Cable discounts people rarely ask about

Diana Bocco
Cable discounts

"If you want something, all you have to do is ask..."

You've probably heard this before, and whether you believe it or not, it might be worth trying with your cable or satellite provider. In fact, there are many discounts that people simply aren't aware of - let alone ask about.

Keep reading to see what types of cable and satellite discounts could be available to you, and how to take advantage of them.

Military Discount

Cable and satellite discounts for military servicemen and women are not usually offered directly through cable companies, so you'll have to do some work to find those discounts, says Jeff Haynes, editor of consumer-savings website, Tech Bargains.

The first step: Enlisted personnel and veterans should call their local cable company to see if they are willing to establish a deal or a discount for their military service, Haynes says. The worst that can happen is they say "no".

If that doesn't work, join a group that offers benefits and negotiates deals for their members.

"For example, Veterans Advantage is currently offering a deal for new members to get more than 150 channels and NFL Sunday Ticket for $24.99/month for a year," Haynes says. Plus, depending on the cable packages that are chosen, members will also receive HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax free for three months, he adds.

While this particular deal is only available through DIRECTV, other cable companies and organizations may have a different promotion in place.

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Senior Citizen Discount

Although senior citizen discounts are usually on the smaller side, Haynes says it's still worth asking about, especially since every penny counts when you're retired.

It's also good to note that discounts will vary, as some cities or municipalities will negotiate or require discounts for some seniors. Of course, some restrictions may apply, such as being limited to a basic monthly service or expanded basic service.

Haynes says that some seniors may also have to meet specific qualifications to get these discounts, like being 65 or older, head of the household, and eligible to receive Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, or Veterans Benefits Services.

Still, it doesn't hurt to find out if your city has a special deal in place and whether or not you qualify.

For example, says Comcast offers $1 or 10 percent off (whichever is greater) per month for basic cable TV service to senior residents (65 and older) of St. Paul, MN.

In Seattle, the Comcast discount is $5 off per month for low income seniors and it applies to any cable package, not just basic service, according to Seattle's Department of Information Technology.

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AAA Discount

If you're a AAA member, you might want to call your local office to see if you're eligible to save on cable, says Jon Lal, founder and savings expert at Although not every AAA office has a cable discount offer in place, many do, Lal adds.

For example, in the Boston area, AAA members who are new DIRECTV customers can receive $10 off per month for 20 months, says Lal. You'll also receive NFL Sunday Ticket included at no extra charge if you choose the CHOICE package, Lal adds. In some areas, new subscribers may also receive a free DVR upgrade or an HD receiver, as well free installation.

When's the best time to land this discount? When you're set to renew your AAA membership, Lal says. That's the time to call your local AAA office and see if you can receive additional discounts or qualify for special offers.

[Want to see what kind of discounts you can receive? Find a provider in your area now.]

Student Discount

Students get the most discounts offered to them by cable companies, thanks to negotiations made between a school's student union and the area cable company, according to Haynes.

For example, in the fall of 2012, Ashley G., a student at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, received a student discount on her Internet and TV package from Comcast.

"I pay $32 a month for the package, which is a lot cheaper than their standard price of $69 for non-students," she says.

To see if you qualify for a student discount, talk to your college's student center to see if they've arranged a promotion for students living in your area. If you have no luck there, Lal recommends checking your mail and your college's website, as many cable companies send the discounts directly to the local schools.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that student discounts tend to have a short promotion period. For example, Haynes says that Comcast previously offered off-campus students in select areas the following discounted package:  Basic cable, HBO, Showtime, and Internet for $79.99 for nine months.

Haynes says that the nine-month duration for this promotion aligned with the usual timeframe for a school year. However, "The rate would increase to about $166 a month if students kept the service, but it would be perfect for a school year," Haynes adds.

Things to Remember about Discounts

Discounts are Not Permanent: "Virtually every discount or package that you acquire from a company, even if negotiated, will have a set window when it will expire and the price will go up," Haynes says.

Promotions Vary by Municipality or Region: Haynes notes that many of the packages and discounts that are negotiated or established for groups of people are frequently done on a municipality or regional basis. This means "a deal established in Northern California isn't going to necessarily carry over to Southern California," Haynes explains. "In fact, it can even be different from city to city."