For those of you have followed my blog, you have read about my experiment with getting the Veterans Advantage card a year ago and the benefits I have received. Scott Higgins, the president of VA, was kind enough to let me interview him about the benefits and even found that I discovered a bug in their system for rental cars which they quickly fixed. I want to summarize my benefits below for you to see, but I have to say that I certainly got more than I had hoped for for my yearly dues.
5% Discount on United – By far the biggest benefit from membership in Veterans Advantage. If you are reading this blog, you obviously like to travel and 5% off every ticket adds up to a lot of savings. I applied this to other tickets I purchased also such as for my wife so the total savings is pretty high. I purchased $5,134 in United tickets during the year equaling a savings of $257.
Car Rental Discounts – I actually make quite a few car rentals. The discount on Dollar and Thrifty is about 5%. Admitedly, I don’t spend nearly as much on car rentals as I do on airline tickets, but the discout still added up to a nice $56 savings for the year. Note that you can also get discounts at Budget, Avis, National, Alamo, Enterprise, and Hertz. One additional item to note is that, if you are under 25, the Vet Adv discount will avoid the fee that most companies add on for young drivers. I used this once when I needed to rent a car for my daughter for the week.
Ford X-Plan Discount – Scott arranged to get this new discount last May which was just in time for me to buy her a car for her graduation from college. OK, so this discount is not one you will use too often, but the savings is significant. I estimated that the X-Plan price was $350 less than what I normally would have received with the stupid back-and-forth bargaining that you have to go through with a car dealer. I should put a price on avoiding that aggrevation. Let say that my savings was $350 + one hour of waiting which the salesman “consults his manager.”
Companion Ticket – This bonus is not always offered for joining, but just keep your eye out for it. I found the companion deal was not as goood as the one that I get for having my United Mileage Plus card, but it still saved me $120 over what I would have paid for two tickets. Nothing to grumble about.
Other discounts which I did not take advantage of are:
– Verizon 15% discount and T-Mobile 10% discount. If you have one of these services, this could easily top a $100/ year savings.
– Amtrak 15% discount. Now that I have moved to D.C. I can see myself using this one. The airfares to fly from D.C. to anywhere else on the East Coast are crazy! I could fly halfway across the U.S. for the same amount.
– Theme Parks, incl. Disney, Busch Gardens, Seaworld, etc. I am in those years where I have niether little kids nor grandkids, but this discount could add up to a lot for a normal family. Although most parks have a discount for serving military, the Vet Adv card is great for thos ewho were former military or just related to a military member.
Sears – A $35 savings on a puchase of $300 or more. It is a given that with our move to D.C., the wife will decide that we need to buy a new appliance of some type. I expect to be using this at Sears in the near future.
On-Line shopping at CVS and Target. I guess I am still a dinosaur and do not do a lot of shopping on-line, but both of these are good discounts, 10% at CVS and a variable discount at Target.com that you can combine with the 5% Red Card discount normally available. I should try harder to use this one.
So my total savings for the 12 months amounted to $783 which gives me over 1200% return on my $65 investment! Hard to beat that deal. I got lucky and was able to use the car discount this year, but even without that, the United discount alone was a great savings. The math worked out for me and you need to do your own evaluation, but the saving potential is pretty large for the small investment in the yearly member ship fee.
Note that I have recieved no compensation for writing about the Veterans Advantage card all year, so take this as an honest evaluation for my readers.