Joining AAA can unlock some decent rewards and savings on certain products, services and travel costs, but is a membership worth it?
In this article, I’ll tell you what you need to know about joining AAA including the price, things to consider to determine whether membership is worth it for your personal situation and how to save money using the service.
Should You Join AAA? Here’s What You Need To Know
AAA stands for the American Automobile Association. Formed in 1902, the group was originally made up of automobile enthusiasts. Now more than a century later, AAA and its affiliated clubs offer a range of services that cater to drivers and travelers.
I’ve been an AAA member for a number of years, and it has saved me money on rental cars and more.
if you’re a new T-Mobile customer, you may be able to qualify for a free one-year membership with AAA. Read the details here.
If you decide to buy an AAA membership, I strongly suggest that you take advantage of the many perks. If not, your subscription could quickly become one of those monthly expenses you hardly ever use, and that’s a waste of money.
How Much Does AAA Cost?
An annual AAA membership can cost as little as $37 and as much as $133.
AAA’s pricing depends on where you live and which membership level you select. There are three membership tiers: Classic, Plus and Premier. We’ll get into what each tier offers a bit later.
Mostly, the prices are governed by where you live and what affiliated club (Auto Club South, Auto Club Northeast, etc.) you belong to, but there are exceptions. I checked the AAA prices across several cities in February 2022, and here’s what I found.
AAA Membership Prices: 8 Sample Cities
|ZIP Code||City / State||Classic||Plus||Premier|
|95050||San Jose, Calif.||$59,99||$94.99||$119.99|
What Are Some Key Features of AAA Membership?
Aside from roadside assistance, one of the most popular AAA features is access to travel discounts on hotels, car rentals, cruises and vacation packages.
To see the key features that AAA membership offers, it’s beneficial to look at the differences among the three membership tiers: Classic, Plus and Premier.
|AAA Classic||AAA Plus||AAA Premier|
|Towing: Up to four tows per year up to 5 miles each||Towing: Up to four tows per year up to 100 miles each||Towing: Up to four tows per year up to 100 miles each including one up to 200 miles|
|Battery jumpstart||Battery jumpstart||Battery jumpstart and free replacement|
|Free identity theft monitoring||Free identity theft monitoring||Free identity theft monitoring and free $10,000 identity theft insurance|
|Fuel delivery (you pay for fuel)||Fuel delivery (fuel is free)||Fuel delivery (fuel is free)|
|Locksmith service up to $50 for vehicles||Locksmith service up to $100 for vehicles||Locksmith service up to $150 for vehicles
|Car travel interruption expense reimbursement ($600)||Car travel interruption expense reimbursement ($1,000)||Car travel interruption expense reimbursement ($1,500)|
|Hotel discounts||Hotel discounts||Hotel discounts|
* Membership information based on Northeast Club prices.
There are also travel discounts that could make a membership worth your while.
- Best Western: Get a discount of up to 15% on room rates at Best Western Hotels & Resorts.
- Hilton: Members can save 10% or more at Hilton hotels and resorts.
- Choice: Members can save up to 5% at Choice hotels (Clarion, Quality Inn, Econolodge, etc).
- MGM Resorts: Save 10% off rates.
The last time I needed to rent a car, I checked Kayak, Orbitz and Priceline, but AAA’s discount beat them all. I ended up saving $40 with AAA for my Hertz rental car.
Here are some notable AAA discounts on car rentals:
- Hertz – Up to 20% off on some car rentals
- Thrifty – Up to 8% off car rentals and 10% off GPS navigation systems
- Dollar – Up to 10% off car rentals and GPS navigation systems
The club offers discounts on cruises and vacation packages as well. Some of AAA’s cruise ship partners include:
Each of AAA’s cruise partners offers what it calls “exclusive benefits and discounts.” In August 2022, I found that Carnival was offering 30% off.
You also get access to TripTik, a travel tool that includes trip planners and TourBook guides that allow you to map your journey or find gas stations, restaurants and lodging along the way.
AAA’s other services include auto loans and insurance, home insurance, and free identity theft protection via Experian.
You can also get discounted tickets for movies and other entertainment.
By far, AAA’s biggest claim to fame is its roadside assistance. It operates 24 hours a day and covers each member whether they’re a driver or just a passenger.
As a AAA member, money expert Clark Howard says he’s used the service occasionally for towing.
“The big beef with AAA is how long you have to wait for emergency road service, but when it works, it’s great,” Clark says.
How To Save With an AAA Membership
If you buy an AAA membership and want to take immediate advantage of the savings, you can explore the Discounts page to see a list of national retailers that offer products and services to AAA members at reduced prices. Once you sign up, you’ll also be able to access discounts specific to your local area.
Having said all that, you may sign up for a membership and find that you’re not taking full advantage of it or that it’s not meeting your needs.
How To Cancel Your AAA Membership
AAA makes it fairly easy to cancel your membership, but you can’t close your account online. Call the Member Service Center at (800) 222-6424 to speak with a AAA customer service representative.
You can, however, cancel automatic renewal of your membership here.
Conclusion: Is AAA Worth the Money?
I agree with Clark in saying that AAA membership is not for everyone. It largely depends on your lifestyle: how often you travel and whether the other services are things you’ll use.
If you find that you’re not traveling or driving as much as you once were, you may decide that a AAA membership isn’t worth it right now.
On the other hand, you may reason that AAA’s free vehicle towing is a better option for roadside assistance than an alternative such as your insurance company, which typically provides such services only through a policy claim.
Here’s the bottom line: Before you spend any money on AAA, make sure you take a good look at all of the services and compare the benefits of the membership tiers.
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