I received an offer in the mail for a discounted AAA membership. It would be $34 for me, $14.50 for Tim for 14 months worth of coverage. Together, that’s less than normal price, which is $53 a year plus $29 for each additional person. (Of course, I’m sure, like magazines, these “special offers” create more subscription numbers than any other method.)

I’ve never had AAA coverage before, though I know my aunt and uncle are very happy with theirs.

Obviously, the main allure here is the roadside assistance. If we needed a tow, it would cost us $40 (which is cheap already). So one incident like that in a year and we’ve almost made up for the cost of the whole membership.

On the other hand, how often does that situation actually come up? We already had it towed once this year when two tires went flat. That was the first time in the five years I’d been using a car that we actually needed a tow. And, while I have to check with my insurance, I’m pretty sure I get some roadside assistance from that policy.

Plus there’s the fact that, in Phoenix, a 5-mile tow doesn’t get you very far.

What are your guys’ experience with/opinions on AAA? I need some feedback!

In the meantime, I’m going to go through the various discounts and see how they stack up to the ones we already have through the Entertainment Book and Mr. Rebates.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Savings April 11, 2010 at 10:26 am

YES! It's the cheapest "insurance" policy in the universe, and totally worth the peace of mind. I've never used it, but I'm SO glad its there. My mom had had to use it several times, and was glad to have it, because its' definitely cheaper than without if you run into a jam. Plus, my car insurance is with AAA (which is a member only policy) and it is hands down, the cheapest (and best) insurance I've found.

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Abigail Reply:

Savings,

Yeah, I need to get a quote from them. I find it hard to believe that we could get much cheaper on our current policy. Even with Tim's SR-22, we paid $368 for 6 months' of coverage.

Thanks for the input. I think the peace of mind is an excellent point!

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Crystalsky Reply:

Hi you all,
I had my car break down awhile back and I was almost at the parking lot of where I worked. It cost me 80.00 dollars. it sucked. But thank the Lord I tried there speacial 38;00
for basic membership with AAA after that I had my keys locked in the car they came and got them out for me. I also had not paid my new membership by a week or so. I meant to. I got a flat on a lonely highway. I still called to talk to AAA they sent some1 to fix my flat that was a blessing to me.I also went and renewed right away. They are a blessing to me. Thank you Lord for AAA.

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Abigail Reply:

Savings,

Yeah, I need to get a quote from them. I find it hard to believe that we could get much cheaper on our current policy. Even with Tim's SR-22, we paid $368 for 6 months' of coverage.

Thanks for the input. I think the peace of mind is an excellent point!

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Crystalsky Reply:

Hi you all,
I had my car break down awhile back and I was almost at the parking lot of where I worked. It cost me 80.00 dollars. it sucked. But thank the Lord I tried there speacial 38;00
for basic membership with AAA after that I had my keys locked in the car they came and got them out for me. I also had not paid my new membership by a week or so. I meant to. I got a flat on a lonely highway. I still called to talk to AAA they sent some1 to fix my flat that was a blessing to me.I also went and renewed right away. They are a blessing to me. Thank you Lord for AAA.

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2 Kat April 11, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I love AAA! I have used them only twice, but having the membership is a great peace of mind. I used them once in the winter after someone pulled out in front of me, causing me to choose between hitting them or running into the ditch. I chose the ditch and of course got stuck. AAA sent someone to get me out.

The other time I used them was when I went to leave for work in the morning and discovered a flat tire, and my boyfriend was already at work. AAA had someone out so fast to change my tire that I was only about 20 minutes late for work.

For anybody who says, "You should learn to change your own tire!"…even the guy that AAA sent out had a heck of a time getting the old tire off. Those lug nuts were brutal. I would have never gotten that tire off. Not to mention the fact that I would be so paranoid of not having the lug nuts on the spare tire secured tightly enough. There are some things I life I just like to leave to others.

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Meg Reply:

I'm all for leaving certain things to others, but — just curious — have you done a comparison between how much it would cost to have had someone else come out without AAA and how much you've paid into AAA? I think that would be really important to know when determining whether it's been worth it.

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Meg Reply:

I'm all for leaving certain things to others, but — just curious — have you done a comparison between how much it would cost to have had someone else come out without AAA and how much you've paid into AAA? I think that would be really important to know when determining whether it's been worth it.

