for federal government employees, including first responders, for all types of travel within the Northeast Corridor, and business-related travel throughout the nation. These discounts cannot be booked at Amtrak.com. Email email@example.com for more information.
Peter Pan Bus Lines
Peter Pan Bus Lines offers a 15% discount on full adult fares to police officers, firefighters, and EMTs. A valid first responder picture ID must be presented if requested to receive this discount.
Holland America Line
Discounts available on select sailings for EMTs, police officers, and firefighters. Contact Holland America Line directly for availability and details.
Special rates available on select Royal Caribbean ships and sailings. To qualify, at least one stateroom guest must be an active or retired employee or volunteer of a state or local fire department, law enforcement agency, or EMS unit in the U.S. or Canada. Special rate applies to all guests traveling in the same stateroom as the first responder.
First responder discounts may also be available from the following cruise lines. Contact the company directly for eligibility and details: Azamara Club Cruises; Celebrity Cruises; Costa Crociere; and MSC Cruises. See “Travel Clubs and Agencies” below for more options on cruise discounts.
Hotels and Resorts
Beaches and Sandals Resorts
Active Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) members, International Association of Firefighters members, and active U.S. and Canadian police force members all enjoy an additional 10% savings on top of Beaches and Sandals current promotion prices for their Caribbean resort locations.
Both U.S. (federal and state) and Canadian (federal, provincial, and territorial) government-employed first responders receive a 10% or greater discount off the Flexible Rate at Best Western Hotels & Resort locations throughout North America.
EMTs, police, and firefighters receive an additional 10% discount on top of any other sales or deals when booking a room at one of Caesars Entertainment’s 10 Las Vegas resorts (including Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, The Flamingo, Paris Las Vegas, and others), or any other of its locations in the U.S. Customers registers as first responders when booking their reservations on the Caesars Entertainment website.
Great Wolf Lodge
Law enforcement, fire, and EMS personnel can save up to 30% on their stays at any of Great Wolf Lodge’s 18 locations in the U.S. and Canada through Great Wolf’s Howlin’ Heroes program.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts
Government employee rates and discounts are available to qualifying first responders at more than 500 Hilton properties in 78 countries. Show your valid government ID at check-in.
All federal, state, county, local, and provincial government employed first responders are eligible for discounted rates at Hyatt Hotels & Resort locations throughout the U.S. Proper government ID must be presented at check-in.
IHG (Holiday Inn)
Discount rates are available to federal, state, local, and international government employees – including first responders – at more than 3000 participating IHG hotels worldwide. Advise the agent when booking your reservation, and a proper ID is required at check-in.
Federal, state, and local government employed first responders can receive discounts at certain Marriott International locations, including Residence Inn, Towne Place Suites, and Marriott Executive Apartments. Discounts are tied to GSA per diem rates.
First responders enjoy a 10% discount on top of Westgate’s best available rates at any of its 18 locations throughout the U.S., including resorts in Branson MO, Myrtle Beach SC, Williamsburg VA, Gatlinburg TN, Orlando and Miami FL, and more.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts offers rates within allowable per diems to government employed first responders at participating Wyndham properties, including La Quinta, Ramada Worldwide, Microtel, Days Inn, Travelodge, Howard Johnson, Super 8, and many others. To receive this discount, perform a travel search online or call for more information.
Plenty of individual and local hotels and resorts offer first responder discounts as well. A few examples include: The Arbors at Island Landing Hotel & Suites in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (police and firefighters); The Boxwood Inn in Williamsburg, Virginia; CondoLux Vacation Rentals in North Myrtle Beach, Florida; Crystal Springs Resort in Sussex County, New Jersey; Hyannis Travel Inn in Hyannis, Massachusetts; The Palmer House Inn in Falmouth, Massachusetts; Prince Resort at the Cherry Grove Pier in Myrtle Beach, Florida; Resorts of Pelican Beach in Destin, Florida; and the Seaside Resort in North Myrtle Beach, Florida.
First responders, like most Americans, are big sports fans. And sports teams and organizations are big fans of first responders. It’s no surprise, then, that first responder discounts are plentiful when it comes to game and event tickets, as well as team-related clothes and accessories.
