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Military members and their families make multitudes of sacrifices every day to keep our freedoms and values safe. Sometimes, a simple thank you just isn’t enough to appropriately convey gratitude for their duty and service. Luckily, many retailers offer tremendous discounts and pro deals to members of the armed forces, and it’s important to research your options so you can take advantage of the best military discounts.
When it comes to military discounts, one of your best options is joining ExpertVoice. You can find discounts and deals that reward you for sharing your expertise with others. You’ll be able to team up with top brands and provide valuable feedback on a broad range of products and gear. Thousands of people are already taking part in the ExpertVoice community, but your voice is missing. Signing up is quick and easy — join ExpertVoice today and let your voice be heard.
The military discounts offered by many businesses are open to all active duty members. This typically includes those on active reserve and those serving in the National Guard. However, many of these discounts may have restrictions. Some military discounts don’t include veterans. Other discounts may not include family members. It’s important to find out exactly who qualifies for a particular discount before you assume that veterans or family members are eligible to receive a particular discount. Many retailers also offer special discounts to veterans as well on holidays designed to honor veteran service – like Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day.
Some military discounts are specific to particular locations, so make sure to check whether a discount offered by one location will work elsewhere. If you’re dealing with a franchise, be aware that most franchises leave discount offers to the discretion of the local owner. Discounts can also vary by state. These types of discounts include special offers from merchants, such as restaurants, hotels, golf courses, local services, and sporting or other entertainment events. You’ll have to check with individual local vendors to find out what kind of military discount – if any – they offer since they aren’t necessarily following a corporate standard.
Local discounts are typically confined to brick and mortar locations of various businesses. A simple online search can usually help you find available local military discounts for your particular area. Or, you can call ahead or simply ask when you get to your location to find out for sure whether any type of military service discount is offered.
Many online retailers offer military discounts. In order to verify your military status, these online retailers may partner with military discount sites like ID.me, Troop ID or SheerID, which allow you to register and upload documents proving your military service affiliation. Once your account is created and your documents uploaded, a variety of companies can access them in order to verify your military service history – and you can access a multitude of available discounts across a wide range of product and service categories. A quick online search can lead you to several different resources that catalog websites and online retailers that can offer you tremendous savings.
The American Legion, for example, is often a reliable resource for finding military discounts and special offers – both online and in-person. Some online discounts might be tied to membership in an organization like USAA, Veterans Advantage, or VFW. These memberships may come with fees, but if you use the discounts often enough, they might offset what you pay in fees.
You can find online military discounts on products and services as varied as travel, clothing, outdoor and adventure gear, tickets for entertainment, and more. And if you’re interested in how to get pro deals and special discounts that go beyond the ordinary, you can also check out a program like ExpertVoice, which offers deep discounts on products and gear. In addition to receiving pro deals, you can share your knowledge and expertise with others.
Military discounts are all over the map, so don’t expect any kind of consistency, even within a particular industry – or even within the same parent company. Often, individual companies are free to set their own level of military discount – even if a parent or corporation has a formal military discount policy. For example, you might see some hotels offering a standard percentage off the regular rate, while others offer a standard military rate, no matter the season or occupancy level. In addition, corporations with franchisees often leave specific discount opportunities up to individual stores or locations.
Just because a military discount is advertised doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best deal you can get. Make sure to do your research to make sure there’s not another sale, coupon, or promotion that can actually save you more money. Depending on the type of offer you’re considering, don’t be afraid to ask whether there’s another discount that’s more favorable – or even if the company will price match if you’re able to find a better deal somewhere else.
Especially when it comes to big-ticket items like flights, hotels, etc., you may be able to find a better offer by shopping around. Websites like Kayak, Hopper, and Expedia are good resources for finding general discounts that you can then compare to what’s being offered as a special military discount.
You should never feel shy about asking a merchant if they offer a discount for military members. Many companies may offer such a discount without advertising it. If you don’t see a specific military discount advertised, don’t necessarily assume that it doesn’t exist.
Don’t be afraid to ask about a military discount — you might be pleasantly surprised. Not every merchant will be in a position to extend a military service discount, but it’s worth asking.
Pro tip: If you ask for a military discount on a military-focused holiday like Veterans Day or Memorial Day, you may be more likely to receive a positive answer. In addition, some retailers offer special pricing and discounts only on those days.
