DISCOUNTS FOR SENIOR CITIZENS

Prepared by Walter P. Engel, Chapter 737

The discussion below pertains to discounts discovered as of 2000. Since that time this information has been included as well as a more complete, national review has been compiled and is provided at: www.seniordiscounts.com.

WHY SHOULD SENIORS RECEIVE DISCOUNTS?

A senior discount is a reduction in the base or pre-tax price of a product or service to a person of a specific age or older. Granting of this discount may be extended universally to all persons or to only seniors belonging to a specific organization.

Certainly, privileges to seniors in the form of discounts represent an appropriate practice that some US businesses use to honor those citizens who bore the burden of directing, defending, supporting, and preserving this century's American standard of living. To us it appears to be a matter of respect as well as a matter of good business sense. It can be considered a measure of our society's worth as well as its quality of living..

The number of US seniors is rising dramatically - today there are one in every 6 Americans or 45 million people who are 60 years of age or older.In the next 30 years the number will rise to one in four.The market place will begin to realize the growing buying power of senior Americans.

To obtain some indication of this rising senior effect on businesses we decided to survey how US businesses, especially in the local area, treat its seniors with respect to granting specific discounts for goods and services. This is not a discussion of how charity is extended to us older folks but rather a discussion of how businesses are serving society and themselves by cooperating in a joint action to increase sales while at the same time giving seniors a small benefit for their cooperation. Whether that discount may be, for example, for early bird dining or for Metro rail use, they are intended to help seniors economically while allowing businesses to increase sales during those otherwise quiet times in the day. This approach appears to make business sense. "Seniors have money, appetites, and leisure time", as William Houseman said in his recent book which we will discuss later.

In my opinion seniors bring 5 principal advantages to businesses in the marketplace:

WHO IS A SENIOR?

The definition of senior varies. The American Association of Retired People (34 million members) which offers numerous senior discounts does not require you to be retired at all and lets you join at 50 years old. On the other hand the Washington Metro System will not give you a identification card for a discount until you are at least 65. So it is necessary to check the definition used by the specific business you are approaching when trying to use a published discount or inquiring as to whether or not any senior discount exists.

This, of course, raises another question: what if there is no published discount? Well, basically this gives you the opportunity to become a senior advocate or missionary for advancing senior discounts and basically you should ask for one. The worst answer could be "no" but after mentioning the desirability of the products or services offered, and the vast number of your senior friends who may well have similar desires or needs (especially after you spread the word), you may well have a convert on your hands and achieve a senior discount for all the rest of us. If so let us know and we can add them to our master list below.

Some advice that is offered by Mathew Lesko in his book on Senior Discounts: Ask for a senior discount

Don't expect that discounts for your memberships in other organizations will be piled on so as to add to one huge discount-discounts do not in general add on top of each other although some stores will apply senior discounts to general discounts on sale items.

Study the marketplace- be wary and savvy since local sales prices for everyone might be even better than senior discounts for some. Join senior organizations - as we shall see AARP and NARFE have national discounts.

In order to organize this review of discounts, which is focused on those of most interest to Northern Virginians, we decided to group discounted services by areas where the discounts are found, rather than by just making a general list. For example under travel services we list local trains/subway service as well as national airlines and railroads. In the list, we provide a short digest of the service areas, age eligibility for the discount, and the reference phone number or web site for more information. If a discount appeals to you, we urge you to use the phone number to explore its actual use. These lists are current as of July 2000. There are more out there I am sure but hopefully this list will reveal areas where you did not know they existed. If more come up let us know. We grouped the senior discounts as:


Travel

Comment: Travel services in general recognize the needs and desires of senior citizens. The methods of validating your senior age range from the need to have a specific identification card to simply a photo ID with date of birth shown. We have two sections under travel, one for Northern Virginia and the other for
national.

