Amazing AAA Discounts

By Carlos Portocarrero on 10 June 2010 (Updated 6 June 2011) 25 comments

By now everyone knows that AAA is a great membership for drivers to have. One of the worst feelings in the world is walking up to your car and seeing you have a flat tire. Or hearing a weird clicking sound coming from the engine. Or being stranded on the side of the highway.

Take your pick: they all suck.

But that’s what AAA is for — one quick call and they’ll take care of you. The best part: not having to worry about how much it's going to cost.

The totally reasonable $57 annual membership fee is well worth it. One call to get your car jump started, towed, or to have a flat fixed pays for itself. And even if it doesn't happen, it's nice to have that peace of mind when you're on the road.

But wait, there’s more.

But there’s more to a AAA membership — turns out there are literally hundreds of additional discounts that come with your trusty AAA membership card.

I just joined over the weekend because my car wouldn't start (it was the alternator), and after joining to get the car jump started, I started to research exactly what other perks came with my basic $57 membership.

I was shocked at how many there were, but here are some of my favorites:

  • Dell: Up to 30% Off. I’ve bought my last three computers from Dell and this is just another reason to continue shopping with them...unless I finally make the move to a Mac.
  • Target: 10% Off (update: this is online only). Who doesn’t shop at Target? It's a great place to save on everyday stuff like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and clothes.
  • Payless Shoes: 10% Off. Don’t ask me what roadside service has to do with shoes, but who cares?
  • Kohls: 15% off $100+ (update: this is also online only): The best part about this deal is it's in addition to any other coupons or deals the store is having. That's some big-time savings right there.
  • Hertz. Traveling is synonymous with renting a car and exploring a new city or landscape. So why not save some coin? They have a bunch of deals to save on daily rates, weekly rates, and even free days when you rent for a certain amount.
  • Hotels. I still like Hotwire the best, but AAA holds its own ground. From Hyatt, Hampton, Hilton, and Omni hotels, there are tons to choose from depending on the type of place you like to stay at. Get up to 25% off the daily rate or get perks like free breakfast during your stay.
  • Free Maps and Guides. I love maps — it’s the best way to familiarize myself with a new place or explore new areas around my current hometown of Chicago.
  • DMV Services. Hate the DMV? Join the club — literally. A lot of the stuff you need to go to the DMV for can be done at your local AAA office. Now that's service!

To check out all the deals, go to AAA.com and click on the Savings button at the top of the page. Oh and if you decide to join and want to get out of paying the enrollment free, enter the promotional code 0SGN (that's a zero by the way).

What's your favorite AAA perk/discount?

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Guest's picture
matt

So, if I join AAA which I am thinking about any way. I can show my card at Target and get 10% off every in store purchase? That's AWESOME

Guest's picture
Guest

According to the AAA website, the 10 percent off at Target is for online purchases only.

Guest's picture
Guest

The Kohl's discount is online only too. This article is really misleading.

Guest's picture
twblues

I agree that this article is misleading. The Dell 30% discount is only on select (high-end) systems from Dell.com, and coming down from MSRP, you would probably do better to buy the system you actually want in a brick and mortar store. Don't get me wrong...I'm a AAA member, and I love my Dell computers, but be clear about the facts.

Guest's picture
Guest

Are we getting a kickback from AAA here? These discounts are really misleading. The Target/Kohl's is online and Dell is also with caveat. Let's not trot out something without providing the always important *context*.

Carlos Portocarrero's picture

Come on guys, let's not be so nitpicky here. 10% is still 10%, whether you buy it online or not. That's nothing to sneeze at!

And for Dell, that's why the article said "Up to 30%"

This is a membership that's supposed to help you with car trouble...but you get all this extra stuff thrown in. Let's have a little perspective.

Guest's picture
Guest

Good article, Carlos! I'm always surprised at the number of folks who don't have AAA membership. There have been times when I've gotten better hotel rates w/my AAA card than through Hotwire and other low-priced sites for hotels and travel.

And yes, people are being 'nitpicky'.

Guest's picture
Mac

10% off Target is a GREAT deal. 10% off Target.com is NOT. It does make a big difference and the article seem to have indicated otherwise. I would have joined AAA for this benefit alone. There are a ton of sources that offer 10% of Target's online site, but it's not much of a deal since you have to pay for shipping...and taxes.

Actually, ALL of the "savings" can be had from other sources. And who still uses paper maps to get around in the iPhone generation? No deal.

Plus, Basic AAA membership in my area is $77, not $57. These savings are no where near amazing. The price may be worth it for those with frequent car issues, but AAA would make a tidy profit on most.

Guest's picture
Guest

Recently, my young adult son went on the town and forgot where he parked my SUV. He thought it was stolen, called me, the police and AAA. This is when, after a decade of family membership, I learned that AAA will not pick you up if your car is stolen, away from home, in the middle of the night! As a handicapped, middle aged lady, I had had a very mistaken assumption of the membership. BTW, Lo Jac offices are open from 6am-6pm so if your equipped vehicle's stolen at 6:01pm the thieves have a 12hour head start!

