AAA Membership: Is it Worth the Cost?
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When my wife and I were first married, we loved going on road trips. On one of our first trips, our car broke down. Since I was a mechanical novice, I had no clue what to do.
My wife told me not to worry and proceeded to call AAA (American Automobile Association). Her parents had bought her an AAA membership when she was in college. They towed our car to the mechanic and we were on our way after a few repairs.
Roadside assistance is just one of the benefits AAA offers. If you’re wondering if a membership is worth the cost, read on.
AAA Membership: Is it Worth the Money?
Triple-A is not a single company. It’s a group of regional clubs that sit under the AAA organization. Here is what to consider before joining AAA.
How Much Does AAA Cost?
AAA’s pricing depends on where you live and the membership level you choose. The club has three membership tiers. These include Classic, Plus, and Premier.
We live in Omaha, which is considered part of the Automobile Club Group. This group consists of 13 states.
Our AAA membership costs are:
- Classic – $61 annually
- Plus – $108 annually
- Premier – $158 annually
Prices differ by location, but there shouldn’t be much variance.
Each of the tiers offers similar services. The more expensive options provide expanded features.
The AAA towing service is a terrific example of the differences between the membership levels. With the Classic plan, you receive up to four ten-mile tows annually. Plus members can get up to four 100-mile tows per year. Premier provides one 200-mile tow and up to three 100-mile tows annually.
You can get a free Classic membership for a second household member. The club also gives you a $5 AAA membership discount if you choose automatic renewal.
Besides the AAA roadside service, you receive numerous perks through your membership. Not only do you receive access to travel discounts, but the club also offers additional features.
Here are the key differences between the Classic, Plus, and Premier membership tiers.
|AAA Classic||AAA Plus||AAA Premier|
|Cost: $61/yr||Cost: $108/yr||Cost:$158/yr|
|Towing: 4/yr up to 3 miles/ea||Towing: 4/yr up to 100 miles/ea||Towing: 4/yr up to 100 miles/ea + 1 @ 200 miles|
|Battery jumpstart + replacement||Battery jumpstart + replacement||Battery jumpstart + replacement + $25 discount on new AAA battery|
|Free flat tire change with your spare||Free flat tire change with your spare||Free flat tire change with your spare|
|Fuel delivery||Fuel delivery + free fuel||Fuel delivery + free fuel|
|Vehicle locksmith up to $50||Vehicle locksmith up to $100||Vehicle locksmith up to $150 + home locksmith up to $100|
|Emergency personal check/debt card acceptance up to $250||Emergency personal check/debt card acceptance up to $250||Emergency personal check/debt card acceptance up to $250|
|Hertz rental discount: Gold Plus membership + 750 Gold Plus Rewards Bonus Pts.||Hertz rental discount: Gold Plus membership + 750 Gold Plus Rewards Bonus Pts.||Hertz rental discount: Gold Plus membership + 1,500 Gold Plus Rewards Bonus Pts.|
The most popular benefit the club offers is the AAA roadside assistance. It can be a lifesaver when you have an issue with your car. Roadside service includes any of the following:
- Towing your vehicle
- Jumping your car
- Changing a flat tire
- Unlocking your locked car
Other AAA benefits include:
Free battery replacement: This is for Premier members and applies when the AAA mobile battery service determines you need a new battery.
Passport photos: Classic members can get passport photos for $7.99 + tax, Plus receives two free sets per year, and Premier is unlimited.
Home lockout service: This is strictly for Premier members.
Travel Accident Insurance: Classic members receive $100,000 in coverage, Plus gets $300,000, and Premier receives $500,000.
Free gas: You can use the AAA mobile app to find cheap gas near you to save money.
TripTiks: This is a road trip planner that is free for all members.
International maps: These are offered at no cost to all members. Premier members also receive free guides.
Most clubs offer everything covered above. However, your region may offer additional benefits.
Roadside service is a huge feature of AAA. We have used it several times and generally have been pleased with the assistance we received.
This service is typically outsourced to local mechanics, so experiences can vary. The AAA app does have a service tracker feature you can use to monitor how long it will take you to get assistance.
There are other alternatives if you don’t want to get service through Triple-A. These include:
The manufacturer of your car: Some manufacturers offer roadside assistance. Normally, this only applies to new cars.
Your auto insurer: Most car insurance companies provide some level of assistance. This may or may not be included in your premium. When not, it’s often pretty affordable.
Your credit card: Many credit card companies, including rewards credit cards, offer roadside assistance. Like auto insurers, this varies by card provider and may be free or available at a reduced price.
AAA Membership Discounts
AAA offers many discounts to members. Here are some of the ways they help you save money:
- $5 discount on automatic renewals
- Up to 20 percent off car and truck rentals
- Discounts at amusement parks, museums, and other entertainment venues
- Discounted prescriptions
- Reduced vision care prices at LensCrafters
- Up to ten percent off at AAA-approved car repair shops
- Discounted computers from Dell or Hewlett-Packard
Depending on what services or products you purchase, these discounts could make the AAA membership cost worth it to you.
AAA Auto Insurance
You usually need to be a member to purchase AAA car insurance, and you can often get coverage at an affordable price. The club also offers home, renters, and life insurance.
Your experience with AAA will depend on where you live. Some locations act as the agent, while others partner with alternate organizations. With the latter, you can take advantage of the benefits available to members of the other organizations.
Rates also vary depending on where you live. Agents will review all of your policies to ensure you have the best coverage for your needs.
How to Cancel Your Membership
If you decide that AAA is not for you, it’s simple to cancel your membership. The easiest way is to call customer service at 800-222-6424. You can also stop by your local club to request cancelation.
Unfortunately, you can’t cancel online.
The question of whether or not AAA is worth the cost depends on your needs. If you have roadside service through other avenues and the discounts aren’t enticing, a membership might not be for you.
However, if you need access to roadside assistance, it can be a valuable service since the club offers numerous ways to help in times of need.
There are also various AAA discounts available to members. It’s important to do the math before joining to determine if they’re of value to you.
What do you look for when joining a club like this? Is AAA worth it to you?
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.