Travel within Northern Virginia

METRO at 202-637-1328
Senior identification card must be issued by METRO and is obtainable for those at least 65 by applying at METRO sales office, at local libraries and at some local GIANT/SAFEWAY stores

With the senior identification card, fare is 50 cents on all buses. For METRO rail, special senior citizens fare cards for $3 or $10 are obtainable at any GIANT or SAFEWAY store. Use of these special are cards results in a fare that is 50% off the peak rush hour ate on METRO rail at all times. The fare cards are used like in the fare boxes like a regular fare card.

VIRGINIA RAILWAY EXPRESS (VRE) at 703-413-4287
Senior citizens 65 and over showing senior identification receive 50% off the single ticket cost; tickets should be purchased from VRE by mail order or at Crystal City VRE store. Trains run from and to Fredericksburg and Manassas ending at Union Station several times during the day and evening.

TAXI SERVICE IN ALEXANDRIA VA 703-836-4414
The City of Alexandria Department of the Aging offers senior taxi service at $1.50 for seniors 60 and older who live in Alexandria and desire to visit stores and services within the Alexandria city boundaries .

BUS SERVICE IN FAIRFAX COUNTY 703-222-9764
FASTRAN in Fairfax County provides door-to-door bus service to citizens (including seniors) who qualify on the basis of limited income (under $23500 for a family of two). Call for an application.

Travel Nationwide:

AMTRAK 1-800-872-7245
Seniors at least 62 receive 15% discount off adult rail fare for coach seats except for AUTOTRAIN to and from Florida; promotional travel specials are also available throughout the year. Discount applies to METROLINER to New York City only on weekends.

GREYHOUND BUS 1-800-231-2222
By joining the Greyhound Senior club for an annual fee of $5, seniors 62 and older receive 10% off regular walk-up tickets,10 to 30 % off Choice hotel rooms, 10% off food costs at Greyhound-operated restaurants, 10% off for charter service, and 25% off on Greyhound personal package.
AIRLINES
Airlines in general offer discounts two ways: 1) a percentage discount usually about 10% off regular fares, and 2) a seniors' multiple-coupon pack (4 or 8 trips) at a flat rate. Some discounts require reserving 14 days in advance. For example, United Airlines has a Silver Wings Plus program for seniors 55 and over who join this program for a fee. Members receive a selection of travel discounts and benefits such as hotel discounts as well as four roundtrip certificates for reduced United economy air fares. Memberships cost $225 for a lifetime membership or $75 for a two year membership. For those 62 and older, more certificates can be purchased at $ 25 per set for up to 16 roundtrips per year. The United number is 1-800-720-1765.

The age eligibility for airline senior discounts and senior travel clubs varies from 55 to 62 so it is important to check the requirement with each specific airline. Clubs and programs are offered by four major US airlines: American Airlines, Continental Airlines ,Delta Airlines, and United Airlines. All offer lower priced airfares plus discounts on hotels,car rentals,cruises, and vacation plans. Airlines in general offer discounts two ways: 1) a percentage senior discount for the senior and a travel companion usually about 10% off regular fares, and 2) a seniors' multiple-coupon pack (4 or 8 trips) for those 62 and over at a flat rate.Coupons are traded in for a discounted tickets.American West and US Airways allow the senior to use coupons for one or two children under 12. Some discounts require reserving 14 days in advance

Senior fares are also offered by Southwest Airlines which will sell seniors 65 and over coach seats at 40 to 70 % off the regular adult rate for all flights.

Senior Clubs

United Airlines has a Silver Wings Plus program for seniors 55 and older who join this program for a fee. The membership fee is $225 for a lifetime membership and $75 for a two year membership. Members also receive a complementary set of the USA Collection which consists of four certificates which permit a selection of low cost fares based on roundtrip mileage and the day of week that the travel occurs for domestic flights. Lifetime members receive three discount certificates for future flights, a savings certificate good for 15% off for two round trip flights, bonus Mileage Plus miles and various hotel/cruises discounts. For seniors 62 and older,up to three additional USA Collection sets can be purchased per year at $ 25 per set leading to reduced fares for as much as 16 roundtrips per year or for use of a companion traveling with you on any trip. The United number is 1-800-720-1765.

