Is AAA Worth It?

AAA is a great option for drivers, but do the math to ensure it makes financial sense for you.

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Responding to more than 33 million calls a year, AAA has become the standard in roadside assistance. And its popularity spans the generations, with millennials making up almost a third of its new memberships in 2019.

AAA membership not only provides assistance for stranded motorists but also offers discounts on car rentals, vacation packages, cellular service and more. Depending on where you live and the level of coverage you choose, annual AAA memberships can range from about $38-$164 for one driver.

To determine whether the cost of AAA membership is worth it, consider how you might use it, decide if you need the services and see how it could save you money when it comes to the total cost of owning a car.

Understanding AAA auto clubs

AAA, often referred to as "Triple A," is a national company, but it offers coverage based on location. Each region has its own auto club, which provides assistance to members living in specific areas.

When you look into a AAA membership, you’ll use your ZIP code to determine which auto club covers your location. That auto club will determine the options available for you and rates for services like roadside assistance and insurance coverage.

AAA costs

AAA has a three-tiered membership structure. The pricing depends on where you live and which plan you choose.

Plan

Cost per year for primary member

Cost per year per additional member

Classic plan

$38-74.

$25-$48.

Plus plan

$60-$124.

$34-$80.

Premier plan

$77-$164.

$45-$109.

Membership plan benefits

Each plan offers different services or call-outs for a type of service. The table below is an example of the benefits for members in Texas.

Service

Classic plan

Plus plan

Premier plan

Free tow per distance

Up to 7 miles or to an independent service provider's facility (no distance limit).

Up to 100 miles.

Up to 200 miles (1 tow); up to 100 miles (3 tows).

Tow service calls per year

Up to 4.

Up to 4.

Up to 4.

Fuel delivery

Free delivery; you pay for fuel.

Free fuel and delivery.

Free fuel and delivery.

Locksmith service

$60 toward parts and labor.

$100 toward parts and labor.

$150 toward parts and labor.

Winching service*

One service vehicle/driver.

Two service vehicles/drivers.

Two service vehicles/drivers.

Rental car

Discount when towed in the same territory.

Discount and upgrade in same territory.

One-day complimentary midsize rental.

Flat tire repair

Included.

Included.

Included.

Battery service

Included.

Included.

Included.

* Extrication of snowbound or flooded vehicles isn't covered by these plans.

Additional fees

While AAA will cover all drivers in your family, each driver must be individually enrolled in your plan. And each enrollment comes with a small jump in price.

The primary driver — the person first enrolled — is covered for the advertised base price. An additional adult, known as an associate member, can be added to a plan. Dependents who are younger than 26 and live with you or are full-time students can be added as dependent associate members. The rate you're charged for additional members will depend on your location and plan.

You might be charged an admission fee as a new member for your first year. This is on top of your annual dues.

AAA discounts and extras

A perk that draws many members to AAA is the discounts with national companies. The discounts vary, but examples include:

  • Services at Napa Auto Parts, LensCrafters, Penske Truck Rental and The UPS Store.

  • Restaurants such as Hard Rock Cafe, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Joe’s Crab Shack.

  • Food delivery services such as Blue Apron, Freshly and Home Chef.

  • Entertainment venues such as AMC Theatres, Busch Gardens, Cinemark, Disneyland, SeaWorld.

  • Technology such as from Dell, HP, Samsung and T-Mobile.

Auto-related discounts

AAA works with certified auto repair shops that meet Automotive Service Excellence standards and have undergone AAA inspections for equipment, customer satisfaction and technician expertise. Members get 10% off repairs, up to $50, at these AAA-approved locations. Most repairs are guaranteed for two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.

AAA members can also get additional car-related benefits, depending on their location. For example, a Texas AAA membership comes with:

  • A free 40-point inspection or discounted 86-point inspection at a AAA-approved repair facility.

  • Discounted Carfax report.

  • Free online vehicle pricing report.

