Do you own onenew or used car, you've probably experienced your share of car problems: unexpected breakdowns, unexplained noises, lingering mechanical defects, or accidents caused by unsafe road conditions or human error. These issues are inconvenient, expensive, and potentially dangerous to your safety.
For more than a century,American Automobile Association (AAA)has provided invaluable support - including free roadside assistance and towing - to millions of American drivers for whom car problems are all too real.
AAA also offers some other valuable benefits, including discounted auto insurance rates, travel services, and identity theft protection. But do these benefits justify the annual cost of AAA membership?
What is AAA?
AAA is a not-for-profit association of regional automobile clubs collectively serving the entire United States.
AAA membership costs vary widely. Membership costs start at around $50 per year and range up to $200 per year, depending on membership level and location. But if you drive regularly, it can be a wise investment.
Organizational structure and AAA clubs
AAA is a non-profit association made up of (and jointly owned by) more than 40 regional clubs.
Most AAA clubs have multiple physical locations spread throughout their service areas. These places sell maps and travel literature as well as travel products such as passports and international driving licenses.
AAA's roadside assistance calls and other automotive services are provided by a network of AAA-approved contractors, usually auto repair shops and towing companies.
To find your regional AAA club and the branch closest to your home or office, enter your zip codeAAA club search tool.
AAA Membership Levels and Benefits (Membership Levels)
AAA has three primary membership levels: Classic (also called Basic), Plus and Premier. It also offers RV coverage that you can add to Plus and Premier memberships.
AAA usually charges an annual membership fee. Aswarehouse clubsAsCostco, AAA household memberships have one primary member (who pays higher membership dues) and several associate members.
Classic is the lowest price category and Premier is the highest, but annual costs can vary significantly between clubs. For example primaryAAA MinneapolisClassic members pay $69 per year, plus $38 per associated member, docAAA CarolinaClassic members pay $64 per year and $35 for each associate member.
Membership dues can also change over time, and most clubs only guarantee dues for the first year. In some cases, clubs charge a one-time membership fee that is usually less than the cost of an annual membership. For example, AAA Minneapolis includes a $15 application fee in the first year's price.
Universal services and benefits of AAA membership
All AAA membership levels include these universal services and benefits. However, each AAA club is different and some may offer additional services.
For a full picture of what your local club can or cannot do for you, visit their website or call your local customer service.
Replacement of battery
If you agree to pay full price for a replacement battery, AAA service providers will provide it without counting it towards your annual roadside assistance benefit.
Travel agency services
AAA offers a variety of free or low-cost travel agency services, including personalized travel planning, discount tickets to popular attractions, travel reservations (including flights, hotels and trains), travel and cruise planning and reservations, group travel arrangements and international travel guides.
Service fees may apply for certain travel booking services.
International driver's license
AAA offices can issue international driver's licenses at special member rates, a variable discount off the full price that can vary from office to office, but usually hovers around $20 per card. license. Permits require two passport-sized photos and a valid driver's license, and AAA can issue them while you wait.
Hertz discount on car hire
All AAA members receive special discounts on rental vehiclesHerc. Discounts can be as small as a few percentage points or north of 20%, depending on location and vehicle model.
Hertz Gold Plus membership
All AAA members get a free Hertz Gold Plus membership, which normally costs $60 a year. Gold Plus members get expedited billing, the ability to change the vehicle selection on the spot and other useful benefits. AAA Plus members receive 675 free Hertz Gold Plus bonus points. AAA Premier members get 1,100 free points.
AAA members receive tons of exclusive discounts and offers from thousands of partner retailers, including national companies like The UPS Store andBest buy. Offers vary by retailer and product, but can be up to 50% off full price.
As a general rule, you must present a valid AAA membership card in person or enter the number on the online billing portal to receive discounts.
Free domestic AAA travel materials
Helpful domestic travel materials such as road maps, local guides and planners are free with AAA membership. International travel material covering Europe and other regions is free for Plus and Premier members and 50% off the cover price for Classic members. You can buy them at the AAA office or order online.
