We put together a military discount guide to help service members save money. You’ll find step-by-step details below.
1. Scout out savings everywhere
All different types of businesses offer military discounts as a way to thank you (and sometimes your dependents) for your service and deployments. You can find military specials at retailers, restaurants, hotels and theme parks, to name a few.
“I’ve come to learn that almost anybody has a discount that they’re willing to offer as long as you ask,” says Ashley Dixon, certified financial planner, associate planner at Gen Y Planning.
You may be able to secure military-specific deals on monthly expenses, such as your cell phone bill and car insurance.
Dixon, who is also a military spouse, advises looking for less-obvious discount opportunities, too. For example, you may be able to secure military-specific deals on monthly expenses, such as your cell phone bill and car insurance.
To find these, you can do a Google search for “military discount,” plus a specific product, service or business. Dixon also recommends leaning on your social media network since your friends will likely be willing to share any good military deals they’ve uncovered.
2. Always ask
Whether you’re active-duty military or a veteran, a range of discounts are available to you. But, as Dixon mentioned, you have to request them.
“My own experience with military discounts is it never hurts to ask for them,” George Reilly, CFP, the principal of Safe Harbor Financial Advisors of Virginia and Rhode Island, said via email.
It’s important to ask because, as Reilly points out, some places don’t advertise these discounts. He recalls a time when someone in front of him at a movie theater asked for a discount and was told the theater did indeed offer one. So he also asked and showed his ID.
In fact, most of the time they’re not listed, according to Lacey Langford, an Air Force veteran. “It’s not like there’s a sign that says ask for a military discount,” she says.
3. Arm yourself with proof
Keep some sort of military identification with you because you’ll likely need to show it in order to get a discount applied.
Some offers are available in store only. But many retailers will honor military discounts online, too. Online verification can be instantaneous, says Angela Modzelewski, senior marketing specialist at SheerID, a company that provides digital verification.
You’ll usually need to answer a few simple questions to verify your status, including your name, branch of service and date of birth.
If a retailer doesn’t honor discounts online, Dixon recommends looking into alternative methods. For example, try chatting with the company online to see if you can call and place an order over the phone.
4. Anticipate exceptions
Even when a military discount is available, don’t limit yourself to that deal. Say a store offers a year-round 20% military discount. The same retailer may also have a limited-time 30% off coupon. If you can’t stack both, it would be better to use the coupon instead of the military discount.
Other exceptions to look out for? Blackout dates and limited availability. For example, discounted military rates are available at Disneyland Resort Hotels, but the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.
Some businesses host seasonal promotions that are available only around holidays like Memorial Day or Veterans Day. Langford says restaurants commonly offer a free meal to military members on Veterans Day, for instance.
5. Bolster your budget
Discounts can absolutely make a difference in your monthly budget, according to Dixon. After all, spending mindfully can help you hold on to more of your money.
Keep track of the amount you save with your military status. You could funnel that cash into savings. Or, you can spend newfound money on leisure.
Langford says it’s better to ask for a discount and risk hearing no than to not ask for one. If you do get it, that’s extra money in your pocket.