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Candice Choi

Here’s something that never gets old: discount prices for senior citizens

By Candice Choi
Associated Press / December 31, 2010

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A lower ticket price at the movies isn’t the only financial perk of getting older.

Baby boomers turning 62 will be glad to know the milestone comes with significant discounts. Some benefits worth noting:

Shopping. Many retailers quietly offer discounts of 10 to 15 percent to older customers. For example, Kohl’s reduces prices for customers 62 and older on certain days of the week. Banana Republic, KB Toys, and Ross Dress for Less also offer discounts.

“It’s not as unusual as you think, but you have to ask,’’ said Marshal Cohen, at NPD Group.

Policies can vary by location. That’s particularly true for franchises. For instance, a 10 percent discount is a common perk at Dunkin’ Donuts, but may not be offered at all locations.

You don’t always have to be 62, either; retailers may offer discounts for customers as young as 50.

Travel. Airlines, hotels, and other travel companies don’t always make their senior discounts easy to find, either, so it’s worth calling. At Budget car rentals, for example, customers have to search for “senior discount’’ on the website, then click a link for “special senior savings,’’ which automatically fills in the coupon code U088802 on the reservation page for a savings of about 10 percent. Customers provide proof of age when they pick up cars.

On Southwest Airlines’ website, travelers are shown the “senior fare’’ alongside other fares. They are usually 20 percent less but can be as much as 75 percent less. Fliers have to be 65 or older.

Amtrak gives seniors a 15 percent discount on the lowest available rail fare on most routes. Guests at Marriott can get 15 percent off the regular rate at more than 3,600 locations.

Regardless of where you find a discounted senior rate, keep in mind that it won’t always be the cheapest available option. It’s worth checking for special promotions that can save you more. Or you may find a better deal through third-party vendors such as Priceline.com.

Community services. Local governments also extend free or low-cost services to seniors. The hub for tapping into these services is typically a senior center. At 255 centers in New York City, for example, seniors can sign up for numerous classes, including yoga, tai chi, and pottery. The centers usually offer lunch for voluntary contributions of a few dollars or less, too.

In New York, those 65 and older qualify for reduced mass transit fares, regardless of income. And low-income seniors who live in rent-controlled apartments can apply to have any rent increases picked up by the city.

AARP. Getting older means you’re eligible to join one of the country’s biggest clubs, AARP. Anyone over 50 can join for $16 a year (or $63 for five years). The fee includes a subscription to the group’s magazine, which covers health, financial, and political issues, and access to a vast range of discounts.

Candice Choi writes for the Associated Press.