You’re cruising down the freeway without a care in the world on a Friday afternoon. The weekends here, and you’re ready to relax after a hard week at the office. All of a sudden, your engine light turns on, and the car comes stuttering to a halt. The steam coming from under the hood and the wheel wells suggests this is a severe problem.
Now what? You’re stuck on the side of the highway during peak rush hour, with a broken car. It’s not like you’re a mechanic, and if someone had to ask you to identify a fuel pump from a crankshaft, chances are you would have no idea what you’re looking at.
You need to call someone, but what do you do with your car? You’ll have to have it towed, and you know that that’s going to cost you a fortune. So much for an excellent start to a relaxing weekend.
Is an AAA Membership Worth It?
With the above scenario in mind, let’s examine if the costs of owning an annual AAA membership are worth the money. We’ve all heard about AAA, but how many of us use the service? When it comes to the world of motoring, most of us have more concern about meeting our insurance and lease payments at the end of the month. AAA membership is one more transportation cost that we don’t want to add to our budget.
However, there are plenty of benefits to joining AAA. Motorists can utilize a bouquet of services that actually save them on their motoring costs. However, are the discounts and perks worth the price of the membership? Do you think you’ll ever end up using the perks, or will they remain on the shelf?
In this article, we’ll unpack the AAA membership, and clearly explain the advantages and drawbacks of using this service.
The Top Benefits of an AAA Membership
We all know there are perks and benefits to taking a AAA membership. However, not many of us know what these perks are or if they offer us any practical benefit. AAA offers both emergency roadside assistance services, and they offer you discounts and perks at retailers.
Let’s examine the retailer discounts available with your AAA membership.
Timely Response in Auto Emergencies
With AAA membership, you get 24-hour roadside assistance, seven days a week. This perk is probably the main reason why all of us want a AAA membership in the first place. However, AAA takes its service offering to another level when you consider all of the other perks involved with subscribing.
Replacement of Your Car Battery
If you’re stuck at home, and your car won’t start, it could be due to a flat battery. Under normal circumstances, you’d have to take an Uber to a battery center and get them to either charge or replace the battery. Then it’s back in the Uber to your home, and you’ll have to fit the battery yourself.
With AAA, a service technician visits your premises with a new battery and fits it for you. As a result, you are on your way to work in minutes, rather than wasting the morning running around.
AAA Travel Services
The AAA offers you a wide variety of reduced or free travel services in the United States. You get personalized trip planning, along with discounts on admission to many attractions, and group travel arrangements, cruise planning, and international travel assistance as well. The chances are that if you book your next family vacation using these services, it will more than cover the cost of your annual AAA membership.
Issuing International Driving Licenses
If you’re traveling to a foreign country, then you’ll need an international driver’s license to drive a car around. Failure to produce this license could result in your arrest in a foreign country. Without an international driver’s license, you’ll also find it challenging to get a car hire in most countries. As a AAA member, you get deep discounts on this service.
Discounts for Hertz Car Rental
Hertz collaborated with AAA to bring you discounted car rental services. You could save up to 20-percent on your car rental on selected models. All AAA members get a complimentary Hertz Gold Plus membership, with a value of $60. As a gold Hertz Member, you get expedited checkout, as well as free vehicle changes, and a host of other benefits.
Discounts with Participating Merchants
AAA members get to take advantage of discounts at participating merchants. Whether you’re looking for a discount on services, a new set of tires, or even cellphone contract discounts, look at what’s available with your AAA membership. Some merchants may offer you discounts for as much as 50-percent off of the purchase price.
Complimentary AAA Travel Guides
With an AAA membership, you get access to free road maps, guides, and travel planners within America for premier members, with Classic members paying 50-percent off the sticker price. AAA also offers these services for select regions of Europe as well, so check out the website if you’re planning a European vacation that involves some driving. You can order your free domestic travel materials online.
Discounts on Affiliated Insurance Policies
Some AAA clubs offer discounts with insurers on monthly premiums. Most insurers view drivers that sign up with AAA as reliable and safe behind the wheel. Insurance is all about calculating the risk involved with your driving, and what it would cost if you had to make a claim.
By signing up with AAA, you mitigate the risk of your driving unsafely. Affiliated insurers in the AAA membership include; Family Insurance Company Auto Club, The Automobile Club Inter-Insurance Exchange, and the AAA Life Insurance Company.
Discounts with Participating AAA-Approved Auto Shops and Dealers
As an AAA member, you get 10-percent off at participating auto repair shops across America. This saving applies to both parts and labor, and it can save you a bundle when it comes time to service your vehicle.
