The best price for anything is always free, and for American seniors, there are a wide variety of things that will cost you nothing or close to it. As we age, our finances and budgeting needs change, which is why knowing where to find deals and discounts matters. Whether you are interested in taking college courses, getting a new phone, or dining at your favorite spots, there is something for everyone — completely free.
Check out our list of 13 things that are free or seriously discounted for seniors. We promise your wallet will thank you!
Tool Tip: Curious about other discount opportunities? Be sure to check out our complete list of senior discounts for seniors.
1. Entry to National Parks
The National Park Service (NPS) manages 423 parks across the United States.1 Presently, more than 100 of these parks charge entrance fees; however, the NPS offers free admission for military veterans and a seriously discounted lifetime senior pass for those age 62 and older. If you enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, this is an excellent, financially friendly way to see all that the nation has to offer. Additionally, many state parks offer free admission, so if a cross-country road trip isn't your speed, consider going on an adventure closer to home.
2. Dental Care
It is no secret that dental care is a crucial but expensive part of maintaining peak physical health, especially as we age. To add even more dollar signs, Original Medicare does not cover most dental care, such as fillings, extractions, dentures, and dental plates. If you have a low income and suffer from dental issues, Dental Lifeline, a network of volunteer dentists and laboratories, offers free and comprehensive dental care to older adults with special needs nationwide.
Tool Tip: Curious to know more about dental care options that are free? Check out our list of free and low-cost dental care options for seniors.
3. Education and Classes
For seniors who are interested in continuing their academic interests, many local universities offer free or discounted courses to those who are as young as 50 years old. AARP has a great list of academic institutions in each state that offer free or low-cost options to get you started.
Tool Tip: If you want to look into free education opportunities, consider these five places to take new classes.
4. Tax Preparation
Many retired folks are eligible for federal income tax deductions and tax credits, but oftentimes these opportunities to lower tax bills are overlooked. Individuals age 65 and older who do not itemize their deductions typically qualify for a much larger standard deduction versus younger taxpayers.
Additionally, AARP offers the Tax-Aide program, a free tax assistance service for those age 50 and older. Whether you are seeking in-person or virtual assistance, this program helps older adults prep for their taxes, completely free of charge.
Tool Tip: If your adjusted gross income is less than $73,000, the IRS offers Free File, a program that allows older adults to file their returns for free.
5. Books and Movies
While your local library is the go-to location for free books, it also provides free e-books, audiobooks, and videos. If you don't have a library card, don't worry; it is incredibly easy to sign up for one, and it's free of charge. Whether you are interested in the next big audiobook or want to check out a classic film for date night, your local library is a great resource for knowledge and free services.
Pro Tip: Visit our guide to frugal living for more ways to save on your expenses.
In addition to your local library, there is a streaming platform designed specifically for older adults called Saltbox TV. Saltbox TV offers a library of TV shows, movies, workout videos, and more — all tailored specifically to seniors. You can access Saltbox TV from a computer, smartphone, Roku, or Amazon Fire TV Stick.
There are plenty of options for getting your java fix with a nice hot (or iced) cup of Joe, especially with big coffee chains. Peet's Coffee Rewards — called Peetnik Rewards — operates on a points system that allows you to exchange points for free beverages. Starbucks Rewards offers similar incentives, as well as a free birthday coffee! If Starbucks is not your go-to, Dunkin' Rewards is another great option to get your caffeine fix. While you have to pay to play, the points add up, and the free beverages are worth it. There is no cost to sign up for any of these rewards programs!
7. Medicare Part A
If you have worked and paid Medicare taxes long enough, hospital insurance, otherwise known as Medicare Part A, is free for most people who are age 65 and older. For reference, Medicare Part A helps pay for:
- Inpatient hospital care
- Care in a skilled nursing facility
- Nursing home care (inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility that is not custodial or long-term care)
- Hospice care
- Home health care
If you aren't sure if Medicare Part A will cover certain expenses, Medicare offers a coverage search bar tool that can help identify tests, items, and other services that are covered.
FYI: Want to learn more about Medicare? Visit our 2023 guide to Medicare.
8. Doctor's Appointments and Wellness Exams
Medicare is required to cover a number of services in full, meaning that folks on Medicare pay nothing for these services. Freebie services for Medicare beneficiaries include:
- Annual wellness visits
- Flu shots
- Certain vaccines
- Certain screenings
Additionally, prescription discount cards can seriously lower the cost of necessary medications to maximize your health and overall quality of life.
9. Gym Memberships
The gym is not just for younger people! Many fitness institutions offer discounted or free memberships through certain health insurers for those age 65 and older. Some insurance plans even offer savings on fitness club memberships as a form of preventive care. Many Medicare Advantage plans come with a SilverSneakers membership, which gives eligible seniors access to over 15,000 gym and fitness center locations nationwide.
In addition to free membership rewards programs, many restaurant chains offer senior discounts. Restaurants like Applebee's and Golden Corral offer 10 to 15 percent off for those age 60 and older. If you register to become an AARP member, you will also have access to a wide variety of exclusive member deals and discounts for favorites such as Auntie Anne's, Carraba's Italian Grill, and Outback Steakhouse.
11. Phones and Internet
There are multiple government assistance programs designed to help low-income individuals. Seniors who qualify can score free or discounted phones, internet service, and computers.
If you think you may qualify for an assistance program, options include:
Pro Tip: Looking for a free phone? Check out our guide to the best free phones for seniors.
12. Hearing Aids
Over 27 million Americans over the age of 50 suffer from hearing loss, but only 14 percent use a hearing aid, according to John Hopkins Medicine.2 While this can seem hard to believe, many people let their hearing issues go untreated due to the high cost; the average price for one hearing aid hovers around $2,300, which is likely a blow to anyone's wallet.
If you or a loved one are looking to save on hearing aids but aren't sure where to start, the following resources can be helpful:
- The National Hearing Aid Project assists low-income seniors with finding hearing aids.
- Medicaid and the Veterans Administration may provide free hearing aids.
Read our guide to free and discounted hearing aids for more ways to save.
13. Public Transit
As we get older, getting around can become a challenge. When vision loss and other physical changes that arise from aging come into play, driving may no longer be an option.
Pro Tip: Check out our list of nine hacks to save money on a fixed income for more ways to cut expenses.
Many urban communities such as Minneapolis offer those age 65 and older a discounted metro transit card. In the state of Pennsylvania, seniors can ride for free through the Senior Free Ride Program, which is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Lottery.3 All you need is a senior citizen ID card or Medicare card! In Mississippi, the Coast Transit Authority gets seniors where they need to go for free.4 Transport options include trips to and from medical appointments, grocery stores, and senior centers.
No matter the state, there are options everywhere, so be sure to do your research and save some money!
To Sum It Up
As we age, it is important to take advantage of free or seriously discounted opportunities. Whether you need assistance with transit, getting a new phone, going out to dinner, or your tax prep, there are options everywhere. You just need to know where to look. When in doubt, ask about senior discounts whenever you make a purchase. You may be surprised at all of the ways you can save!