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Discount Diva: Senior discounts to help you travel, eat and text for less

Samantha Christmann

Getting older. It’s a kick in the pants, right?

Well, as they say, it sure beats the alternative.

And studies have shown that there are surprising benefits to aging. We get more comfortable in our skin, more empathetic and more emotionally stable as we age.

Of course, there are the senior discounts. And if you have AARP, flashing your card will snag you even more.

Here are just a few price breaks that may brighten up your life.

Cruise ships. Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines offer discounts on select sailings for passengers age 55 or older. It can result in hundreds of dollars in savings. Additional cruisers in the same cabin also usually get a special rate. The discounts aren’t available on every cruise package or every cabin, but your chances of landing one increase the closer you get to the cruise date. Cruise lines tend to offer senior (and other) discounts to sweeten the pot when they haven’t been able to sell out all of a ship’s cabins.

Norwegian Cruise Lines doesn’t advertise senior discounts but they may be available through a travel agent.

Airlines. United, American and Southwest Airlines said they sometimes offer special rates to travelers age 65 and older on certain flights and seats if you ask by phone when booking. Just check the senior rate against the regular rate to make sure it’s really the best price.

Cellphones. Most wireless carriers offer special cellphone plans for seniors or discounts on accessories. T-Mobile, for example, has a special plan for customers age 55 and older who sign up for autopay. They get two lines for $70 per month, including taxes and fees. It comes with unlimited talk, text and LTE data plus texting and data in 210 countries abroad, unlimited entertainment streaming and in-flight texting plus one hour of data on certain flights.

But don’t assume that just because something is designated a “senior plan” it’s your best bet.

For example, AT&T offers something called “Senior Nation” for $29.99 per month, which reminds me of the kinds of nickel-and-dime-you-to-death plans we used to have in the 1990s. It offers 200 “anytime minutes,” 500 weekend minutes, charges 45 cents for each additional minute, and doesn’t work on smartphones or tablets.

If you’re a regular cellphone user, you’d probably be better off with something else. And if you don’t talk a lot, you might just be better off with a prepaid plan or a pay-as-you-go phone.

Restaurants. Senior discounts are so prevalent at restaurants, you should never dine out without asking if they offer one. Can’t hurt to ask, right? Participation varies by location, so call ahead, but freebies and discounts are offered by Arby’s, Applebee’s, Bonefish Grill, Burger King, Carabba’s, Chili’s, Dairy Queen, Denny’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Friendly’s, IHOP, KFC, McDonald’s, Mrs. Field’s Cookies, Outback Steakhouse, Ponderosa Steakhouse and Wendy’s.

National parks. Probably the best perk of all, seniors 62 and older can buy a lifetime America the Beautiful pass to visit every single national park free whenever they want for just $80.

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