In terms of tickets, several major professional and amateur organizations have teamed up with GovX to offer members access to discounted seats at games and events. Participating organizations include the NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, Minor League baseball, soccer, basketball and hockey, NCAA, and others. Tickets to a range of motorsports events are also often available.
In addition, first responders enjoy discounts on all sorts of team related items, such as tickets, clothing, accessories and other merchandise, when signing up with ID.me. Participating sites include: Fanatics.com (15% off merchandise from NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, college, and more); NASCARShop.com (10% off merchandise); Pocono Raceway (10% off); and many more.
Travel Clubs and Agencies
Heroes Vacation Club
The Heroes Vacation Club is a “space-available” program that offers vacation accommodation packages to first responders at over 4,000 homes, condos, apartments, and resorts in the United States, Mexico, Europe, and South America at a current price of $349 per unit per week. Membership is required but free to first responders, including police, firefighters, and EMTs. The Heroes Vacation Club is part of Wyndham Worldwide.
Vacations to Go
Vacations to Go acts as a clearinghouse for discounts on cruise vacations. From time to time, cruise lines will offer first responder discounts to Vacations to Go customers who are active (paid or volunteer) or retired police/law enforcement officers. Information on current first responder discounts can be found here.
Interview with Savings Expert Lance Cothern
Lance Cothern is a personal finance freelance writer and founder of the personal finance blog Money Manifesto. Money Manifesto aims to help others by teaching them how to spend smarter, earn extra income and destroy debt to help live their ideal lives.
Lance also shares travel hacking tips and trip reports that detail how much vacations cost his family. When he's not busy helping others with their finances, or writing about money topics, you can find him and his family at the local beach enjoying the sand and sun.
Whenever you're shopping in a store, it never hurts to Google the store's name and coupons to see what pops up. Sometimes the stores themselves post coupons on their WiFi page (Kohl's) or directly on their website. In some cases you'll just need to show the coupon on your phone to save.
Similarly, whenever you check out, you should ask if there are any potential discounts you may qualify for. If you're a first responder, ask if there is a first responder discount. If you're over age 50, ask if there is a senior discount, and ask what age you have to be to qualify. If you're military, ask if there is a military discount. Many stores and restaurants offer discounts for these groups, so it doesn't hurt to ask. Worst case, they say no.
Finally, if you’re really looking to save extra money, consider buying discounted gift cards for the places you shop at most. You can find discounted gift cards on a number of websites and often at retailers like Sam’s Club and Costco.
When I'm planning to buy a major item, I definitely spend some time researching my purchase before I make it. The larger the price tag, the more time I spend researching. In general, you can usually find an article or two about how to save money on just about everything. Read the article and make sure you investigate the major ways to save money on that particular purchase. Sometimes it requires waiting until a certain time of year, while other times it just takes some shopping around and negotiating with several companies to get the best deal.
The biggest mistake most people make when shopping retail is buying things they'll never use. It doesn't matter how much an item costs. If you don't use it, it was a waste of money. If you're unsure if you'll like a piece of clothing or an appliance, there's a very good chance you'll never use it. Instead of wasting the money, put the item back. If you find yourself actually wanting the item later on, you can always come back and purchase it.
Personally, we do most of our grocery shopping at Walmart and use the free Walmart grocery pickup to help us save time and money. When we pick up our groceries, we only get what we ordered and we aren’t tempted to buy other impulse items we’d see if we shopped in the store.
People can definitely save money shopping online. Many online retailers don't have the same costs brick and mortar retailers have. They don't have to hire salespeople or pay rent like brick and mortar stores do. Online retailers usually pass on these savings in the form of lower prices. Additionally, shopping online allows you to compare prices at multiple websites for the same exact item, allowing you to find the best available price.
It’s harder to get discount programs like those for seniors and first responders when shopping online. Usually, prices are better when shopping online so many retailers don’t offer these additional discounts. It’s also much harder to verify you qualify for these discounts when you’re online because you can’t prove you’re a senior or a first responder like you could in person with an ID card.