15 Best AAA Membership Discounts You Should Be Using
According to the card buried deep in my wallet, I’ve been a “loyal member” of the American Automobile Association (AAA) since 2005. In fact, 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.
Now that I can count on my car to get me from point A to point B without breaking down, AAA’s considerable fringe benefits offer enough incentives to make the investment worthwhile.
AAA’s best discounts and deals are outlined below, with preference given to savings opportunities with high potential values, wide availability, and broad appeal.
Bear in mind that AAA is a federation of affiliated automobile clubs and not a single entity, so deals can and do vary by region. And, as is the case with most consumer promotions, AAA deals are subject to change or cancellation without advance notice.
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. Check your local club’s website for up-to-date pricing and benefit details. Here are some notable benefits from each tier:
For an extra fee, AAA offers optional RV coverage on Plus and Premier memberships. RV coverage extends each plan’s roadside assistance benefits to RVs, which require heavy-duty tow trucks and winches.
Discounts and Benefits
Each AAA membership tier comes with its own set of benefits and discounts. Certain perks are mentioned solely in the membership discounts section below and where relevant, which discounts apply to a particular tier.
WOWPoints are AAA’s online reward currency. If you’ve ever belonged to a travel loyalty program or owned a cash back credit card, you’re likely to be familiar with the WOWPoints program’s basic structure. Here’s how it works:
Start by linking a credit or debit card backed by a major payment processing network to your AAA account. This makes it easier for AAA to track your WOWPoint earnings and allows you to easily redeem your rewards.
Next, navigate to AAA’s online shopping portal through your local club’s website. In addition to any advertised savings, you’ll earn 2x or 3x WOWPoints on most purchases. AAA works with select major retailers and travel merchants, some of which are listed below.
You can only redeem WOWPoints for purchases made with participating merchant partners. WOWPoints are always worth $0.01 apiece at redemption, no matter what they’re redeemed for or which merchants they’re redeemed through.
First, visit AAA’s online shopping portal and select the “Pay With Points” option. Find the merchant you’d like to patronize, then specify the number of WOWPoints (or dollar value) you want to redeem. Click “Shop With Points” to be taken to the merchant’s website. Complete the transaction using your linked credit or debit card. On your next statement, you should see a credit for your redemption amount.
If you’re in the process of rebuilding credit or don’t yet qualify for a premium cash back or travel rewards credit card, accruing and paying with WOWPoints is a great way to realize the de facto benefits of a credit card rewards program without surviving the often arduous application process.
This is an overview of the best discounts and savings opportunities available to AAA members. Remember, specific opportunities may vary by geography and are subject to change or discontinuation at any time.
Besides roadside assistance and towing, AAA’s locksmith discount is arguably its most valuable and consistent benefit.
For Classic/Basic members, AAA’s locksmith benefit is worth at least $75. For higher-tier members, it’s worth well over $100. The benefit is available to members who’ve been locked out of their vehicles due to stolen or misplaced keys, with no questions asked.
Premier members also enjoy up to $100 in complimentary home lockout services on a single visit each year. That includes drilling, re-keying, key duplication, lock changes, and other associated services.
Keep in mind that the home lockout service only covers the member’s primary residence, not any outbuildings. This could come into play if you’re locked out of a detached garage, but it’s still pretty generous.
AAA clubs partner with dozens of specialty and general-purpose retailers to cut members’ shopping costs. For in-store purchases, you’ll need to have your AAA membership card handy.
Here is a sampling of what you can expect from general retail deals that fall outside of the following categories:
Some featured retailers offer accelerated WOWPoint earnings on top of instant discounts. For example, I found a great deal from Puma: up to 50% off select sneaker purchases plus 4x WOWPoints on all eligible purchases.
AAA’s dining discounts help members save money on vacation and business trips. AAA’s dining discounts come in two different flavors: branded gift certificates issued by Restaurant.com for use at any chain restaurant location or specific independent restaurants, and instant discounts with participating restaurants.
Restaurant.com gift certificate availability varies by location, but the deal is always the same: $10 for a $25 certificate, or up to 60% savings. At sit-down restaurants, certificate holders are still expected to tip on the full bill, before the discount is applied. To find eligible restaurants in your area, select “Restaurant Certificates” from the Dining drop-down menu and enter your ZIP code. Don’t forget your AAA membership card.
Here’s a representative sample of AAA’s instant restaurant discounts:
Instant discounts help, but the best way to save money at restaurants is to skip meals out entirely. Good thing AAA offers a slew of instant savings opportunities for grocery and beverage purchases made online and in-store. Some gifts are more practical than others: edible holiday gifts (great for your Cyber Monday shopping list) coexist alongside off-the-shelf supermarket staples.
Most of these discounts are available online only. For in-store discounts, you’ll need to present your AAA card at the point of sale.
Here is a sampling of AAA discounts on edible gifts, groceries, and beverages:
My wife and I have cats (yes, plural), which means we’re constantly looking for ways to reduce the cost of cat ownership. 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. Here’s a sampling:
Electronics is one of AAA’s most-discounted categories, with deals worth 35% or more off face value on household-name brands. Before you hit the stores on Black Friday, check AAA’s website for the latest deals. And if you do visit the stores in person, don’t forget your AAA membership card.
Here’s what to expect from AAA’s electronics partners:
As you might expect, AAA has a slew of automotive discounts. These come in two flavors: discounts and freebies included in AAA’s membership plan tiers and instant discounts with automotive partners like auto repair shops and parts retailers.
Automotive perks included in AAA’s plans (and not listed above) include:
Automotive partner discounts and deals include:
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’s online and in-store health and wellness discounts include:
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, including:
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. You’ll need your AAA member number handy when you book and may be asked to present your card at check-in.
Select hotel discount opportunities include:
Don’t book your next cruise without checking AAA’s website first. AAA’s Cruise discount offerings may be limited by geography and subject to limitations, so check your local club’s website for details. My home club in Minneapolis offers up to 15% off select Paradise Charter Cruises excursions, plus 10% off food, beverages, and other add-ons.
All AAA members are entitled to some amount of complimentary travel insurance. Here’s what you can expect from your plan:
Beyond travel insurance, AAA offers free or discounted travel services. Inclusions vary by plan:
Classic or Basic 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 complimentary sets of passport photos each year.
Premier members are entitled to 20% discounts across the board at the AAA Travel Store and two complimentary sets of passport photos each year.
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. Here are some examples from my home club:
Not a sports fan? No worries. AAA offers discounted tickets and admission packages to a variety of 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:
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 over the course of my decade-plus membership.
If you are 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 outlined above and more.
What’s your favorite AAA membership discount?
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.
15 Best AAA Membership Discounts You Should Be Using
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