Depending on whether you’re making your purchase in-store or online, you may simply be asked to show a valid military ID, or you may be required to submit specific paperwork in order to receive your military discount. There is no standard way to prove military service, so the types of ID a merchant will accept is completely up to them. But to follow are some of the most widely accepted forms of valid military service identification that you can use for an in-store purchase:
- Military/Dependent ID card – if you’re still on active duty, this may be the easiest way to prove your military status
- Veteran ID card
- Active Duty ID card
- Department of Defense Common Access Card
- Guard/Reserve Military ID card
- Retiree Military ID card
In addition, if you’re required to submit additional ID, you should be able to gain approval with any of the following:
- State driver’s license with veteran designation
- DD Form 214
- Discharge paperwork
- VA Health Care card
- VA issued ID card
- Veterans organization card (DAV, American Legion, VFW, etc.)
And don’t forget that if you need to, you can request a free copy of your DD Form 214 from the National Archives.
Sometimes, the discounts and special offers that companies extend to active duty military will also extend to veterans – but sometimes they don’t. Many stores and service providers will also extend discounts to veterans around holidays like Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Make sure to do your homework so you clearly understand the terms of the military discount being offered.
Perhaps the most meaningful discounts on life-changing services for veterans come through the GI Bill of Rights. Through the GI Bill, which many consider to be America’s most significant piece of legislation, veterans can have their college tuition completely paid – up to the highest level of in-state tuition for their particular state. The GI Bill also provides for book stipends and living allowances. This can help veterans save thousands of dollars when they take advantage of the program.
The level of benefits a veteran receives is determined by the length of military service – any veteran who served for at least 90 days is eligible for some level of benefit, and those who served at least 36 months qualify for the full amount of maximum benefit. Educational programs include traditional college courses, including two-year and four-year degrees, master’s degree programs, flight training, vocational/technical training, certifications, licensing, national testing, and more.
As an active duty or retired member of the military, you can expect to save money with discounts in several different consumer areas. We’ve gathered a few below to help you get started on finding the discounts that make the most sense for you and your family.
Cell Phone Services
Many major carriers offer special military discounts that extend to usage plans, new phones, and more. Big names ranging from Sprint and T-Mobile to AT&T and Verizon have special programs designed to benefit military families. It’s not uncommon for veterans also to be eligible for many cell phone military service discounts – just make sure to check with the individual provider. Be aware that you may have to sign a service contract in order to be eligible for discounts. You may need to resubmit your verification paperwork every 24 months or so.
The one caveat is that corporate policies change often, so you’ll want to make sure to check with the individual provider on the specific terms of the military discount. If you’re at an in-store location and the sales representative doesn’t have knowledge of a military discount program, it’s always appropriate to politely ask to speak to a manager. A supervisor should be well-versed in any special military discount programs.
You should carefully compare offers across several providers. Don’t automatically assume that your current provider will automatically give you the best discount. A large enough discount may be a good reason to switch carriers.
Thousands of restaurants across the country offer some level of military discount, but these discounts can vary widely. Even if the restaurant belongs to a franchise, the individual discount offer is left up to the franchisee. Many restaurant chains offer free meals to active duty military and veterans on Veterans Day, while others offer discounted meals for active military personnel throughout the year. These everyday discounts can range anywhere from 5 to 25 percent. When in doubt, you can always ask a manager to find out whether a particular restaurant offers a military discount.
In general, travel is a huge expense, but there are many travel-related merchants that offer military discounts on flights, hotels, car rentals, and more. Most major airlines offer some level of military flight discounts, but you may not always be able to find them advertised on their sites or be able to grab them online. You’ll usually have to call the airline and speak directly to their customer service department in order to have your discount honored. In addition to lower-priced flights, many airlines also offer additional perks, such as waived baggage fees and priority boarding.
You may find that some military travel discounts are valid only for armed forces members traveling on orders, and they are usually calculated as a flat-rate percentage off a full-price ticket. That means that a military discount may not be the best way to save the most money on your trip. You can always ask the airline if there are additional available discounts, or you might try a site like Kayak, Hopper or Expedia to help you find a lower rate.
Some sites like Priceline, Booking.com, Expedia, and Travelocity also offer special military pricing, so you may get a better deal finding a flight through one of those sites than booking your ticket directly through the airline. You’ll want to do the research and compare to find out which option gives you the better fare. If you prefer traveling by rail, Amtrak also offers a 10 percent discount for active duty personnel traveling with their families.
In addition to flights, you can also typically find military hotel discounts with most hotel chains. Keep in mind, though, that on-site discounts are up to the discretion of each individual property owner, so don’t expect a lot of consistency in the discounts offered. You may have to ask about a military discount if you don’t see one advertised.
Many rental car companies also have special discounts or special military rates. While these discounts apply anytime you’re traveling on orders, they can often be applied to personal travel as well. Again, the decision rests with the local owner or operator of the rental company.
If you’re looking for a substantial military travel discount, take your time and plan carefully. If you’re traveling on orders, you can always check on whether your unit has access to special travel deals. For personal travel, you need to do some legwork to find out what options are available to you.