Some AAA clubs offer insurance products from AAA affiliate insurance companies: Automobile Club Inter-Insurance Exchange, Auto Club Family Insurance Company and AAA Life Insurance Company. The products include life insurance,home owner insurance,renter's insurance,car insurance, and excess insurance.
AAA says its insurance products are cheaper than other providers, but there are many variables at play and it's hard to generalize the depth of potential discounts.
AAA approved auto repair discount
All AAA members can receive a 10% discount on parts and labor at AAA-approved auto repair shops that display the AAA logo in their windows. The benefit is limited to $50 per repair.
Auto repair shops do not automatically give a discount. You must request it verbally and show your AAA membership card for the current year. AAA-approved auto repair providers must also guarantee all repairs they perform for two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Identity Theft Tracking
AAA members get in freeIdentity theftmonitoring, including daily monitoring of Experian credit reports, email alerts of suspicious activity or changes to that credit report, and fraud resolution support following a potential identity theft incident.
Passenger porter and ambulance
Premier members have access to dedicated concierges while on the move. Concierge services are comprehensive and include local weather forecasts, reservation assistance (including golf appointments andrestaurantreservations), car rental and entertainment ticket sales.
Premier members can also take advantage of AAA's emergency travel assistance services, including prescription replacement, translation, lost ticket and document replacement, cash transfer, medical transportation and doctor's appointments.
AAA membership benefits by membership level
AAA members are entitled to certain additional benefits and privileges. Some are available at all three membership levels, while others are reserved for Plus or Premium (or just Premium) members.
1. Classic membership
AAA's initial membership level is alternately known as Classic or Basic, depending on the regional club. Although the classic services and benefits vary somewhat from club to club, they generally include these core benefits.
24/7 roadside assistance
The biggest advantage of AAA is roadside assistance. Classic members usually get at least four free roadside assistance calls per year. Calls over the four-year limit are the member's financial responsibility and typically cost $50 or more.
During a roadside assistance call, the emergency services provide a range of services: starting assistance (using mobile battery jump-start units), free battery testing, flat tire replacement if a serviceable spare tire is available, and minor on-site mechanical repairs.
Roadside assistance services may be transferred to vehicles not owned by an AAA member. For example, if you're driving a friend's car and it breaks down, you can use your AAA benefit at no charge to your friend.
Roadside assistance services are also available for pedal bikes (as opposed to e-bikes). Coverage includes bike repair and transport to a shop (towing) within a 5 mile radius. It's a useful advantage to get used tocyclistsso do recreational cyclists.
When a member's car is disabled or cannot be driven safely, AAA covers the cost of towing it back to an emergency facility or a facility of the member's choice within 25 miles of the car's current location.
Towing costs vary, but this convenience can easily be worth more than $100 per tow. use. In the case of longer towing, a personal payment is imposed.
Car rental for towed members
Members who have their cars towed as part of a free service call (limit four per year) are entitled to a discount on car hire while the repairs are needed.
This benefit is limited to Hertz rentals and is generally 20% off the sticker rental price. Members also enjoy freeHertz Gold Plus nagrademembership.
Locking of vehicles
Members who have lost their vehicle due to lost or stolen keys are entitled to a discount on the necessary locksmith services. The discount is usually $50 for Classic members, but may vary from club to club. If the total bill is less than the discount amount, there is no charge.
Members who have run out of gas are entitled to free fuel delivery from a nearby service station, provided they pay the full price of the gas delivered.
Classic members get two basic onestravel insurancecoverages: trip interruption coverage (up to $500 per group) and travel accident coverage (typically $100,000 per group). Coverage limits may vary from club to club.
Members who are driven off the road and stuck in mud, snow, sand or other difficult to navigate terrain are entitled to recovery and recovery service from one "normally equipped" service vehicle. It is usually a tow truck equipped with a powerful winch that can pull the car.
The service does not apply to cars parked on a street or driveway that is temporarily blocked by snow or flooding.
