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Kip Tips

How Retirees Can Beat AARP Discounts

You can find better deals on certain things without paying a membership fee.

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Discounts are a big selling point for an AARP membership. For just $16 a year, adults age 50 and older can join the 37-million member nonprofit organization and benefit from savings on travel, dining, shopping and entertainment. Certainly, many of the discounts are worthwhile. But in some cases money-savvy adults can find better deals through other avenues that don’t require a membership fee. Here are four AARP discounts, in particular, that can be beat by other rates and offers.

SEE ALSO: 5 Senior Discounts to Avoid

Restaurants. AARP members can get a 10% to 15% discount at several restaurants, including Denny’s, Landry’s Seafood House, McCormick & Schmick’s and Outback Steakhouse. However, you typically can find gift cards for these restaurants – as well as many other restaurants – selling at a discount of 20% to 25% at Web sites such as Cardpool, GiftCards.com and Raise. For example, we recently found a $50 Landry’s gift card selling for $37.50 (a 25% discount) at Raise. Anyone can buy gift cards that sell for less than face value from these sites. See How to Buy Discount Gift Cards for additional details. (Note: If you already have an AARP membership, you can use your restaurant discount in conjunction with a discounted gift card to amplify your savings.)

Hotels. AARP members get discounts of 5% to 20% at several hotel chains ranging from Best Western to Wyndham. The discounts apply to the best available rates offered by the hotels and can't be combined with other discounts. However, better discounts often can be found through travel sites and apps such as Last Minute Travel, which offers travelers access to wholesale prices for hotels in more than 150 countries. For example, we found a room with two double beds at the DoubleTree in Miami near the airport for $180 per night with the 5% AARP discount. But a similar room was available through the Last Minute Travel app for $150.

Airport parking. Park Ride Fly USA offers a 10% discount to AARP members who use the service to reserve a parking spot at an off-airport facility and take the company’s shuttle to the airport. However, if you fly out of one of the 12 major airports where FlightCar operates, you can park free and get paid if your car is rented to a pre-approved driver. Membership is free and members save an average of $100 in parking fees on a five-day trip and make $30 in rental earnings, according to FlightCar.

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Entertainment. AARP currently is offering members savings of up to 30% on Cirque du Soleil shows. However, you can take advantage of Cirque du Soleil’s own special offers to get an even better deal. For example, we found a ticket for “The Beatles Love” show at Mirage Las Vegas marked down from $114 to $66 through a seasonal promotion. With an AARP discount, the $114 ticket only is marked down to about $92. For traveling shows, you can save more with Cirque’s discount for tickets bought in packs of four than you can with the AARP discount. For example, tickets for the “Varekai” touring show in Baltimore in July are $37.50 each when you buy in a pack of four. With the AARP discount, you’d pay $60.35 per ticket.