American Airlines has a Travel Club for seniors 62 and over which requires membership fee of $45 for the first person and $30 per year for a traveling companion. The club membership provides low cost non-peak fares based on mileage between US and international cities where American flies for travel between Monday and Thursday with a surcharge of $20 each way for Saturday travel.In all cases,a Saturday night stay is required. No Sunday or Friday flights allowed.The American Airlines telephone number for the travel club is 1-800-421-5600.

In the Continental Freedom Flight Club, those 62 and over join for a fee of $75 for US states flights ($125 for 87 foreign destinations) and receive 15 to 20% off all published fares. Continental number is 800-441-1135

Delta's Skywise Program charges those 62 and over $40 per year for special first-class and coach fares for flights within the US. On overseas flights, members get 15% off on all published fares except between June 1 and August 31. Three travel companions can fly with the senior member for a club fee of $25 each per year.Delta telephone is 800-325-3750.

When calling regarding any airline offer, be sure to ask: 1)at what age does eligibility start(ages vary from 55 to 65),2)do you offer the same discount for the traveler's companion, 3)does it apply to all flights or are there blocked times,4) how far in advance must reservations be made, 5) by when must flights be used, 6) what is the cancellation policy, 7) does the discount extend to area hotels or rental cars, and 8) do the senior discounts apply in the event deep sales discounts are also offered?

Regarding senior travel coupons, additional questions might include :1)are unused coupons refundable, 2)what special limits apply to the use of the coupons?

Regarding use of these discounts, airlines advise that Seniors should be sure to arrive early (about 1 hour before the flight) if they want to avoid the airlines giving away their seats (possible within 20 minutes of flight time if they are not present).

Airlines of interest to local DC travelers that offer senior discount plans are:

United Airlines               1-800-720-1765
American Airlines             1-800-421-5600
Delta Airlines                1-800-325-3750
Northwest Airlines            1-800-225-2525
Continental Airlines          1-800-441-1135
Air West                      1-800-235-9292
US Airways                    1-800-428-4322
TWA                           1-800-221-2000
Alaska Airlines               1-800-252-7522
British Airways               1-800-247-9297
Lufthansa                     1-800-645-3880
SwissAir                      1-800-221-4750
Virgin Atlantic Airways       1-888-862-8621 (for AARP members)

OTHER AIRLINE VACATION PACKAGES SPECIFICALLY FOR AARP MEMBERS

Continental Airlines Vacations Save $25-100 1-800-634-5555
Delta Vacations Save $25-100 1-800-892-5215
Virgin Atlantic Vacations Save $50-100 1-800-YES-VIRGIN

The 1997 source book by Mathew Lesko on Senior Discounts which is discussed later lists 37 different airlines' senior discount packages.


RENTAL CARS

Most major rental car companies offer discounts for seniors which are obtainable either through the AARP or NARFE membership cards. The usual discount is 5 to 10% for seniors over 50 with additional upgrades available with separate coupons which are available to all members. Both large national chains as well as some local rental business participate in these discounts. Be sure to check on the status of the discount if you desire to rent from a local company as opposed to a national company . When dealing with the national companies listed, be sure to tell them that you are a member of AARP or NARFE.

Hertz              1-800-654-2200 or 6511 (AARP/NARFE)
Avis               1-800-331-1800 or 1441 (AARP/NARFE)
Alamo              1-800-354-2322 (NARFE)
Budget             1-800-527-0700 (10% off for all seniors over 50)
National           1-800-227-7368 (AARP)
Thrifty            1-800-367-2277 (10% off for all seniors over 60)
Enterprise         1-800-736-8222 (AARP)
AUTO EUROPE        1-800-650-6222 (NARFE)
Dollar Rent A Car  1-800-800-4000 (NARFE)


AUTO DEALERSHIPS

MATURE ADVANTAGE 1-800-916-2887

AARP members may take advantage of deep discounts from Mature Advantage which is an organization of specific local dealerships of 23 different auto manufacturing who also include discounts on some maintenance items. The automobile manufacturers represented include models from Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler-Plymouth, Dodge, Ford, GMC Trucks, Honda, Jeep, KIA, Lincoln-Mercury, Lexus, Mazda, Nissan Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saab, Suburu, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagon, and RV vehicles. Other dealers are available in other parts of the country. Managers make appointments with the dealer's program manager. Show their AARP card and receive a discounted price. Some of these dealers also offer 10% off for service work


