People join the military hoping that they can earn some money, get some vital experience, and, of course, serve their country. Many others hope to take advantage of the GI Bill, which allows them to finish their service and then have part of their college education paid for in return. Others hope that the word “veteran” will look good on a resume when they enter the civilian job world.
No matter the reason for enlisting, there are a number of benefits to military service, including many that may not be as well known. Here are five military discounts that people may not be aware of or may not know how to get access to.
- Education and Related Services
As mentioned, one of the big draws of military service is the ability to pay for college without needing to take out a lot of crippling loans to pay back after graduation. In addition to the GI Bill benefits, there are others that are helpful as well, including:
- Further tuition reductions at certain schools, including some online options for active duty and retired military members. Some of these reductions are extended to National Guard members and Reservists as well.
- Additional fees that might not be covered fully by the GI Bill can be waived or reduced at some schools. These include things like the cost of lab or tech fees.
- Discounts on certain necessary items such as computers and accessories. Specific computer programs that are required for classes may also be discounted.
- Healthcare Accessories and Services
Many people assume that military members and their families get “free” health care coverage, especially while they are active duty. That is not actually the case, and like civilians, there are varying levels of plans and coverage based on needs and what they can afford. There are also deductibles and copays that make looking for services and goods with discounts necessary. Here are some of the military discounts that might not be known:
- Discounts on things such as eye care products and glasses at certain retailers
- Deals on specialized eyewear, such as those that help with field vision at the shooting range or protective eyewear
- Reduced costs for over-the-counter and prescription medications
- Discounts on exams that might not be fully covered by the insurance plan. In some cases, it is cheaper and/or easier to see an out-of-network doctor and pay the cost yourself.
- Food, Fitness, Flowers, and More
Some stores only offer discounts on everyday items like groceries on holidays like Veterans Day. Others may offer discounts more frequently but do not advertise them. It never hurts to ask—you can even call the store ahead of time so that you know where you will be doing your shopping. Whether you shop online or in stores, always look for discounts that your service has earned.
- Some convenience stores have special military discounts and promotions, while others have regular discounts for military members.
- Many fitness centers and gyms offer discounted memberships for military members and their families. There may also be discounts on amenities offered there, such as childcare, special classes, and massage.
- Military members can send flowers to their loved ones when they are deployed with special discounts from a number of online services.
- Restaurants and Fast Food
Like the other discounts, some of these are well advertised, while others are not. Remember, it doesn’t hurt to ask about a discount—they may give it to you just because you asked even if it is not their policy. Some discounts are limited in terms of when they happen, and some are ongoing every day.
- Most restaurants have military appreciation events, including days where a percentage of the proceeds are donated to military causes and charities.
- Some places will offer automatic discounts if you are there in your uniform.
- Discounts can be as low as 10% and as high as 50%.
- Insurance Products
From auto to life to renters insurance, military members may get a number of discounts, including one for their service and more. In some cases, it might be difficult for a veteran or active duty member to get life insurance simply because of their military involvement. However, there are programs that provide coverage specifically geared toward these people.
- Most auto insurance providers do offer some type of military discount; however, these have to be specifically asked for.
- One insurance carrier, USAA (United Services Automobile Association), only provides insurance coverage for the military. While they have a wide range of insurance products, they do not offer further discounts and may not be the best solution for your needs, so always do your research before buying a policy of any kind.
- Some insurance companies offer discounts only to active duty or retired members of the military, while others offer discounts to people in the National Guard or those in the Reserves.
- An often overlooked aspect of insurance is renters insurance. Since some military members choose to live off base with their families, it is important that they are protected in the event of a disaster. Many insurance companies offer renters insurance discounts for these families that can be combined with additional discounts for substantial savings.
Getting the Discounts
If you don’t see a discount advertised or listed, ask. Some retailers offer discount codes that must be redeemed through special actions. For example, you may have to email a request plus some information to the retailer, and in return, you will receive your discount code that can be used in stores or online.
Some retailers offer discounts every day, while others limit their military discounts to certain times of the year or certain days of the month. In most cases, you do have to show your military ID to get the discounts. It is nice to see various companies and industries giving back in small ways to the people who have already given so much for all of us.