With Independence Day just one day away, Americans are scrambling in preparation for backyard barbecues and long weekend getaways while staying mindful of their budgets. However, the nation didn’t gain its independence out of sheer happenstance; it was the dedication and effort of those serving in the U.S. military who are responsible for tomorrow’s celebration.
To commemorate the 4th of July 2013 and the men and women who continue to protect and preserve the nation’s freedom, GoBankingRates partnered with San Antonio-based Air Force Federal Credit Union and compiled a guide of the best military discounts that ensure veterans, as well as active duty and reserve members alike, are saving money year-round.
“In these difficult times and economic hardships, our men and women of the military have a thankless job of protecting our freedom,” says Danny Sanchez, VP of Marketing at Air Force Federal Credit Union. “The organizations that support the military community with discounts understand that this is a great way to honor them. This is just a small ‘Thank You’ and repayment for their service and sacrifice.”
Who Qualifies for Military and Veteran Discounts?
Individuals who qualify for military discounts are those who have served in a service branch of the United States Armed Forces in the past or present. Military service branches include:
- U.S. Army
- U.S. Navy
- U.S. Marine Corps
- U.S. Air Force
- U.S. Coast Guard.
Some specialized military programs that provide exceptional savings include active reserve members as well. With regard to who is considered a “veteran,” Rod Powers of About.com says:
“In actuality, there is no standardized legal definition of ‘military veteran’ in the United States … Whether or not one is considered a ‘veteran’ by the federal government depends entirely upon which veteran program or benefit one is applying for.”
When taking advantage of retail discounts for military members and veterans, however, the qualifications are fairly general with a few exceptions attached to certain discounts.
List of Military Discounts That Save Money
Many brands and retailers offer military discounts and perks to those who are associated with the Armed Forces. Most of the time, a military ID or Veterans Identification Card, also known as VIC, is sufficient to receive the savings.
Here is a list of the leading discount programs available nationwide:
- Apple. In the technology category, Apple’s military discount comes out at number one due to fact their products cost more overall, which results in greater savings after the discount is deducted. For example, the Macbook Pro starts at retails for $1,499, but with a military discount of about 13 percent, savings amount to $200 for military members and their families. The brand provides customers with a military discount as long as they are a current, former, or retired member of the U.S. military, in addition to family members of members of the Armed Forces. Depending on the Apple items purchased, military discounts range from 5 to 15 percent off. Discounts apply to pricier items such as the iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Pro as well as Apple Care Protection Plans.
- AT&T. This cell phone provider was ranked second on the list, since immediate savings per dollar are significantly lower than the Apple discount. However, in the long run, military subscribers can still save big with a 15 percent discount on cell phone plans, including family plans, and other discounts on accessories.
- Dell. In an effort to help military service men and women stay connected to their families back at home, Dell provides savings coupons of 10 percent off select PCs, which could mean a hefty amount of cash saved for military members.
- Greyhound. Getting from point A to point B costs money, but Greyhound’s discount for active duty and retired armed service members helps riders financially with a 10 percent discount. The factor that gives this military program an extra edge over competitors is that Greyhound also provides the option for service members and veterans to travel anywhere in the continental United States for a maximum round trip fee of $235.
- AMTRAK. Similar to the Greyhound service, AMTRAK also gives active duty members and their families a 10 percent discount on the lowest available rail fare for most trains.
- Disneyland Resort. Fondly dubbed “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland Resort is a hot spot for entertainment at any age, but also is pricey compared to other entertainment options. The Disney military discount secures the top spot for entertainment-based military perks due to its sheer popularity. The park honors military personnel through their discounted 3-Day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper tickets. Passes are typically $260 each, but retired and active members of the Armed Forces receive reduced pricing of $125 — that’s a savings of $135 or over 50 percent.
- The Armed Forces Vacation Club. Next on the list is The Armed Forces Vacation Club, which acts like an exclusive in to the best deals when traveling. The military-based organization provides a fixed week-long stay price for military personnel and their families to locations within the United States and internationally. Pricing is from $349 for a seven-day stay with several hundred locations to choose from.
- Public Zoos. Coming in at an honorable third place on the list of military discounts under entertainment are public zoos, which offer discounts of up to 100 percent in some areas. “The military discount I always make sure to take advantage of is the one from the San Diego Zoo,” says U.S. Navy member Francis Alindogan. “I love visiting the panda exhibit, so having free, year-round access to the park is a great perk.”
- Lowe’s Home Improvement. This national hardware store makes it affordable to obtain one’s dream home with 10 percent off for active service members, immediate family, retired veterans and VA recipients. The discount is just enough to help finance one’s summer projects, is also available to immediate family members and doesn’t have a cap on the amount of purchase.
- The Home Depot. Like its home improvement counterpart, The Home Depot also offers 10 percent off purchases to all active duty, National Guard, reserve, retiree, disabled, honorably discharged veterans and immediate family members. However, the discount for military is restricted to holiday weekends such as this upcoming Fourth of July, as well as Memorial Day and Veterans Day. This 10 percent discount is limited to a maximum of $500 off a single receipt of an in-store purchase.
- United Services Automobile Association. The Association provides the most tailored insurance policies for military personnel, including auto, home, whole life and term life insurance. Since the Association is targeted specifically to members of the military, their rates are hard to match.
- Air Force Federal Credit Union. Air Force Federal Credit Union has a top auto loan rate starting at 1.85% APR, which amounts to an estimated monthly payment of less than $18 per $1,000 borrowed for 60 months.
- Geico. The insurer offers a discount of up to 15 percent on a total insurance premium for active duty, retired and National Guard and reserves members. This offer offers a long term advantage to those who hold an insurance policy with Geico year after year.
These examples of military discounts are readily available to members of the United States Armed Forces and veterans, and can result in thousands of dollars saved if used simultaneously or throughout the year. They’re just a few of the many benefits of serving the country and its citizens.
As part of its newest Financial Freedom series GoBankingRates.com, in partnership with San Antonio-based Air Force Federal Credit Union, hopes to address the many financial challenges service members and veterans of the armed forces experience each day. By highlighting special financial programs, loan privileges and banking services, GoBankingRates.com and Air Force Federal Credit Union can help military families receive the financial information they need.