When reviewing your budget and trying to cut expenses a bill that could be painlessly eliminated is your AAA membership. For decades AAA insurance was almost a necessity for anyone who did much driving, particularly those who drove at night and most particularly women and teenagers. The trip tiks, discounts on hotels and car rentals were merely gravy when counted against the meat and potatoes of the membership; the roadside service. Once a stranded motorist found a phone (pre-cell phone days) a simple call would insure that a trustworthy competent individual would be dispatched to your aid. If it was only a question of a dead battery, empty gas tank, or flat tire the problem was dealt with roadside, but if more was required you and your car were delivered to the safety of a service station. One never had to worry about who to call or how much money it would cost, as long as you could find a phone and had your membership card you were set.
Times have changed and you have to ask yourself if AAA is still the bargain it used to be. Here is a review of what the membership has to offer.
TRIP TIKS: These are fun and years ago were a real help in navigating a road trip. Now, however, almost all of us have computers or access to one and can use programs like Map Quest, to plan our own trips. We can, after researching hotels, car rentals, and entertainment, make all of these arrangements ourselves.
DISCOUNTS: Many credit card companies offer discounts. You can visit sites such as Travelocity and get discounts although this may require some advanced planning.
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE: This has always been the biggy, what can be worse than the thought of your teenage daughter miles from home in a broken down car? Years ago, if she didn’t have AAA, she would have had to walk or wait for someone to give her a ride to a phone and then call towing services until she found one that was willing to trust that they would be paid. Today it is a rare teenager that doesn’t have a cell phone, and a credit card so the tow company will be more than happy to come. Something else to consider is this: unless you have AAA Plus, will only be towed to the nearest facility rendering car repair services or five miles from where your car disabled. Then what, if you want it towed any further you have to pay extra and I, for one, want my car and myself either to be towed to my house or my car dropped off at a garage near my house on the way to being delivered to my door.
Unless you don’t trust yourself or your loved one with a credit card, or you are really expecting to have several car emergencies in a 12 month period, you should program your phone with a couple of reliable towing services, keep a credit card handy, and save yourself the yearly dues.