What Discounts and Help can you get with a Pension or Health Care Card in Australia?
Each state in Australia has different concessions based on the type of card you have and it is not determined by Centrelink, it is at the discretion of local providers. It always pays to ask!
The PBS is about the only consistent discount, where concession card holders are entitled to a discount on medicine.
All other potential discounts on services such as transport, electricity, and rates are decided by the local providers and governments in each state which can make it tricky to know what you are entitled to.
Low income or healthcare cards do not get as many discounts or benefits as pension cards. But always ask and outline your circumstances!
This post covers anything I have found and includes a few affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure for that here.
A Few Immediate Bonuses
These are not specific to your concession card but may help:
ING has $100 for new customers. using the code CNW116. Full details here. Raiz offers $5, Swagbucks has $10 and Up Bank $5 (this one is almost instant when you download the app and sign up to fee-free banking). Check them and more out here.
We created a full list of Australian freebies, sign up bonuses and discounts here. It has everything from transport to food, stationery to toys and more.
The Ultimate Guide to Make and Save Money at Home
In this guide, I cover everything from ideas to make money at home, how to set up a business for under $100, what you can claim on tax, my top frugal tips for every area of the budget, how to create a budget and stick to it, over 100 frugal recipes plus tips on balancing it all, finding the time and ways to entertain the kids. Find The Ultimate Guide to Make and Save Money at Home here.
Side note: This post was originally written in 2013, on KylieOfiu.Com, much has changed and while we try to keep it updated, things change frequently.
Medical Discounts for Concession Cards
All Australian concession cards entitle you to a discount on health care and prescriptions. This includes ambulance fees in most states. You will be sent the bill then you ring with your details and it will be taken care of.
Optical discounts such as subsidised glasses.
Free hearing tests at certain locations.
Bulk billed doctors and dental work.
For children, check your eligibility for the $1,000 dental scheme for each child.
Ask your local health care providers or check with a pharmacist as they often know the options available in your local area.
Discounted Electricity, Land and Water Rates
Discounts on electricity, land rates and water rates for all concession cards, even low-income health care cards, are available in some states. You will need to check with your local council, electricity provider and water board.
It is not automatically entered into the system, you need to call and inform them or let them know when you sign up with them. Some electricity companies and councils also offer an energy audit to help with reducing the cost of electricity by offering tips, light bulbs, power boards, draft stoppers and other products.
Education Discounts and Payments for Concession Card Holders
Fees at Tafe (CIT for Canberra) can be halved for eligible cards and courses. Apprentices and trainees are eligible for health care cards but not for half price course fees. Some preschools, primary and high schools offer discounted fees for pensioners if you ask plus there is a School Fees Allowance for children 15 years and under, usually paid directly to the school.
On top of this, depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for an extra payment from Centrelink for studying, for example:
Education Entry Payment (which may be changing in 2017/2018)
Pensioner Education Supplement (which may change in 2017/2018)
Payments for students and trainees
Movies and Entertainment Discounts
Most movie theatres will offer discounted tickets to all concession cards, but I found years ago that with the health care card it depended on who was on the counter.
Almost all shows, attractions and events have concession rates as well, although some of those concessions apply only to seniors, people on disability or veterans, not single parents or low incomes.
Free and Discounted Travel
Public transport can be used at a discounted rate for most states on all cards, some states health care cards alone are entitled to discounted transport. You are also entitled to 4 free train trips within your state to the border. You pay a booking fee still and if going past the border you pay the concession rate for the remainder of your trip in whichever states you travel.
Mail Redirection and Stamps
You are eligible for a reduced rate on mail redirection but only if the redirection is from a home address to home address, not PO Boxes. Australia Post also offers discounted stamps for concession card holders. You get 5 free stamps and up to 50 discounted stamps at a rate of 60 cents instead of $1, purchased in books of 5 for $3.
Registration and Licences
Car registration is waived in most states with only the compulsory third party needing to be paid. As soon as you are on the pension, go into the registration office and update your details to have this applied.
Drivers licences are free in some states, as are licence renewals but not the actual driving test.
Pet registration is heavily discounted as well.
Banking for Concession Card Holders
Numerous fee free banking options are available for holders of various concession cards. Just ask the banks, some even offer free money sessions to help you sort your finances. You can read about Catherine’s experience here.
Bonus saving accounts are offered for either those who save a certain amount it will be matched by the bank or those who get a loan, repay it and then apply for a saver account and save a certain amount will have it matched by the bank. You can find one program from NAB here.
Interest-free loans are available for certain items such as white goods or furniture usually through charities. You can find information about NILS here.
Some states or territories such as the ACT offer free rubbish removal to pension card holders. Some councils offer free pick ups as well for everyone.
Many hairdressers, some supermarkets, chemists, mechanics and other places that offer a service have a pension discount day. It is up to the provider if the discount only applies to seniors, veterans or all card holders.
The total value of any of these concession cards has been placed at tens of thousands of dollars. The discounts can be significant. The reduced prescriptions and doctors appointments, free registration, reduced public transport and discounted energy rates are worth thousands on their own.
Do you have a concession card? What do you use it for? Have you ever added up how much money it saves you?
More Ways to Save Money
Check out these articles too:
50 ways to live for free
How to stick to a budget as a single mum or single income family
What to do when you are newly single
How to reducce your 3 biggest expenses
7 tips to manage finances when you have mental health issues
Where are the best Aussie giveaways and competitions?
How we cleared $90,000 worth of debt in 12 months (they started off unemployed)
43 ways for single mums to make money (or anyone who wants flexible income options)
12 ways to get coupons and discounts in Australia
Ways to Make Money on Centrelink
Given the interest in this article, I have added below things you can do to make money on the side, even if on Centrelink. Remember to be transparent about your income with Centrelink otherwise if you are overpaid, you will have to pay it back.
Online Surveys – $2,000+ per year
Online surveys won’t make you rich and if they are the only thing you do with Centrelink payments, the amount won’t change your payments. Most readers make $2,000 to $5,000 per year with the following:
PrizeRebel – Pays in USD, is free to join but not as many surveys as Swagbucks. Join PrizeRebel here.
I have a full list of online survey sites for Aussies you can read.
Get Cash Back
Cashback sites are easy to use. My favourite four are Cash Rewards, Honey, Shopback and Swag Bucks. Basically, you join then add the extension to Chrome and download the ap. Then, whenever you shop online it will pop up with how much you can get back. If you shop a lot, you’ll get more back. I have more cash back sites here.
Rent Your Space Out
Got a spare garage? You can rent it to others for storage, to have their special car or anything else. I rented mine to another mum in business who needed sewing space for $50 a week back in 2013. You can list your garage, storage cage or other space on Spacer or try Gumtree.
Carparks and driveways are other options. They can be used to store boats and caravans or if you live somewhere parking is expensive, you can rent it to office workers. Recent places I have lived it’s been $50 to $100 a week for a car space.
Sign up to Fiverr and offer something such as creating videos, graphics, voiceover work or anything else you can do. It’s that simple and no, you don’t have to only charge $5 though that is how Fiverr originally started.
You can choose how much you charge and upsell other services to make more money. This dad made almost $1,000,000 in a few years and this woman made over $1,000,000 in 6 years on Fiverr. What started as a side gig for both resulted in them being able to quit their jobs.
There are a lot of things you can do on the side to make money such as buy things to resell, freelance writing, tasks on Airtasker etc. Read how to make an extra $20,000 this year or how I made $33,277.57 on the side one year.
We live in unique times, so while not everything in the articles I have linked to will be possible right now, there is a lot which can help.