Travel is one of the things many of us look forward to after retirement. If your travel plans include saving money, you’ll be glad to know that many big hotel chains offer special discounts for veterans and military retirees. To claim these deals, you can book them on your own or you can join a group that puts together veteran discount packages for its members.
Before you book: a veteran ID card is helpful
Most discount deals require government ID that shows you’re a veteran. Retired military and VA healthcare enrollees are already issued IDs. As of September 2015, a new federal law allows other veterans with a DD-214 form to get an ID card from the VA; the program is pending rollout. The new ID card won’t be free, but it could make a number of things easier, including claiming discounts. Some states already issue ID cards to veterans with proof of service.
Find veteran discounts by asking
Don’t be shy. The simplest way to find out if the hotel you’d like to book has deals for veterans is to call their reservations line and ask. This takes a little more time than searching online for deals, but the representative you talk to can advise you based on the type of room you want, the length of your stay, and when you plan to visit.
Find and compare veteran discount offers online
Some hotel chains offer deals to active-duty and retired military with valid ID cards:
- DoubleTree by Hilton gives qualified guests a 10% discount on Bed & Breakfast stays.
- La Quinta runs a military rewards program that includes veterans and gives a 12% discount off best available room rates plus upgrades, express check in, and extra points for each booking.
- The Choice Hotels family of brands offers discounted leisure travel rates for retired military members as well as special perks and elite status in the Choice Privileges program. Choice’s brands range from upscale Ascend resort hotels to popular and value brands like Comfort Suites, Clarion, and Econolodge.
If you don’t qualify for these deals or there are other hotels you want to book, consider joining a group offers member discounts.
Join the club for multiple deals
The two best-known groups that offer veteran deals are insurer and financial service provider USAA and Veterans Advantage, a company founded by veterans of the Vietnam War. USAA customers receive a best-price guarantee on hotel stays and other travel booked through the USAA website; membership is open to honorably discharged veterans and their family members as well as active-duty service members.
Veterans Advantage, based in Greenwich, Connecticut, offers member discounts at more than 30 hotel chains, including Choice Hotels, Wyndham properties, and Howard Johnson. A 1-year membership costs $60 and includes airline, home, health, and other discount offers. The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and has been accredited by the BBB since 2001.
Time your travel for the best buys
Busy times of year are always more expensive to book, even with a deal. To make the most of your veteran discount options, look for “shoulder season” off-peak times at your destination, when hotel rooms go for less. For example, popular summer destinations typically drop their rates during fall and early spring, while ski destination room rates peak in winter. Booking slightly off-peak can still deliver a great getaway while maximizing your veteran discount.
Speaking of Saving Money, could you be missing out on the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit?
VeteranAid.org is the leading resource for information about the Aid and Attendance pension. We help you find out if you are eligible and show you how to apply. Make sure you’re not missing out on this valuable pension benefit that could help you save money in the long run to be able to afford a vacation to use these hotel deals and discounts.
Written by: Casey Kelly-Barton