Travel discounts

AAA is also known for its discounts on travel services. These include discounts with car rental companies like Hertz, Thrifty Car Rentals, Dollar Rent A Car and The Parking Spot.

You can also save on hotels around the world. While AAA has a few preferred partners — including Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and MGM Resorts International — you can search AAA’s hotel-specific website to find deals on international stays as well.

But note that you might not be able to combine discounts or promotions offered to AAA members with other offers.

Other perks

AAA membership also includes additional perks, some of which are available in the higher-tiered plans and in certain locations only:

  • A free personal notary service.

  • Discounted passport photos.

  • Discounts on international AAA maps.

  • 24-hour travel assistance on eligible trips.

  • Credit toward home locksmith services.

AAA auto insurance

Membership is required to purchase AAA insurance.

Most AAA clubs offer insurance, but the type of insurance and individual rates vary by location. AAA’s insurance agents will look over any of your existing policies and provide advice as part of the membership. Across the board, AAA offers a variety of auto, home, renters, life and small-business insurance.

Is AAA worth it?

It depends on the math and how protected you want to be. Like auto insurance, AAA is set up so that you pay for coverage in advance that you hope you don’t have to use. In some cases, it can be more expensive to go without coverage if you do need roadside assistance.

Do the math

To see if AAA coverage is worth the investment, consider the potential costs of having and not having coverage for a certain situation. For example, let’s say a family of four in Texas is comparing the cost of AAA coverage with what they would pay for towing services directly from an auto shop.

How much the family pays for the AAA coverage depends on how many drivers are enrolled in their chosen plan. The family of four in Texas would pay $91 a year for the first driver and $55 for each additional driver.

However, if they decide to pay an auto shop for towing services directly, the rate they pay could vary depending on the company. Based on a quote from a Houston-based towing service, the family would pay $109 for a hook-up fee and $6 per mile to have their car towed 20 miles.

With AAA, they know in advance how much they’ll pay only as long as they have their car towed 100 miles or less. However, that money will be spent on unused coverage if they don’t need assistance during the year. And if they limit coverage to one or two drivers who aren’t in the car when it breaks down, they can’t use their AAA coverage for that tow.

If they hire a tow service instead, they might pay less that year if they only need a single tow, regardless of which driver is in the seat when the car breaks down. But if they require two tows that year, the expense could be higher than if they had covered all four drivers with AAA.

Provider

One driver

Two drivers

Four drivers

AAA Plus plan

$91.

$154.

$256.

One tow with auto shop

$229.*

Two tows with auto shop

$458.*

*The estimated prices for hiring a tow service directly are based on a quote provided in September 2022.

Drivers who can probably skip it

If you fit any of these descriptions, you might be able to skip AAA coverage:

  • You rarely drive your car.

  • You already have coverage through a different company, such with your vehicle's warranty.

  • You’re financially secure and can comfortably cover the cost of roadside services without assistance.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Also check your car insurance company’s coverage, which could be as little as $10 a year for basic roadside assistance that might be more fitting for your driving habits.

Drivers who might benefit

If you fall into any of these categories, you might benefit from considering a AAA membership:

  • Your financial situation makes it difficult to pay for roadside services without assistance.

  • You are more comfortable paying a monthly membership price than an out-of-pocket cost all at once.

  • You are on the road frequently.

  • You tend to drive long distances.

Alternatives to AAA

For those who aren’t worried about having constant roadside assistance coverage, AAA’s plans might be more than what you need. There are other roadside assistance options available to help you find the coverage you want that will fit your budget. In addition to other organizations, consider asking your car insurance provider, car manufacturer, credit card company or cell phone provider if they have roadside assistance plans available.

There are also apps that offer on-demand roadside assistance. For example, using Honk, Driver Roadside and Mach 1 could be a better option if you want to avoid a membership fee. You pay when you need assistance only.

However, the services could cost you more out of pocket than a AAA membership, depending on your location and the service you need. And some drivers have said using these apps isn’t any easier than calling a tow truck or auto service center directly.

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