Are you currently debating whether or not AAA is a cost that would be worth it for you? The summer is here, and with social distancing still an important part of daily life in many areas, more people might be planning to hit the roadways for their vacations and summer plans rather than flying.
If so, you always want to be safe and protect yourself and your family on the roadways. You never know when you might need to call a tow truck, or something could come up while you’re driving.
The following are things to consider if you’re weighing a AAA membership.
An Overview of AAA
AAA is a company that’s more than 100-years-old. AAA has been providing members roadside assistance for decades, and it’s the go-to name in this area. Along with helping you if you get stranded on the road, AAA offers discount programs, financial product assistance, and travel services like vacation planning.
AAA also works to promote safety on the roadways, and they do research in areas affecting traffic.
The cost of an AAA membership can vary depending on where you live and the type of coverage you want. It may be anywhere from $40 to $165 a year per person.
The AAA is a federation of 27 regional clubs in the U.S. and Canada. AAA also certifies auto repair shops when they meet certain standards.
What Does A Basic Membership Get You?
The basic membership is the lowest level you can purchase, and in some states, this is around $65 per person, although it may be more or less where you live.
If you got a basic membership some of the roadside assistance services that might come with it include:
- If you leave your keys in your car, AAA will pay to retrieve them
- If you call a tow truck or a responder and you have a basic membership, they may work to get your car operational on-site first. This might mean they jump-start your battery or change your flat tire. They might also bring you fuel. If they can’t solve the problem on-site, then they will usually tow your car to the place you request within a certain mile limit.
- It doesn’t matter what car you’re driving because your membership is linked to you and not your vehicle.
All AAA members have access to a travel agency and travel discounts. If you’re booking a hotel, for example, you might have access to 10% discounts. Many chains offer these discounts, including Marriott. Rental car agencies will also often offer AAA member discounts.
The next level of membership is the Plus, and it features towing service within 100 driving miles so you have more options as far as where to have you’re taken. You get double the travel insurance coverage of what you do with the Basic membership, and if you need to have fuel delivered to you, the fuel itself is free. With the basic membership, you have to pay for the fuel.
The Premier membership offers free battery replacement, at least five complimentary roadside assistance calls a year, and free rental car booking if your car breaks down. There is a home lockout service that comes with this membership and a free CARFAX report.
What Are the Alternatives?
There are other options available to you for roadside assistance, including things you may not realize you already have.
- Your car manufacturer. If you buy a new vehicle, it will often come with roadside assistance. When you buy a car, ask the dealer or read over your paperwork and see what it covers and for how long before you make a decision on purchasing a AAA membership.
- Your car insurance is likely going to offer roadside assistance of some type. It may be built into your policy, or it might be something you can add on to your car insurance for a small fee.
- Your credit cards may include roadside assistance as one of the basic benefits for cardmembers.
When is AAA Worth It?
There are a few things to consider before you buy a AAA membership. First, go through all of the above and see what kind of coverage you already have. You don’t want to pay for a membership you don’t need, or that offers services you’re already paying for.
If you are a frequent traveler, by car or otherwise, AAA might be worth it to you because of not just the roadside assistance, but also the travel-related perks.
Some of the benefits of AAA include:
- You may get more timely help and service when you need it with AAA than you would otherwise.
- If you have an older car, it can be a good idea to have AAA or something similar. Older cars are more likely to need a tow or to break down, so AAA can give you peace of mind.
- If you have a teen driver in your family, getting a AAA membership can give you peace of mind in that sense.
The downsides of AAA include:
- If you have a new car or you don’t use the services very often, it’s not very cost-effective to have AAA. If you don’t travel, again, it may not be worth it to you.
- The basic memberships don’t come with many bells and whistles. For example, you don’t get complimentary battery replacement with lower membership tiers.
- Regional AAA clubs can set their own membership fees, so you might see a lot of pricing variance.
- Insurance companies often offer better deals on roadside assistance.
If you’re thinking about AAA, do the math to figure out how much a membership would cost you versus how often you’re likely to use it. Also, look at the different discounts available through AAA and see if those will be of interest to you.
AAA can be a great option for some motorists, but not everyone.