When Do You Become a “Senior Citizen”?
George and Carla were amazed when they opened the letter from the AARP. It told them they were now eligible for benefits.
George had just turned 50, but he was healthy and still working. Carla was still just 48. Retirement was something they were looking forward to, but they didn’t see it as imminent.
Consequently, they laughed about the letter, called one another “old,” and threw the envelope in the trash.
When Carla mentioned the story to her older sister, though, the lights came on.
By taking advantage of their “old age,” she and George were eligible to save several hundred dollars yearly on their automobile insurance policy. They could also get special discounts on everything from motels to gym memberships.
Being a senior citizen (even at 50) has its perks!
While many businesses put the entry-level age at 62 or 65, the Golden Years, for most Americans, first come into view with that notification from AARP.
Let’s look at how seniors can save money on everyday purchases – whether they feel like they deserve the designation or not.
Organizations That Provide Discounts to Senior Citizens
It’s the granddaddy of them all, and the organization most recognized as a provider of senior citizen discounts.
AARP traces its roots back to 1958 and a retired high school principal’s desire to find a health insurance company that would cover older folks (Medicare wasn’t available until 1965).
From one woman’s dream to over 37 million members today, the AARP Member Advantages website is chock-full of offers from third parties hoping to lure seniors by providing special prices and other exclusive benefits.
AARP membership costs about $13 per year, but it’s common for members to save hundreds of dollars yearly by taking advantage of deals negotiated by AARP on their behalf.
The organization officially changed its name from “American Association of Retired Persons,” to “AARP” in 1990 (since you don’t have to be retired to join).
- Automobile insurance
- Dental insurance
- Vision care
- Hearing care
- Medicare plans and supplemental insurance
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Life insurance
- Property and casualty insurance
- Small business insurance
- Golf cart, ATV, and snowmobile insurance
- Boat insurance
- RV insurance
- Collectible vehicle insurance
- Motorcycle insurance
- Mobile home insurance
- And more…
- Hotel discounts (way too many to list)
- Rental car discounts
- Cruise discounts
- Travel agency discounts
- British Airways discount
- Medjet Assist discount
- Park Ride Fly USA discount
- National Parks discount
- Discounts on new or used cars and trucks
- Discounted drivers safety course
- Auto tire discounts
- Auto repair discounts
- Home security discounts
- UPS discounts
- Amazon discounts
- Wireless carrier discounts
- Discount on flowers and bouquets
- Kindle discounts
- Food discounts
- And many more…
Throw in help with financial planning, help with trip planning, and AARP senior advocacy programs… and it’s pretty easy to see how AARP membership can be a smart move.
It’s not the only option, though. While no other organization yet comes close to boasting a membership as large as AARP, they do have similar discounts available.
You don’t need to be a member to search the database here. There is a membership option, however (it’s about the same price as an AARP membership) that provides “exclusive members-only discounts.”
There’s also a free membership option that will get you the weekly newsletter and access to the website’s Q&A Forum.The easy search feature makes this a go-to spot for checking on local options. You can sort by category, city, or zip code
As with AARP, you become eligible for AMAC membership at age 50. Membership costs $16 per year, but discounts are available for longer term commitments ($500 gets you membership for life).
Since the discounts available from AMAC are similar to those AARP members enjoy, we won’t list them again. For many people, the choice is political. AMAC is among several AARP competitors that positions itself as more conservative than AARP.
If insurance discounts are one of your primary reasons for joining a senior organization, it’s important to note the difference in carriers. AARP uses The Hartford for their automobile insurance policies. AMAC policies are issued through Travelers.You might be able to save even more money by getting a quote from both before committing to membership. Either way, seniors can save money on auto insurance by taking advantage of specially discounted rates.
This one isn’t an organization, it’s an app for your smartphone. With Sciddy installed, you can use the Around Me feature to find discounts in your vicinity.
You can also sign up for alerts that let you know when you’re near a business offering a senior discount. Those come free for the first 30 days, but you have to pay to keep them coming.
