13 Things Retirees Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

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Growing older has its advantages. As time passes, you get a little wiser. After retiring, you have more free time to channel that wisdom into doing the things you enjoy.

Even better, all that fun often can be had at a steep discount. There are many ways for seniors to get cheap — and even free — entertainment and services.

Some of these offers are available based on age or income, while others are open to everyone — even those who have yet to reach their golden years.

Following are some things seniors can get for almost nothing.

Checking accounts

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Some banks offer checking accounts with special perks — such as free checks and no maintenance fees — just for retirees.

We recently detailed several examples of these accounts that are available at both traditional and online banks as well as credit unions in “3 Bank Accounts With Perks for Customers Age 55 and Older.”

Tax help

Senior taxes
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Few of us enjoy tax time. Tax laws are complex, leading to headaches and worries for many people who take a DIY approach to filing.

If you’d prefer to avoid that worry during retirement, consider turning to the federal government’s free Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program.

It offers help for older taxpayers, particularly those age 60 and above, with specialized assistance on questions regarding pensions and other retirement-related issues.

Medicare assistance

Senior health care
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As with taxes — or, frankly, anything else attached to the federal government — Medicare can be overwhelmingly complicated.

If you are lost at sea trying to navigate this federal health insurance program primarily reserved for seniors, consider turning to your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

As we detail in “6 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare,” SHIP offices provide complimentary health insurance benefit counseling for Medicare beneficiaries and their families or caregivers.

Prescription drugs

Senior prescription drugs
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Many seniors take a handful of prescription medications every day to keep disease at bay. The cost of such drugs can be high, so every bit of savings helps.

Medicare Part D coverage and most Medicare Advantage plans cover some prescription drug costs for seniors. But if you don’t qualify for Medicare or are simply looking for more opportunities to cut drug costs, see if you’re eligible for any prescription assistance programs.

You can learn more about them through these organizations and websites:

For more savings tactics available to people of any age or income level, check out:

Medical services

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While Medicare plans can vary as to what they cover and what they cost, all Medicare plans must cover certain medical services and other expenses. In fact, all plans must cover certain services in full — meaning people on Medicare pay no additional cost for those services.

These “freebies” include annual wellness visits, flu shots and certain other vaccines, and screenings like colonoscopies, for example.

Food and drinks at restaurants

Senior restuarant
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Scoring free food and beverages at restaurants can be tricky. Some restaurant chains offer senior freebies on a by-location basis. Others tend to be a bit tight-lipped about their price breaks.

We detail some in “8 Restaurant Chains With Discounts for Diners Age 50 or Older,” but the best way to discover these hidden freebies and discounts is to simply ask when you order.

Also, if you join a senior membership organization such as AARP, you’ll be entitled to a host of discounts at restaurants, among other places. Joining is not free, but the money you save from taking advantage of those discounts could easily exceed the cost of the membership.

Store discounts

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It’s not just restaurants that offer “senior” discounts to people as young as age 50. Shop at the right retailers and you can boost your savings considerably just by showing proof of your age.

In some parts of the country, there are even grocery store chains that still offer discounts of as much as 10% to shoppers age 55 or older.


Senior education
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It’s never too late to learn. Many colleges and universities offer free or heavily discounted classes to seniors.

Some of these programs are especially outstanding values, offering tuition-free courses for credit to people age 60 or older, as we illustrate in “10 Colleges That Offer Free Tuition for Seniors.” Theoretically, you could pursue a free degree this way.

Many other universities let seniors audit classes for free. This means they get all the education but — alas — do not receive credits toward a degree.

Tax breaks

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Retirees often are eligible for federal income tax breaks, like tax deductions and even tax credits — although many retirees overlook these opportunities to lower their tax bill.

For example, people age 65 and older who do not itemize their tax deductions generally are eligible for a larger standard deduction than younger taxpayers. That translates to a free reduction in the federal tax bill of eligible seniors.

Last year, it amounted to a $1,300-per-person (if married) or $1,600-per-person (if single) bump up from the usual standard deduction.

Many states also offer income tax breaks to older people. Pennsylvania, for example, generally does not tax the retirement income of retirees after they reach age 59½.

You can learn more about how your state taxes retirees in “How All 50 States Tax Your Retirement Income.”

Public transportation

Senior public transportation
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As we age, getting around can become a challenge. Eyesight and other physical issues might prevent us from driving, and taxi and ride-sharing services can be too expensive for anyone on a fixed income.

Luckily, many communities — such as Florida’s Miami-Dade County and the Illinois State Department of Aging — offer free transportation options to seniors. So, check with your city, county or state to find out if it offers a similar service.

Vacation discounts

outdoor exercise
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Free public transportation is just one example of the types of travel discounts that you can score after a certain age.

If you’re 50 or older, you are likely eligible for price breaks on everything from rental cars to cruise ships — not to mention hotel rooms.

Gym membership

Senior exercise
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You may be able to get a discounted or free gym membership through your health insurer, particularly if you’re 65 or older.

Some insurance plans — including some UnitedHealthcare plans, for example — offer savings on fitness club memberships as preventative care.

Some Medicare plans come with a SilverSneakers membership, which gives eligible seniors access to more than 16,000 gym and fitness center locations across the country.

Contact your insurance plan to find out if it offers SilverSneakers, or fill out the eligibility form at the SilverSneakers website.

Internet service

Senior internet
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If you use the internet for the basics — such as emailing friends and family, and occasionally surfing the web — there are options that can get you online for free.

For example, Juno offers 10 hours of free dial-up service each month. NetZero offers a similar package of 10 free hours.

To step up to broadband coverage, check out Consumer Action’s list of providers that offer lower-cost options to low-income households.

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