Discounted Carfax reports
Classic members receive a 20% discount on Carfax reports (which detail pre-owned vehicle ownership, accident and repair history) ordered online. A single Carfax report normally costs $40, so this benefit is worth $8 per car. report.
Reimbursement of legal costs
At AAA's discretion, attorneys' fees may be reimbursed to members who plead not guilty to certain eligible motor vehicle charges, including reckless driving and criminal negligence.
For Classic members, total compensation (split between litigation and appeal costs) ranges from $500 to $1,000 for serious violations, depending on the club. Compensation limits are lower for less serious offences.
Discounts in the travel shop
Members receive a discount when shopping at the AAA Travel Store, typically 10% to 15% (depending on the club).
2. Plus membership
Plus members get all the benefits of Classic membership plus the following benefits. Some are simply more generous versions of classic benefits. Others are brand new perks you unlock.
In addition, members receive free towing to a service center of their choice, up to 100 miles per service call. This provides a much wider range of choices than the Classic benefit, which only allows towing to unresponsive carriers within 3 miles.
Plus a locksmith
Additionally, members receive larger locksmith discounts, typically $100 to $150 (depending on the club).
Plus travel insurance
Plus members receive three basic travel insurance policies with higher limits that may vary by club. Generally, Plus family coverage is between $500 and $1,000, lost baggage coverage is a maximum of $250 per person. person, and travel accident coverage is $200,000 per person.
Plus members are entitled to two free sets of passport photos per year.
Plus bicycle service
Plus members enjoy free bike towing for up to 100 miles compared to 5 miles for Classic members.
Fuel delivery with free gas
Plus, members get free fuel delivery with enough free fuel to get them to the gas station. In isolated areas this can amount to several gallons.
Heavy Duty pullout
Plus members get a particularly powerful towing benefit: two standard service vehicles with winches and other towing equipment. This can be useful for heavier vehicles and those that are very stuck.
Confirmation of RV
Plus members can add an RV endorsement (technically known as an "RV Membership") for an additional fee, usually $30 to $50 more per year. The RV endorsement extends AAA's roadside assistance, towing and other vehicle-related services to RVs, motorcycles and boat trailers.
Plus compensation for legal costs
AAA legal fees are higher for Plus members, typically between $1,000 and $2,000 for serious offenses like manslaughter.
3. Premier membership
Premier members receive all the benefits of Plus membership as well as the following benefits. Some are unique to Premier, while others are more generous versions of perks available at lower tiers.
Free battery replacement
Premier members get one free battery replacement per year. That's a potential value of $100 or more, depending on the type of battery.
Top roadside assistance
Premier members are normally entitled to at least five free roadside assistance calls per year, depending on the club.
Premier members get free towing for the service of their choice, up to 200 miles of driving on one service call per year and 100 miles on the remaining service calls.
Locksmith discount for Premier members is valid up to $200, depending on the club.
Free car rental reservation
Premier members whose cars break down are entitled to free car reservation assistance from AAA agents plus a free day on their Hertz rental. The following car rental days are discounted (20% to 25% discount).
Home lockout service
AAA Premier members can apply their locksmith discount to home locks, not just car or vehicle locks.
Free Carfax Report
Premier members receive one free Carfax report per year plus a 40% discount (approximately $16 value per individually ordered report) on all additional reports.
Premier travel insurance
Premier members benefit from slightly more generous travel insurance than Basic and Plus members. Generally, trip interruption coverage exceeds $1,000 per group and the travel accident cover is $200,000 per group.
Premier Travel Store discounts
Plus members get bigger discounts at the AAA Travel Store (usually 20% off).
Premium reimbursement of legal costs
Premier members qualify for even higher legal fees: typically $2,000 to $4,000 for serious violations.
Premium fee for identity card theft
Premier members receive up to $10,000 in identity theft insurance through Experian in addition to identity theft protection benefits available to Classic and Plus members.
