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A Recent Experience, and Why I’m Doubling Down on AAA Membership

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AAA Membership Fee

AAA Membership Fee

I’ve previously described absorbing the AAA membership fee as an annual dilemma.  I experimented with other options, like GasBuddy Premium, which purportedly offered similar benefits.  I know plenty use other roadside assistance options, many offered via credit card benefits and insurance features.  I’ve been back with AAA for a few years without much ballyhoo, finding easy ways to save on an annual membership along the way (pro tip: check your junk mail).  But a recent event has made me a more enthusiastic AAA member.  Here’s what happened and another reason why I’m not turning away from AAA membership.

A Surprise

Last week, my two passenger-side wheels became acquainted with a freshly redone, LARGE curb in our metro area.  I immediately pulled over at a 7-Eleven and discovered sidewall damage on two tires.  For the first time in a few years, I called AAA for roadside assistance.  I was prepared for voice prompts and getting to a rep soon after.

AAA Membership Fee

The Call Becomes a Chat

What happened next was news to me.  Immediately after calling AAA, the automated system sent me a text message with an online link.  The voice prompt then stated that I can follow that link for assistance or wait on the phone for a rep.

I chose to view this as an opportunity for growth.  My gut was to kick it old school and just wait for a rep.  Instead, I decided to try the online link.  I hung up and clicked away.

Long story short, the automated chat was a pleasure, or close as it can be in that situation.  I provided the pertinent details, confirming my location and car info.  AAA chat responses were immediate, and within two minutes or so, I had a tech confirmed and on his way.

The dude was there about 15 minutes later.  (No, I didn’t go into 7-Eleven for gift cards in the meantime).  After his support and a pickup from my wife, I was back home well within an hour of the incident.  It’s like it never happened.  Well, except for the new tires I bought.  But I’m back in the saddle, and AAA made it easier.

AAA Membership Fee

AAA Membership Fee – Conclusion

This AAA chat feature probably isn’t new to many of you.  But it might as well be cutting-edge to me.  After this experience, I have even more confidence in AAA’s roadside assistance support.  I imagine other services have similar capabilities.  Looking back, I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by AAA’s roadside assistance, and this “new” capability only builds more loyalty.  Perhaps their other services aren’t what they once were, but I’ll happily keep paying for AAA membership simply for their solid roadside assistance.

Who do you rely on for roadside assistance?  How has their performance been in your experience?

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Haven’t used it in a long time but AAA came through for us years ago on a dead battery with a quick replacement.

    One other consideration, I’ve had some good luck with AAA special rates beating out other cash options when wanting to stay in particular areas of a city (for walkability to public transit or specific attractions). Being newer to the game and not as flush with points as many of the pros here I try to save what points I have for the higher value redemptions. Last month a AAA deals rate saved more than $100 off a 3 night stay at the Grand Hyatt Seattle and put it well below comparable room options nearby. That one use will more than cover my AAA renewal for another year!

  2. AAA relies on local emergency service providers so it varies based on your location. Most auto insurance companies offer roadside assistance for either free or a very low per year amount. Sometimes it is cheaper if you pair it with rental car and towing coverage. Many homeowner insurance policies offer identity theft coverage or service and some also include other benefits so it pays to check. I like AAA and they do have some travel benefits and discount rates but it’s not inexpensive.

  3. Unfortunately, I went the other way and canceled our 18 year membership when they stranded us. Returned from a trip through Logan airport to our bus station in Portsmouth, NH just after Labor Day in 2022 and found the car wouldn’t start. They called us back after we were waiting an hour for someone and informed us that no one would be coming until the next morning at 8:00am. Rather than sleep at the station, we called an Uber and, encouraged by the dispatch representative, filed for a reimbursement, less than $30. They refused to pay, standing on policy, which excludes car hail refunds. We had to cancel.

  4. I’ve used AAA locally for some tows and an unlock, but they did come thru for me one year ago. My tires had worn thru the cords on the inside (I did have them aligned less than 6 months prior) and tripped my TPM light. Pulled over right away and did the AAA App and chat so they knew right where I was to the meter.

    Not more than 30 minutes later a flatbed showed up (as required by my car) and we were off. Of course it was Sunday after 5pm so nothing was open but fortunately a hotel was in walking distance. I booked it through AAA travel portal. Monday comes, the tire shop has to order tires. Tuesday comes, tires get in, installed and I’m on my way.

    I submitted a $300+ hotel reimbursement to AAA and not even 10 days later a check came for the full amount, no questions asked.

    For my other cars (not this one) I do go to the AAA service center, so maybe that’s why they didn’t drop me since I do give them business aside from my Gold Plus membership fee (though it does have $1000 trip reimbursement doesn’t mean they won’t drop you when they can)

  5. I had AAA for years and then about 5 years ago AAA sent me a notice that they wouldn’t renew my membership. I called and asked why? They said, “Over Usage”. I had 2 cars and 3 people on the policy (paying around $150/yr). I inquired how many times I’ve used their service in the last year and they said they couldn’t tell me. “Proprietary Info” I was told. Never looked back. Since then, I’ve used my car insurance coverage twice with a quick response. Screw AAA.

  6. I’ve had roadside assistance with Geico and hated it. The three times I’ve had the pleasure of using it, I’ve waited no less than 2 or 3 hours!! One time after waiting for over an hour for somebody to come change a tire, he couldn’t get the lug nuts off and had to call for a tow. That took another 3 hours! Miserable day to say the least. They just contract out to a third party and could care less about you. Complaining got me nowhere.

  7. you have no idea what you are talking about. once in a bluemoon or one customer out of 100 people who call for roadside assistance gets an agent fast but for the 99other customers, the average wait time is 4 to 12 hours for any AAA roadside assistance. Not worth the $60 basic or $120 membership fee. go to their social media and read all the complaint about 12 hour wait. Also unless you are careless about your car and want roadside assistance every week, you can add roadside assistance for $15 for one year with your insurance company and you don’t have to wait 4 to 12 hour.

  8. I am hot and cold with AAA. I have roadside assistance with my auto insurance carrier, but have never used it. In fact, I hadn’t used AAA in about 20 years, either. I did sign up for AAA about 14 months ago because, as you said, I received a promotion for $25 that included an additional driver. The renewal was $88, so I dropped it.

  9. Triple AAA has got me out of some jams in the past so we continue our membership. Most memorable was a breakdown in Iowa City over the 4th of July about 10 years ago. 3 nights hotel, meals were all reimbursed because of our coverage. It didn’t help with the $600 / car repair, but it was a good surprise nonetheless.

  10. I love it. Have been a member for 12 years. Used it for several issues. And it’s nice to know they are there if you ever need them. Even if you are only a passenger. I have used for dead battery, blown out tires, even visited my in-laws and while driving their car it would not re-start so had them come out and replace the battery. Quick and easy.

    • Johnny,
      That’s great AAA’s been useful to you as a passenger! I haven’t had a need there yet, but it’s probably just a matter of time.

  11. I also had a similar experience with AAA earlier this year. Needed a tow to a shop and used the chat bot to arrange the truck to come by. It was super seamless. Good job AAA!

  12. Looking in the past 23 years (2000-2023), I have never needed roadside assistance. Other people’s experiences may differ. Future performance may not reflect past performance.

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