Look for the AAA membership logo at your local service shop to see if they participate in the program. However, AAA cap this saving at a maximum of 50-percent on the service or repair. Some auto shops may not offer you the discount unless you ask for it, so always make sure that you enquire before you book your service.
All AAA-approved auto repair providers must guarantee any work or repairs for at least 24,000-miles or 2-years. Leaving your vehicle with a AAA shop does not always mean that you’re getting good value for your money for your servicing and repair needs. Always remember to shop around with other vendors before booking a service with the AAA member.
Monitoring Identity Theft
AAS provides its members with complimentary identify theft monitoring services. You also get daily Experian credit checks to ensure that no-ones been applying for credit on your behalf. If you are a victim of identity theft, you have $10,000 in insurance coverage paid out to you by AAA. These services come offered by ProtectMyID, a subsidiary of the Experian credit bureau.
While you’re on the road, AAA offers premier members access to dedicated teams of travel concierges to make your journey that little bit more pleasant. Concierge services on offer include reservation assistance, local weather reports, entertainment bookings, car rentals, and even tee-off times at local country clubs near where you’re visiting.
AAA also offers emergency travel assistance, as well. This service provides premier members translation, prescription refills, cash transfers, medical assistance, document replacement, and bookings for doctors’ appointments as well.
Variability with Local Clubs
You need to understand that each AAA club offers a different experience and different levels of service. Call your local club and ask for assistance in understanding their offering. You can always look them up online and read the terms and conditions of membership, as well as the benefits on offer.
The Downside to AAA Membership
Believe it or not, after mentioning all of these fantastic membership perks, there is still a downside to AAA membership. AAA isn’t for everyone, and read on to find out if AAA suits your lifestyle.
Don’t Get a Membership If You Don’t Intend on Using It
All of the perks mentioned in this article are great if you ever plan on using them. Before you jump head-first into your membership agreement, step back and cool off for a second. Ask yourself when the last time one of these AAA services would have come in handy for you in your life.
The chances are that you can’t think of many instances where you’ll be using these perks. Sure, the servicing and repairs discount is nice, but your car probably already comes with a service plan if it’s a new vehicle. Many life insurance companies and credit card lenders also provide similar perks on the accounts you already have with them.
Therefore, it’s a prudent strategy to do an audit of your rewards from financial institutions before you sign up with AAA. Make a list of all the perks you get already, and cross reference them to the benefits mentioned on this list. If you find that you already have 90-percent of them with your current financial providers, then don’t bother with AAA membership.
Basic and Classic Memberships Don’t Have as Many Perks as the Premium
One of the most frequent gripes we hear from people that have a AAA membership, is that the Basic and Classic plans don’t have as many perks as the Premium version. Why this would come as a surprise to anyone is a mystery. You get what you pay for in this world. Therefore, you should expect more perks with the Premium subscription.
However, if you take a step back and look at the situation, you’ll wonder why anyone would go with a Classic or Basic package in the first place. Both of these options seem like an opportunity to upsell you to the premium option anyway.
If you do decide to go with a Basic or Classic subscription, then you can expect to give up some perks. However, many of them might not even apply to you. If you have a lockout far from a nearby locksmith service, then the $60 discount fee from AAA won’t go very far to covering this expense. The Classic and Basic models also lack complimentary battery replacement, which has a value of more than $100, and that’s a service that comes in handy for many AAA subscribers.
Your Membership Fees Vary by Your Local Club
It’s important to note that your local AAA club plays by its own set of rules. Your club sets the membership pricing, as well as the perks on offer in your membership. It’s for this reason that it’s vital to check with your local club for membership details.
Think About Using Insurance Companies
If your current life insurance or home insurance policy doesn’t already come with most of these services, then consider asking them if they offer any similar plans with similar roadside assistance and lifestyle perks. Most insurers provide identical packages with the same perks, for a more affordable price.
For example, Allstate’s Allstate Motor Club will cost you $99 for a one-year first-time membership. This membership includes a host of benefits and complimentary services, as well as discounts and coverage that far exceeds what’s available at any AAA membership price-point.
The Final Thought – Is AAA Membership Worth It?
Before you jump into taking AAA membership at Premium level, ask yourself if it’s a good deal for you. Do you already get most of the services on offer from your insurer or another financial services provider? Do you drive a new leased car, or do you drive an older model that you paid for with cash?
It’s paramount to ask yourself these questions before you decide on your AAA membership. If you already receive most of the benefits, then why spend $60 or more on an annual AAA membership?
However, if you don’t have any of these benefits and perks available through your existing policies, and you drive an older model car, then AAA membership could be the ideal choice for your situation.