AAA Membership vs Car Insurance Alternatives
Many car insurance companies offer roadside assistance, towing, fuel delivery, towing and other driver assistance for free or at a reduced cost. Depending on their price and frequency of use, it may be a better deal than AAA's roadside assistance services.
Allstate roadside assistanceoptions provide a representative picture of what is available from major car insurance companies. Other insurance companies with driver assistance packages includeSvenarodni,Geico,Progressive,State use, dvsLiberty Mutual.
MostAllstate Motor Club Membership Plansthey are available to the public, not just Allstate policyholders.
- Priority plan underway. The Roadside Advantage plan ($89 for the first year, then $105 each year thereafter) includes up to $100 in free roadside assistance services (locking, gas, jump start and towing) for up to three accidents per year, plus $500 in bond coverage for arrest, $750 trip interruption cover and exclusive travel partner discounts. Roadside Advantage driver benefits are roughly equivalent to AAA Classic.
- Elite plan on the way. The Roadside Elite plan ($165 for the first year, then $179 for each year thereafter) includes up to $250 in free roadside assistance for up to five accidents per year, unlimited towing, free RV coverage, $1,500 in trip interruption coverage and a free Carfax report. Benefits for Roadside Elite drivers are roughly equivalent to AAA Plus membership.
- Pay per use.Pay per use(formerly known as Good Hands Rescue) is available to everyone, including non-All-State policyholders. This pay-as-you-go scheme charges fees for basic roadside assistance and towing based on what local service providers are willing to charge (usually at or below prevailing area rates), including road closures, fuel delivery, quick start, tire changes, and towing. AAA does not have a pay-per-use model.
- Rule supplement. This option is only available to Allstate policyholders. It includes 24/7 roadside assistance services such as jump start assistance, fuel delivery and flat tire replacement, as well as towing to nearby workshops. Allstate's additional policy costs start at $25 per vehicle per year, but may vary based on factors including location, covered vehicles, existing policy parameters and the policyholder's driving record. For drivers of older vehicles who are primarily concerned about not being stranded (or having to leave their cars) on the side of the road, this is Allstate's most cost-effective option and is potentially a better deal than any AAA plan.
Allstate's driver assistance options are all AAA-compliant in terms of direct value to drivers and passengers. And a pay-as-you-go model can save money for those without a roadside assistance membership. For Allstate policyholders who are mainly concerned with reducing the cost and hassle of vehicle breakdowns, adding a company policy is quite cost effective.
But Allstate can't match AAA's extensive network of non-travel partners. Drivers who can consistently take advantage of AAA member discounts at national brands like Best Buy and The UPS Store are likely to get more value with AAA than with an insurance company.
Benefits of AAA membership
AAA membership has some clear benefits for drivers and vehicle owners. Some of these benefits are not available from competitors, such as in-house driver service packages from car insurance companies.
- Timely service in various emergency cases. AAA's industry-leading roadside assistance service is available 24/7. Whether you're on a country road in the middle of the night or a city highway in the middle of rush hour, you can count on AAA to answer your call for help and send help into the network in a timely manner.
- It can dramatically reduce the cost of owning older cars. Emergency towing can cost upwards of $100. This means that one free tow a year usually covers the cost of a Classic membership, which is good news for older owners of breakdown-prone vehicles. You can also take advantage of other free or low-cost services, such as locksmithing, car rental, jump start assistance and battery replacement. AAA does not cover the total cost, but it can reduce it.
- It can be used with any vehicle. When it comes to servicing non-members' vehicles, AAA adheres to the don't ask, don't tell rule. Its customer service staff won't ask if you own a car that needs servicing until you show it's not yours.
- Includes potentially valuable travel benefits and retailer discounts. AAA Premier members can take advantage of potentially valuable travel benefits, including trip interruption and cancellation insurance and global emergency assistance. All AAA members have access to free or low-cost travel agent services and discounts at thousands of retailers around the world - some of which cut prices as much as 50% off retail. For members who travel frequently or spend lavishly at partner merchants, these benefits even cover the cost of membership.
