AAA – Save Some Cash

Karl Benz's
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Have you ever driven off the road at 100 miles per hour into a grove of trees at midnight, only to have 2 cops and your father spend 2 hours looking for your car with high-powered spotlights? Let me tell you–from experience–that a free two will, in fact, make that night a little bit better.

Enter AAA.

At its most basic level, AAA is just a roadside assistance service.  If your car breaks down, you lock your keys in, or run out of gas, you call AAA from the side of the road and they send a hero at any time of day or night.   I’ve used the service to get a car pulled out of an impound lot and out of a ditch.   They’ve helped move broken-down cars from my driveway to the mechanic.

We pay $85 per year for the basic service, which includes 5 miles of towing, up to 4 timers a year; lockout service; gas delivery; “stuck in a ditch” service; free maps, trip planning and trip interruption protection.   Higher membership levels boost those services and include things like free passport photos, complimentary car rental when you use the tow service, concierge service and more.

I’ve been a member since I got my driver’s license at 16, and over the years, just the roadside assistance has paid for my lifetime of membership several times over.

But–as the man said–wait, there’s more!

They certify mechanics.  Not for skill, but reputation.  It’s harder to get screwed by a AAA mechanic.

Then there are the discounts.

Most chain hotels, some oil-change shops, and a lot of car-rental services have AAA discounts.   Combined with the trip planning, the discounts can easily pay for themselves, if you travel even once a year.

There are also discounts at a ton of restaurants and attractions, sometimes adding up to savings of $50 or more.    I don’t think I’ve ever had a year where AAA didn’t pay for itself, and I don’t even use the services efficiently.

For example:

  • 10% off Target.com
  • Discounts on Magellen GPS units
  • Theater(stage and screen) discounts
  • Discounts on minor league baseball and college football tickets
  • Prescription savings plan
  • $3 of at our local for-profit aquarium
  • 10-30% discounts from Dell
  • 5% off at UPS
  • 20% off at Sirius Satellite Radio
  • 10% off PODS(hoarders take notice!)
  • 10% at Amtrak
  • Up to $200 off at DirecTV
  • A crapload more

I know I sound like a salespitch, but they didn’t pay for this post.  I’m just a happy customer.

Do you use a roadside assistance or a discount-from-a-million-places membership?

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  • 10 comments

    Comments

    1. I am a happy customer of AAA too. I have needed their Towing services far more often than I like. Guess thems the breaks when you drive a car with 283,000 miles on it! But I digress,… I didn’t know about these discounts! Thanks for letting me know. Have a good weekend!

      • You’re welcome. I need to put their discount list on my refrigerator so I can remember to use the discounts. I tend to forget about them 2 months after I renew.

    2. I have not been a member of AAA for a long time, but I have considered going back. Every time I book a hotel and I see I could get a better price with AAA, I want to scream. I didn’t know about the Target discount too, that is a great deal. It seems like the card would pay for itself pretty darn quickly.

    3. Not always worth it says:

      I found AAA basic to be worth it when young, and driving older, less reliable cars. However, if you have a newer Honda/Toyota or even a ford, you most likely do not need the service at all because while these cars are under warranty, they provide their own road side assistance. Most people can drive a toyota or honda to 200k miles with zero issues, break downs or worries…so if you buy a decent car…AAA really isn’t worth it.

      Also, I’m not a fan of some of their tactics. “trip interruption” sounds great doesn’t it? It did to me too, ,until i broke down in the middle of nowhere, missed a funeral and had to pay for a hotel for a night waiting for my car to get fixed. Turns out their trip interruption insurance is worthless in any case OTHER than an accident. So its not really trip interruption at all…its accident interruption…i was not amused when i found this out the hard way.

      When you really read what your getting…AAA is definitely not worth it at the higher levels, and definitely not worth it if you have a decent car.

      If you drive 10 year old junkers (like i used to), then, and only then, does AAA start making sense.

    4. I have got good deals and great discounts for hotels and other services though AAA.

    5. They also give a 30% discount at LensCrafters, I recently discovered. We easily recoup the cost of membership with the various discounts, and have used it to get into a locked car, jump a battery in the middle of no where, and for tow service. I wouldn’t give it up.

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    1. […] Live Real, Now discusses the value of a AAA membership. There are some benefits to AAA that I didn’t realize, such as a discount at Target! […]

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