According to the card buried deep in my wallet, I’ve been a “loyal member” of the American Automobile Association (better known as AAA) since 2005. My AAA membership is one of the longest relationships of my life, even exceeding the length of my marriage.
Early on, AAA’s roadside assistance services helped me and my succession of comically beaten-up cars get out of more jams than I can count. However, these days I use roadside assistance infrequently enough to call the wisdom of shelling out $80-plus each year for my little gold AAA card into question.
Good thing that $80-plus buys a lot more than basic roadside assistance. But now that I can count on my car to get me from point A to point B without breaking down, are AAA’s considerable fringe benefits enough incentive to make the investment worthwhile?
AAA Membership Tiers
AAA has three principal membership tiers. Pricing starts around $50 per year and rises to over $100 per year, depending on membership tier and region. Note that AAA is a federation of affiliated automobile clubs and not a single entity, so deals can vary by region. And the deals are subject to change or cancellation without notice.
Check your local club’s website for up-to-date pricing and benefit details. But there are many discounts and deals with high potential value, broad appeal, and wide availability, depending on the membership tier or add-on you choose.
Classic (or Basic) Tier
The Classic tier, also known as the Basic tier, is the least expensive of the three but still offers excellent coverage for traditional vehicle owners who frequently drive close to home or in more densely populated areas.
- 24/7 roadside assistance for multiple issues, including breakdowns and flat tires, with up to four calls per year at no out-of-pocket cost
- Local towing no more than 5 miles from the site of the disablement
- Complimentary bicycle repair and towing within 5 miles
- Vehicle extrication for vehicles stranded due to obstacles such as standing water, snowdrifts, and mud
The Plus tier offers some upgrades that may appeal to drivers who travel long distances, especially farther away from civilization or those who are more likely to get their vehicles into sticky situations. It comes with everything the Classic membership tier comes with, plus:
- Extended-range towing (generally up to 100 miles) to a broader choice of repair shops
- Heavy-duty extrication (up to two trucks per incident for added pulling power)
- Long-range bicycle towing and repair
The Premier tier may be preferable to drivers who do more than the average amount of driving, such as regional sales representatives or those with vehicles of questionable longevity. It comes with everything you get in the Plus tier in addition to:
- Additional roadside assistance calls at no out-of-pocket charge (five or more per year)
- Extended-range towing (generally up to 200 miles) to an even wider choice of repair shops
For an extra fee, AAA offers optional RV coverage on AAA Plus and AAA Premier memberships. RV coverage extends each plan’s roadside assistance benefits to RVs, which require heavy-duty tow trucks and winches.
Best AAA Membership Discounts & Savings Opportunities
These are some of the most valuable and widely available AAA financial perks. Specific discounts and savings opportunities may vary by geography and are subject to change or discontinuation at any time.
Pro Tip: Another way to earn choice financial benefits is to sign up for Experian Boost. This free program from Experian gives you credit for on-time utility payments, which typically don’t count toward your credit score.
1. Locksmith Services
Besides roadside assistance and towing, AAA’s locksmith discount is arguably its most valuable and consistent benefit. For reference, the average cost to call a locksmith is about $150, according to Fixr.
AAA’s locksmith discount covers part or all the cost up to a defined benefit amount to call a locksmith for a home or vehicle lockout (or both). The benefit amount and type of locksmith services vary by membership tier and regional club.
For Classic members, AAA’s locksmith benefit is worth at least $50. For higher-tier members, it’s worth $100 to $150, depending on tier and club. The benefit is available to members who are locked out of their vehicles due to stolen or misplaced keys.
On the Classic and Plus tiers, the locksmith benefit doesn’t apply to homes. But Premier members enjoy up to $100 in complimentary home lockout services on a single visit each year. That includes drilling, rekeying, key duplication, and lock changes.
Note that the home lockout service only covers the member’s primary residence, not any outbuildings. That could come into play if you lock yourself out of a detached garage, but it’s still pretty generous.
2. General Retail
AAA clubs partner with dozens of specialty and general-purpose retailers to cut members’ shopping costs. For in-store purchases, you must have your AAA membership card handy.
Here is a sampling of what you can expect from general retail deals. I found these deals through my local auto club, so yours may vary:
- Up to 75% select online courses with Udemy
- Up to 45% off purchases at Under Armour outlets and website
- Up to 40% off home appliances at Lowe’s
- Up to 40% off home decor at Home Depot
- Up to $200 off select items at Walmart.com
- Up to 20% off select Samsonite luggage
- Up to 15% off sunglasses at Ray-Ban
AAA’s dining discounts help members save money on vacation and business trips. AAA has two different types of dining discounts: instant discounts with participating restaurants and deep discounts on branded gift certificates or gift cards issued by Restaurant.com for use at any participating chain restaurant location or specific independent restaurants.
Restaurant.com gift certificate availability varies by location but can be very enticing. My local club runs a deal promising $4 for a $25 certificate, upward of 80% savings.
To find eligible restaurants in your area, search “restaurants” in the Discounts search bar or scroll down to the Restaurants row in the All Discounts view. And when you dine out, don’t forget your AAA membership card.
