Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Military Discounts: A Guide to Saving When You Serve

Here is a guest post by Anna Kavich.  Republished with permission from Offers.com:

From fast food chains and flower delivery to travel and college tuition, you’d be surprised at how many companies offer discounts for those on active military duty and veterans. Considering their sacrifice to protect our country, it seems like the least we can do to say thanks.

According to ConsumerCredit.com, 93% of military personnel have a mortgage and 91% have at least one credit card. These looming monthly payments can be difficult to make – especially with members deployed all over the world with sparse communication.
In fact, the Center for Responsible Lending determined in 2005 that 20% of active military members had taken out a payday loan. With soldiers, veterans and military families struggling to make ends meet, it’s no surprise that discounts and offers are widely used. Check out our collection of top military discounts, including:
A word of advice, though, from Austin army spouse and Offers.com graphic artist Kristen Burroughs: “Just be sure to check with any company before expecting to receive a good deal.”
Many stores and websites will offer a “military discount” that is actually much higher than the regularly advertised price. Though hard to fathom, military discount scams are actually a frequent occurrence. The Better Business Bureau Military Line warns against some of the most common cases. 

Military Discount Scams:

       Higher priced loans – lenders promise false guarantees,  instant approval or no credit check.
  • Veteran buyout plans – cash payments are made in exchange for veteran benefits or pension payments that are actually lower than what the veteran is entitled to.
  • Fake rental properties – replicated photos advertise a non-existent property, and active members make security payments via wire transfer but never receive anything.
  • Misleading car sales – posted ads offer false discounts and soldiers make payments via wire transfer.
  • Expensive life insurance policies – solicitors make false statements about policy benefits and costs.
How does one avoid these sticky situations? “Discounts change by store and location all the time,” Burroughs said. “You learn how to ask.”
Burroughs has been saving here and there with military discounts for four years while her husband, Dave, has been a sergeant in the army. He is currently assigned to the air defense unit and has been deployed twice – once to Korea and then to Kuwait. They currently live in Killeen, a town about an hour outside of Austin where Fort Hood is located.
“I have a 68.9 mile commute every day to work in Austin,” said Burroughs. “I definitely take advantage of oil change discounts at Jiffy Lube and Firestone.” Burroughs and her husband also use an exclusive military discount on their Verizon phone bill as well as the occasional retail shopping experience. “Old Navy usually has a 10% off military discount in store on Mondays.”

What are the best military discounts?

Although shopping and utilities savings are great, Burroughs confirmed that the best deals she's found have been for travel. As you can imagine, military families spend a majority of their time circumventing the globe. Whether it’s to move to the next post or to visit far-away family, many like Burroughs are often on the go.

She said saving on airfare is huge and companies like Southwest, Delta, and American Airlines always offer military discounts. Burroughs also said that pretty much any hotel will offer a 10-20% discount.

Car rental is another top category for military discounts. Burroughs recalled a time when she and her husband were visiting family in Pennsylvania and needed to rent a car. It was going to cost a whopping $400 for the week, but with her USAA discount the total came to a much more affordable $150.
Although they don’t currently take advantage of too many restaurant or shopping military discounts, Burroughs said that this will definitely change when they have children.

“Especially with the back to school season, I can imagine using discounts to save money that we can put toward school supplies.”
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist MRS. LIEUTENANT and the co-author of the Navy thriller LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS. Phyllis is the co-founder of the digital marketing company Miller Mosaic LLC, which works with clients to utilize integrated online marketing. Read her book-related posts at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com

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