If 65 is the new 45, what is 55? It is old enough to receive what might be called the Not-So-Senior discount.
Retailers, restaurants and travel services will do whatever they can to get people to buy what they are selling, and that includes extending the senior discounts to customers who are 55 years of age or older.
Sometimes, you may need to announce that you are 55 or older to get the best senior discounts. But it can save you money on big purchases or help pay for tips or taxes on the smaller ones. Don’t be shy.
For those who prefer to shop online, know that the discounts may only apply in-store.
So let’s look at retailers and companies which offer discounts to those “not so seniors” who are 55 and older. (Once you turn 60 years of age, your discount world opens up significantly.)
Step One: Accept Your AARP Members Status
Around the time you turned 50 years old, you started to receive invitations from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to join, which you can do at that early age. The incentives include a tote bag, a cool card with your name imprinted on it, and a chance to save 10% to 20% on all sorts of services you may find attractive.
Many discounts for people 55+ require AARP membership to receive the savings, especially in terms of travel and prescription pricing. Hotels and car rental services are more than happy to offer discounts to AARP members.
Step Two: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask About Your Senior Discount
Have you ever worked in retail and had to ask someone if they are old enough to qualify for a senior discount? It’s embarrassing whether you guessed right or you guessed wrong!
With the Not-So-Senior discount, it can be even more challenging. Fifty-five years old is simply not “old’’ anymore, and many people that age do not look as if they deserve any kind of age-related discount.
So don’t be afraid to inquire as to whether you can get a discount on the goods or service you are purchasing. Again, it may just cover your taxes or a tip, but every little bit counts.
Without further ado, let’s look at the discounts you can get because you are 55 years old.
This is one shopping experience where a Not-So-Senior discount might most be expected.
Many grocery store chains offer discounts to shoppers 55 and older one day a week or month, so make a note of it at your local store.
Also, such offers apply only to certain stores, so you might be best served by calling rather than asking in the store.
Non-chain grocers may be more likely to offer a sizable discount to older shoppers.
Kroger and Wal-Mart discontinued their senior discounts in 2020. Publix, the largest grocery store chain in the Southeast, no longer gives senior discounts.
The Albertsons chain includes Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market. Only Albertsons, Safeway and Vons offer the 55 and older discount.
This covers a lot of area, but any company offering goods for sale could possibly offer a senior discount, especially if it is part of a chain. The question is how they define “senior,’’ which could put you in a position to ask about the discounts for seniors if you are in that 55-plus-but-not-yet-60 range.
Some of the chains which offer discounts to those 55 and older often do so once a week, and the day is different based on the company. If there is a store you regularly visit, inquire as to its senior citizen discount day.
Another odd point about retail senior citizen discounts is that they do NOT advertise these offers. They are available, but you have to ask.
The restaurant discounts listed below may be dining room only. Check with each restaurant about discounts for pickup and delivery orders. Restaurants are also more likely than others to limit senior discounts to 60+ or 65+.
Also, restaurants are often franchised, so the discount offers differ from location to location (if listed, they have a discount for 55+; it’s just determined by location how much the discount is). For instance, all Arby’s locations we contacted offered a senior discount; one was 10% off a la carte items only while another gave a discount on the entire check. Fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s have famously offered senior benefits like a free small soda or coffee, check with your local franchise to see what they offer.
Other restaurant chains like IHOP offer a senior discount through a special menu. You’ll find discounted items, however, the menus are limited.
Seniors with eligible Medicare plans can sign up with SilverSneakers and get free access to thousands of gyms across the country. Signing up for a prescription discount card like GoodRX is another way to save on health care, though this isn’t necessarily limited to seniors.
Most drug stores like CVS have shifted away from senior discounts in favor of a savings club that anyone can use. However, Rite Aid and Walgreens do offer some benefits for seniors, though they too require you to sign up for the savings club.
AARP has teamed up with Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, and Kroger to provide members with discounted prescriptions. Simply register for the prescription card; when you show it to the pharmacist you’ll save money on medication.
AARP has the travel industry locked up in terms of discounts. Airlines and hotels will offer discounts to AARP members they won’t offer otherwise. With AARP membership available at the young age of 50, frequent travelers may want to consider paying the annual membership fee.
Otherwise, most airlines and hotels do not consider you to be worthy of a senior citizen discount until you are in your 60s.
AARP members do get 30 percent off rentals at Avis and Budget, a 5 percent off at Payless. They also get $65 off of British Airway flights in some seating levels, and 5 to 15 percent off of stays at Best Western hotels. Hilton, Radison and Wyndham hotels offer 10 percent off their “best available rates” to AARP members.
If you’re interested in a Zipcar membership, seniors save over 40% on a membership.
Cruise lines offer discounts of all sorts all the time. If you have a choice of cruise lines heading to your preferred location, a phone call to the company reservations line would be the best idea.
You can get discounted tickets to movies from major national companies like AMC and Regal Cinemas. If you’re looking for a night of live music or theater, Ticketmaster offers discounted tickets and special offers on select shows for AARP members.
Cell phone providers like T-Mobile, Verizon and Consumer Cellular offer a discount on plans for seniors, giving discounted monthly rates. If you’re not really glued to your phone, T-Mobile has a bare-bones 55+ plan that costs just $27 a month. There are more expensive tiers that offer more data and even a free Netflix subscription!