Money expert Clark Howard, Team Clark and our audience all love discounts.
Whether it’s a membership to Costco, Clark’s favorite store, fast food apps that offer loyalty rewards or holiday discounts on Chromebooks, we’re all about it.
But what about the deals and discounts you can get by being a member of two of the most engrained, nationwide programs in the United States: AARP and AAA? Which one doles out more attractive benefits?
That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.
AARP vs. AAA: Which Membership Offers Better Benefits?
Which benefits package is better, AARP or AAA? That’s what a Clark listener essentially asked on the Dec. 5 podcast episode.
Judith in Florida asked: “I just read about ‘younger’ people joining AARP for the discounts. Do you think this is worth it and a better deal than the discounts provided by AAA?”
As Judith alluded to, you can become an AARP member for as little as $12 per year … at any age. That’s something that many people don’t realize.
Clark got a family member to join AARP before those younger than 50 could officially join.
“I did something really terrible to my wife. When she turned 25, I signed her up for AARP as a joke. Nobody verified anything. She started at a really young age getting all these solicitations for senior living and all that,” Clark says.
As for the membership benefits, AAA starts at $59.99 a year ($5 a month) and offers emergency roadside assistance.
A cursory check of the national benefits for AARP vs. AAA shows that AARP offers a much higher volume of discounts. For example, AARP offers 21 restaurant discounts vs. two listings at AAA.
However, once you’re in your 60s, some of the senior discounts are redundant.
“If you’re in your 60s, you don’t have to be an AARP member anymore,” Clark says.
“I’ve noticed a bunch of hotel chains now, they don’t want to have to pay commissions. So they’re just offering senior discounts with the presentation of an ID. But if you’re not in your 60s yet, or you’re in your 40s, then having an AARP card will save you.”
While you may gravitate to one over the other — perhaps you’re really interested in the on-call roadside assistance that AAA provides or some of the great deals AARP offers — there’s nothing wrong with getting both. Especially if you’re going to consistently save good money each year.
“The rates are not necessarily the same. So having both is an advantage if you travel regularly,” Clark says. “Or just [join] AARP if you don’t need the roadside assistance from AAA because it’s much cheaper.”
AARP vs. AAA isn’t apples to apples. The former, open to any age, originally provided deals catered to seniors. It’s still “dedicated to people over 50.” The latter stands for American Automobile Association and has always been focused on automotive services and travel first and foremost.
However, each membership offers some unique benefits and discounts. With a combined price of as low as $17 for both memberships, it’s possible that both can offer you value.