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Senior discounts save money on nearly everything

Bargains abound for those as young as 50. You just have to ask!

Published: July 2014

Early-bird special, move over. Did you know that if you’re at least 55, you can get a 10 percent midweek senior discount at Pep Boys automotive stores? That Pearle Vision offers AARP members 30 percent off a complete pair of glasses and up to 20 percent off contacts? More surprising, many merchants and service providers offer seniors a break just for the asking.

You may have to prove your age, perhaps with a driver’s license or AARP card. You may have to join the vendor’s loyalty program and abide by other limitations. But once you’re past those hurdles, you’ll find gems such as these.

• Cell-phone service. Consumer Cellular, which we’ve rated tops, offers AARP members voice plans starting at $9.50 a month, and text and data plans for as little as $2.38 a month.

• Clothing and department stores. At Kohl’s, a 15 percent discount is available every Wednesday for those at least 60. Belk offers a discount to those 55 and up on the first Tuesday of every month.

• Craft supplies. Michaels stores grant AARP members 10 percent off every day.

• Eating out. Expect a break at many lower-priced and midpriced chains. Some give discounts only during off-peak hours or days. 

Get smart retirement advice with the Consumer Reports Retirement Guide.

• Education. Colleges and universities often offer seniors low-cost and free classes. Call your local college or go to osherfoundation.org for names of many participating institutions.

• Fitness. Participants in many Medicare Advantage, Supplemental, or other private group retiree health plans can access free SilverSneakers Fitness Program group classes and gym memberships at more than 11,000 locations nationwide. Check your eligibility at silversneakers.com.

• Flowers. Senior discounts sometimes—but not always—trump coupon codes. AARP members can choose to shave 20 percent from their 1800Flowers.com order, or to drop $20 off a minimum purchase of $79.99 (a 25-percent cut at that price).

• Groceries. Some chains shave off 5 percent, typically on one day of the week. On Tuesdays, for example, 55-plus shoppers get 5 percent off purchases of $30 or more at A&P, Super-Fresh, and Waldbaums.

• Travel. Southwest Airlines promotes lower fares for people 65 and over; call (800) 435-9792 for details on your desired flight. Travelers 62 and up can get 15 percent off the cheapest ticket on most Amtrak trains. Greyhound passengers age 62 and up save 5 percent. The National Park Service sells a lifetime pass for those 62 and up for $10 (plus a $10 processing fee). 

—Tobie Stanger

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in the December 2013 issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser.
   

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