AAA Discounts on Hotels

I’ve written about this before and explained why AAA membership is an absolutely no-brainer for me but wanted to give a quick reminder.

Today, I booked a one-night stay at the Hilton Hotel at Newark airport.  The “Best rate” was $219, but by simply entering my AAA number, I saved $22 for one night.  This just represents why the membership pays for itself over the course of just a few stays at hotels.  And, it’s not just hotels.  Earlier I was picking up some mail at the UPS Store and the person next to me was getting significant savings on an outbound shipment because of their AAA membership.

Why AAA Membership is a “No-Brainer” for Me

It used to be that one got a membership in the American Automobile Association (AAA) for two reasons.  First, you wanted the emergency roadside service in case your battery needed a jump, you ran out of gas, or got a flat tire.  Second, when preparing for a long road trip (in the days before Google Maps, MapQuest, GPS, and the internet) you would get a custom-made “TripTik” that would highlight your route, hotels you might stop at, and the closest thing to turn-by-turn directions you could get in that day and age.

While I still like the peace of mind afforded by the emergency roadside assistance, the number one reason that I keep my AAA membership is that it saves me hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year in discounts.  An annual membership to AAA cost $78 but offers discounts on all sorts of services such as:

  • Amusement parks and museums
  • Restaurants
  • Sporting events and movie tickets
  • Retail stores
  • Hotel rooms

The last item is the one that I use over and over again.  On the AAA site, they advertise anywhere from 5% to 15% discounts off of major chains “best rate.”  When booking a reservation with the AAA rate, they are almost always allowed to be cancelled within 24 hours with no penalty.  So, what I will often do is book a room as soon as I know my dates at the AAA rate and then watch for price reductions as I get closer to my stay.  If I find a lower rate, I make a new reservation and cancel my original one.  Or, if my plans become absolutely lock solid and the advance purchase rate is lower than my AAA rate, I’ll make the change.

For instance, I checked a few different hotels for upcoming dates in April (4/10 to 4/13) for various cities with three major chains.  Here is the savings, per night by using the AAA over the next lowest, refundable rate:

 

London

NYC

Shanghai

Kansas City

Hilton

$20

$19

$16

$20

Starwood

$18

$44

N/A

$26

Hyatt

N/A

$37

N/A

$13

Certainly, the pre-paid rates at these hotels were usually lower (although, not always by much) but I would probably be hesitant to lock myself into that situation this far out.  And, I have current reservations coming up where I have the AAA rate and the prepaid rate is now higher so there is no reason for me to switch it.

So, for me, the $78 membership fee saves me hundreds of dollars on hotels and I get the emergency roadside assistance for free, if I need it.  A “no-brainer,” eh?

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