Life With a Discount
Senior citizens can look forward to price breaks and perks as they age.
A National Park pass allows senior access for less.
Photo by Hongqi Zhang
Bob Gibney of Berkeley retired three years ago as a corporate attorney, and the 70-year-old has never been busier. He skis. He spins. He takes classes at Cal. And he’s not shy to say that he enjoys most of these activities at senior pricing.
“I look for discounts wherever I can find them,” Gibney said.
Here’s a roundup of senior-friendly activities that Gibney and our research have uncovered:
Classes: UC Berkeley Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI (OLLI.berkeley.edu), offers an array of classes for those 50 and above. Gibney especially liked a class about Japanese internment taught by a man who had lived in a camp. Membership options range from $50 to $850. But seniors who become members automatically get discounts at various other programs. Those include $10 off the Cal Alumni Association; $15 off membership at the UC Botanical Garden; and up to a 50 percent discount at Berkeley Arts & Letters.
Parks: The East Bay Regional Park District offers limited discounts for seniors (RegionalParksFoundation.org), as does the California State Parks for anyone older than 60 (Parks.ca.gov). The national parks offer seniors a $20 lifetime pass for anyone 62 and older (Store.usgs.gov/senior-pass). (The pass is only $10, but the fee to process it costs another $10.)
Restaurants: Lots of chain restaurants offer senior discounts; just make sure to ask. We’ve chosen two as examples: Ben & Jerry’s and Subway. Both offer 10 percent discounts at participating locations.
Skiing: Many ski resorts offer discounts. Gibney makes use of the lower pricing at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort (SquawAlpine.com/skiing- riding/mountains/alpine-meadows-ski-resort), which offers a season pass price for seniors 65 to 75 at $740. If you’re 76 or older, the price drops to $410. Compare that to the regular adult price of $900 for anyone 64 and younger. He also loves to ski at Tahoe XC, which also offers good senior rates (TahoeXC.org/rates_rentals).
Shopping: Oakland’s Market Hall vendors offer 10 percent off for seniors. Gibney said for the most part, you have to bring up the discount for the shopkeepers to remember to give it out. Many other big chains also offer discounts, such as Ross (10 percent off) on Tuesdays to anyone 55 and older (Free4Seniors.com/ross-stores-senior-discount/) and Kohl’s (15 percent off) on Wednesdays to anyone 60 and older (cs.kohls.com).
Sports: Gibney is a big fan of Cal football and basketball games, and to make the sports-watching more affordable, he makes use of the senior discounts. This information is not readily available on the CalBears website. But they’ll tell you about it if you call and ask. For football games, seniors can buy a $150 season ticket in the north end zone and sit in section CC. Normal adult pricing in that same section costs $250. Go online to see the seating chart where seniors can sit. (CalBears.com/documents/2017/4/5//2017_Cal_Football_New_Buisness_Prices.pdf?id=8855).
Theater: Ushering plays—leading people to their seats, handing out programs—is a great way to experience the theater for free. You don’t have to be a senior to sign up for ushering, but many who do are 65 and older. One popular ushering venue is Berkeley Repertory Theater. Signups to volunteer began in June. (BerkeleyRep.org)
Transportation: Need to get around town? Don’t forget to make use of the cheaper senior fare. Senior AC Transit bus prices are $1.05, half the price of a regular ticket. Transbay fares for seniors cost $2.10, again half the price. The 31-day pass for seniors costs $80 a month.
BART also offers senior discounts if you buy a Senior Clipper Card. Applications for that can be found online (ClipperCard.com). The discounts are steep. For example, a one-way trip from 12th Street in Oakland to San Francisco International Airport normally costs $9.25; seniors pay just $3.45.
This report appears in the July edition of our sister publication, The East Bay Monthly.