NATIONAL PARKS 202- 619-7222

Lifetime GOLDEN AGE Passports for $10 for those 62 and over with age identification and who are US citizens can be purchased for free admission to National Parks and certain other areas such as monuments, historical sites, recreation areas and national wild life refuges that charge an entrance fee. The pass covers all passengers entering in a private auto. Where entry is not in a private vehicle, the passport admits the pass holder, spouse, and children.

Regarding use fees, the card also provides a 50% discount on camping and other use fees such as for swimming, parking,boat launching, and cave tours. The Passport must be obtained in person with drivers license or proof of age at any federal area where an entrance fee is charged or at the Washington DC headquarters office as well as at regional offices of the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Reclamation.

STATE PARK

VIRGINIA STATE PARKS offers a lifetime entrance pass to seniors 62 and over which waives entrance fee and parking charges at all 28 state parks for a cost of $65. The lifetime pass waives entrance and parking fee for all occupants in the auto. With the lifetime pass is a 10% reduction use charges for camping, picnic shelter rentals, and merchandise. The usual annual fee for admission to one park (of the 28) is $15 for one year duration. Another senior discount is 10% for cabin rental, passes may be purchased over the phone by calling 1-800-033-7275 or in person at any state park.


LOCAL ATTRACTIONS IN WASHINGTON AREA

Several attractions operated privately offer discounts to properly age identified seniors. The following list shows age eligibility, discount, and reference phone number:

Mt. Vernon Mansion   age 62   $0.50 off $9 admission  703-780-2000
Gunston Hall         age 60   $1 off $5 admission     703-550-9220
Woodlawn Plantation  age 65   $2 off $6 admission     703-780-4000


AMUSEMENT PARKS OUTSIDE WASHINGTON AREA

PARAMONT'S KING'S DOMINION offers seniors 55 and older a ticket for $30.99 which is $5 off the regular price. 1-804-876-5000

HERSEY PARK offers seniors (55 and over) a price of $28.75 for admission instead of the regular price of $31.95. 1-800-437-7439

BUSCH GARDENS IN WILLIAMSBURG offers seniors 55 and older a ticket for $34 instead of the regular price of $37. 1-800-343-7946

SIX FLAGS (Largo,MD) offers seniors over 62 a ticket for $23.99 instead of the regular price of $32.99. 301-249-1500

SIX FLAGS GREAT ADVENTURE, WILD SAFARI AND HURRICANE HARBOR(Jackson NJ) offers a senior 55 and older a ticket for $39.99 instead of regular admission of $59.99 for comprehensive admission to all three parks. 732-928-1821


TOURS

Gray Line Tours - Offers 10% AARP member discount 1-800-243-8380
For tours in the DC area use 202-289-1995


CRUISES

Check Specific Restrictions for the following discounts for AARP members:

B&V Waterways (Europe only)  10% off              1-800-999-3636
Carnival Cruise Lines        $25-200 off          1-800-88-RELAX
Holland American Line        $25-100 off          1-800-88-RELAX
CRUISE.COM                   Check reduced fares  1-800-800-9552x226
River Barge Excursions       $100-250 off         1-888-640-4806
World Explorer Cruises       15-20% off           1-800-854-3835

TRAVEL SERVICES FOR NARFE MEMBERS

As listed in Retirement Life PERKS, travel services are provided for NARFE members: DELTA QUEEN sailings, HOLLAND AMERICA Cruises, GLOBUS escorted tours and CRYSTAL CRUISE line tours. 1-800-508-1616


MOTELS,HOTELS AND RESORTS

AARP members are offered the following discounts at 37 motel chains:

