Veteran's Advantage Program.
Veterans and their families can save money from the Veteran's Advantage Program, which is free to enroll into and use. There are many savings provided to vets, ranging from discounts on travel to food, medical care or prescription drugs, vacations, car rentals and much more. Learn more about how the Veteran's Advantage Program works.
Many American businesses want to give discounts and perks to veterans as well as their immediate family members, but establishing eligibility has traditionally for these savings been a problem. Usually the only veterans who get government-issued identification cards are those with service-connected disabilities or those that served 20 years and retired. All others are stuck with their DD214 discharge papers as their only form of identification. The Veteran's Advantage Discount Program can help overcome this challenge. The benefits are for those who served in any branch, including Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and others.
What is the Veterans Advantage Program
The main goal is to make it easier for veterans to get discounts and save money. Aside from being cumbersome to carry around everywhere, discharge papers or ID cards also hard for a business to verify as legitimate. In addition to that, those cards contain a lot of personal information the veteran would probably rather not share with a random store clerk just to save some money or get some free items/discounts or grants.
The Veteran's Advantage program was founded in 2001 by a Vietnam vet as a sort of "private industry" solution to this problem. Among other things, the founder wanted to give back to those who have bravely served our country. Businesses that want to offer discounts sign up with the program, and the program verifies the service record of veterans and issues them a membership card. Veterans can then get the discounts by either presenting their card at the business, or ordering through an online account.
In an ideal world, this would be some sort of government-run program that was free to all veterans, but unfortunately we don't live in an ideal world. Some charities do try to fill that need though. So in the world we have to inhabit, the Veterans Advantage program charges a little over $50 per year in membership fees to cover their administrative expenses.
If you can get past the whole "charging vets for benefits" thing, however, you'll find that there's lots of ways to recoup that $50+ per year and still enjoy even more savings. The program won't work for everybody, but there's a wide enough range of businesses on board that it should work for a lot of veterans and their families.
Discounts and savings provided to veterans
Let's take a closer look at the discounts offered and review some of them. And find out how to get the most value out of a Veteran's Advantage Discount Program membership. As there are many ways to save. Another option is the Military ShopMyExchange.
1. Take Advantage of Sign-Up Offers
If you're a new member, there's a number of ways to reduce that Veteran Advantage membership fee. Committing for longer periods of time always brings the cost down. If you sign up for three years, the total comes down to over $40 per year, and if you sign up for five years it's over $30 per year (though you'll have to pay the full amount up front).
They also run rotating, limited-time special offers. Sometimes they'll offer a $25 Amazon gift card to new members, effectively reducing the first year's membership price. Or they'll offer 15% off of a newcomer's first-year membership. If you're renewing your membership, you can usually get 50% off of a three-year commitment. Just keep an eye on their "special offers" page and strike when the iron is hot!
2. Coupon Services for For Military Members
The Veteran's Advantage Program participants usually allow other coupons to be used as well. This multiplies the savings for those that sign up. For example, a business may offer a discount to veterans and then they can combine that w
ith other offers. As an example, find free coupon websites to use.
3. Prescription Drug Discounts from Veteran's Advantage Program
If you have a number of pricey prescriptions to deal with, this aspect alone might justify the yearly cost. The savings varies by drug, but can range up to 65% and averages about 20%. The network tens of thousands of nationwide pharmacies that accept this discount card include all CVS and Kaiser Permanente locations and many Target, CostCo, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Safeway, and Raleys pharmacies.
The one catch to this discount is that this is the same program in which a number of states already offer their residents for free online. If this is the lone discount you're interested in, you'll want to check and see if your state of residence is participating in the program already first. There are other options as well, and find details on prescription drugs that are available for free.
4. Transportation aavings from Veterans Advantage
Transportation is one of the strongest areas of Veterans Advantage, particularly if you travel or commute by bus or train. There's also a veteran discount for Greyhound, but it's only available on the "walk-up" fares, which are usually much higher than tickets that are purchased at least 3 days in advance. It can still help a little in an emergency or if you have to change travel plans suddenly, however. A better Greyhound discount that comes with this membership is 40% off of their Package Express shipping service!
