If you are an older adult, you’re probably aware that many businesses offer senior discounts aimed at making your life just a little more affordable. The savings can really add up. In certain cases, however, you can score even better deals—some goods and services come absolutely free of charge.
Giveaways for the taking
Some freebies are available only to those who have reached a certain age. Others are accessible to people of all ages but can be especially beneficial to those living in retirement on a fixed income. Here are seven top freebies:
- Tax preparation. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offers free tax help to all taxpayers with an emphasis on people age 60 and older. Volunteers, who are certified by the IRS, specialize in pension and other retirement-related tax issues. Use the TCE locator tool to find a site near you.
- Prescription drugs. Several supermarket pharmacies including Meijer, PriceChopper, Publix and Schnucks fill prescriptions for select antibiotics for free. Meijer, Price Chopper, Publix and Shoprite also offer free diabetes medications and supplies. You might need to enroll in a pharmacy loyalty program to receive the free drugs. Check with your supermarket pharmacy to see if they participate in a similar program.
- Eye care. EyeCare America, which is a public service program of the American Academy of Opthamology, provides free eye exams and up to one year of care for any diagnosed disease for those who are 65 and older and haven’t seen an eye doctor in three or more years. Visit EyeCareAmerica.org for program guidelines and to see if you qualify.
- Education. About 60% of accredited, degree-granting institutions offer tuition waivers for older adults, according to an American Council on Education. In fact, many states have laws requiring state-supported institutes of higher learning to waive tuition for older residents, typically starting around age 60.
- Museum admission. Most museums offer senior discounts for admission, but a few actually let older adults visit for free on certain days. For example, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City gives people 65 and older free admission the first Monday of every month. Take note: Bank of America cardholders of any age can gain free admission to more than 150 museums on the first full weekend of every month.
- Transportation. Some localities and states let older adults ride for free on public transportation. For example, the Pennsylvania Free Transit Program allows people 65 years and older to ride bus, trolley and rapid-transit lines for free with a senior citizen transit identification card (which also is free).
Discounts that deliver
Free deals are fabulous, but discounts are nice too. And the good news is that numerous businesses (e.g., restaurants, attractions, hotels, grocery stores, pharmacies, airlines, retailers and car rentals) provide senior discounts for older adults. Some offers include people as young as 50, although 60 and older is more common.
In many cases, you have to prove your eligibility. These price cuts can represent outstanding bargains, however, so it’s definitely worth the effort. A few examples:
- The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass, which costs $80 if purchased at a site, gives adults 62 and older lifetime access to 2,000 national parks and recreation areas.
- Amtrak offers a 15% discount on the lowest available fare (some exclusions apply) to people age 62 and older.
- An AARP Prescription Discount Card entitles AARP members (an annual membership is $16) to deep discounts—averaging 61%—on FDA-approved prescription drugs not covered by insurance.
Some businesses prominently promote senior discounts on their websites or in their stores. You also can search on one of the many websites dedicated to researching discounts. TheSeniorList.com, for example, is a community-driven portal that regularly updates its list of participating establishments. But often, the best way to confirm if businesses offer a discount is to ask.
Score the biggest discounts possible
Occasionally, special rates for seniors aren’t that special, which means you’d be better off taking advantage of other deals. So check out offerings accessible to consumers of any age—through travel deal sites, mobile apps, coupon sites, daily deal sites and rewards programs—before making a purchase.
For example, some hotel chains offer discounted rates to travelers 62 and older. Default to these discounts, however, and you could miss out on a better rate, such as a discount offered for a nonrefundable advance purchase.
And you could save even more by booking through NEA Travel.
In addition, consider buying discounted gift cards for restaurants, retailers and more through exchange websites such as Cardpool, GiftCards.com and Raise. Membership clubs such as Costco Wholesale also offer cut-rate cards for various businesses, with savings running 20% to 25%.