10 benefits and perks you might be able to get when you retire

We outline 10 perks that you may be able to claim in retirement, from Pension Credit and entertainment discounts to a free TV licence and free prescriptions

Laughing couple
As well as the state pension, there are a host of perks you can claim once you retire, including Pension Credit and free prescriptions
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As well as the state pension, there are a host of benefits and perks that you can claim once you retire, worth hundreds - or even thousands - of extra pounds a year.

Claiming the benefits can boost your retirement income and give you generous discounts and freebies.

But many retired people are unaware of what they are eligible for, and every year, billions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed.

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We run through a handy list of 10 perks you can claim when you become a pensioner. Some of them are universally available to all pensioners, while others are means-tested - but even so, you may be surprised to discover that you qualify for them.

1, Pension Credit 

Pension Credit is one of the most under-claimed and misunderstood benefits. For example, you can claim it even if you own your own home and have some savings in a pension.

It is worth £3,900 a year on average - but could be worth much more to certain households - and also unlocks access to other benefits, such as cold weather payments and help with NHS costs.

Up to 880,000 families who are entitled to receive the benefit are failing to claim.

Pension Credit is made up of two parts: guarantee credit and savings credit. The guarantee part tops up your pension income to a certain level, and is available to those on low incomes. The savings credit is only available to those who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016 and had some money saved for retirement.

You can find out if you’re eligible, and how much money you could get, by using the government’s Pension Credit calculator

2, Winter fuel payment 

The winter fuel payment is an annual tax-free payment for pensioners to help cover their heating costs in the colder months. It’s worth between £250 and £600.

The majority of people born before 25 September 1957 are eligible. You also usually need to live in the UK. Other exceptions include:

- If you have been in hospital getting free treatment for more than a year

- You need permission to enter the UK and your granted leave says you cannot claim public funds

- You were in prison for the whole of the week of 18 to 24 September 2023

Most eligible people receive their winter fuel payment automatically. You should get a letter in October or November each year detailing how much you’ll get; you then receive the money in November or December.

There is also the Warm Home Discount Scheme worth £150. You can qualify if you either get the guarantee credit element of Pension Credit, or are on a low income and have high energy costs.

The scheme is currently closed, and will re-open in October 2024.

3, Council tax reduction 

If you’re on a low income or you receive benefits like Pension Credit, you may be able to get a discount on your council tax bill.

Depending on your circumstances, you could have your council tax bill reduced to zero with the council tax reduction scheme (sometimes called council tax support).

The amount taken off your bill depends on a number of factors, such as where you live, your income, your UK residency status, and if any other people are living with you.

4, Cold weather payment 

Some people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland may be eligible for the cold weather payment scheme. It differs from the winter fuel payment in two ways: first, you need to be receiving certain benefits to be eligible (this includes Pension Credit), and second, the weather needs to be very cold - freezing, in fact.

You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days.

You’ll get £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November 2024 and 31 March 2025.

If you live in Scotland you’re not eligible for cold weather payments; however, you may get an annual winter heating payment instead, which is made regardless of weather conditions in your area, and worth about £55. 

5, Entertainment discounts

Pensioners can get discounts on many attractions, from visiting the National Trust to their favourite football team.

Many Premier League clubs offer discounts for people over the age of 65. For example, Arsenal fans aged 66 and over can get a 57% discount off season tickets for the 2024/25 season.

If you're an existing National Trust member aged 60 or over, and you've been a member for at least the last three years, you can request 25% off your subscription.

This means you'll pay £68.40 for individual senior membership and £113.40 for joint membership.

Cinemas often have senior discounts on films, and may hold special screenings for pensioners. 

Odeon holds weekly Silver Cinema screenings for over-60s with ticket prices starting at £3.50. Picturehouse has Silver Screen, a free-to-join club for the over-60s, which offers discounted tickets and a free tea or filter coffee at shows.

6, Public transport discounts 

A free bus pass is one of the most well-known pensioner perks, but it can be confusing finding out what you’re entitled to as it depends where you live.

If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you can apply for a free bus pass when you reach age 60. In England, you need to wait until you reach state pension age, unless you live in London. Those living in the capital can travel free on buses, tubes and other transport when they are 60, but only within London.

Senior citizens resident in Northern Ireland can also get free travel on all public transport throughout the island of Ireland at the age of 65.

A senior railcard is also available to everyone aged 60 and over who wants discounted train fares: this costs £30 for one year or £70 for three years and gives a third off rail tickets.

7, Free TV licence 

If you’re 75 or over and receiving Pension Credit, you can get a free TV licence. This also applies if you live with a spouse or civil partner who meets the criteria. 

People who are blind or in residential care can get their TV licence for a reduced cost. For example, you can get a 50% discount if you’re registered blind. 

You’ll need to apply online for a free or reduced-price TV licence, or call 0300 790 6117.

8, Free eye tests 

Retirees aged 60 or over are eligible for a free eye test every 24 months. In addition, if you’ve been diagnosed with either type of diabetes, you can get a free annual eye test. 

If you or your partner receive the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit, you’re also automatically entitled to a voucher towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses.

9, Free prescriptions

Everyone aged 60 or over benefits from free prescriptions. You may be able to get free prescriptions earlier than this, if you’re on benefits, or you suffer from certain health conditions, including cancer, diabetes and epilepsy.

The NHS has a handy calculator to check what help you can get with prescriptions and other NHS costs. 

The cost of prescriptions - for those paying for them - rose on 1 May. A prescription now costs £9.90 for each medicine or appliance dispensed, an increase of 25 pence.

10, Free dental care 

People aged 60 and over living in Scotland and Wales are entitled to free NHS dental examinations. In England and Northern Ireland, older people don’t qualify for free dental care due to age - but you may be eligible for reduced or free dental treatment if you or your partner receive certain benefits, such as the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit.

Let the receptionist know if you receive benefits when you make an appointment. You may be asked to show proof.

Ruth Emery
Contributing editor

Ruth is an award-winning financial journalist with more than 15 years' experience of working on national newspapers, websites and specialist magazines.

She is passionate about helping people feel more confident about their finances. She was previously editor of Times Money Mentor, and prior to that was deputy Money editor at The Sunday Times. 

A multi-award winning journalist, Ruth started her career on a pensions magazine at the FT Group, and has also worked at Money Observer and Money Advice Service. 

Outside of work, she is a mum to two young children, while also serving as a magistrate and an NHS volunteer.