Instant discounts are usually a percentage off your bill. In my area, AAA’s instant restaurant discounts include:
- 10% off food and nonalcoholic beverages at Hard Rock Cafe
- 10% off food and nonalcoholic beverages at Rainforest Cafe
- 10% off food and nonalcoholic beverages at Oceanaire Seafood Room
- 10% off food and nonalcoholic beverages at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
- 10% off your total bill at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
4. Food & Drink
Instant discounts help, but the best way to save money at restaurants is to skip eating out entirely. Fortunately, AAA offers a slew of instant savings opportunities for grocery and beverage purchases made online and in-store.
Some deals are more practical than others: edible holiday gifts (great for your Cyber Monday shopping list) coexist alongside off-the-shelf supermarket staples. Most deals are available online only. For in-store discounts, present your AAA card at the point of sale.
There’s a variety of AAA discounts on edible gifts, meal subscriptions, groceries, and beverages. For example:
- Up to $60 off your first five Freshly prepared meal orders
- $35 off your first Purple Carrot meal subscription box
- 50% off your first Hello Fresh meal subscription box plus 15% off the subsequent 52 weeks
- 15% off Pear’s Gourmet coffee
- 50% off your first order with Sun Basket, an organic meal-delivery service, plus 10% off the subsequent 12 orders
- Buy four, get one free on select orders with Lindt, the gourmet chocolatier
- 10% off in-store purchases at Kelly’s Coffee & Fudge Factory
5. Pet Products
My family has cats (yes, plural), which means we’re constantly looking for ways to reduce cat ownership costs. AAA’s pet discounts are a good place to start, and virtually all are available online. For partners with physical stores, just present your AAA membership card at the point of sale.
Some example pet discounts include:
- 10% off select pet health insurance policies for a lifetime with Healthy Paws (other pet health insurance companies, like Pets Best, may also offer AAA member discounts)
- Up to 20% off dog and cat food at Petco
- Up to 10% off select pet boarding services (may vary by location)
- Free shipping on all pet medication purchases from VetShop and PetCareRx
Electronics is one of AAA’s most-discounted categories, with deals worth 50% or more off face value on name brands like Lenovo, HP, and Dell. Before you hit the stores on Black Friday, check AAA’s website for the latest deals. And if you visit the stores in person, don’t forget your AAA membership card.
You can expect a variety of deals from AAA’s electronics partners, including:
- Up to 50% off list price on select Lenovo products and services
- Up to 35% off list price on select HP products and services
- Up to 30% off list price on select Samsung products
- Up to 10% off list price on select Dell products and services
In the past, I’ve seen AAA member discounts on wireless carrier plans and services for gamers, including a free 30-day trial of GameFly.
As you might expect, AAA has a slew of automotive discounts. There are two types: discounts and freebies included in AAA’s membership plan tiers and instant discounts with automotive partners like auto repair shops and parts retailers. Specific deals vary by plan.
- Roadside fuel delivery subject to distance restrictions and payment of the actual cost of fuel used
- $50 toward windshield repair or replacement
- 20% off Carfax reports ordered online, a savings of about $8 off full price
- Up to 25% off a Hertz rental car while the member’s vehicle is undergoing covered repairs
- Complimentary roadside fuel delivery with no payment required on the fuel itself
- Discounts on AAA-branded car battery purchases (typically $25 off) and free battery installation
- 20% discounts on Carfax reports ordered online
- Up to 25% off a Hertz rental car for the duration of qualifying repairs to the member’s primary vehicle
- One free battery replacement per year (no charge for the battery or installation), a value of $100 or more
- Complimentary roadside fuel delivery with no restrictions and no out-of-pocket payments
- One complimentary Carfax report per year and 40% off subsequent reports
- One free day on a Hertz car rental, then up to 25% off while the member’s vehicle is in the repair shop
Examples of automotive partner discounts and deals include:
- 10% off qualifying purchases at Napa Auto Parts stores and online (see Napa’s website for more)
- Exclusive member pricing on Battery Tender chargers, which keep batteries charged during prolonged periods of inactivity (available through select clubs only, such as AAA Carolinas)
- Exclusive member pricing on AAA Mobile Battery Service battery testing
8. Health & Wellness
AAA’s commitment to health and wellness shines through in its relatively new bike repair and parts replacement vertical. But it’s not just bike commuters who stand to benefit.
AAA has multiple online and in-store health and wellness perks, subject to change over time and by geography, including:
- 50% off prescription lenses and 30% off sunglasses at LensCrafters
- Up to 25% off select products and services at Glasses.com
- Up to 45% off select apparel and outdoor products at Backcountry
- Up to 10% off classes and memberships at YogaFit Studios
- Up to 50% off select products at GNC
9. Rental Cars
You don’t have to wait until your primary vehicle needs repair to take advantage of AAA’s rental car discounts. All AAA members qualify for discounts with major rental car companies, and unlike most AAA perks, they’re standardized nationwide.
- Dollar Car Rental. Save 10% off the price of advance reservations made in the U.S. and Canada and get a free car booster seat for children plus 10% off the price of a navigation unit (not included with rental). See Dollar’s website for more.