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3 Meg April 11, 2010 at 7:20 pm

For a while my husband and I did the AAA thing and put money in other things like extended warranties for "peace of mind". But, in the end, we paid a lot more out than we got back and it just wasn't worth it. And that's how it's going to be for most people — otherwise the companies wouldn't make so much money off such policies.

Now we've stopped buying those sorts of things and put our money into an emergency fund instead. Now that brings us a lot of peace of mind without the fine print and red tape and other hassles.

My advice, put whatever money you'd spend on that and similar "peace of mind" stuff and stick it into an account for those sorts of emergencies.

The only "peace of mind" things we have now are insurance for things that would literally bankrupt us because we just aren't going to be in a position financially anytime soon to deal with (stuff like health insurance). And we try to keep the deductibles on those things fairly high to save us money since we do have a decent emergency fund now to take care of the smaller things.

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Abigail Reply:

Meg,

That's my worry: We'd pay more in than we'd get out. I am planning on doing some cost/benefit comparisons, including seeing what my insurance coverage already gives me!

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Abigail Reply:

Meg,

That's my worry: We'd pay more in than we'd get out. I am planning on doing some cost/benefit comparisons, including seeing what my insurance coverage already gives me!

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4 Elizabeth April 11, 2010 at 7:51 pm

I love AAA. Yes, some years you pay out more than you get in dollars, but it's hard to quantify how valuable that peace of mind is. Of course, if you only drive locally and don't drive alone, you may already have peace of mind. However, it's extra fabulous when you are far from home, or at night, etc to be able to call AAA, and they'll find and send whatever local company out to you.
Also, regarding the actual dollars/cents, being a AAA member also gives tons of discounts at other places. I'm not very good about researching these – need to get better. I do always get $5 or so off at Jiffy Lube due to AAA, but I think they even give $ off at Kohl's or someplace like that (not a store convenient for me, so I forget which one it is), but it's soooo many places that if you are diligent about looking them up, you may be able to make back your $ investment that way.

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5 oregonsun April 11, 2010 at 8:32 pm

I say no, add towing to your insurance policy…we pay $14 a year for both cars. For what it is worth…

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6 Erin April 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm

I've only had to call AAA once in the 5 or so years I've had them but was so happy that it was an easy phone call away. My car broke down in the middle of NOWHERE and yes, I had to wait for an hour for the guy to show up (it wasn't an "emergency" because it was daytime and I was in a safe area) but he arrived, was really friendly and took me to a service station near my house. It was a total lifesaver because I don't know what I would have done without that service.

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7 Savings April 11, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Another good point… they give pretty good hotel discounts, plus discounted tickets to movies, theme parks, restaurants, and some stores. And, their travel services are fantastic… the travel agents are good, and the maps, tour books and trip tiks have made many a road trip easier!

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8 Red April 12, 2010 at 1:04 am

I LOVE AAA! I've had the service for about four years now, and it's really saved me enough times to make it worth it. Like all those times I locked my keys in the car. Or the one time I ran out of gas. Plus, you get a decent amount of discounts at tourist destinations or hotels for being a AAA member. And they have the travel service, where you can go into any of their offices and get a tourist book, a road map and a few other goodies for any vacation you may be planning. They've been worth it for me.

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9 Just Kelly April 12, 2010 at 4:08 am

YES

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10 Marie April 12, 2010 at 4:41 am

So its 2 am and your in the middle of podunk USA and your car dies. Who do you call to get a tow? Its way easy just to call the number on your card and they take care of it. Plus they do have a certification process that the repair shops have to go through to have your card taken there. Its not a 100% guarantee thing but its another choice that you now a decent outcome will come from.

That and the twice we've used it – the tow company didn't come after us for the extra 15 miles.

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11 Brandy April 12, 2010 at 12:24 pm

im a girl who knows nothing about cars so if mine acts up while im out im screwed but i learned that my car ins has added it as a feature offered to retain customers. while talking to others turns out lots of car ins companies are offering this. it came in handy too when my car died while i was out back in November. the tow truck was there within 15 minutes.

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12 angie April 12, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I have had AAA since 1998 and would never leave home without it. I cannot tell you how many times AAA has come to the rescue for us. From flat tires to broken down in the middle of the street, they are quick and painless and take care of you. We have also used it many times to save money on hotels and entrances to other attractions, as well as discounts shopping online at places like Target and Barnes and Noble. I would recommend to anyone.

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13 strawberry April 12, 2010 at 5:02 pm

the ONE time i decided not to renew my AAA i got a flat tire and had to pay a $50 one-time fee for a mechanic to come out and change it…my yearly fee is about that much so if i had just renewed it would have paid for itself in one instance!
so…YES! get it!

