Senior Discounts – Values for Mature Consumers 

By: Terri Lawson, LAPSW, Care Manager and Advocate

Everyone wants to save a buck.

Why spend $50 when you can get the same item for $40 somewhere else? One of the benefits of aging, and even looking your age, is getting the senior coffee at McDonald’s without having to ask. Although some may be offended by this, I figure I’ve earned these wrinkles and I’m happy to get a little benefit every now and then. 

There are thousands of discounts for seniors.  Some require a special sign-up, discount card, or membership, and some require proof of age.  The bigger the discount, the more strings or disclaimers attached. Some you have to ask for – especially if you don’t look your age – and some you can get without asking if you look anywhere near 55 or older.

  1. Fast food and drink.  Many fast food restaurants offer discounted beverages.  Discounts may vary from location to location, and the age of eligibility may be as low as 55 or as high as 65.  In many situations, you have to ask, no matter how old you look!   
    1. McDonald’s – discounted coffee, 55+
    2. Wendy’s – 5 to 10% discount or a free drink, age and discount varies by location
    3. Taco Bell – 10% off, 65+
    4. Arby’s – 10% off or a free drink
    5. Burger King – 10% discount on purchase, 60+
    6. Captain D’s – Sunday and Wednesday are Super Senior Days, age 62 +.  You can choose from one of ten meals for $4.49, including drink OR get $1 off any regular menu item.  
    7. Chick Fil A – Most locations provide a free small drink or coffee with purchase or a 10% discount. 
    8. Dunkin Donuts – 10% off, 55+
    9. Subway – 10% off, 60+, varies by location
  2. Travel
    1. Motels and Hotels.  Many offer senior discounts.  However, few of these discounts, even AARP, are lower than special promotions provided to everyone, and they don’t substitute for an advance registration. Planning ahead and reserving your room early saves money, no matter your age.  
    2. Airlines.  A few airlines, including American, British Airways, Delta, Southwest, and United offer senior discounts.  However, you have to read the fine print, there are many disclaimers, and like motel/hotel discounts, they don’t substitute for planning ahead and making an advance registration.  For example, Southwest’s senior discount pales in comparison to their “Wanna Get Away” fare. The other airline discounts are for select destinations, and Delta requires you to call and ask.  
  3. Parks and Recreation
    1. Tennessee State Parks. Adults age 62 and older may get a 25% discount on standard in-season camping fees and a 50% discount in the off-season. Also available are a 10% discount on a stay at a state park inn, and a10% discount on a restaurant meal. Some state park golf courses offer senior discounts. 
    2. North Carolina State Parks. Adults age 62 and older can enter the three state recreation areas that charge an entrance fee in the summer for $5 per vehicle.  Seniors receive a $6 discount at most campsites. 
    3. Other State Parks.  Most State Parks provide senior discounts, with ages and specific discounts depending on the park.  Visit your state park website for more information.  
    4. National Parks: The America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. Adults 62+ may purchase a Lifetime pass for $80 or an annual pass for $20. Passes may be purchased online, by mail, or at a participating park.  The discount card provides access to recreation areas managed by six federal agencies including the National Parks. Pass owners may receive discounts on some amenity fees, such as camping, but there are exclusions. If you are into camping, hiking, and RVing, this is a real bargain.
    5. Other recreation.  Many local recreation areas and amusement and theme parks offer senior discounts. Check out the websites, and always ask, whether or not a senior discount is advertised.    
  4. AARP Membership.  Membership provides discounts to a variety of travel (motel, rent-a-car, and tourism) plans for people 50+.  Membership costs $12 for the first year, and $16 thereafter, and there’s a free second membership for another in the household.  Membership may be purchased online, and if you are like most of the estimated 11,500 people that turn 50 each day, you’ve already received a membership mailing from the AARP. 

Other Senior discounts and freebies.

There are many discounts or freebies that have so many exclusions that they may not be worth the trouble.  Some, like many grocery stores “senior days,” may have been discontinued. There are discounts available for low-income seniors, and some that require a membership or sign-up for a cost or for free.  Once you sign up, you’ll likely get frequent “preferred customer” emails. You can do your own research and find hundreds of examples. If you are going on vacation or to virtually any activity with a paid admission, it’s always a good idea to check in advance for senior discounts.  It takes some time, but your research may offer some savings that you don’t want to pass up.    

For more information: 

AARP Website

The Senior List

Senior Living 

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