When not to take the senior discount

Finances

The discounts are one of the great perks of reaching retirement age. Seniors are often entitled to reduced rates on everything from airfare, cell phone plans, and car rentals to movie tickets, hotels rooms, and restaurant meals.

Most of the time, taking advantage of these deals is worth it. However, Art Koff, author of Invent Your Retirement and founder of RetiredBrains.com, cautions that special prices should be reviewed carefully to ensure they really offer the bargains promised. “Some do come with strings attached, such as restrictions on the times or days they can be used,” says Koff. Unfortunately, seniors can also be the targets of scams that use discounts as a lure.

Next time you’re tempted to take a deal, look out for these warning signs to be sure it’s truly worth your while.

  • There are restrictions on when the discount can be used.
    “Certainly, take the discount if you are entitled to it, but realize that you are probably going to be inconvenienced a bit,” says Koff. Travel discounts, for example, often come with restrictions. Depending on the airline, those could include only offering the senior discount on certain routes or having blackout travel dates. The other hassle? These senior rates are typically not offered online, so you’ll have to call the airline directly to take advantage of them. 
  • The discount is on medication.
    Almost 9 out of 10 people age 60 and older take at least one prescription medication, and 37 percent use five or more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prescription drugs are expensive — even with insurance — which is why many seniors are tempted to buy discounted medications online from unreliable sources. But this is a case where the savings are not worth the risk. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that some medicines sold online are fake, too strong or weak, have dangerous ingredients, or aren’t FDA approved—and all of these differences can be dangerous to your health.
  • Personal information is required to get the deal.
    This allows sellers to mine for information that could leave you susceptible to fraud or theft, such as your Social Security number or bank account information. When a consumer is asked for personal information from a company, they should first ask themselves why the company needs that information, then they should make sure the company in question is highly reputable,” says Sam Niccolls, CEO of ConsumersAdvocate.org
  • It sounds too good to be true.
    The old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” applies when it comes to discounts. Niccolls urges caution especially when purchasing services that offer rock‑bottom prices. “The home security market is a good example of this,” says Niccolls. “You might be offered an unbelievable deal to have a system installed in your home, only to discover after the fact that the company provides questionable customer service when a call for help is received.” Over‑the‑top moving deals are another one to be wary of, as rogue movers may offer super‑cheap prices upfront and then hold your processions hostage while demanding additional payments. The best way to avoid these discount scams is to do your homework before committing to a service. Get price quotes from a few reputable companies and if the discount seems impossibly good, avoid it. 

This information is brought to you by Athene — where unconventional thinking brings innovative annuity solutions to help make your retirement dreams a reality.

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