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Ask for travel & other discounts--you probably already qualify for some!

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Travel, auto, shopping, and many other discounts are often available to students, seniors, AAA members, military, government employees, corporate partners, union members and veterans. If you fit in to any of those categories – and most people do, particularly if you work for a big company – ask the travel supplier or employee benefits coordinator if they have a discount for you. Remember to bring proof of your eligibility when you check in. It costs nothing to ask!

Some discount programs require paid memberships, so you need to estimate whether you will get enough value out of the discounts they offer.  For example:
  • Veteran's Advantage program costs $40-60 per year, and offers discounts on Continental Airlines, Dunkin Donuts, Target, and many other retailers and travel companies.
  • AAA costs around $70 to join and includes roadside assistance such as towing, in addition to a wide range of savings. 
  • AARP is open to people aged 50 and over and costs around $16 or less per year (most people find that joining this program is a no brainer given the low costs).
We recommend reviewing the benefits of any program and doing some basic math to estimate if it will be worthwhile.  For example, if you anticipate spending $1,000 over the course of a year at participating merchants, and you will get 10% off of each, that's $100 in savings which more than pays for the membership.  For people who travel and/or shop at participating stores regularly, these programs often payback many times on your investment.

In some cases however, even if the discounts are greater than the membership cost, it still might not be worthwhile. Many of the partners that offer discounts through these programs will offer the same discounts through other programs as well (e.g., both AAA and AARP), and might offer the same discount to qualifying individuals without any program membership.  If you are considering joining a paid program mostly for one particular company's discount, then reach out to that company directly to see if you already qualify.  In that case it might not be worth the extra expense.

If you have more than one person in your family who can make use of the benefits, consider a family memberships which offers a big discount on a per-person basis.  You'll all get the discounts at a relative fraction of the joining cost.

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User Comments

posted by travelgurl (Contributor | 190 Points) on 03-08-2010 06:01 PM
you never know unless you try
it doesn't hurt to ask - the worst they can say is no!
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