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Is AAA Worth It?

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For those who aren’t familiar with AAA, they’re a practically ubiquitous automobile/travel organization where you pay annual dues in order to have access to a set of resources. The resources include free limited towing, some travel discounts, free trip planning and maps, and limited financial services. The only downside is that it’s expensive; I pay over $150 a year for one Basic membership and two associate memberships! (It’s $70 just for me) Is it worth it?



Discounts:
AAA will get you discounts practically anywhere and especially in places you don’t expect. I once walked into a Jos. A. Banks outlet, saw a nice jacket on clearance for like $30, and even got 20% off for showing my AAA card. Of course, if you’re a big spender, you can recoup the $70 in a heartbeat… save 20% off a $2,000 suit (I doubt the discount is that high on a suit) and you’ve recouped the cost.

When you check into a hotel or call in to reserve, ask about an AAA discount. I recently reserved a room down in Ocean City for three nights and AAA saved 15%, or about $90 or so. The thing is I split the room with six other people so my “savings” amounted to only $15.

Discounted Travel:
Ticket discounts is one of the biggest draws for AAA and the reason why I joined last year. My girlfriend and I planned on trips to Disney down in Orlando and an AAA membership significantly allows you purchase park tickets at a huge discount. Also, AAA is the only place that sells five-day passes. (or something like that)

Towing:
Having to be towed sucks. My girlfriend has had her car towed twice but I’ve never had the bad luck of having it towed ever but the two associate memberships are for my mother and my sister. While my mom would have no problem needing towing service since my dad would be nearby, my sister is much farther away. She’s also not particularly car savvy and having this service is always nice. Plus, she drives a VW Bug that’s been giving my dad headaches so he never knows when the piece of crap is going to need to get towed. For those of you who use AAA because of the free limited towing, check your car manual because your car may already have free limited towing service from your manufacturer that equals that of AAA.

Free Travel Planning:
This is a cool service I would probably never use, even less now with Google Maps or Mapquest. They can print out an entire driving plan to get you from point A to point B, even with highlighted streets. But one thing I do use from their travel planning area are the free travel guides. They have useful phone numbers of local restaurants and hotels and definitely a plus. Their rating system means nothing to me though.. quadruple platinum stars encrusted in diamonds? So what, how much does it cost and is it a recognizable hotel chain? :)

I’m not entirely sold on AAA memberships, especially in years where I don’t foresee taking big vacations where AAA would matter. The discounts are nice but not nice enough to be shelling out $70 a year for, I don’t think I should even be spending enough on those sorts of things to even justify the discount helping me out. Ultimately, I keep the membership because of the free limited towing service provided to my sister and my mom and that’s probably why my dad wanted me to get it.

{ 89 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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89 Responses to “Is AAA Worth It?”

  1. Suzanne says:

    Just a few notes–AAA costs vary according to market. Extra benefits vary too. Prescription drug benefits are not available in every state, for instance. I’ve had mixed experience with AAA, with much better office service in VA than in ME. Sometimes road service shows up quickly, sometimes not for several hours. I let my membership lapse and was bombarded with renewal letters for 2 months, some of them not so nice in tone, telling me to return the new card they sent, implying I’d be responsible for paying if I didn’t, or something to that effect. Left me with bad taste in mouth, tho up til then I didn’t have a problem with AAA, just didn’t feel the money spent was justified. I now have road service thru GEICO, but haven’t used them yet.

  2. Martha says:

    AAA has not only towed me multiple times but it also paid for the NJ Turnpike repairs division to fix my flat tire. I always make sure go to the AAA offices before leaving on a long car trip for their free maps and TripTiks (my favorite). AAA has a lot of membership perks, and it is well worth the money if you are willing to use the full privileges of being a member. I also always ask when I check into a hotel if they give a discount for AAA members.

  3. Go says:

    Remember that with the basic membership you can only get towed for ten miles. Anyone with a credit card doesnt need AAA. The online discounts are usually better than AAA. Having roadside assistance on your insurance means that the tow is free even if you do have to get reimbursed. A lot of new vehicles come with roadside assistance. AAA doesnt have their own trucks. They contract with local towers. AAA pays their contractors terrible and so some towing companies put off AAA calls if they have full paying calls.

  4. Tony says:

    Check betterworldclub.com – they pay their contractors more and usually have faster service. With their $40 gas rebate coupons, the net cost of basic membership is $13.95/year. In markets where AAA membership is lower, they match AAA rates. They offer similar benefits and are more environmentally responsible.

