President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have unlimited access to Air Force One.AP Photo/Evan Vucci
- The prestigious title of president of the United States comes with benefits and perks that are just as luxurious.
- US presidents earn a $400,000 salary while in office, but that’s not the only financial perk.
- Presidents also have access to a country home, a personal plane, a helicopter, and a post-presidency pension.
Besides having the most prestigious title in the United States, presidents have several perks that lift a financial burden off their shoulders.
US law requires the president of the United States to be paid a salary while in office. According to Title 3 of the US code, a president earns a $400,000 salary and is still on government payroll after leaving office. The president is also granted a $50,000 annual expense account, $100,000 nontaxable travel account, and $19,000 for entertainment.
While sitting presidents and former presidents receive several perks that last beyond their time in office, like security and health insurance, wardrobe budgets are not included. Presidents and their families usually do not receive or accept clothing as a “gift” from designers, like celebrities on the red carpet. If a piece is accepted as a gift, it is immediately housed in the National Archives after being worn.
Aside from a prestigious title and global recognition, take a look at the financial perks that come with being the most powerful person in the US.
A six-figure salary
Congress raised the presidential salary from $200,000 to $400,000 in 2001 (plus an extra expense allowance of $50,000 a year). For President Trump, that is a huge decrease from his usual income — he’s worth $3.1 billion according to Forbes.
The president also receives a travel budget of $100,000 and a $19,000 allowance for entertainment. While a presidential salary is taxable, the other bonus benefits are not, according to the US tax code.
A famous address
The White House has housed US presidents since 1792. The estate has six floors and 132 rooms, including a bowling alley and chocolate store, Business Insider’s Mark Abadi previously reported. One of the rooms is a fully equipped fitness center with a tennis court and swimming pool.
Presidents and their families are given $100,000 to redecorate the White House to feel more at home. The Obamas did not accept the allowance to redecorate and used their own funds instead, according to Candace Keener on How Stuff Work’s podcast “Stuff You Missed In History Class.”
NBC News reported that Trump’s administration spent $1.75 million on new furniture, wall coverings, and a desk, though it’s unclear if Trump paid out-of-pocket.
Garden fresh fruits and vegetables
Michelle Obama started work on the White House garden during her husband’s presidency. Melania Trump continued Obama’s work and the tradition of hosting school children on the grounds, according to CNN. Today, the garden’s fruits and vegetables appear on the White House menu.
Movies at home
Franklin Roosevelt converted a room in the White House to a tiered home theater with 51 seats.
The first movie shown during Trump’s administration was “Finding Dory“. The theater is now open to East Wing tours thanks to Melania Trump’s direction in 2017, according to a statement released by the White House.
A country home
If a president wants a break from one fancy address, he can go to another. Camp David is located in the Catoctin Mountain Park in Frederick County, Maryland. The country home is fully equipped with a gym, swimming pool, and aircraft hanger. It has been the presidential retreat since the 1930s.
A personal plane
The customized Boeing 747-200B reserved for the president is highly sophisticated. The plane has 4,000 square feet of space, a medical operating room, private quarters for the president, and the capacity to feed 100 people at a time. CNN reported that it costs about $200,000 an hour to operate Air Force One.
And a helicopter
Marine One follows the president wherever he goes. It can operate rescue missions and cruise at more than 150 miles per hour even if one engine fails. It is also armed with anti-missile systems and ballistic armor, Business Insider reported.
Protection at all times
Secret service is always near the president, but protection doesn’t end after a president leaves the White House. Retired presidents receive the perk for life and their children are protected until the age of 16. In 2017, the secret service’s budget was $1.9 billion, according to Homeland Security.
A fleet of armored cars
Whenever the president travels by car, he travels in bullet- and bomb-proof luxury. The Beasts, as they’re known, are a fleet of cars designed and constantly watched by the Secret Service. The cars are built for targeted attacks — but they won’t win a street race. They weigh as much as a tank and only get 5 miles per gallon, according to GoBankingRates.
Post-presidency travel perks
Antara Foto Agency/Reuters
Presidential perks last beyond four (or eight) years. The General Services Administration is required to provide a former president enough money to cover travel and business expenses. Congress presented Obama with legislation that would cap that spending at $200,000 per year, but Obama vetoed the bill in 2016, according to the White House.
While serving a term, a White House doctor is always on call and medical staff accompany the president at all times. The White House has its own clinic with exam rooms, medical equipment, and military doctors on staff, according to the LA Times.
If a president serves five or more years of federal service, they receive priority health benefits and use of veterans hospitals. If eligible and interested in partaking, 75% of presidential health care is covered by taxpayers and purchased through Washington, DC, Obamacare exchange, according to the LA Times.
A pretty pension
The Former President Act determines how much compensation a president will receive after leaving the White House. In 2016, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton received annual pensions of $205,700. In 2017, Obama received $207,800, according to GoBankingRates.
While presidential pensions are fixed rates, presidents can ask for additional funds from Congress to cover things like staff salaries and office space, according to MONEY. For example, George W. Bush received $1,098,000 for office space in 2015, the most of any former president that year.
Transitioning one administration to the next is costly. A president’s administration transition costs are covered up to six months after taking office. This includes office space, staff compensation, communication services, and postage associated with transitioning, according to the Center for Presidential Transition. Obama’s 2008 transition into office cost about $9.3 million.
A state funeral
Presidents and their immediate family are American icons and their legacies are preserved after death. When an immediate presidential family member dies, they are honored with a state funeral, which is reserved for heads of state. A state funeral can last for 7 to 10 days and is a three-stage event with full military honors. The presidential family gets a military escort and flyover with a 21-gun salute, according to CBS News.