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When not to take the senior discount

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Discounts can be 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 (Oakhill Press) 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 in an interview conducted by Athene. 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,” shares 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.
    Prescription drugs can be expensive — even with insurance — which is why many seniors may be tempted to buy discounted medications online from unreliable sources. But this is a case where the savings may not be 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 could be dangerous to your health.
  • Personal information is required to get the deal.
    This allows sellers to mine for information, such as your Social Security number or bank account information, that could leave you susceptible to fraud or theft. 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 reputable,” says Sam Niccolls, CEO of ConsumersAdvocate.org in an interview conducted by Athene.
  • 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,” shares 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.” The best way to help 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, you may want to avoid it.

Once you’ve reached retirement, enjoy the perks that come with it including opportunities to save money. Just keep these things in mind: remember not all offers are created equally. Watch the warning signs to make sure it’s legitimate before taking a discount. And be careful not to put your hard-earned retirement savings or personal information at risk.

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