Senior discount programs have been disappearing. Earlier this year, Kroger became the latest supermarket chain to discontinue its version. The National Park Service recently raised the price of its popular lifetime pass for seniors from a heavily discounted $10 to the standard $80. Big restaurant chains increasingly are allowing each franchise to decide for itself whether to offer a senior discount—and many are opting to scale back these programs or end them. Some restaurants are offering “senior menus”—with low prices and small portions—rather than bona fide senior discounts.
However, there still are some businesses that offer significant (not just token) senior discounts. These savings usually are available starting at age 60, 62 or 65, but in some cases customers as young as age 50 or 55 can take advantage. Many senior discounts are designated for AARP members, but some of those also are granted to members of other seniors’ organizations.
Here are dozens of businesses that still offer attractive senior discounts. Confirm these offers before buying—discount programs can change with little notice…and sometimes not every location in a chain participates.
Supermarket senior discounts have become rare, but they can be worth seeking out. The typical US household spends about 8% of its budget on groceries, so a 5% or 10% senior discount could be worth a lot of money. Expect certain product categories, including prescriptions, lottery tickets and tobacco, to be excluded. Three of the largest supermarket chains that still offer senior discounts…
Fred Meyer: 10% discount for age 55 and up on the first Tuesday of each month.
Harris Teeter: 5% discount for age 60 and up every Thursday.
Publix: 5% discount for age 60 and up every Wednesday at stores in Tennessee, North Carolina and the northern portions of Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia.
Within a chain, eligibility and/or other details of senior discounts sometimes vary from location to location. Among the chains that do offer appetizing senior deals and discounts at many or all locations are Arby’s…A&W…Ben & Jerry’s…Burger King…Dairy Queen…Krispy Kreme…Mrs. Fields…Sonic…and White Castle.
The following discounts are available in at least some locations to AARP members…
Bonefish Grill: 10% on select items.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.: 10%, which also applies to the meals of up to five other guests accompanying the senior and which also is available at several other chains owned by the Bubba Gump parent company, Landry, including Cameron’s Steakhouse, Landry’s Seafood House, Meriwether’s and Rainforest Cafe (though not Rainforest Cafes in Disney theme parks).
Carrabba’s Italian Grill: 10%.
Outback Steakhouse: 10%.
Papa John’s: 25% on delivery and take-out orders placed online.
Apparel and Department Stores
Here are four apparel and department stores where seniors can save on clothing, housewares and more. (Typically these discounts cannot be combined with any other percentage discounts, but they often can be used together with coupons and “rewards.”)
Bealls: 15% for age 50 and up every Tuesday.
Belk: 15% off on most items purchased online (10% on items from the home and shoe departments) for age 62 and up on the first Tuesday of each month. The discount climbs to 20% (15% on home/shoes) if you pay with a Belk charge card in store.
Dress Barn: 10% for age 62 and up one day a week at most locations, in store only. (The day of the week varies, but it usually is either Tuesday or Wednesday.)
Kohl’s: 15% for age 60 and up on Wednesdays.
Many travel-related businesses offer senior savings—but because these discounts often are applied to the full “rack” rate, they are not always good deals. Better deals might be available either through the company or through third-party travel websites such as Kayak.com or Expedia.com. Still, it’s worth investigating—sometimes these discounts truly are money savers. Among them…
AARP car-rental deals: Alamo, Avis and Hertz up to 25% off…Budget up to 30%. The top discount rate is not available at all locations.
Train and bus deals: Amtrak offers 15% off for age 62 and up. Greyhound and Peter Pan bus lines offer 5% off for age 62 and up.
Hotel savings: Most major hotel chains offer senior discounts, frequently 5% to 20%, though they might not be available at all locations. These savings are available only when the room is booked directly through the hotel, not through a third-party travel app or website.
The good news is that hotel chains are trying to meet or beat the rates offered on these third-party sites on their own websites these days—and at some hotel chains, the senior discount can be applied to the “best available” room rate, not the steep “rack” rate. After finding the best rate you can on a third-party site, visit that chain’s website or call its reservation number to check whether you could do better with the senior discount.
Examples: Hotel chains where senior discounts often are available and are applied to the “best available” rate include Best Western (age 55 and up)…Hilton (AARP)…Starwood (AARP)…and Wyndham (age 60 and up).
Airline deals: Several airlines, including American, Southwest and United, say that they offer special fares for travelers age 65 and up. Unfortunately, you typically must call the airline and book directly to obtain these rates—and seniors who do so sometimes report that the senior fares they are offered are no lower than the typical fares. Be sure to shop around before booking one of these senior rates.
Shipping and Office Supplies
If you are age 50 or older, you can join senior associations and qualify for attractive discounts at these businesses…
Office Depot and OfficeMax offer a 10% discount on most office products—plus lower rates on copying and printing services—to members of the Association of Mature American Citizens (see box at left).
UPS offers AARP members 15% off many products and services, plus a 5% discount on shipping.
Many movie theaters offer senior discounts that can save you a few dollars or more per ticket.
AMC: Many AMC theater locations offer discounted tickets to patrons age 60 and up, but details vary from theater to theater.
Cinemark: Most offer a “Senior Day” with reduced pricing. Details vary from theater to theater.
Showcase Cinemas: $7 admission for age 60 and up on Wednesdays. This applies even to 3-D and IMAX showings that ordinarily cost extra—though not on holidays and for certain special engagements.
Alternatives to AARP
Many senior discounts actually are discounts offered to members of AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, which is open to people age 50 and up and their spouses (AARP.org, $16/year, spousal membership free). But some seniors disagree with AARP’s politics and prefer not to join. Those seniors might consider joining a different group such as the American Seniors Association (AmericanSeniors.org, $15/year, age 50 and up, spousal membership free) or the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC.us, $16/year, age 50 and up, spousal membership free). These groups have arranged some member discounts of their own, and businesses that offer AARP discounts sometimes are willing to extend those discounts to members of these senior associations, too, when asked to do so.