In existence for more than 100 years, the American Automobile Association (AAA) has long been a popular membership for many Americans — especially for the travel discounts.
The self-described “federation of independent clubs” boasts more than 58 million members and has gotten many of them with promises of big deals, but is it worth it to join?
AAA Membership: Is It Worth the Money?
If you’re thinking about buying a AAA membership, here’s everything you need to know.
How Much Does AAA Cost?
AAA’s pricing depends on where you live, as well as the membership level you select. Memberships can cost as low as $53 and as much as $169.
Mostly, the prices are governed by which regional motor club (Auto Club South, Auto Club Northeast, etc.) you belong to, but there are exceptions. We checked the AAA prices across several cities and here’s what we saw as of October 2019:
AAA Membership Prices: Top 10 Cities
|78202||San Antonio, TX||$55||$88||$113|
|95050||San Jose, CA||$56||$91||$119|
What Are Some Key Features of a AAA Membership?
There are three different types of AAA memberships: Classic, Plus and Premier.
Aside from roadside assistance, one of the most popular perks is access to travel discounts. AAA offers discounts on hotels, car rentals, cruises and other vacation packages.
Here’s a look at some of the key differences between the three options:
AAA Membership Levels and Benefits
|AAA Classic||AAA Plus||AAA Premier|
|Towing: Four tows up to 5 miles each||Towing: Four tows up to 100 miles each||Towing: One tow up to 200 miles; three tows up to 100 miles each|
|Emergency starting||Emergency starting||Emergency starting|
|Battery service||Battery service||Battery service|
|Flat tire service||Flat tire service||Flat tire service|
|Fuel delivery (you pay for fuel)||Fuel delivery (fuel is free)||Fuel delivery (fuel is free)|
|Vehicle locksmith service (up to $50)||Vehicle locksmith service (up to $100)||Vehicle locksmith service (up to $150)|
|Passport photos (small fee)||Passport photos (two free sets per member per year)||Passport photos (unlimited)|
|Hertz Gold Plus Rewards membership + 675 Points, after the first Gold rental = 1 Free Day||Hertz Gold Plus Rewards membership + 675 Points, after the first Gold rental = 1 Free Day||Hertz Gold Plus Rewards membership + 1,100 Points, after the first Gold rental = 2 Free Weekend Days|
There are also some travel discounts that could make a membership worth your while. AAA works with the following hotel brands:
- Best Western: Save 5% to 15% and earn 10% bonus Best Western Rewards points
- Hilton: Save up to 10% and earn Honors points
- Hyatt: Get free breakfast, save up to 10% and earn World of Hyatt points
- Marriott: Save 5% or more and earn Marriott Bonvoy points
- MGM Resorts: Save 10% and earn M life tier credits
For car rentals, AAA partners with Hertz to offer up to 20% on daily, weekend, weekly and monthly rentals.
AAA offers other services to members like auto loans and insurance, home insurance, and even a high-yield savings account.
You can see all of the perks and compare the benefits of the Classic, Plus and Premier memberships by going to the membership page on your local AAA site and selecting Compare Benefits.
How to Save With a AAA Membership
If you want to take immediate advantage of the benefits of an AAA membership, here’s how to get some of them:
- Go to their Deals page: You’ll see their “Deals of the Week,” as well as restaurant discounts near you.
- Use the AAA Dollars Online Mall to save on items you might need. When you shop, the loyalty program lets you earn AAA Dollars toward renewal dues.
How to Cancel Your AAA Membership
AAA makes it fairly easy to cancel your membership, but you can’t cancel online. Call the Member Service Center at (800) 222-6424 to speak with one of their customer service representatives.
You may also be able to visit your local AAA club and cancel in person.
They will advise you on whether you’re due a full or partial refund based on how much time is left before your renewal.
Conclusion: Is AAA Worth the Money?
Money expert Clark Howard says AAA membership is not for everyone. It largely depends on your lifestyle: How often you travel and whether you take advantage of the many perks.
Clark says, “I’m a AAA member because of the discounts they offer for hotels, which are very valuable to me, and occasionally I’ll do a tow.”
AAA offers a one-stop shop for many services, but it’s best value remains its roadside assistance. That’s the one clear advantage that AAA has over, say, an insurance company.
In fact, Clark says, “You never should add tow coverage to your own insurance.” The reason is there’s a hidden dark side to it.
Despite all the good things he says about AAA, Clark adds, “The big beef with AAA is how long you have to wait for emergency road service, but when it works, it’s great.”
If you have AAA, let us know how you like the service in the comments below!