The Sciddy app works on both Apple and Android devices. You can filter notifications and searches by category, and you can share discounts you’ve found that aren’t yet listed on Sciddy.Here’s a look at the interface options (see below), taken from the Sciddy website:
Like AMAC, ASA bills itself as a “conservative alternative” to AARP. Its discount option categories parallel those offered by AMAC and AARP.
ASA membership costs are in line with the others (about $15 per year). Their auto insurance carrier is Liberty Mutual.Other ASA partners include Snazzy Traveler, Affinity4 Roadside Assistance, and LifeLock.
Additional Organizations and Associations for Seniors
AARP is the senior organization with the most members and the longest track record.
Their competitors offer similar discounts and benefits, however, and it may be that one of the others is a better match for you.
The comparison chart (below) will give you an overall view of how AMAC and ASA discounts stack up against AARP, but the best way to tell is to hone in on the benefits most important to you and make direct comparisons.
(The information was taken from each organization’s website as it was presented in July of 2016. Be sure to check for updated information before making your decision.)Here is a short list of other organizations you may wish to consider:
Seniors Can Get Special Discounts Just For the AskingPicture this
You travel by Amtrak to visit your daughter and grandchildren. They live in San Diego, you live in New York, and you don’t like to fly. Because you’re you, Amtrak provides a $150 discount.
You have friends who live in Denver, so you stop there for a few days on the way. Marriott happily takes $90 off your hotel tab.
You take your buddies out to eat at the Outback Steakhouse and – you got it – another $25 saved, just because you’re you.
And that’s just the beginning of the trip.
Once you get to San Diego, you’re getting deals every day – at the grocery store, at the movie theatre, on your pizza orders, at clothing stores, at the zoo – the kids are amazed.
You’re a celebrity!
There are thousands of senior discounts available. Once you become aware of them and begin to ask for them, you’ll be amazed at how much money you can save and how often you can realize those savings.
- Discounts vary in amount, by location, by season, and by individual store policy. Businesses are not obligated to provide special prices to seniors, but many do so gladly. They want your patronage.
- The only way to find out for sure whether or not the business you’re at offers a senior discount is to ask. The worse that can happen is you pay regular price.
- Clerks or cashiers will sometimes remind you about the senior discount, but they usually won’t. That saves embarrassing situations for both parties. You generally need to ask them.
Let’s look at a basic breakdown of senior savings possibilities. This isn’t an exhaustive list, by any means; it’s representative only. The aim is to get you thinking about how many discounts you’re missing out on and encourage you to start claiming them.
These are businesses we’ve heard about, but we can’t guarantee discounts are available at every store or at every location of that store. You may want to check in advance. If you call, be sure to get a name, since there are times when new employees aren’t aware of the senior program. Few stores advertise senior rates
Our members report receiving senior discounts or special offers at the following restaurants. Some offer a percentage off the bill, some provide special senior prices on certain meals, and others offer free add-ons for seniors.
- Arctic Circle
- Ben & Jerry’s
- Bob’s Big Boy
- Boston Market
- Burger King
- CiCi’s Pizza
- Dairy Queen
- Del Taco
- Dunkin Donuts
- Einstein’s Bagels
- Jack in the Box
- Krispy Kreme
- Mrs. Fields
- Old Country Buffet
- Po’ boy
- Ponderosa Steak House
- Popeye’s Fried Chicken
- Ryan’s Grill
- Schlotzky’s Deli
- Sizzler Steak House
- Sweet Tomatoes
- Taco Bell
- Taco Time
- Village Inn
- Waffle House
- White Castle
Some stores require you to register for their special senior discounts card. Others offer discounts only on certain days of the week. Remember: You must ASK.
- Banana Republic
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- C.J. Banks
- Dress Barn
- Goody’s Family Clothing
- Ross Dress For Less
- Salvation Army Thrift Store
- Stage Department Stores
- Stein Mart
- T.J. Maxx
TO OFFER SENIOR DISCOUNTS
Never assume a store doesn’t offer senior discounts. Our members tell us they’ve even received special senior pricing at the grocery store! Note that Fred Meyer is on the list. They give senior citizens a 10% discount on just about everything in the store on the first Tuesday of every month.
