If you are a veteran of the armed forces, you are entitled to a lot of discounts that are provided to you as a “thank you” for your service. You should reap the benefits of these discounts to save money, but first you need to know how to find them. Often, companies do not publicize these discounts through commercials or signs, so there is no way to know unless you ask.
A good idea is to place a sticker note on your bank card (or cash pocket) to remind yourself to ask about veteran discounts. You will be pleasantly surprised at how many stores offer them! It is just a matter of asking. If they do not offer a discount for vets, they may consider adding one in the future because you inquired.
Veteran’s Day Discounts
Veteran’s Day is on November 11th of each year. It started as a holiday to remember the veterans of World War I, and has expanded to honor all veterans nationwide. On this day there are many discounts to be had for everyone, but especially veterans. Again, many discounts may not be advertised but are common practice, such as free coffee refills for vets at certain restaurants. Some notable Veterans Day discounts that have become popular knowledge in recent years include:
- Military discount at Lowes and Home Depot
- Special rates at certain hotel chains
- Free admission to Anheuser-Busch parks
- Free meal at Applebee’s
- Free admission at all national parks and monuments (for vets and non-vets too)
These are just a few examples of what is available to you. There are many others to be had nearly everywhere in the country.
Veteran’s Advantage Club
Programs are available around the country that allow veterans to enroll and be notified of discounts in various avenues. These discounts take many forms and with your Veterans Advantage Club card, you can even gain access to discounts that are not always afforded other veterans. With a membership, you can gain access to products and services that are partnered with the club, and enjoy discounts as part of the club.
These discount opportunities include prescription drug discounts, travel booking service discounts, global travel protection services, discounted insurance protection, and other reductions. This is however, a company that makes revenue through a membership, which is an annual fee. One of the concerns that veterans have when purchasing a savings card is that they are afraid they won’t get the value out of it. Try and get this card when they are offering a special, such as a three-year membership rate as opposed to the regular price for a one year membership.
Federal discounts can be had from various branches of the national government. While most of these branches fall under the Department of Defense, there are dollars to be saved from the Departments of Agriculture, Labor, Commerce, Homeland Security, and Transportation.
These discounts are offered by Congress after being budgeted into the national fiscal policies, and often funded tax dollars that are set aside every year. In order to attain benefit discounts from the government, they will need to determine what your status and your situation is. All of the discounts offered by the various federal branches will be gained through an eligibility process. For most of the other discounts outside of the federal ones there will be little to no paperwork.
Going after federal discounts all by yourself is going to take a lot of valuable time and energy. There are applications and paperwork that you must go through to get discounts on anything from office supplies, diapers, utilities, education expenses, storage, groceries, and much more. If you qualify, you will save massive amounts of money.
As a veteran, you have a powerful resource at your disposal – a local VA representative. The VA is not only a medical organization to get hospital care, but a place to be your advocate for all things that you need.
State discounts can also be had from different departments and branches of your government. First, research the types of discounts for military veterans that are offered in the state that you live in. You can gain information and access to the discounts by searching online through the state’s website.
Local discounts depend on geography and will allow you to pay cheap prices on goods and services that can be found in your immediate area. These discounts are often offered by small businesses that are supporting the veterans in their area. Many times you will have to provide proof that you are a veteran, such as a military ID.
Perhaps the best way of learning about the discounts that can be found throughout your city, county, or state is through networking with other veterans. Ask if they know of any veteran discounts that might be helpful to you and you can share any discounts you know of with them. Coupons, on the other hand, might state right on them that veterans will receive discounts, and these can often be found at locations just outside of bases or installations. Local newspapers also feature coupons with discounts, and these can be subscribed to regularly.
Non-profit organizations usually have the biggest discounts and the nicest services and products offered to veterans. Mostly, because these discounts are usually 100% discounts – free!
The United Service Organization (USO) is far and away the leader in veteran discounts around the world, and the discounts include a number of specialized services. You can find the best help and discounts by going through the USO.
You can also find military non-profit discounts by searching IRS.gov for institutions and companies in your area of a non-profit nature.
What kind of discount can I get from a non-profit?
Non-profits come in all shapes and sizes. Many times a non-profit will sell goods or services and apply that money to other goods and services. For example, a non-profit may sell clothing or teach threading classes where all financial proceeds go toward giving away clothes to veterans in need. If you are veteran and not in need of clothes, you can most likely buy their inventory or attend their classes at a discounted price because you are the reason they are doing what they are doing in the first place.
If you want to find out if you can attain a discount from a non-profit organization, the best way to find one is through your local chamber of commerce. They will have a list of all the local non-profits in your area and contact information.
A commercial discount is generally identified as a discount offered by a large company or franchise. The best thing about shopping at these large stores is that they are generally military-friendly. They will either have partnerships with discount cards (like Veterans Advantage Club) or simply offer discounts right at the register with just your word.
Some of these large stores may give you an obstacle when trying to receive a discount. They may claim that they only give the discount to active duty personnel or federal employees. As a veteran, you are a federal employee whether you know it or not for four years after your discharge—you just don’t earn a salary anymore. The reason for this is that even though you have been discharged from active duty, you are still under a legal obligation to the federal government for four years after your discharge. This is called “inactive reserve duty.” If the store questions you, bring in your discharge papers.
This one area of discounts is greater in number than the federal, state, non-profit, and local discounts combined. That is, if you take the initiative and let the store know that you are a veteran.
How to get the most of your Discounts
- Search the website of your specific military branch.
- Search websites of many Department of Defense offices and separate branches to find discounts that they offer.
- Search the website or call the departments within your state to obtain discounts.
- Go out on Veteran’s Day to find discounts almost anywhere for you and your family.
- Contact the United Service Organization (USO) for the best and most often used discounts.
- Network with other veterans in your area to find the best and unadvertised discounts in your city or state.
- Enroll in veteran and military forums where others are actively searching for discounts.
- Look up veteran-owned businesses that are in your area or online which could possibly offer savings on purchases.
- Join a savings club and obtain a veteran discount card where you can apply your membership code to save on purchases.
- Every time you buy a product or service, always ask if they offer a veteran discount.
- Ask your financial institution if they have programs for veterans and the best way to save on transactions.
- Contact your local commissary or PX store and see what regulations they have with shopping there as a veteran.
All of these discounts will allow you to live out the post-military life that you desire by saving you money and getting you free access to meals, lodging, services, and products.
Here are some discount websites: