DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: What types of discounts are available to baby boomers, at what age do they kick in and what’s the best way to go about finding them?
— Almost 50
DEAR ALMOST: One of the great perks of growing older in America is the many discounts that are available to boomers and seniors.
These discounts — typically ranging between 5 and 25 percent off — can add up to hundreds of dollars each year.
So, if you don’t mind admitting your age, here are some tips and tools to help you find them.
The first thing to know is that most businesses don’t advertise them, but many give senior discounts just for the asking, so don’t be shy.
You also need to know that while some discounts are available as soon as you turn 50, many others might not kick in until you turn 55, 60, 62 or 65.
To do a search, start by visiting SeniorDiscounts.com, which lists thousands of discounts that you can search for by city and state, and by the category you’re interested in. You can also look for discounts at TheSeniorList.com, which provides a large list of national and regional business chains that offer them.
If you use a smartphone, another tool is the Sciddy app (see Sciddy.com), which lets you search for senior discounts and can send you alerts when you’re at an establishment that offers them.
JOIN A CLUB
Another good avenue to senior discounts is through membership organizations like AARP, which offers its 50-and-older members a wide variety of discounts through affiliate businesses (see AARPdiscounts.com).
If, however, you’re not the AARP type, there are other organizations you can join that also provide discounts, such as the Seniors Coalition or the American Seniors Association. Or, for federal workers, there’s the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.
TYPES OF DISCOUNTS
Here’s an abbreviated rundown of some of the different types of discounts:
>> Restaurants: Senior discounts are common at restaurants and fast-food establishments — like Burger King, Subway, Wendy’s and Applebee’s — ranging from free/discounted drinks to discounts off your total order.
>> Retailers: Many thrift stores like Goodwill, and certain retailers like Banana Republic and Ross stores, offer a break to seniors on certain days of the week.
>> Supermarkets: Many grocery stores offer senior discount programs, which offer discounts on certain days of the week but vary by location.
>> Travel: Southwest Airlines provides the best senior fares in the U.S. to passengers 65 and older, while Amtrak offers a 15 percent discount and Greyhound offers 5 percent off to travelers over 62. Most car rental companies provide discounts to customers who belong to organizations like AARP. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Carnival cruise lines offer discount rates to cruisers 55 and over. Most hotels offer senior discounts.
>> Entertainment: Most movie theaters, museums, golf courses, ski slopes and other public entertainment venues provide reduced admission to seniors over 60 or 65. And the National Park Service offers a lifetime pass for those 62 and up for $10 (see nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm).
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” program and author of “The Savvy Senior.” Send your questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.