Guest's picture
LL

A few weeks ago, AAA held a member appreciation night at Six Flags Magic Mountain. The park was open special hours for AAA members only (Friday 6pm-12am). It was fantastic! My husband and I have wanted to go for years, but never have, because it usually too hot, and/or too crowded. AAA solved both problems for us, and we had a great time! The tickets were only $25 each, and we didn't have to pay for parking (normally $15!). What a great perk!

Guest's picture
twblues

IMO, this article merely parroted the information on the AAA website. Since this blog is for people who are trying to be smart about money, I guess we expected more analysis from a "smart consumer" standpoint. By that I mean: "Is this as good as it sounds?"

Guest's picture
guest

re: free maps and guides. I am looking for a website that will give me info about what I could see along the way. i.e. When I pick destination St. Louis to Denver, I would like to see what interesting places I could visit along the way with moderate detours.
Do you know where I could find such info.

Guest's picture
catastrophegirl
Guest's picture
claire7676

You want a great perk for AAA membership? You can get INSANE premiums on your car insurance. I shopped around (and I mean REALLY shopped around about 10-12 different companies) for car insurance. No one came anywhere close to what we're paying (with the same deductibles, etc) with AAA car insurance. The insurance is through AAA and the company is called Encompass. Another AAA-affiliated company (called "Members") offered us a quote too, but Encompass was by far cheaper. The price we are getting on auto insurance more than pays for our annual membership (and that's for 2 people).

Guest's picture
Morgan

I found out about the discounts you can get with AAA a couple of years ago and went to their website to check them out. I would not use most of them, but I was all about the 10% off at Gap Outlet stores. My husband and I will drive out to the nearest outlet mall once or twice a year and I always take advantage of that extra 10% at the Gap Outlet. With their already low closeout deals and the discount basically taking care of tax, I can really load up on clothes for myself and gifts for birthdays, etc.

Guest's picture
Guest

We found out the hard way that the roadside service offered by AAA is not nationwide. It is good for our home state only. That's something to keep in mind when weighing the pros and cons.

Guest's picture
Guest

That's not true that AAA won't help unless you are in your home state! I was traveling from my home state of Mass. to Florida and broke down in South Carolina at 11:30 pm on a rainy Saturday night. AAA sent a tow truck within a half hour. The driver showed up with his wife, they brought me a thermos of coffee, took me to a motel owned by a friend who didn't charge me for the emergency overnight stay. The next morning- Sunday morning!- the AAA tow man & wife came back & picked me up, took me to the only mechanic in town was able to fix my car & he didn't charge me an arm and a leg. I was soon on my way.

Another time I was traveling out of state and my battery died. I waited about a half hour, got my battery charged up, and the tow man noticed one of my tires was low and pumped it up.

Now, the discounts, on the other hand, do not work for me at all. I have no need for any of the places that offer the 10% discount & I don't like purchasing things on line.

Guest's picture
Spencer

30% off at Lenscrafters can easily pay for several years of membership in our family. Heck, 30% off on one new pair of glasses at $200 pays for it the year (and our glasses tend to be a lot more than $200.)

Guest's picture
Maggie

I've been a member for about 15 years. Some years, I've had 3 jump starts on cars and Tour Books and maps for several states, other years, nothing, not even a map needed from them.

Best benefits have been as a traveler. Hotel discounts are great, particularly if you pick up Tour Books of states you're going to -- they have a ratings system that includes star level, description, etc. and you get a discount, and you get that in an easy to access format, particularly on the road, when you might not have internet access/working smart phone. I have used the trip planning service before, and it's quite handy for planning road trips and finding attractions along the way. They also have AAA approved auto-repair, with discounts. In addition, you can get discounts on fun things to do. Some you could match elsewhere, like Entertainment Book or online, but it's really handy to just show your AAA card and get a discount. My big problem is I forget to ask for my AAA discount at odd places, like restaurants.

Ten years ago, AAA was a better deal -- cheaper, and less stuff was available through other means. With smart phones & GPS mapping, you can do a lot of legwork to save money on your own, if you take the time, or do it before you head out traveling. But then again, AAA has an iPhone app to show you discounts, too. :-) And it's nice that they've done the research to rate places for you, so you know what you're getting into (how much a restaurant in an unfamiliar location will cost -- like when we went driving up the coast of CA one year).

Guest's picture
Guest

I recently used AAA to get some great discounts at LensCrafters. 30% off exams and eye glasses. When you buy contacts for a year, there was a AAA discount for that as well.

Guest's picture
Matt

Thanks for this awesome post! I'm going to join AAA finally!

Guest's picture
Guest

Thanks for the post!
Where do you enter the promotion code when signing up? I went all the way through the sign up process to the point at which I would have to enter my credit card info, but I never saw a place where you could enter a promo code.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have the same question.

Guest's picture
Guest

I shop target.com frequently using my CSAA discount. It is a bit confusing because to get your discount you do need to sign in to the CSAA online site first, then look up the target discount and click the link to shop target.com. As soon as you see the "shop now" window pop up you are ready to sign in to your target account and receive your 10% off. With the free shipping deals and additional 5% savings for using my Target card I get amazing deals.

Guest's picture
Lisa

There's something better: Better World Club (betterworld.com) offers roadside assistance too, but they do not lobby for cars and roads uber alles, and offer insurance for bikes too.