AmeriSuites                            Save 15%        1-800-833-1516
Best Western                           Save 10%        1-800-528-1234
Citadines d;hotels                     Save up to 30%  1-800-441-1414
Clarion Hotels, Resorts                Save 10-30%     1-800-252-7466
Colony Hotels, Resorts                 Save 25%        1-800-777-1700
Comfort Inns & Suites                  Save 10-30%     1-800-228-5150
Courtyard by Marriott                  Save 10%        1-800-346-4000
Crown Plaza Hotels, Resorts            Save 10%        1-800-2-CROWNE
Days Inns, Hotels, Suites. Lodges      Save 10%        1-800=DAYS INN
Daystops
Doubletree Hotels & Guest Suites       Save 10%        1-800-222-8733
Econolodge                             Save 15-30%     1-800-553=2666
Fairfield Inn by Marriott              Save 10%        1-800-322-4000
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts              Save 10-30%     1-800-866-5577
Hospitality International, Inc         Save 10%        1-800-251-1962
Howards Johnson Inns & Hotels          Save 20%        1-800-I-GO-HOJO
LaQuinta Inns                          Save 10%        1-800-NU-ROOMS
Marriott Hotels & Resorts              Save 10=50%     1-800-228-9290
Motel 6                                Save 10%        1-800-4-MOTEL-6
Omni Hotels                            Save 10-15%     1-800-THE-OMNI
Outrigger Hotels & Resorts             Save 25%        1-800-OUTRIGGER  
Quality Inns,Hotels,Resorts            Save 10-30%     1-800-228-5151
Ramada                                 Save 15%        1-800-228-2828
Red Lion Hotels & Resorts              Save 10%        1-800-547-8010
Renaissance Hotels                     Save 10-50%     1-800-468-3671
Roadway Inn                            Save 15-30%     1-800-228-2000
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts              Save 15-25%     1-800-325-3535
Sheraton Luxury Collection & St. Regis Save 15-25%     1-800-325-3589
Four Points Hotels by Sheraton         Save 15-25%     1-800-325-3535
Shoney's Inn                           Save 15%        1-800-222-2222
Sleep Inn                              Save 10-30%     1-800-753-3746
Springhill Suites by Marriott          Save 10%        1-888-287-9400
Sumner Suites                          Save 10-15%     1-800-747-8483
Super 8                                Save 10%        1-800-800-8000
Travelodge                             Save 15%        1-800-578-7878
Wellesley Inn & Suites                 Save 15%        1-800-444-8888
Wyndham Hotel & Resorts                Save 20%        1-800-WYNDHAM
HAMPTON INNS - offer Lifestyle 50 program for all seniors over 50; this program permits for a single room rate up to 4 persons to stay in the room; also a small discount is offered on the regular rate, e.g. $7 off a regular rate of $115 in the Manassas VA location.


ASSOCIATIONS OFFERING SENIOR DISCOUNTS

AARP 1-800-424-3410

Membership card available for $10 per year for all seniors 50 and over. Card entitles user to numerous discounts in the areas of :auto rentals,cruises, airlines, flowers, motels and Internet service.

RETIREMENT INCOME ASSOCIATION

Members receive monthly newsletter and copies of RETIREMENT TODAY as well as discounts on travel,health care services, discount prescriptions drugs, and vision care products. First year membership is free and $8 per year thereafter.

National Association of Retired Federal Employees 703-838-7760 (Headquarters)

Members receive discounts on moving services, auto rentals, insurance, credit cards, Federal Times (newspaper), hotel chains, and travel services. Discounts or perks which are available on a nation wide basis are published each month in the monthly magazine of Retirement Life.


INTERNET SERVICES FOR AARP MEMBERS

AMERICA ONLINE        SAVE 10%           1-888-466-2255
COMPUSERVE            Save 10-20%        1-888-265-9327
THE MICROSOFT NETWORK 6 months unlimited
                          access for $89 1-800-513-1500
PRODIGY               Save 10%           1-800-776-3449

BANKS Most banks offer a senior discount plan of some type. It is a good idea for you to contact your individual bank to learn what is offered to you.

