Take advantage of travel concessions to go out and about in winter

Take advantage of travel concessions to go out and about in winter

By Christine Hopper

In the cooler darker months you could

1.    Escape by travelling north and repeatedly alert friends to the warmth and beauty of Queensland

2.    Hibernate and refuse to interact socially with anyone
       (OK for one day only, then move on to option 3 or 4)

3.    Withdraw into your home and communicate with outsiders only by internet, email or telephone

 (OK short term but do not withdraw for so long that the Police come for a ‘Welfare Visit’ because your neighbours have not seen you for weeks)

4.    Use the shorter days to be tourists in your home town

Seniors and Pensioner discounts for public transport, free self guided tours and modest admission charges for many museums and galleries make home town tourist activities fun and relatively inexpensive in winter.

The Victorian Seniors Card allows for all day travel on metro public transport for under $4 per day on business days and free on weekends.  The City Circle Tourist Tram loop around Melbourne CBD provides free travel plus a recorded commentary.

When the rain stops, then you can take a self guided walk though the city highlights and the ‘low lights’.  There are arcades, laneways and parks full of icons and history. Maps and ‘walking tour notes’ are available at Melbourne Visitor Centre Federation Square or download before you leave home from http://www.thatsmelbourne.com.au.

If you prefer indoor tours then Melbourne Town Hall has free one-hour tours on business days.  Both St Paul’s and St Patrick’s cathedrals welcome visitors; you can see the memorial plaques in honour of early settlers.

The National Sports Museum at the MCG might be a highlight of your winter tourist trail.  Many other galleries and museums are free or only levy modest charges for Seniors and Pensioners.

Accompanied by a friendly smile, “A seniors’ latte please” attracts a nicely presented coffee and a discount of about $1 per serve at the major coffee chains.  Boutique coffee shops are less likely to give discounts to casual customers.

Seniors discounts are rarely offered as customers under age 60 years and fully committed workers, may be offended at being mistaken for an oldie.

Mid-week live theatre matinees usually offer Seniors or Pensioner discounts and generous discounts for ‘off peak’ group bookings.  Movie theatres might offer ‘Seniors’ discounts for ‘off peak’ sessions, read ‘daytime’ and ‘mid-week’ for adult movies.  Do not expect a ‘Seniors’ discount for taking the grandchildren to a children’s show or “G rated” movie in the school holidays.

Before you set out on your home town tourist adventures please check that your concession cards are current and in your wallet.  An expired Pensioner Concession Card might not get you a concession ticket.

Concession Cards to access discounts

Seniors Card
Victorian ‘Seniors Card’, is available to residents of Victoria who have attained age 60 years and are not engaged in the paid workforce for more than 35 hours per week.

Other States have similar Senior Cards and many businesses choose to give seniors discounts to interstate Seniors Card holders.  Read more and download an Application Form http://www.seniorsonline.vic.gov.au/Home/Seniors-Card/Apply-for-a-Card.aspx

The Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card is the standard evidence of ‘Pensioner’ status.  Centrelink is the Commonwealth agency for Age and Disability Pensions for permanent residents who are deemed unable to work on account of age or disability.

Recipients of means tested Pensions from DVA, such as the Service Pension, could be issued with the Pensioner Concession Card.

‘Pensioner’ discounts are available for a wide range of services.

Commonwealth Health Care Cards
Early retirees with modest incomes might be eligible for the Commonwealth Low Income Health Care Card.  Apply to Centrelink if your average weekly income is less than $483 for a Single or $838 combined for a Couple. These Health Care Cards are usually only valid for 6 months so you must keep updating your data at Centrelink.

Holders of the Health Care Card are eligible for Concession rates on Melbourne public transport.  The Concession rate maybe about 50% of the full adult fare.

Recipients of New Start Allowances also receive Commonwealth Health Care Cards and the associated public transport concessions.

Commonwealth Health Care Card holders do not receive many discounts on admission charges for entertainment or services.

Taxi Cards
If you are physically incapable of using public transport then you might be eligible for a Taxi Card for a limited range of half-price taxi trips.  The Multi Purpose Taxi Program (MPTP) makes transport more accessible for Victorians with a severe and permanent disability.

MPTP gives members half price taxi fares, paying up to $60 per trip. Some members have a yearly limit. The cards cost $16.50 and are valid for six years.
Read more http://www.transport.vic.gov.au/taxis/mptp

Companion Card
Finally if you are have a physical or mental impairment such that you cannot travel alone or function independently at entertainment venues and you are likely to get lost, the Companion Card might be your ticket to cultural activities.

The Companion Card promotes the right of people with a disability, who require a companion, to fair ticketing at Victorian events and venues.  The Companion Card holder chooses their Companion for each outing.  Your best friend might be happy to go with you to the footy whilst your sister takes you to the ballet.

Your Companion must stay with you at all times.  To make this happen your Companion may travel free on Melbourne’s public transport and receive free admission to exhibitions, museums and theatres.

You need to show the Companion Card when booking the Companion’s theatre seat next to the Companion Card holder’s seat or wheel chair place.  The Companion Card holder might be eligible for a discount on their ticket price as a Pensioner or Senior.

Read more about the benefits of a Companion Card at  http://www.financialcareservices.com.au/newsletters/vol-1-ed-7/

You can find the out how to apply for the Companion Card at http://www.companioncard.org.au/

Finally, check the expiry date on each Card.  Pensioner Concession Cards are replaced annually by Centrelink to every ongoing pensioner.  Companion Cards and Taxi Cards require medical evidence that you are incapacitated; hence renewals are neither automatic or fast.

In summary, seniors, pensioners and people with substantial levels of disability can obtain public transport concessions to assist them to stay active in the community. Be ready to show your Cards to receive the right discount.

Clients of Financial Care Services receive impartial confidential financial advice from an actuary. Financial Care Services is an independent financial advisory service which holds an Australian Financial Services Licence

Clients are charged flat fees for advice. Home visits and out of hours appointments are available.

If you would like further confidential, independent and professional advice about Centrelink, lifestyle or financial issues please contact Christine Hopper (03) 9808 0338.

Financial Care Services – call (03) 9808 0338

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is of a general nature only and does not constitute “financial advice”. You should obtain your own personal financial advice before investing any money or moving in to any retirement village, lifestyle community or aged care facility. Financial Care Services is licensed to provide financial advice to individual clients based on their personal situations. © 2012 Financial Care Services Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

To make an appointment for professional advice, call Financial Care Services (03) 9808 0338