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Thrifty at 50: How You Can Start to Enjoy Senior Discounts

Insights & Ideas Team •  January 21, 2016 | Enjoying Retirement, Your Finances

It may feel odd to ask for a senior discount when you turn 50. But you should, because some stores offer such discounts to people at that age. In a department store parking lot in Wisconsin, on a rainy day in late August, a shopper balanced her umbrella in one hand, and happily opened her shopping bag with the other. She had trimmed 15 percent off her granddaughter’s back-to-school clothing without having to put a scissors to a sales flyer.

The woman, who is 58, made use of the store discount available to seniors aged 55 and up on Wednesdays. “I’m retired and can arrange my schedule, so Wednesdays are easy,” she explained, rifling through the shopping bag containing jeans, sneakers, t-shirts and pink ankle socks. The register receipt showed a savings of $47 on her total bill. She had learned about the discount from a friend.

You probably wouldn’t consider yourself a senior citizen at age 50 or even 55. But the fact is, a number of businesses start offering discounts when you hit this age. And the savings can be substantial.

One of the most recognizable examples is AARP, which offers its $16 yearly membership to men and women when they reach their 50th birthday.

AARP benefits include cut rates on car rentals, health insurance and more. Benefits of membership also apply to a member’s younger spouse. What had been considered a senior discount is now more accessible than ever.     

And AARP says people in their 50s are snapping up more deals on travel and entertainment than members in their 60s. Further, folks in their 50s are also taking advantage of things like discounted concert tickets. AARP recently added discounts for two ticket brokers—Live Nation and Ticketmaster—to give younger seniors more options.

Save Smarter: The Truth About Your 401(k)While AARP is a good place to start getting discounts, when you turn 50 (and especially when you turn 55), it doesn’t hurt to ask whether any business you are dealing with offers a senior discount. Many businesses are happy to extend the discount but don’t actively advertise it.

Is the Deal Good Enough?

Having access to a senior discount starting at age 50 or older is no guarantee of the lowest prices. It’s a good idea to weigh the senior discount against other available deals and promotions before booking a hotel or reserving a rental car because the senior discount may not save the most money. Other discounts not typically keyed to the age of the customer, such as AAA (American Automobile Association) membership, may also provide for competitive savings on hotel rooms and rental cars.

While you may not feel like a senior citizen at 50, the age does have its benefits. But you have to be willing to ask to take advantage of them. What’s the worst that can happen if you ask? Someone could say no, but at least you asked. 

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