Do you have AAA? If so, do you know what it covers? I’ve had it for over a decade, and it wasn’t until I started looking into “is AAA worth it”, that I learned all it could do. Read on and see if it can benefit you.
When I got my learner’s permit, I also got my first AAA membership card. For those unfamiliar with AAA, it’s a roadside assistance service that covers you when almost anything goes wrong on the road. It’s especially helpful for traveling by car as they reimburse for expenses that come with a car emergency far from home.
I’ve used AAA services dozens of times over the years, especially for flat tires and towing. One time in college my car broke down, and since my school was only 75 miles from my mom’s house, we were able to tow it to her house for free. It was a long but totally worth-it ride in a tow-truck.
However, it’s important to understand whether AAA is the right choice for you. You can always go to their membership website, but sometimes it helps to see the pros and cons written out before you make your decision. So here’s what you need to know if you’re considering if AAA membership benefits are worth the cost.
AAA Membership Benefits
All memberships come with a few basic benefits. If your battery dies they’ll give you a jump, tow you after a breakdown, make minor repairs to start the car (that don’t require parts or supplies), and they’ll change out a flat tire. They offer fuel delivery if you run out of gas, locksmith service, and will even extricate your car if it gets stuck.
If you’re 100 miles or more away from home and your car has a breakdown, accident, or is stolen, they’ll reimburse you for emergency expenses like food, lodging, and car rental up to a certain amount. Other benefits include legal service fee reimbursement, emergency check cashing, maps, TourBooks, and customized road trip routes!
The personalized route is called a TripTik and it’s so cool. It has point-to-point directions that help you avoid construction, show you the lowest gas prices on your route, and add destinations to your route at any time. It’s like Google Maps on steroids.
My favorite part is that you can print them so if service gets shoddy at any point of the trip your route is still accessible. Take that technology.
Beyond the basics, there are three tiers of membership plans:
A Classic membership is the cheapest, but is slim on benefits. You’ll get up to four 5-mile tows, and you’ll have to pay for any fuel they bring you. You’ll get up to $50 per year in locksmith services, up to $600 in emergency reimbursement, legal fee reimbursement up to $500 and travel accident insurance coverage up to $100K.
A Plus membership increases the coverage and reimbursement on all its benefits. Fuel is complimentary if you run out, you get up to four 100-mile tows, $100 annually in locksmith service, up to $1500 in legal fee reimbursement, and $300K in travel accident insurance coverage. You’ll also get two free sets of passport photos every year.
A Premium membership increases coverage and reimbursement value again but adds quite a few more benefits than the preceding tiers. Like vehicle return, which basically means if you’re on vacation and something happens where you’re unable to drive your car back, they’ll reimburse you up to $500 and home lockout service up to $100.
And how would you like to have your own 24/7 concierge for vacations? Premier members get that too, along with 24-hour medical emergency assistance, one free car rental per year (with qualifying tow) and here’s the best part; a private line for assistance, meaning you won’t be waiting on hold for your services like the rest of us.
AAA Membership Cost
The annual cost for Classic membership is $59, Plus is $94, and Premier is $120. Broken down Classic is $4.92 per month, Plus is $7.83 per month, and Premier is $10 per month. You can also get add-ons. Motorcycle coverage is available for $35 per year on any tier, and RV coverage is available on Plus and Premium memberships based on vehicle size.
If you’re a member, your kids could get a free membership too. Teens with a learner’s permit are free until they get their license and kids who are part of the school safety patroller program get free membership as well. This means no matter whose car they’re in, they’ll get the same roadside assistance you would.
It might be good to mention here that you can use your membership to help friends out. As long as you’re there with your membership card and ID, it doesn’t have to be your car that they’re servicing. This has helped me and my friends out more times than I can count.
AAA Membership Discounts
And you don’t just get all the roadside assistance perks, there are discounts all over the place.
So many in fact, that when you visit the discounts page on the AAA website, they ask you to answer a few questions first to show you deals that are most relevant to you.
AAA is best known for discounts on hotel rates and theme park tickets, but it goes way beyond that. I’ve seen discounts for restaurants, shopping, and photography services. They have a rewards program similar to Ebates, but instead of a check, you can use your cash back at their online mall.
Is AAA Worth It?
In short, I’d say yes. It definitely saves you money versus adding all this on to your auto insurance policy, but you have to decide the right level of coverage for you. Classic is great if you just need it for flat tires and you don’t travel often. If you live in a city where you’re not typically further than five miles from your home or trusted mechanic, then take the savings with the cheapest level.
For most people, I think the Plus plan is the winner. You’ll never have to worry about being stuck somewhere because you’ll get towed up to 100 miles and beyond that travel reimbursement kicks in. And you’ll get all of that for about one meal at Chipotle per month.
If you travel for days at a time in your car, then you could benefit from a Premium membership. Some of the reimbursements are a little superfluous for the average driver, but for someone on a cross-country road trip, they might actually need that much to get home.
As far as discounts and rewards go, there are so many cash-back programs and ways to save, that I wouldn’t consider those when deciding on the membership. If you want to get a deal, there are far better ways to do it than an AAA membership.
So now it’s up to you to decide. Is AAA worth it for you?
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