  5. trent says:

    I dumped my former insurance company. After being with them for 6 years! I get into a single fender bended, next thing you know my premium increases substantially. I don’t want to mention the insurance company’s name but its one of the biggest one out there. Anyways, I called local insurance companies in my area and wasn’t too successful either. Not only did I spend long hours calling around companies, brokers and agents, I waited days for some to get back to me. A lot of people have this notion to always go local. But you know what, I checked on the net found it to be easier to go online when shopping for insurance. The place I went to is http://www.insurancepaylite.com they were able to give a quote that was acceptable to me in the speediest time. Hope this helps.

  6. I had to discontinue my membership due to financial difficulties and boy have I paid for it! Since then, my kids have accidentally locked the keys in the car twice, my car has been towed twice, the lights have been left on and the battery needed to be given a boost and I’ve had two flats! That’s life living in the country with 7 kids. Never a dull moment. Now, I took advantage of the deals they offer on the “paid to read sites”. Being alone with all these kids, AAA is more a necessity (to save money on services) than a luxury.

    Thanks for letting me know about all the other extras! I wasn’t aware of the 5 day passes. That’s good to know!

  7. cary says:

    I second that Better World pays their contractors better=better service, plus they don’t use member dollars to lobby for anti enviromental issues. Non profit? You betcha!

  8. cary says:

    Yes, so now the next guy that comes along will have to make up the diff of the discount you rec’d in HIS repair bill. I knew there was a reason my dad wouldn’t stay at motels with the AAA logo.

  9. A says:

    is that $70 a year and not every month?

    well, i would still say that its a good price..

    how much is the membership if you are a teen driver? ;-)

  10. amy says:

    AAA is hands-down one of the most amazing services I’ve ever encountered. The piece of mind and convenience of calling one number and having a multitude of services at your fingertips makes my membership worth every penny. The most impressive part to me is that they’ve never taken more than a half-hour to arrive. On average, the response time has hovered around fifteen minutes.
    Another huge benefit to having AAA is that they’ll help you no matter what car you’re in… my friends have gotten their cars jumped multiple times on the association’s dime.

  11. FDavis says:

    Believe it or not I can say this from an employee stand point. When AAA says 100% customer satisfaction they stand by it. It is the customers who determine if the dispatchers or call center takers receive pay raises or bonuses. If the customers are not happy then that means something has to be done within that branch of AAA to make the customer happy. Every state has a different price that it’s member will pay either for basic, plus, plus/rv, or even premier memberships. Ranging anywheres from 5miles of towing to 200miles of towing free. In the auto stand point they offer fuel delivery, tows, winch outs, locksmith services, bail bonds, jumpstarts, tire changes, and miscellaneous things too; like frozen locks, new batteries, alarms not shutting off. U pretty much name it they cover it! They offer discounts on pretty much everything imaginable from eyeglasses to even movie tickets. You can even take advantage of attraction tickets to basically everywhere also. Plus if you loose your keys to your vehicle they will pay anywhere up to $100.00 on the cost to replace those keys with a locksmith. Better than going to the dealership to have to pay for new ones. So believe it or not this company aims to please thier customers. And if you have a complaint they always try thier best to make it right. What other company can really say that about itself.

  12. chris says:

    I joined AAA especially for the discounts with travel. I made reservation using AAA and recouped my membership fee for the next ten years. It has got to be one of the best deals out there.

  13. Ray says:

    I have been with AAA for 42 years and plan to,till I stop breathing.

  14. Hanna says:

    I thought I’d love AAA too, but I didn’t like the price — with an extra fee for me on my hubby’s account. We got All America Roadside instead, which is FAMILY coverage, including teenagers — all of those under 21 living at home OR away at college. I only paid $49.95, so it beats that $72 my mom pays for herself alone! And I wouldn’t be without coverage either! I’m just this is America, and we have choices!

  15. SQuiggy says:

    Sounds to me like a lot of AAA employees are blogging on this site! I took the time to read the websites of the lesser known ones, and read their comparative charts. Hanna, above, is right about All America Roadside. They’re the cheapest for comparable services. Thanks, Hanna, for doing your homework before blogging.

  16. Glenda C. says:

    My vote goes to — (drum roll) — All America Roadside Assistance. I’m in Boston and got stuck with a $120 tow in January. I’m sorry that I didn’t have this service before that, but I got it now. They told me that they’d tow me to the nearest repair facility regardless of how far that is. When I drive to California this fall, at least now I know that if I get stuck in the middle of the desert, it won’t cost me an additional arm & leg to get towed out! Great site here, and I read almost all of the comments. People really seem to care about each other and try to protect each other from scams or bad deals. That’s really appreciated! Thanks all!

  17. Kenn says:

    I slid off the highway in the snow and hit a pole – 300 miles from home. My car insurance company (Allstate) who I paid hundreds of dollars a month to wouldn’t do crap for me so I called AAA who I paid a few dollars a month to. AAA put me up in a motel, paid for my food for a day, and paid for a rental car to get me home since my car was undriveable.

