Friday, April 20th, 2018
You don't always have to be over 65 to get a senior's discount in Canada. Many apply to folks 55 and over, and even more to those over 60. In rare cases, you can qualify from age 50.
As someone in the 55 to 60 demographic who writes on personal finance topics, I'm embarrassed to admit that I wasn't taking full advantage of these potential savings until my next-door neighbour enlightened me.
Did I know, for example, that every second Tuesday is Seniors' Day at my local drug store, where shoppers over 55 can get 20% off regularly priced items? I didn't, but now that I do, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm looking out for whatever other savings my advanced age can get me.
Senior's discounts apply to many goods and services: banking, insurance, entertainment, restaurants, travel, retail and even education. Some come with restrictions or conditions, such as membership with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP).
Many banking institutions offer special plans for seniors, offering low or no monthly service fees, senior rebates and other benefits, such as free personal cheques, money orders, bank drafts and paper statements. Depending on the financial institution, you may be able to qualify as a senior at age 60.
You can also get discounts on home and auto insurance, and sometimes even more savings if you purchase both with the same provider.
Buying tickets for a symphony concert, opera or musical? You can likely score a senior's discount, and likewise for theatre and movie tickets.
You can ease the cost of dining out by going to restaurants that offer percentage discounts to seniors 60 and over on certain days of the week or month. Others offer regular discounts to seniors 65 and up every day, year round.
Hotel accommodation can cost less if you choose one that offers senior's discounts, though some require prior registration as a senior (which you can do online) or CARP membership. Some hotels consider you a senior from age 55, and offer additional frills and conveniences such as room upgrades, late check-in and late check-out.
You can get up to 25% off the lowest car rental rate at participating vendors - again with CARP membership - as well as discounts on public transit, Greyhound buses and railways. Many airlines (Canadian and otherwise) offer discounts to seniors over 65, and some to seniors as young as 60.
Prescription drugs, fast food, gym memberships, department stores and big box stores are all potential sources of savings for seniors.
Some Canadian universities offer free tuition to seniors for select courses, others for entire degree programs. Though you may have to claim it as a taxable benefit, it's a deal for seniors wanting to go back to school.
It helps to have a savvy neighbour like mine who tells you about them, but a good first step is to start paying closer attention than I have. Check out the vendor websites and see if they offer senior's discounts, in addition to your weekly mailbox or online store flyers. It's also good to get into the habit of asking, since many vendors don't advertise this information.
If you're shy about admitting your age in public, you can search more discreetly on blogs like The Balance and Save.ca, as well as the CARP website. Keep in mind the information may not be completely up-to-date.
Also, at purchase time the vendor may ask you for proof of age, so be sure to have your ID with you - and take the "carding" as a compliment!
You may want to go for as many of these deals while they're still available. With a growing senior population, many vendors might find it too costly to their bottom lines and could start to phase them out.