Single Traveler A, a young military retiree, found a Caribbean, all-inclusive resort with a whale of a deal on a promotional price with no single supplement.
Single Traveler B took the same trip at the same time but paid far less.
Riddle: both travelers were the same gender, flew in from the same gateway, and were the same age. How did Traveler B save money?
Answer: Traveler B took advantage of senior discounts on the room rate, airfare, and incidentals, including subway fare to the airport, a couple of meals at fast-food chains, and a rental car in the islands. And Traveler B's traveler's checks were free.
If you are age 50 or better and are paying full price for your travels, banking, hometown dining, and shopping, you're paying too much.
Most people in their 50s or 60s don't think of themselves as senior citizens and, while they might join associations such as the USA's AARP or Canada's CARP, they never think of asking for a senior discount when they travel for business or pleasure. Yet thousands of discounts are available worldwide at chain hotels and restaurants. Even entire shopping malls, such as the Heron Shopping Mall in Ottawa, invite people aged 60 and over to join a free club that has many special perks.
Here are tips on finding and using senior discounts:
Start asking about senior discounts when you turn 50; more discounts start at ages 55, 60, and 62. By age 65, you qualify for almost every senior discount in the world.
Airlines: When seeking the best airfare, call the airline. Senior discounts are never mentioned on websites. Get the best senior discount rate, look up the best online price, then compare rates and features. Note, too, that domestic airfares have one set of senior discount rules; senior discounts may be even better overseas.
Finnair, for example, gives people aged 62 and up a 10% discount on flights from the US; senior discounts for flights within Finland are higher.
Buses: Greyhound bus discounts start as early as age 55.
Banks: Most North American banks have a special senior deal or club, usually starting at age 50 or 55. Most offer free and discounted services, frequently with free traveler's checks.
Cars:If you're 55 or over, check out your local Saturn dealership. Senior discounts for parts and service start at age 55.
Hotels: Many hotel chains have exclusive deals with AARP and CARP; most offer discounts to non-member seniors as well, but age limits may be higher.
Don't overlook the chance to double-dip.
Play by the rules: The senior price may apply only on certain days, during certain hours, or to those who sign up for a free membership card. Ask, and be prepared to show proof of age.
Canadian seniors who winter in Florida should be on the lookout for special deals throughout the Sunshine State such as Canadian At Par days. Call local tourism offices in major Florida cities and ask if they plan such a promotion during the season. Dates and deals vary, often on an ad hoc basis when business is slow.
>> From Donna: (2012) Regarding Applebee's. I was not able to find a Golden Apple Card for any kind of discount. I don't think they are available. I have looked all over the Internet, and it seems I am not the only one to search. I think you should remove them from your list.
>> Editor: Thanks for letting us know; the misinformation has been checked and removed, as you suggest.
>> From C Meyer: (2013) My local Applebee's said they do have a Golden Apple Discount: 10% for over age 55 and to just ask for it as they never give out actual cards.