Plane ticket discounts are also available from multiple airlines, including but not limited to United and Lufthansa. The savings can range from 5% to much more for bookings made online by the veteran. 5% doesn't sound like much, but if you purchase $1,200 in tickets a year between these two airlines, that would pay for a full price year's membership by itself.
Veterans Advantage also has a discount arrangement with nearly all of the major car rental chains. Avis and Budget offer the best value, at up to 25% off all rates but the exact savings can go over higher. Alamo and National can go up to 25%, and Dollar and Thrifty offer a fixed discount off any rental plus free perks and coupons. Hertz and Enterprise also offer a discount, but it varies greatly by location - usually the less busy the location, the more of a discount you can get. If you take an overseas trip, Kemwel offers to match any competitor's price and then reduce it by as well for Veterans Advantage members. Or look here for Veteran car repair grants.
5. Home Stays and Savings for Veterans
Hotel stays for the frequent traveler are another strong area of the program. The biggest discount is 20% or more off at Wyndham hotels. Wyndham is one of the nation's largest chains and has a wide range of properties at different price points, from budget hotels like the Super 8 and Days Inn to high-end resorts and everything in between.
Choice Hotels also offers at least a 15% discount at most of their properties. This ranges from their high-end Ascend hotels to the more value-priced Quality and Comfort Inn locations.
A handful of other chains have discounts in the mix - a minimum discount of 20% at Kimpton, 20% at Night and Dream Hotels, 15% at Red Roof Inn and 20% at Howard Johnson. Marriot and other hotels may also offer discounts to veterans as well as their families.
The best part about these discounts is that you'll still be able to get points with the rewards programs of these hotels, even the bonus point offers they frequently do for multiple stays!
And if you are a veteran, and you and/or your family happen to be headed to Disney World in Orlando, there's a whole special package of discounts including discounted rooms, free Orlando attraction tickets and coupons.
6. Monthly Bills
If you have service with Verizon or T-Mobile, or are thinking about getting DIRECTV, Veterans Advantage can save you a chunk of change on your monthly bills as well. Save on cable, cell phones, utilities and more.
With Verizon, you can get a 15% or higher discount on any plan that's $34.99 per month or higher, and at minimum 25% off of accessories. T-Mobile offers 15% off of all monthly plans and will cover your early termination fee when switching services. And DIRECTV offers a very low price for first year price for new customers, as well as a free extra year of Veterans Advantage membership when installation is completed.
There are many other ways to save money on bills and living costs too. Or veterans can get help paying their rent, information on filing for disability, free medical care and more. These are all in addition to the Veterans Advantage Discount Program, and most of those other resources are offered by non-profits, the federal government, or charities. As one example, find veteran rental assistance programs.
7. Shopping Benefits
CVS offers 20% off all in-store merchandise that isn't already discounted. You can stack the 20% discount with online sales and get free shipping to boot. Coleman has at minimum a 25% to 35% in-store discount. Foot Locker, Champs Sports, Footaction, and Eastbay also offer at least 20% off of both in-store and online purchases. There are also cash back websites that veterans can use - or really anyone.
In the realm of online shopping, Target offers free shipping and $7 off of every order that's $70 or greater. Overstock.com gives you a free membership (normally $20 or more) which includes free shipping to 48 states and a rewards program. GNC has 15% off online orders plus free shipping. Orvis.com offers 10% off of certain product categories. Eastern Mountain Sports also offers 10% off of online orders. Dell and Apple have rotating special offers on their products, and Dell sometimes offers employee pricing temporarily (in addition to any other discounts). K-Mart will take $15 off of one online order of $100, and Sears will take $35 off of one online order of $300.
8. Financial Services Discounts for Vets
The Veteran's Advantage Discount Program provides savings on a wide variety of financial type services. This ranges from free or low cost income tax returns (or the software) from companies such as Intuit, H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and others. There is also savings on debt relief programs as well as non-profit credit counseling. The savings can range from 5% up to free! Or look here for organizations that help veterans with debt.
Veterans can also get other advice around money, debts, and more. Lawyers can provide free legal aid from the program, and some of those firms include Legal Care Direct and others. Or get lower interest rates on credit cards, loans, and other financing options.
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