By LINDA COMINS, For Prime Times
In addition to maturity and respect, there are other benefits that await older boomers and seniors.
A pleasant surprise for folks turning a certain age is the fact that many businesses want to give them discounts or special deals, in order to retain or attract their patronage. These discounts are offered by a wide range of businesses, from restaurants to movie theaters and several services in between.
The age at which discounts apply varies from business to business. For some merchants, discounts are restricted to people who are 65 or older.
Other discounts are offered to consumers at age 60. Special treats for slightly younger boomers are the discounts that take effect with earning ‘’double nickel’’ status, i.e., at age 55.
An interesting psychological study could be done regarding how people react to ‘’senior discounts.’’ Some people are embarrassed when offered a discount or offended that a store employee would consider them ‘’old.’’ Other folks, though, welcome the discounts and special deals, with an attitude of ‘’If someone wants to give me a discount, I’ll take it’’ or ‘’’I’ve earned this special status, so I’m going to enjoy it.’’
For boomers and seniors, it pays to read the newspaper advertisements and inserts and to pay attention to signs in stores because a discount may be available. At a time when income is diminishing and expenses are rising, a discount or a special benefit can make a big difference in one’s spending power. A simple ‘’night out’’ can be less costly with discounts on meals and entertainment. Necessities can be purchased with greater ease if a merchant offers a senior discount.
Even if the feature film is a ‘’weeper,’’ seniors have reason to smile when they head to area movie theaters. Carmike Cinemas, with screens at the Ohio Valley Mall, St. Clairsville, and Fort Steuben Mall, Steubenville, provide reduced-price admission ($3 off) for movie-goers, age 55 and older. Marquee Cinemas, located at The Highlands in Ohio County, offer reduced-price admission ($3 off) for film buffs, age 62 and older.
To satisfy older appetites and wallets, some fast-food restaurants offer discounts or special deals (for example, a free or reduced-price beverage, or a special price for particular combo meals) to seniors. Age restrictions vary by chain; look for signs in the eateries, or be bold and ask for details of senior discounts. A number of chain restaurants, including Perkins and Eat ‘n’ Park, have special menus for customers, age 55 and older, offering particular meals with smaller portions at a lower price.
After being fortified with a hearty, and reduced-price, meal, many boomers and seniors like to head out for some serious shopping. Senior discounts also can be found at some retail operations. For instance, Elder-Beerman, which operates a department store in the Ohio Valley Mall, offers senior discount days periodically, most recently on Wednesday, Feb. 24. For that one-day sale, shoppers, age 55 and older, who have an Elder-Beerman credit card, can save 10, 15 or 20 percent off selected merchandise. Shoppers in that age range who use any other form of payment can save an additional 15 percent on specified merchandise. Some drugstores and even a few supermarkets offer discounts or special deals for seniors on specific days; check with the stores for details.
Membership in organizations such as AARP can provide discounts for members, age 50 and older, either through AARP-related services such as travel, auto and insurance, or at selected merchants. For example, Borders bookstores offer a discount to AARP cardholders.
Seniors in Ohio and West Virginia also can save money through offers connected to those states’ special card programs - the Golden Buckeye card and the Golden Mountaineer card, respectively.
Ohio Department of Aging officials stated, ‘’More than two million Ohioans are eligible for the Golden Buckeye card, honored at 20,000 businesses statewide. Golden Buckeye cardholders have saved an estimated $2 billion since 1976.’’
Locally, about 50 merchants in Jefferson County, approximately 55 businesses in Belmont County and about 18 merchants in Harrison County are listed on the Department of Aging’s Web site as Golden Buckeye program participants.
All Ohioans, age 60 and older, as well as adults, ages 18-59, who have disabilities as defined by Social Security, are eligible for a free Golden Buckeye Card.
Department of Aging officials explained that Ohio residents who hold current Ohio driver’s licenses or state identification cards automatically receive a Golden Buckeye card in the month of their 60th birthday. ‘’Individuals who do not have a current license or state ID, as well as people under age 60 who are eligible due to disability, or who otherwise do not receive their card automatically, may apply for a card at most public libraries and senior centers. Due to ID, age and disability (when appropriate) verification requirements, you cannot apply for a Golden Buckeye Card online or by phone,’’ officials stated.
Most participating merchants display the Golden Buckeye logo on their door, in their window or at the checkout. ‘’Look for it wherever you shop. If you don’t see it, ask if the business offers a discount for older customers,’’ Department of Aging officials said. ‘’Businesses that honor the Golden Buckeye card do so voluntarily and choose the savings they offer. Some offer a percentage off a total purchase, others offer special deals on certain products.’’
Merchants of all types (restaurants, retail, auto care, medical and others) from all over Ohio voluntarily offer special savings or deals for older Ohioans who carry the Golden Buckeye card.
Ohioans who are cardholders also are eligible for prescription drug savings. State officials said the Golden Buckeye card now includes the Ohio’s Best Rx prescription drug discount program.
Best Rx lowers the cost of prescriptions for Ohio residents who do not have drug insurance coverage for all drugs. Savings average 30-40 percent on prescriptions at more than 2,300 participating pharmacies.
Any Ohio resident, age 60 or older, is eligible, regardless of income; Ohioans can access the program immediately using their existing Golden Buckeye card.
Meanwhile, West Virginia residents, age 60 or older, are eligible for the Golden Mountaineer Discount Card. State officials said residents who have a valid West Virginia driver’s license or photo ID should automatically receive a card in the month after they turn 60.
Check with merchants to see if they honor the Golden Mountaineer Discount Card and, if so, under what conditions.
ONE?OF?the benefits of aging are the many discounts available for seniors to be found, from restaurants and travel agencies to insurance and other select reductions.