But if that insult can be forgiven, then you can expect to be rewarded -- with deep and far-reaching discounts on everything from cruises, rental cars, outlet mall shopping, hotel room rates, books, groceries and even meals at Denny's (and not necessarily that Early Bird Special, either).
Stemming from the cultural belief that our elders deserve respect -- and a lingering bottom-line belief that seniors may be the last ones standing with any discretionary dollars left to spend -- there are discounts targeting seniors with age qualifications ranging from 50 to 65. AARP, which offers an annual $16 membership to those 50 or older, is a great place to start, but it isn't the only place to find deals.
Here are some of our other favorites:
- Cruise lines generally lower their prices by 5% for those 55 or older. Another freebie worth pursuing is to let the booking agent know whether this is a special "senior" anniversary or birthday celebration cruise. It might only get you a candle on your cupcake and an embarrassing serenade by the crew, but some higher-end cruise lines send balloons to your cabin with a fruit basket and even a split of champagne.
- Rental car companies welcome seniors, sort of. On the one hand, they offer discounted rates on certain car models. But then they also raise their hackles (and sometimes their rates) for drivers over certain ages. While there are no age ceilings for car renters in the U.S., senior drivers in Europe are often precluded outright from jumping behind the rental wheel. Some rental locations in Denmark, for instance, cut you off at 80, but in Northern Ireland, some agencies won't rent to those older than 69. For a fuller listing of age cutoffs, check here.
- Books and nature. What, presumably, do retirees have more of that the rest of us lack? Time, says conventional wisdom. And what better use of it than reading? AARP members can show their card at any Borders, Borders Express or Waldenbooks and get a 10% discount on all paperbacks every day. For those who prefer more active pursuits, the National Park Service offers a senior lifetime pass for $10 that admits a carload of people per pass-holder.
- Most high-end outlet malls offer a discount at many of their mall shops just for proving that you're 50 or older. Often, you can just show the cashier a photo ID at checkout to get your discount. Among the finds: 25% off any pair of New Balance shoes (including those great, comfy walking shoes); Maidenform, Ann Taylor, Naturalizer and the Gap all offer discounts with minimum purchases or buy-one-get-one discounted. Be sure to check online for coupons first; some weekly specials are better than these.
- Clothing. Every day, Banana Republic offers seniors a 10% discount off their total order. You may have to ask for it and wait for the 20-something cashier to process the idea that women her mother's age like and wear Banana's clothes, but no one there has ever asked to see my drivers' license or proof of age -- something I find both disturbing and enlightening. Many Ross Dress-for-Less stores give 10% off to seniors on Tuesdays; check with your local retailer. And beginning August 6, Kohl's will offer shoppers age 60 and older savings of 15% on in-store purchases every Wednesday.
- Food. Ralphs, Southern California's largest grocery chain, offers those 60 and older a Senior Rewards Card, which saves shoppers $1 for every $10 spent on Ralph's private label products. Kellogg's gives seniors a coupon for a different cereal each month here. Check your favorite restaurants to see if discounts are given to seniors. Sizzler knocks 15% off the check to those who are 60 or older. Even McDonald's has gotten in on the act, offering seniors a 20% discount off most items; just don't try to order a Happy Meal -- those are intended for kids, and the discount won't apply.
According to statistics, someone in the U.S. turns 50 every seven seconds, making those over 50 the fastest-growing demographic. And if your seven seconds is quickly approaching, hopefully we've given you some reasons to look forward to it.