- AMC Theatres
- Fred Meyer
- Gold’s Gym
- Great Clips
- Hallmark Stores
- Jiffy Lube
- Midas Mufflers
- Pep Boys
- Regal Cinemas
- Rite Aid Pharmacy
- Super Cuts
Many hotels offer special senior rates, although some are tied to membership in a senior organization. Most airlines no longer provide discounted offers to senior travelers, although some are still available.
Note we’re listing chains only. That doesn’t mean your local or regional businesses don’t offer senior discounts. Many definitely do
- Alamo Car Rentals
- Avis Car Rentals
- America West Airlines
- American Airlines
- Best Western
- Carnival Cruises
- Celebrity Cruises
- Clarion Motels
- Comfort Inn
- Doubletree Hotels
- Econo Lodge
- Hampton Inns & Suites
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Holiday Inn
- Hyatt Hotels
- Marriott Hotels
- Motel 6
- National Car Rental
- Red Roof Inn
- Rodeway Inn
- Royal Caribbean Cruises
- Sleep Inn
- Southwest Airlines
- Starwood Hotels
- United Airlines
- Wyndham Hotels
For those who love to visit national parks and campgrounds, seniors 62 and older are eligible for the Interagency Senior Pass. It could be the best $10 you ever spent.Here are the particulars:
- Participating agencies include the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, BLM, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- The pass is valid for your lifetime – it does not require annual payment.
- Your passengers (private vehicles only) are also covered. The exception is at per-person fee areas, where the limit is three persons total (not counting those 15 years and under).
- Amenities (camping, for instance) are discounted at 50%, although there are some exceptions.
- You must obtain the pass in person at a participating agency.
Golf Course Discounts for Seniors
Golf courses love seniors. Since many older folks are either retired or have a flexible schedule, they can be counted on to play golf while other players have to be on the job. And their favorite way to lure seniors into those time-slots is by offering significant discounts. How do you find out whether or not the course you want to play offers special prices to seniors? ASK!
Early Bird Specials
Speaking of specials tied to time of day, restaurants often provide “Early Bird Specials” to help build traffic during off-peak hours. They know lower prices and special meals are sure to attract attention. By the way, “Early Bird” doesn’t necessarily mean first thing in the morning. Some restaurants have Early Bird breakfast specials and some focus on Early Bird dinners. Some even do both!
Local Business Senior Discounts
From barber shops to hardware stores, local businesses often provide special prices to their senior citizen customers.
Some will display that information prominently and others don’t. The sure way to find out is to inquire. You’re not going to offend the shop owner or clerk. Most are happy to provide discounts to seniors.
Why You Should Ask for a Senior Discount
Getting older isn’t for pansies, that’s for sure.
We laugh at the idea of becoming a “senior” when we’re 50. We wonder if it might be true at 60. And by 70, we’re usually pretty well convinced.
Some people, though, bristle at the idea of being thought of as “old.” That’s why businesses are often reluctant to point out they have a senior discount available. They don’t want to offend anyone. It’s like asking a woman whether she’s pregnant. Better to wait until SHE offers that information.
- Senior citizen status is an honor. You’ve contributed to the economy for decades. Senior discounts are a way of thanking you for your long-term patronage.
- When you ask about the availability of a senior discount, you’re letting businesses know seniors appreciate programs that bring value to them. By doing that, you’re helping insure senior specials keep going and growing. You’re paying it forward to the new crop of seniors coming up behind you.
- It’s money in your pocket! Not taking advantage of a senior discount is like finding money in your sock drawer and throwing it out with the trash. Even if the discount is a few dollars or the special is that you get a free drink with your meal, every bit counts. The only people who don’t like saving a few dollars are those who don’t appreciate the value of having extra money in the first place.
The Bottom Line on Discounts for Senior Citizens
If you want to get the discount, ask for the discount. That’s the number one way to find and take advantage of specials for seniors only.
- When you’re in a local store: Ask.
- When you’re traveling: Ask.
- Even if you think they don’t have a senior discount: Ask.
Once you get in the habit of asking, you’ll be amazed at the number of places you can save money just because you’re you. Be sure to also check out our guide to free college for seniors!