How to Find (And Get) the Best Military Discounts
Many retail businesses, restaurants, and service industries like to show their appreciation to active members and veterans of the U.S. military by offering discounts on their products, either on a daily basis or on special holidays. However, how exactly do you go about turning the promise of a discount into a reality at the cash register?
Check the listings.
From your favorite fast food spots to trendy clothing, to home improvement and even your phone bill, the list of businesses offering military discounts is quite extensive. You can quickly scan it before heading out to shop to get a general idea of the places most likely to offer extra savings, usually in the range of 10% or so. You’re also likely to find additional discounts during special holidays like Memorial Day or Veterans Day, so consider that when planning your next shopping trip.
Be sure to look into the fine print and note to whom the discounts apply. Some businesses offer discounts to military dependents, retirees, guard and reserve, and veterans, while others are more specific in who can use the discounts. Doing your homework ahead of time can help increase your chances of getting the advertised discounts.
Bring your identification.
Almost every discount holds the stipulation that you must bring “military ID.” Unfortunately, many stores (or at least the employees that you might be interacting with during your visit) most likely do not understand the wide range of military ID, and that there is no standard documentation other than a DD Form 214 (which you may not want to carry around since it contains your social security number, etc.). It is also challenging that proving your prior service can be even more difficult to prove if you are a veteran who did not retire and is not receiving VA benefits. You can get your service records from the National Archives, or get a veteran ID card, but remember that there is currently no standard for veteran ID cards.
Ask at checkout.
So now that you’ve done your homework and have come prepared, all you need to do is simply ask at checkout. Keep in mind, the discount amount and how to apply it may take some checking into by the staff, so you may consider asking someone ahead of time or right when you get in the store so they can check with a manager if needed. You can simply ask, “Do you offer a military discount?”
While the discounts are helpful and appreciated, it’s good to keep your expectations low just in case you run into any difficulties, and see the discounts as a nice added bonus and not an expected right. Some stores have very specific fine print regarding discounts that can change or be updated often, making it more challenging. If you are looking to use the discount on a large purchase (for example, a large purchase at a home improvements store), you’ll want to be sure to review their policies online ahead of time and come prepared. You can always ask to speak directly to a manager, but again, a discount is typically not worth making a scene over.
Search by State
Each state has a variety of benefits available to its veterans - some of those may be state- or city-specific military discounts. We've written some articles about military discounts in Houston, Orlando, Atlanta, Chicago, and more cities.
Enjoy the discounts!
As an active military member or a veteran, you most definitely deserve every special honor and benefit the civilian world has to offer you. You shouldn’t feel silly seeking out and utilizing even the smallest discount. It all adds up and can make a difference in your own life and the life of your family, who have sacrificed to help keep this country safe. You may be surprised at the wide range of businesses that offer discounts, including:
Retail, Food, Clothing, Automotive, and Drugstores (read extensive list here)