    Just for that, they will get $70 from me every year for the rest of my hopefully long life.

  18. Tom says:

    The discounts make it all worth while, the Lenscrafters discount pays for my membership each year. Add in Dell Computer, Target.com, NAPA, New York & Company, Hertz, FTD.com, Barnes & Noble.com, The UPS Stores, Prescription Savings…..yes, available in all states, Tanger Outlets, Circuit City, Payless Shoes, RockPort Outlets, Penske Truck Rental, Sirius Radio, Best Buy, Amtrak, several hundred thousand hotel and motel rooms, most major theme parks, Hard Rock Cafes, etc. plus another 55,000 local and international merchant locations ….and more coming this winter.
    Yes, I am a AAA employee ….check our aaa.com/save to pay for your membership! Members will save well over $600 million this year. Claim your share!

    • echidnina says:

      The thing about the discounts is that they are only worth it if you remember to use them! I and my family have had AAA for as long as I can remember, but rarely if ever do we use the discounts. It’d be a great idea if we remembered to!

  19. Glenda C. says:

    Just got back from my trip to California, and was glad I called my now favorite roadside program to get updated maps before I left. Never would have known there was so much construction going on all over the country. I appreciated the hotel discounts too. I was under the mis-impression that only AA offered extras like that. Thanks All America for making my trip the best it could be. No, I’m not an employee, just a grateful customer.

  20. Scott and Barb says:

    We are going to Orlando this summer, my wife has to work, but the two kids and I don’t, so we are going to have some fun. We have AAA because we get a discount on home and auto insurance policies if we carry AAA. In the past two years every hotel we booked was cheaper on the internet or calling the hotel directly – anywhere from $10 to $20 per night. I went in to the AAA office today hoping to get some airline flights cheaper and Disney World tickets. They showed me the exact same flights (from the same two carries)that I looked at and AAA was higher – I am including the fees as well, Apples to Apples. The Disney World Tickets were a bit of a sticker shock for 4 and 5 days. When I got home the tickets were cheaper by 50 dollars each directly from Disney. I am failing to see how AAA is a good deal. The discount on my insurance is about a wash for what I pay for AAA, I haven’t had to use the towing so maybe that is worth it? I am thinking a good GPS for $250, could easily cover the cost for maps for 3 years. Color me not impressed.

  21. Jim says:

    I’ve been a member of AAA for 34 years and never had any kind of disappointment. If you actually read your membership benefits …it covers many different aspects of auto assistance, travel assistance and other entities to numberous to mention. I pay $127.00 for AAA PLus which comes out to approximately .35 Cents a day…very very reasonable…..

  22. Anonymous says:

    AAA Sucks

  23. Foster says:

    I’ve had AAA for years. With two kids in college over 4 hours away I can’t tell you how many times my answer to car troubles for them was, call AAA. And they always showed up, when they said they would and either fixed the problem or towed the car. I even used it while visiting my brother in Colorado when his car broke down on Thanksgiving Day 4 years ago. We were in the middle of nowhere and while it took a while AAA was there and got us back to civilization. An excellent service and the fees are worth the piece of mind. I have also used the discounts, an additional 8% off a new Plasma TV from Circuit City payed for part of this years membership with the money we saved.

  24. iRandal says:

    peace of mind is priceless.

    broke down in summerville this monday night; i live in providence, ri;

    towing fee would have been astomonical

    55 miles back home= FREE

    yeah i’m happy with AAA

  25. Steve V. says:

    I consider AAA as insurance. Very economical insurance. We’ve been AAA (PLUS) members for decades, regardless of whether our cars were new or used. Occasional use of it’s towing/starting benefits have more than paid for our annual membership fees. However, if it were not for the AAA “PLUS” option I don’t think I would be a member. PLUS is what makes AAA coverage really valuable … up to 100 miles of free towing, for one thing. A story …

    My wife and I were taking out daughter and granddaughter to an airport about 175 miles from our home. Our transmission gave out on an Oklahoma tollway about 100 miles from home and 75 miles from the Tulsa airport. Because we carried AAA’s PLUS membership, they sent two vehicles (a tow truck and a van), towed our car back to our hometown garage, and with the van took us on into Tulsa, and right to the airport where we saw our kids safely off. Our only expense throughout the ordeal was for a rental car to get back home.

    I am a firm believer in AAA PLUS. And so are those whom we’ve stopped to help along side the road from time to time. (Yes, you can use your benefits to help others as long as you stay on the scene until the help arrives.Then just sign and go.) There are plenty of roadside service plans to choose from, but for us AAA has proved itself to be the superior one–over many years–over and over again.


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