- AAA offers its own insurance products. AAA offers its own auto, home, life and liability insurance policies. While it's difficult to generalize the extent of potential discounts, AAA says these policies are cheaper for members than comparable products offered by competing insurers.
- It has a reliable network of car repair partners. AAA has a trusted network of auto repair shops that give AAA members a 10% discount ($50 max on work over $500). This is a significant reduction in the cost of basic or recommended car repairs. In addition, AAA-approved repair providers must guarantee their work for two years or 24,000 miles, providing valuable peace of mind for people who own older vehicles.
Disadvantages of AAA membership
AAA membership has some significant drawbacks. The annual cost of membership is a significant factor here, especially for infrequent drivers, people with newer cars, and people who simply don't have the opportunity to use AAA services that often.
- Not cost effective for infrequent users. If your car is in excellent condition and you don't regularly use value-added services like travel reservations, insurance, trade-in discounts and lockout assistance, you probably won't get your money's worth from AAA membership at any price. While you might argue for carrying AAA memberships just for the merchant discounts, it takes effort to consistently increase them. And if you don't spend much at AAA partner retailers, these discounts don't matter anyway.
- Classic membership benefits are not nearly as generous. AAA Classic membership comes with four free roadside assistance calls per year, but many other perks are less generous. For example, its vehicle lockout coverage can be worth as little as $50 per visit, which is probably not enough to cover long or complicated calls. It also lacks a free battery replacement, which can cost $100 or more. And Classic members who claim the towing privilege usually have no choice but to go to a garage, where repairs can be more expensive.
- Costs depend on the local club. AAA clubs are free to set their membership fees. As such, costs vary considerably from region to region. There's little rhyme or reason to the variation, and prices aren't necessarily tied to the local cost of living, so the only way to know for sure what you can expect to pay each year is to check your local club's website.
- Services from comparable insurance companies may be more cost effective. Some car insurance companies offer better deals on roadside assistance and value added services. For example, Allstate Motor Club costs $89 and up for the first year and includes a host of free or reduced services and coverages that exceed what's available at any AAA price point.
AAAis much more than a reliable provider of free, 24-hour roadside assistance. Members receive a range of free or discounted benefits, including discounted car services, exclusive or discounted travel products and member discounts on in-house insurance.
But these services and benefits only have value if you use them. Many people maintain AAA membership for the roadside assistance benefits and rarely or never take advantage of the organization's other offerings. For those with unreliable cars, it's definitely a worthwhile strategy. For members with reliable vehicles, it is not.
Before you agree to pay $50 or more a year for another club membership, make sure you're getting your money's worth.
|AAA roadside assistance||Pros Multiple discounts available Three plan choices Decreased membership fee for additional drivers Includes bicycle coverage.||Cons Additional expense Limited Classic plan Costs vary by location.|
- Save up to 20% on base rate rentals.
- Free additional qualified AAA drivers – $13.50 savings per day.
- Waived young renter fee (ages 20-24) – $29.95 savings per day.
- Free use of a child safety seat – $13.99 savings per day.
AAA will negotiate member pricing for you, and with the tedious work of haggling out of the equation, you can contact the dealer to take the car for a test drive or have it delivered to your driveway to test or purchase. Keep in mind that certified dealers set their own pricing, even with the AAA auto buying program.Is it better to have AARP or AAA? ›
AAA offers a greater variety of discounts and a more robust roadside assistance and service program than AARP.What's the difference between AAA Basic and Plus? ›
The difference between AAA Basic and AAA Plus is that the Basic plan has lower coverage limits for towing, lockout reimbursement, trip interruption protection and fuel delivery than the Plus plan. The Basic plan is cheaper than the Plus plan, too.What is the best AAA membership? ›
Offers the highest level of service. For just $124.99 per year, Premier Members have access to all AAA benefits, including trip interruption coverage, travel accident insurance, and a free one-day rental car with every tow.
