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Face it, boomers, senior discounts are good for you

You've seen that television commercial where a group of cinema-bound women are flabbergasted when the teenage ticket seller asks if they want the senior discount. Then the financially smart one in the group leans in and asks, "Just how much is that discount?"

Well, if you're "of a certain age" and, like most of the women in that commercial, don't want to admit it, you could be cheating yourself. Along with wisdom, age also brings discounts as a growing number of companies reward older customers with reduced rates on goods and services.

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Best of all, many of these price breaks kick in as early as age 50.

Of course, the size of the discounts, the age at which they start and the strings attached vary. Individual restaurants that are part of a chain or a franchise may decide if, when and how much of a discount they offer. Often discounts are restricted to off-peak times. Golf courses, for example, may let seniors golf for less, but the rate reduction is only good for weekday tee times, not weekends.


Many discounts also are contingent on membership in AARP, the nonprofit membership organization for people age 50 and over. AARP negotiates discounts on everything from motel rooms to home security products for its members.

When a discount is offered, confirm the markdown before you buy because terms can change. Also remember to bring proof of identity (and age), as well as your AARP card if the discount has been arranged through that organization.

Don't be shy either. Not every senior discount is widely advertised, but if you ask, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Finally, be honest with yourself. Before you can collect any discount, you have to decide which is more valuable to you: keeping your age secret or saving money. If it's the cash, then here are some consumer areas that typically offer discounts to older patrons.

Dine at a discount
Restaurants hate being open without customers, so many offer "early bird" senior discounts. Dine before 5 p.m. and you'll receive money off your meal. Chains and franchises such as McDonald's, Chili's, Arby's, Bennigan's, Burger King, and Bob Evans all offer varying discounts. Check at the individual restaurant for details.

Fly for less
Some airlines offer a discount to passengers as young as 60. Among the discounters are Alaska Airlines, America West, United and Virgin Atlantic. The average discount is 10 percent. Watch for restrictions such as when you can fly and what times of year are blocked.

Pay less for apparel
While you may not see this at Old Navy or the Gap, many retailers are realizing that senior shoppers represent a huge market and the stores are willing to offer a discount. Just how much varies by retailer and generally is restricted to certain days and times. The key to finding these discounts is to ask before you buy.


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-- Posted: Jan. 12, 2005




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