A typical package offered locally is usually free checking for seniors under specific conditions.

The following list shows local banks and contacts at a local office who can describe senior discount packages. Yours might be listed here. If not, contact them yourself to see what they offer.

For example, FIRST UNION has 2 plans - one called PRIME BANKING for those 50 and over, in which the account holder must maintain an average balance of $1000 in any combination of savings, checking, and money market or CDs or maintain an average loan, home equity or personal line of credit or credit card balance of $2500 to avoid the monthly $10 service fee.

The other type called SENIOR CHECKING for those 60 or over permits no monthly service fees and no charge for checks if an account with a minimum of $50 is opened.

Each bank where you keep your money or have a loan should be questioned as to whether they can offer you a break on service fees. Some banks have special discount program for its customers including 50% discount at nationally recognized hotels for a reduced charge for those 62 and older senior citizens. (This service is called First Value Membership at FIRST VIRGINIA).

First Virginia              Lisa Nadolski at 703-241-4463
First Union                 Sarah Jones at 703-934-1975
Chevy Chase Bank            Dexter Coleman at 1-800-987-2265 option 2
Bank of America             Jonathan Myers at 703- 658- 8261
Riggs                       Jeff Buktaw at 301-887-8965
Burke & Herbert             Connie Behan at 703-549-6600
United Bank                 Kathy Tabash at 703- 502-1800
Sun Trust formerly Crestar  John Ackley at 703-838-3900
Wachovia                    Centreville VA Bank Manager at 703-222-4930


FLOWERS

FTD.COM 15% discount for AARP members 1-800-SEND-FTD Dept 4688


SHOPPING

Malls

Most shopping malls have stores that offer senior discounts. However,surprisingly, not many mall management offices are aware of which stores in their mall offer these discounts. The ones that are aware are as follows:


Stores

The following is a sampling of those stores which stated to W. Engel that they offered senior discounts:


EDUCATION/RECREATION

Discounts

Activities

In addition,while nor really discounts, some local governments offer separate senior programs and activities. They are: EDUCATION


SPORTS

GOLF

Clubs

Baseball

Swimming


HEALTH SERVICES

Regarding Health Providers, each individual should check with their own personal physician, dentist, or therapist to determine whether he or she is willing to provide a personal senior discount.


PRESCRIPTIONS FOR AARP MEMBERS


RESTAURANTS

Comment: Chain resturants in the area offer reduced prices to seniors. Most restaurants offer an early bird special - call ahead to check the hours for the early bird specials.


MOVIES

Nearly all Washington area movie theaters offer some form of discounted tickets for seniors. For example, the General Cinema at Springfield Mall admits seniors 55 and older for $5 at all times in lieu of the regular price of $8.50 (weekends) and $7.50 (weekdays).

Free movies for seniors are available at the following specific sites:


MAJOR THEATERS


COMMUNITY THEATERS

In general call the box office to check on senior discounts which are usually available. The following specific theaters have indicated they offer senior discounts:


DINNER THEATERS


MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS

MOVING SERVICES


NARFE members may receive discounts for moving services as discussed in the RETIREMENT LIFE PERKS:

INSURANCE

Many insurance companies offer discounts to policy holders who are over 50 years for auto or homeowners policies. Some require the policyholder to be retired. Check your agent. Here are some examples:


WHAT ARE SOME USEFUL SOURCE BOOKS FOR DISCOUNTS

Discussion with Ms Juliett Harding (NARFE Headquarters Staff) and Mr Hal Novelle (AARP Headquarters Management Staff) concerning NARFE and AARP policies on senior discounts or PERKS were held and were very helpful


Conclusions

If you are a senior don't be bashful. Those discounts are out there and businesses are beginning to recognize what we seniors bring to the marketplace:

Finally, if you uncover or create a discount be sure to pass it along to me care of this station so we can keep our web site current for all NARFE members. My address is:

     Walter P. Engel
     NARFE Presents
     c/o Fairfax Public Access Channel Studios
     2929 Eskridge Rd.
     Fairfax VA 22130
or email me at WPEME@aol.com.