NEW YORK (
) -- Early bird specials aren't the only deals available to cost-conscious seniors. From hotel rooms to movie tickets to cellphone plans, these days there are plenty of fantastic discounts offered exclusively to older Americans -- you just have to know where to find them.
To uncover the best deals for seniors right now, we spoke to industry experts and did a bit of investigation. Read on for the details on 13 of our favorites.
Keep in mind that not all senior discounts are universal. If you don't see a retailer you like on our list, it never hurts to call and ask if there are any offers available for older folks, suggests couponing and savings expert Jon Lal, founder of BeFrugal.com.
Another tip to keep in mind: If a business does offer a senior discount, make sure you meet the age requirements. "The definition of a 'senior' isn't universal," Lal says. "For some places it's 55, some 60 and some 65, so always check at what age the discount applies."
Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan
Cellphone bills can be a huge money sucker, but seniors 65 and older get a break through
Verizon's Nationwide 65 Plus Plan
, which offers fewer anytime minutes than the regular nationwide plan, but for a lower price. The idea is that many seniors don't need as many anytime minutes as other cellphone users.
The single-line plan is $29.99 per month and includes 200 anytime minutes. It maintains unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling to any other
customer, though, so it's a great option if you have family members on Verizon. The plan isn't eligible for BlackBerry devices.
Free doughnut at Dunkin' Donuts
This deal is new as of March 1, so we couldn't resist telling you about it. AARP members can get a
with the purchase of a large or extra-large hot coffee when they show their membership card at
. You can only get one free doughnut per transaction, and the offer is valid for just one year -- through Feb. 28, 2013 -- at participating locations.
To become an AARP member, you have to be 50 or older and pay a membership fee ($16 for one year, $43 for three years or $63 for five years).
National Park Service senior lifetime pass
Part of the beauty of getting older is having more time to travel, and if you're yearning to see some of the country's most magnificent sites, such as Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon, the National Park Service offers a true steal for seniors. For a mere $10, U.S. citizens or permanent residents 62 and older can get a
to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites, including
, national wildlife refuges, national forests and grasslands and lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. It's a pretty sweet deal, considering a pass for nonseniors costs $80 a year.
You can buy a senior pass in person at a federal recreation site or
, though if you pay by mail you'll have to fork over an extra $10 as a processing fee.
In some cases, the pass also gets you half price on some amenity fees for such things as camping, swimming and boat launches on federal land.
Amtrak senior discount
Riding the rails can be a great option for seniors for a variety of reasons. Trains are comfortable, they let you take in the country's spectacular scenery, and they often give you a larger allowance of bags than planes without the
offers a 15% discount for travelers 62 and older on the lowest available fare on most of their trains. And if you're looking to travel to our neighbor to the north, people 60 and older can enjoy a 10% discount on cross-border services operated jointly by Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada.
Amtrak's senior discount does have some limitations, though. For instance, it's not valid on the weekday Acela Express trains or certain Amtrak Thruway connecting services.
Greyhound senior discount
If you prefer to travel by bus,
offers passengers 62 and older a 5% discount on unrestricted passenger fares. Appropriate ID may be required to prove your age, and some restrictions apply; for instance, the deal is not good on Greyhound Canada routes.
AARP discount at Denny's
Seniors on tight budgets often have to be especially conservative on extra costs such as eating out, but AARP members can get great deals on a meal at
. Simply by flashing an AARP card, seniors get 20% off the entire check every day from 4 to 10 p.m. at participating locations.
"Also, coffee is $1 per person for AARP members and their guests 24/7," says Lynn Mento, senior vice president of member experience and membership development for AARP. Denny's also offers a special menu just for seniors 55 and older, though prices vary depending on location.
Discounted tickets at AMC
If the Oscars put you in the mood for a day at the movies, you're in luck: Certain
Theatres offer special prices for seniors. My local AMC in New Jersey charges $11 all day for seniors 60 and older, which is a dollar less than the adult ticket price of $12 (after 4 p.m.). Matinees for all adults cost $10 though, so seniors coming in before 3:55 p.m. don't need to use the senior discount -- the matinee price is less.
Even better, though, my local AMC offers "Senior Day" on Tuesdays, when people 60 and older can get tickets for just $6. Visit the
to check out your local AMC's senior pricing.
Senior discounts at hotels
Another great way to save money on travel is to stay at a hotel that offers a senior discount, and it seems many of the major hotel chains offer reduced rates for older folks. Here are a few good ones to consider:
offers senior discounts of 15% at more than 3,600 hotels worldwide seven days a week, available to those 62 and older.
, the parent company of Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Comfort Suites and other well-known chains, offers a senior discount of 10% with reservations. The deal is open to those 60 and older and AARP members.
offers guests 55 and older and AARP members 10% off at Best Western hotels around the world. According to BestWestern.com, many Best Western hotels also offer seniors extra perks such as early check-ins, late check-outs, a complimentary hotel room upgrade and a continental breakfast.
Wednesday discount at Kohl's
Seniors who are fans of
should schedule some time to shop there midweek, because the retailer offers a 15% discount for seniors every Wednesday. The discount is valid in stores only, not to online purchases, and although it can't be combined with any extra percentage-off discounts, it is good on all sale, regular-priced and clearance merchandise.
Because Kohl's sells clothing, accessories, home products and more for all ages, the discount is a great way for seniors to save on items for themselves as well as on gifts they may buy for their family members.
Jiffy Lube senior discount
Need an oil change, tire rotation or other service on your vehicle? Some Jiffy Lube service centers offer senior discounts, though the discount varies depending on location and the type of work you need done. You'll need to call your
to get details.
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