10 Best Freebies for Retirees

Retiree-friendly goods and services are available at no cost – if you know where to look.

Prices don’t get much lower than “free.” Sure, senior discounts, on everything from going to the movies to riding the bus, are ripe for the taking. But there are also plenty of freebies out there for those who have cast off the shackles of everyday work.

We gathered a collection of the best freebies. Bear in mind some are strictly for those of a certain age, retired or not. Others are fit for retirees (and others of any age) who are living on a fixed income. Check out our 10 favorite retirement-friendly freebies.

Free prescription drugs. Tap into the RxAssist database (opens in new tab) to find free or low-cost medications from the patient assistance programs of pharmaceutical manufacturers. Also, many supermarket chains including Meijer, Harris Teeter and Publix offer select diabetes medications, antibiotics and even generic Lipitor substitutes for free. (Note: You might have to enroll in a pharmacy loyalty program to receive the free medications.)

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Free college tuition. Still dreaming about going back to school? It’s never too late. Some states require state-supported colleges and universities to waive tuition for older residents, as long as there’s space available in the class. One example: Kentucky. The University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville are among 23 Kentucky colleges and universities that waive tuition for all residents 65 or older. Virginia does, too, for residents 60 and over. Note: Some tuition-waiver programs allow credit to be earned for the course; others only allow the course to be audited. (See Great College Towns for Retirement for more ideas.)

Free preventive care. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 set the stage for this one. It requires health insurers to cover certain preventive care without being subject to the policy’s co-payments or deductibles. That includes, but is not limited to, flu shots, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, mammograms, annual wellness visits, and screenings for cervical and colorectal cancer. Once you reach 65 and qualify for Medicare, many of the same preventive services are free.

Free transportation. Some localities and states let older adults ride for free on public transportation. For example, Pennsylvania’s Free Transit Program allows people 65 years and older to ride bus, trolley and rapid-transit lines for free with a senior citizen transit identification card (which also is free). In Ann Arbor, Mich., a GoldRide Card allows people 65 and over to ride buses for free. Many other localities and states offer reduced fares for older riders.

Free eye care. Are you 65 or older, without private insurance and haven’t seen an eye doctor in three or more years? EyeCare America, (opens in new tab) a program of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, offers free eye exams, plus one year of care for any disease diagnosed during that exam. There’s no out-of-pocket cost to patients.

Free retirement planning. Closing in on your last days of work? It’s not too late to start planning. You don’t need to be a Fidelity customer to take advantage of this free retirement planning tool at Fidelity.com. It helps you estimate your retirement expenses and income, recommends appropriate investment strategies to generate steady income – with or without annuities – and provide growth to keep pace with inflation. (You can also try our free Retirement Savings Calculator.)

Free state park admission. A handful of state park systems, including those in Maryland, New York and Texas, waive admission fees or offer free annual passes to older adults. Note that some state sites are not included in this admission-fee waiver and there could also be a small processing fee tacked on.

Free food. These food freebies are usually available to anyone of any age including retirement age. Some examples: The first Friday in June – this year, June 3 – is National Donut Day. That means you can hoist a free doughnut from the likes of Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, LaMar’s and Tim Hortons. In July, score a free Slurpee from 7/11 or free “mystery offer” from Chick Fil-A (which offers different freebies every month of the year). Are you a veteran? Come Veterans Day in November, many restaurants offer free meals for military vets. The usual suspects include Applebee’s, Chili’s, Golden Corral and Lone Star Steakhouse.

Free museum admission. Many museums nationwide offer discounts for older adults. Some let retirement-age visitors visit for free on certain days. An example: The Rubin Museum of Art in New York City gives people 65 and older free admission the first Monday of every month. Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card customers (opens in new tab) can gain access for free to more than 150 museums, science centers, botanical gardens and more nationwide the first full weekend of every month.

Free tax preparation. Stow this one away for early 2017: The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (opens in new tab) program offers free tax help for taxpayers 60 and older. Volunteers, certified by the Internal Revenue Service, are specialists in pension and other retirement-related tax issues. Also, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide (opens in new tab) offers free tax preparation for low- to moderate-income taxpayers, with an emphasis on people 60 and older. It’s at more than 5,000 locations.

Cameron Huddleston contributed to this article.

Bob Niedt
Online Editor, Kiplinger.com

Bob is a Senior Online Editor at Kiplinger.com. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty, and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.