Is AAA Worth It?

I’ve had a AAA membership for years now.  My own membership is $57 (currently paying $82 for two), and admittedly, it’s not

Don't get stranded

Don’t get stranded in bad weather!

something I leverage every day.  In fact, I don’t use it very often at all.  Therefore, it seems fair to ask the question: is a AAA membership worth it?

I say yes, and a big part of this is the roadside assistance service.  Now, I haven’t been prone to too many car fiascoes over the years, so it’s not something that has been used too frequently.  But there have been several situations where I needed their help with roadside assistance:

  • A time where I was in a blizzard, away from home, and somehow lost my keys in the stormy weather.  Don’t ask, as I don’t know how I could possibly lose a car key that was in my hand, but it happened.  Anyway, it was freezing and I was stranded, so AAA helped.
  • During a snowstorm, and while driving on a busy highway, my car tire blew out.  I made it to the shoulder, but it was very narrow and in a highly urban, trafficked area.  Thus, nobody would be too keen on trying to change a tire.  Never mind that my spare was actually not in working order as it was.  Anyway, it was a perfect time for AAA to help.
  •  A situation where my car battery died, when I was far from home and in an area where I didn’t know anyone to give me a jump.  Plus, there weren’t too many other folks around I could ask.  I gave them a call, and got help.

I’m sure others have had far worse, even dangerous situations where they needed help.

Anyway, for me, the roadside assistance equals peace of mind.  This is especially good if you have children driving with you, or if your spouse or a loved one are often driving alone.  Or, if you’re often traveling with someone who is elderly or has a disability.  You don’t want anyone to be in danger, or even highly stressed by situations.  You can often get this other places, perhaps your insurance policy, but I’m not sure the benefits will line up as well for the price.  I have found that AAA roadside assistance is worth it.

There are other benefits to having AAA as well:

  • Hotel Discounts
  • Retailer Discounts
  • Travel Information (guides, maps, etc)

Bottom line:  If you drive a lot, and are periodically a good distance from home, AAA membership might very well be worth every penny and then some.  It is for me.

My Questions for You

Do you currently have AAA, or have you had it in the past?

What is your opinion on its value?

Comments

  1. Mike says

    My family uses AAA for all the same reasons you mentioned; primarily peace of mind. However, we do a lot of weekend travel and noticed that many of the attractions will give us a discount for showing the AAA card (even if the attraction doesn’t advertise they will lower the price for AAA members). So be sure to at least ask for the AAA discount when you arrive at your travel destination!

  2. Kurt @ Money Counselor says

    I agree that the sort of services AAA offers are worth the cost. However–and this is a mention only as a consumer and citizen of the earth, I have no vested interest–before joining AAA, check out an organization called the Better World Club. BWC offers roughly the same service as AAA but you might prefer its values. BWC also offers a plan for cyclists!

  3. Debt Roundup says

    I used to have AAA and I thought it was a good deal, but when I got my new car and they gave me roadside assistance and many other perks, I thought AAA was redundant. I got rid of it and now they pepper me with promos to get me back. Maybe one day…

    • Squirrelers says

      Debt Roundup – that’s interesting, more aggressive pricing to get you back as a customer…well, it can be well worth it, though I of course don’t know the other service you’re getting now.

  4. krantcents says

    I have had my membership for 35+ years. Since I keep my cars a very long time (average 15+ years) I think it is worth it. I might need a couple calls every few years, but it averages out.

    • Squirrelers says

      I like your approach on both angles – 35 years with the membership, but also keeping cars for 15 years on average! Oustanding.

  5. Roger @ The Chicago Financial Planner says

    We’ve had AAA seemingly forever and as the parent of three (ages 19, 22, and 24) its been worth every penny. From the midnight phone call from “… outside of Las Vegas…” where my daughter’s car died on road trip with friends from LA to our son calling that his friend’s car had a tire hanging off of a ledge, we’ve gotten our money’s worth in terms of peace of mind for us as parents. I never complain about paying this annual bill and in fact we buy the version with extra towing benefits.

    • Squirrelers says

      Roger – great examples. That sounds a bit unnerving, the hanging off a ledge episode and then the call outside Vegas. Sure helps to have assistance in such cases! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Untemplater says

    My mom has used AAA for years and I don’t think she’ll ever change companies. She’s been in several accidents and also needed road side assistance on many occasions and she’s been happy.

    • Squirrelers says

      Untemplater – that’s the thing, once you’ve seen the benefit, the value becomes more clear. It can be such a help in those cases.

  7. Sharold Friedrich says

    We have AAA and if it did nothing but give us peace of mine for knowing our daughter that is 1200 miles away at college with a car is coved it would be worth it. It does much more that that . It pays for it’s self in discounts alone. If your read your paperwork work when you get it ti covers a wide range of travel situations.
    Yes it is worth it we have the covers everything package because we have motorcycles a,d drag “toys” around in trailers and this covers them all for towing.

  8. Margot says

    Absolutely worth it even the Plus option that expands the towing range. Especially because it follows the person not the vehicle. That means that when driving from Iowa to New Orleans and my friend’s car dies outside of Blythesville, AK we were able to get us and her car to Memphis.

    Also anytime my own car died, (I had a series of old, questionably reliable, but cheap cars in my late teens/early 20′s)

    And most recently, when I hit a deer coming into the city I’ve only lived in for 3 months.

  9. Little House says

    I’ve had AAA for years and though I don’t use it very much it’s totally worth it. I’ve had car batteries die over the years and have needed a tow now and then. AAA comes in handy at times like these. And, many places do give discounts like you mentioned as a bonus.

    • Squirrelers says

      Little House – thanks for stopping by. I can relate, AAA can be worth it in such situations. Sometimes we realize this once we’ve had a problem like this!

  10. Dan says

    We’ve had AAA for years as well. Used regularly for roadside assistance, traveler’s checks, maps and the latest was a doozy: went to buy glasses – the AAA discount was greater than my eye insurance discount!

  11. S. B. says

    One of the benefits of having AAA (or a similar service) is that the roadside assistance “insurance” may enable you to be able to drive a cheaper car. I drive an old car to save money, and I know that statistically it has a much higher chance of breaking down than a newer vehicle. I’m willing to take that risk because of the roadside assistance backup. So I feel that spending $90 a year on AAA allows me to save a lot more than that through driving cheaper vehicles.

  12. AR says

    A family member has had AAA for over 25years and has rarely used it. She has been traveling on the road quite a bit over the last two years, She ran over something on the highway and it flattened her tire and the tires of two other cars, so she called AAA for assistance. She was informed that she had used all 4 of her call allotments for the year and would have to pay over a $100 to upgrade if she wanted assistance. She didn’t have the funds so she was forced to wait until a state trooper came along. Because the tow truck was helping the other two cars he kindly offered to change her tire.

    So, I ask you, did you know that you only get 4 calls a year for your annual membership fee and should AAA leave anyone stranded if they call a 5th time for assistance. How many years of fees do they collect without ever having to provide service. I think there should some type of a courtesy call allowance for long-standing members.

    I’m disappointed to hear that this happened and am reconsidering renewing my own membership.

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