- Thrifty. Save 8% off the price of advance reservations made in the U.S. and Canada. Plus, pay no charge for additional drivers and get a free booster seat plus 10% off a navigation unit. See Thrifty’s website for more.
- Hertz. Save up to 20% off the price of all reservations made in the U.S. and Canada. Plus, get a free car booster seat and a 50% discount on SiriusXM radio service, and pay no premium for renters under age 25 or fee for additional drivers. See Hertz’s website for more.
- Hertz Rent2Buy. Get a free three-day rental and save $325 off the purchase price when you participate in the Hertz Rent2Buy program.
AAA partners with more than three dozen hotel brands to bring members special nightly rates, accelerated travel loyalty point earnings, accelerated WOWPoint earnings, and other perks. Have your AAA member number handy when you book. You may also need to present your card at check-in.
Like AAA’s rental car discounts, AAA hotel discount opportunities are often standardized nationwide, though it’s best to confirm with your local club and preferred hotel chain. Example hotel discounts include:
- Up to 15% off and 10% more hotel loyalty points when you book with the BW Premier Collection (see Best Western’s website for more details)
- Up to 30% off bookings with participating Canopy by Hilton hotels (see Canopy by Hilton’s website for more)
- Variable special AAA rates at select Hilton hotels (see Hilton’s website for more)
- Up to 10% off at select Hyatt hotels (see Hyatt’s website for more)
Don’t book your next cruise without checking AAA’s website first. The discounts can be impressive.
One example is 60% off the second passenger’s fare with a full-price Royal Caribbean purchase on select routes. With that kind of discount, you’ll have more room in your budget for memorable shore excursions no matter which line you choose.
AAA’s Cruise discount offerings may be limited by geography and cruise line. They may also be subject to additional limitations, so check your local club’s website for details.
12. Travel Insurance
AAA Plus and Premier members are entitled to some amount of complimentary travel insurance, depending on their plan.
- Up to $750 trip interruption protection per individual
- Up to $250 lost baggage coverage per party
- Up to $1,500 trip interruption protection per individual
- Up to $300,000 travel accident coverage per traveling party
- Up to $25,000 emergency medical transportation coverage per incident
AAA Classic members don’t qualify for any travel insurance coverage. To take advantage of AAA travel protections, upgrade to Plus or Premier.
13. Other Travel Services
Beyond travel insurance, AAA offers free or discounted travel services. Inclusions vary by plan.
Classic members are entitled to 10% discounts across the board at the AAA Travel Store, available online and in select physical locations in club territories. Check your club’s website for locations and restrictions.
Plus members are entitled to 15% discounts across the board at the AAA Travel Store and two complementary sets of passport photos each year.
Premier members are entitled to 20% discounts across the board at the AAA Travel Store and two complementary sets of passport photos each year.
14. Sporting Events
AAA has a surprisingly diverse lineup of discounts, deals, and exclusive opportunities for sports fans. These vary widely by club and season, so check your local club’s website regularly. These are some examples from my home club:
- Up to $200 off season tickets or group pricing for all individual regular season tickets with Minnesota United FC
- Discounted rates for ticket packages with the St. Paul Saints (discount size varies)
- Discounted individual game tickets with the Minnesota Timberwolves (discount size varies)
- Up to 15% off select sporting event tickets purchased through Ticket Monster
- Up to 50% off general admission to select University of Minnesota Gophers games
15. Culture & Entertainment
Not a sports fan? No worries. AAA offers discounted tickets and admission packages to various other events and institutions, including live musical performances, theatrical performances, theme parks, and museums.
Like sporting events, these are highly localized and seasonal, so check with your club for details. These are some examples from my home club:
- Up to 10% off general admission to FlyOver America, a premium virtual reality theme park ride
- Up to 35% off general admission to Nickelodeon Universe, a kid-friendly theme park
- Up to 37% off general admission to Valleyfair, an all-ages theme park
- Up to $25 off general admission to Universal Studios Hollywood, a destination theme park
- Up to $5 off general admission to the Minnesota Renaissance Faire, an immersive outdoor cultural experience
16. Identity Theft Protection
All AAA members are eligible to sign up for ProtectMyID’s Essential identity theft protection package at no additional cost. Benefits include:
- Credit monitoring from Experian
- A free credit report from Experian upon enrollment
- Lost wallet protection
- Fraud resolution support from the ProtectMyID team
17. Penske Truck Rentals
AAA members get at least 12% off moving truck rentals with Penske, the club’s official truck rental partner. Additional benefits include:
- 12% off eligible moving supply rentals or purchases (such as hand trucks and moving boxes)
- Unlimited mileage on one-way rentals
- Thousands of drop-off locations in the U.S. and Canada
I can’t say a bad word about AAA.
Every interaction I’ve had with their customer service agents has been pleasant and fruitful. I’ve never had to wait longer than advertised for roadside assistance. And I’ve saved hundreds of dollars on shopping and service discounts throughout my decade-plus membership.
If you’re debating whether or not the membership is worth the $50 to $100-plus investment, ask yourself how you will use it. As long as you’re snagging breaks on products and services you would purchase anyway, you can easily offset the cost of your annual membership using the discounts.