AAA Classic Memberships costs only $65 per year or $6.16 per month! AAA Plus Membership: Our Plus membership is our most popular plan. It offers valuable extras beyond our Classic coverage to help you get the most out of your membership. AAA Plus Membership costs $95 per year or $8.74 per month.What is the classic level at AAA membership? ›
Get 4 free service calls each membership year. Dead battery? We'll jump start your vehicle if possible. If it won't start, we'll tow it or you can buy a new battery with a 36-month free replacement period on the spot.
Does AAA work out of state? Yes, you can call AAA for Roadside Assistance from anywhere in the United States.Should I tip my AAA guy? ›
Regardless of how much they're paid or what company they work for, like AAA, for instance, tow truck drivers don't expect tips.
AAA Membership covers you in any vehicle, whether you're the driver or passenger. Membership cards are not transferable.What is the farthest AAA will tow? ›
Classic AAA membership will get you up to five miles of towing. Plus AAA membership will get you up to 100 miles of towing. Premier AAA membership will get you up to 200 miles of towing.Is AARP a good deal for seniors? ›
AARP's healthcare and financial discounts and resources are also outstanding — and especially helpful during your transition to retirement. If you're still not convinced, consider a one year membership to see what kind of discounts you receive and how often you take advantage of the other benefits.What is a good alternative to AARP? ›
AMAC benefits are similar in nature to those of AARP. AMAC members can expect discounts and opportunities for: Insurance.What are the real benefits of AARP? ›
- Find free financial advice. ...
- Save on car insurance. ...
- Cut the cost of home insurance. ...
- Get dental and vision insurance. ...
- Improve your hearing. ...
- Pay less for prescriptions. ...
- Entertain yourself while waiting in line. ...
- Read the AARP magazine.
Do AAA members get discounts at Costco? Yes, AAA members do get discounts at Costco. When they join or renew their AAA membership, they can receive a one-time $20 or $10 Costco Shop Card.How does AAA work? ›
As a AAA member you have programs available to you that include: automotive repair centers and emergency road services; complete domestic and international travel planning; quality auto/home/life insurance and other financial services; plus our Show Your Card & Save® discount program.How do you use AAA? ›
There are multiple ways to contact AAA for 24/7 roadside assistance. The fastest and most efficient way is to use the AAA Digital Roadside Request online tool, or text HELP to 800-AAA-HELP (800-222-4357) and we will send you a link to request service. After answering a few quick questions, help will be on the way.How do I cancel my AAA membership? ›
AAA hopes that you never want or need to cancel your membership, but we understand that events occur where canceling your AAA is necessary. To cancel your AAA membership, please contact our Member Services at 800-922-8228.Is AAA the best rating? ›
The highest possible rating that a bond may achieve is AAA, which is only bestowed upon those bonds that exhibit the highest levels of creditworthiness. This AAA rating is used by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's, while Moody's uses the similar “Aaa” lettering.
How do I earn AAA Dollars? Members can earn AAA Dollars when shopping at participating partner locations, at select AAA offices or on AAA.com through our AAA Dollars®Online Mall, where you'll save and earn at over 80 name-brand partners, including Walmart, iTunes, Target.com, Kohl's, QVC, Macy's and more!Why are there two AAA apps? ›
AAA Insurance App
AAA has two mobile apps: one for its roadside assistance coverage and one for auto insurance. Auto Club, its mobile app for insurance, holds an average star rating of 4.6 out of 5.0 based on more than 16,200 reviews on Google Play.
Is AAA Drive Worth It? AAA Drive is worth it for safe, careful drivers who do not mind being monitored for insurance purposes in return for savings of up to 30%. On the other hand, drivers who frequently drive at night or in heavy traffic are less likely to benefit, as are careless drivers.Can AAA call roadside assistance? › Does AAA pay out life insurance? ›
AAA offers $5,000 to $25,000 of guaranteed issue life insurance, which doesn't require a questionnaire or medical exam. Applicants ages 45 to 85 can qualify automatically, but if the insured dies during the first two years, AAA won't pay out the full policy amount, unless the death is accidental.