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.
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.
- 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?