In order to keep the men and women of America’s armed forces looking their best, major hair salon chains like Supercuts and Great Clips offer everyday discounts for military personnel, along with free haircuts for active duty military and veterans on Veterans’ Day.
Many retailers and venues across the country will support active duty, retired military personnel, and veterans when it comes to everything they need to prepare for a wedding. You can find a wide range of jewelry stores, for example, that offer military discounts on engagement rings. Plus you’ll see retailers support military discounts on everything from shoes to dresses – and some wedding venues will offer discounts or even offer their locations for military weddings at no cost.
Name Brand Consumer Products
The ability to get military discounts on a wide variety of brand name consumer merchandise is almost unlimited. This is another place where a community like ExpertVoice can be helpful. Rather than tracking down each company’s individual discount offer, you can join ExpertVoice and see the deals all in one convenient place. ExpertVoice will pair you with the brands that match your interests and expertise, so it’s easy to find the items you want. Just a small selection of expert brands include Bass Pro, Eddie Bauer, Oakley, Callaway Golf, Old Navy, Nike, Yeti, Columbia, and Under Armour. Under Armour, in particular, is well known for its longtime support of military personnel, offering a special military discount of 10% on both online and in-store purchases.
Eyewear can be a major expense, but many eyeglass stores support our nation’s armed forces members with discounts for both service members and military families. You can find special discounts on sunglasses through a variety of retailers like Ray-Ban and Oakley – plus discounts on contact lenses and eyeglasses through merchants like AC Lens, Glasses.com, EyeBuyDirect, and Eyemart Express.
Attractions and Theme Parks
As a member of the military community, you can find discounted admission tickets to various attractions and theme parks across the country. This includes movie theaters like Cinemark and IMAX, plus major theme parks and attractions like Ripley’s Museums and Attractions, Sea World, Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens, and more. You can even get a military discount on cruises – you just have to call and speak with a representative and submit appropriate paperwork for verification. You may also be able to find discounts on events like concerts and major sporting events through vendors like Ticketmaster. A quick visit to an attraction’s website can provide discount details or may direct you to contact customer service.
Computers and Electronics
Many big-name electronics retailers, such as Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Samsung, Best Buy, Epson, Garmin, and Hewlett Packard, offer special discounts for military members, including savings of up to 30 percent on some products. Products can range from laptops and desktop computers to a variety of business software – like ConstantContact or Quickbooks, for example. Most electronics discount programs require you to sign up ahead of time in order to verify military status, and you can expect to see a wide range of discounts within this category.
Cars, Trucks, and Automotive Expenses
Ford, GM, Toyota, Suzuki, BMW, Jeep, and other major auto manufacturers have been known to offer special vehicle pricing programs for active duty and retired military personnel, and some of those benefits also extend to veterans. In addition, many companies that offer automotive services also extend special discounts to armed forces personnel that can be as high as 20%. Some of these include well-known names like AutoZone, Firestone, Jiffy Lube, and Midas. Harley Davidson also offers special military financing—including no down payment and flexible rates.
In addition to the GI Bill, which helps U.S. veterans pay for college tuition, many colleges and universities offer their own discounts, fee waivers, and special pricing for members of the armed forces and military families. This can help save thousands of dollars, so it’s worth inquiring with any college or university about whether they have special programs for active duty military, veterans, and their families.
Gyms and Health Clubs
You can find special military discounts at many different health clubs and gyms across the country. Fitness and health is often a key priority for both active duty and retired military personnel, and a discount makes it easier to prioritize wellness. Gold’s Gym, for example, offers varying levels of discount, depending on the particular location, as long as you can show a valid military ID. You may be able to save up to 20% off monthly dues, along with enjoying special rates for activation fees. YMCA clubs across the country also offer special memberships, which often include child care, in areas where service men and women are currently deployed. You can check your local YMCA’s website to find out whether they participate in military discounts.
And it never hurts to ask at your local gym – while a national franchise may not support a military discount at the corporate level, individual owners often participate at a local level. If you have a favorite local gym or health club, don’t hesitate to ask whether they would honor a military discount.
One of the best perks for military personnel may be the special deals on various financial products. For example, a VA loan is one of the best ways to qualify for a home mortgage and may help save thousands of dollars with its typically low interest rates. Plus, military personnel and veterans are eligible for a wide variety of other financial services and products, ranging from tax services and insurance coverage to checking and savings accounts.
After all, many financial institutions recognize the fact that military families have unique financial needs. They may move frequently, live overseas, or have a history of multiple addresses that can make banking complicated. Some financial institutions are uniquely designed to meet the needs of military families, and many institutions can help simplify the process of managing your finances.