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How to score discounts when shopping and eating out

Everyone loves a discount. And people of a certain age can snag one . . . by that we mean young and old. Students often qualify for a break, and so do senior citizens. Ages vary widely, but be sure to ask, even if the business doesn’t have a policy listed. And get ready to show some identification.

If you are not a student, you could get a break as a parent, because the money often comes out of your pocket anyway. Also ask about any other breaks you might be able to get as a member of some other group. Though there are many offers, here are notable ones to get you started saving money on your purchases.

Apparel and sporting goods. Ann Taylor and Banana Republic offer a 15 percent discount for full-priced purchases in stores when shown a college student ID. J.Crew and Madewell offer a 15 percent discount for in-store purchases when shown a college student ID. Teachers are also eligible. Eastern Mountain Sports has a 20 percent discount to college students for full-priced Eastern Mountain Sports brand items and a 15 percent discount for full-priced national brand items. Footlocker and Lady Footlocker have $10 off a purchase of $50 or more with a Student Advantage Discount Card. Students 16 and up are eligible for the card, which costs $22.50.

Food and entertainment. High school and college students are eligible to receive a discount card or a “Student Meal Deal” at participating Dairy Queen locations. Regal offers student discounts on select shows, times/dates, and locations. For requirements, contact your local theater. Select AMC theaters have “Student Day” every Thursday.

Electronics. Apple has education pricing online for college students or high school graduates anticipating the start of college. Parents buying for college students are also eligible. The Sony Education Store offers online discounts of up to 10 percent for college students. Students must first register with Sony. Lenovo’s online Academic Purchase Program offers college students and those in grades K through 12 discounts on laptops, tablets, and desktop computers.  

Cell-phone service. Consumer Cellular, which we’ve rated tops, offers AARP members voice plans starting at $9.50 per month, and text and data plans for as little as $2.38 per month.

Clothing and department stores. At Kohl’s, a 15 percent discount is available every Wednesday for those at least 60. Belk offers a discount to those 55 and up on the first Tuesday of every month.

Craft supplies. Michaels stores grant AARP members 10 percent off every day.

Eating out. Expect a break at many lower-priced and midpriced chains. Some give discounts only during off-peak hours or days.

Education. Colleges and universities often offer seniors low-cost and free classes. Go to osherfoundation.org for the names of participating institutions.

Glasses. Pearle Vision offers AARP members 30 percent off a complete pair of glasses and up to 20 percent off contacts.

Groceries. Some supermarket chains shave off 5 percent, usually on one day of the week. On Tuesdays, for example, shoppers 55 and up get 5 percent off purchases of $30 or more at A&P, SuperFresh, and Waldbaums.

Hotels. A 10 percent hotel discount is the norm for older guests. The discount might require an AARP affiliation. Without that affiliation, the discount kicks in based on age. At Best Western, it’s 55; at Choice Hotels (Quality Inn, Comfort Inn, Clarion, and other brands), it’s 60; and at LaQuinta, it’s 65.

This article appears in the October 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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