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14 Bonnie April 12, 2010 at 5:16 pm

AAA is SO worth the money. I had to use them twice in one weekend a few years ago, and I happily write the check (which is nothing when you think about what it covers) each year to renew. I'm not sure if they still do this, but once, I was riding with a friend, and HIS car overheated and broke down. Simply because I was a AAA member (he wasn't), AAA came and picked us up AND towed his car–for FREE. Also, when you travel, AAA will almost always score you a discount on hotels, rental cars, etc.

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15 Kimberly April 12, 2010 at 5:44 pm

It was cheaper for us to add towing to our insurance policy. We pay $16 a year for all 3 cars. We used it a couple of months ago at 1am and the tow truck showed up within 15 minutes of our call. The driver was friendly and polite and dropped us off at home after taking the car to our repair shop.

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16 DWB April 12, 2010 at 6:52 pm

You should check your insurance policy you may already have towing included mine is with Allstate.

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17 Monroe On a Budget April 12, 2010 at 1:44 pm

There is a "bump up" plan on AAA that will give you more miles.

As far as the discounts paying us back for the membership, well, that never worked out for us. We don't spend money on things that are typically part of the discount program. We just consider AAA to be one of our insurance policies.

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18 Carissa April 12, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I've only had to use AAA a few times, but I think the services are definitely worth the money.

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19 Mrs. Accountability April 13, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I never felt the need for AAA when I lived in Phoenix, but now I'm traveling 50 miles from home to work, and all our cars are 1998 and older I wouldn't be without it. I have the PLUS coverage for myself, my husband and my son. If you think you might go for it, I called AAA (to see if the "tell a friend" promotion was still valid and was told it didn't even exist, oh yeah? Funny I have an email with a link from AAA, anyhoo) and was told there is a coupon in the Clipper Magazine or the Savvy Shopper which with a four letter code will allow you to sign up with AAA for one year for $34. So be sure to go that route if you decide to get it.

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20 Diana December 2, 2010 at 3:21 pm

We had AAA when we bought 7 year old cars & drove them for 3-7 years. Driving clunkers allowed us to save up enough to purchase a 1 year old car for cash. That car is now 4 years old. In another two years, we'll decide between buying another 1 year old car, or keeping this one for several more years, and carrying AAA again,

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21 Mark February 5, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Pluses:

1. Extra discounts on hotels have more than paid for our AAA membership. Discounts are also extended to a variety of other things that might surprise you.

2. We had a problem once on the road and they were able to give us the name of a trusted mechanic we could drive to, who ended up getting us back on the road and not charging us (ice clogging up the tires).

3. AAA is going to get you to the nearest AAA certified place to get you up and running again. You take your chances if you call your own truck and have them take it to just any mechanic who knows you won't be a regular because you don't live nearby.

I will mention – we were in PA once during a major northeast storm, and AAA just sent someone out to see if we had battery problems, no tow truck, (I"m guessing they were dispatched elsewhere or it is a new cost saving measure when the car is parked and just won't start?) and the guy didn't offer to send one. We were stuck in the driveway where we were staying, but if I'd been on the side of the road in a dead car, I would have been upset & frozen.

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22 Nico April 19, 2011 at 10:58 am

I also like to buy a fifth wheel for my auto… a full- sized spare, at a junk yard (make sure it's the same size! Mine is P17570R13) and then have a decent tire on it. If I get a flat its easy to swap the flat with the 5th wheel spare, and on a long vacation I have the 5th as well as the little donut spare. A great way to travel, and ideal for cheapskates like me who can pay a little up front to save the cost further down the road. And be able to cancel AAA membership.

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23 crazyliblady June 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm

You might want to check what kind of coverage you have on your auto insurance for tows and such. I used to have tow coverage, but I had to pay for the tow first out of my own pocket and then get reimbursed. AAA is well worth it in my opinion, as they have saved my butt more than once including giving my car a jump and pulling me out of an icy piece of road when I got stuck in the winter. Before I had AAA, I had to have my car towed about 20 miles once when I was in a car accident and it cost $162.00. Your $40 estimate may be in-town tows only.

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24 Warren Q Higgins September 27, 2012 at 2:44 am

I think AAA pretty much gets good reviews. My sister has AAA and its car insurance has been very helpful. She used to look for an emergency locksmith perth whenever she loses her car keys, but when she got into a minor car accident, AAA saved her day!

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