It is said that wisdom comes with age. If so, one smart thing people 50 and older can do is seek out -- and ask for -- senior discounts when eating out. Not all restaurants offer them, but at those that do, diners can save between 5 and 25 percent, receive free food or drinks, or order from a reduced-price menu. Although the amount saved can be small, it can make a difference to people on a fixed budget.
Age 50 and Up
The required age for receiving "senior" discounts varies with restaurants. A few, such as Steak and Shake and Krispy Kreme, give discounts to folks 50 and older. Most restaurants that specify an age, however, require that diners are 55, 60 or 65 to receive the discount. Those that give a discount for AARP members, however, are in effect giving the discount to those 50 and up, since that's the minimum age for AARP membership. People must first join AARP -- which costs $16 for a one-year membership as of 2015 -- and show their membership card to receive the discount.
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10 Percent Off
The most common discount is 10 percent off of food and beverages, excluding alcohol. McCormick and Schmick, Chart House, Landry's, Taphouse, Rosarios, Rainforest Café, Minervas and Kahills all offer 10 percent discounts with the AARP membership card. Burger King, Boston Market, Ben and Jerry's, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Cici's, El Pollo Loco, Golden Corral, Subway, TCBY, Wendy's, White Castle, Shoney's, Sonic and Sweet Tomatoes also offer a 10 percent discount with proof of age.
15 to 25 Percent Off
A few restaurants give slightly larger discounts to seniors. Outback Steakhouse gives a 15 percent discount to seniors every day. Jack in the Box offers 20 percent off. And Papa John's Pizza gives a 25 percent discount to those who order online and enter the code AARP25 at checkout.
Some restaurants, such as KFC, give a free drink instead of a discount. Others -- such as Chick-fil-A, Popeye's and Sonic -- offer patrons a choice of discount or free drink. Arby's offers either a 10 percent discount or a discount on a drink, while Taco Bell gives a 5 percent discount or a free drink. Einstein Brothers Bagels offers 10 percent off a baker's dozen of bagels. Dunkin Donuts gives a free donut to a senior who buys a large beverage.
In most restaurants, you'll have to ask for the discount to receive it. You won't receive it automatically. And be prepared to show a photo ID that gives your age, and your AARP card if you're required to present it to secure the savings.
Special menus just for seniors -- typically those 55 and up -- are provided at restaurants such as Denny's, IHop and Country Kitchen. Portions may be somewhat smaller, but the prices are smaller, too. A few have both a senior menu and a 15 percent discount.
Some chain restaurants, such as Appelbee's and McDonald's, offer senior discounts only at participating locations, leaving the decision up to each franchisee. Be sure to ask about the discount before you order rather than assume every location offers a discount.