American Automobile Association (AAA) Hotel Discounts

Heels First Travel describes getting AAA membership just for the hotel discounts.

And that’s exactly what I do.

Hilton sometimes has decent AAA rates, though I usually book their MVP rates.

At Hyatt, where I stay somewhat frequently, AAA rates are usually approximately the same as prepaid rates but which are cancellable. I’m nearly allergic to non-cancellable hotel rates, unless I’m getting a monster discount such as order of magnitude 50% off via Priceline. I’m usually not willing to book a non-refundable rate for a mere 10% off unless it’s exceptionally close to check-in. So the AAA rate deal is worthwhile to me, I capture the savings while maintaining the flexibility. And after 3-5 room nights booked this way I break even on my annual membership.

Now I can’t say I’ve ever been ‘carded’ or asked by a hotel to prove that I am a AAA member.

But an actual membership makes things a bit easier, the Hyatt and Hilton websites require you to enter your AAA number when making a booking (although I’ve never been asked for my AAA number when booking offline with Hyatt).

Presumably I could grab the savings most of the time without actually coming out of pocket for the membership, just as many people use corporate discount codes at hotels without actually working for the company that negotiated the discount. That works in the U.S. most of the time, and it’s very rare that anyone is asked to prove they work for a specific company (although one hotel chain did used to ‘card’ employees of a large 3-letter corporation at their Vegas hotel properties because the rates were so low). In Asia, though, I hear of corporate rate eligibility being verified quite regularly.

I don’t especially value AAA, I used it quite frequently in my first couple of years as a driver since my first cars cost less than $1500 and broke down frequently. (My very first car was a Renault Alliance with electrical problems that cost ~ $750, purchased wholesale. It was almost worth the price paid for it.) When I first moved across country after college AAA printed out a “trip-tic” set of directions for me to follow. That was quickly replaced by MapQuest. And of course you used to be able to purchase money orders from them at no fee, part of a great mileage earning strategy back in the day.

Today I give them my membership fee and I take my hotel discount and really don’t engage with them in any way.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I was recently carded at an SPG property in Illinios asking for my AAA card. I was surprised and had to retrieve it from my car at check in. I could see that could be embarrassing if you didn’t actually have one.

    Did your Renault have the sticker in the window showing it was the motortrend car of the year. I know some did back in the mid 80’s 🙂

  2. The AAA discount applies to any place that is a member. If, for example, the restaurant you are dining at has an AAA sign out front or a logo on the door, ask for your discount. (10%, usually).

    It sometimes even offers a discount to entertainment (theme park, concert, etc).

  3. I usually book via a Government rate, but have noticed in some areas that may not be the best option. AAA tends to be a better deal in those areas.

  4. For years I did this without getting carded, but decided to get one one year for a discount on another CAA product. (CAA being the Canadian Automobile Assoc.). Found out that my local CAA group has a CAA membership WITHOUT roadside assistance. 35$ a year!

    When I got carded a few months later at the Intercontinental Montreal I was glad I had it.

  5. AAA does have some other good benefits – the best non-travel related one is the 30% discount at Lenscrafters. It’s a better discount than some insurance plans and not all plans cover vision. I’ve saved the membership fee just in prescription eyeglasses & sunglasses alone.

    Side note – right now some of the NYC Marriott hotels have an AAA promo going on for weekends 15% off a 2-night stay, 20% off a 3-night stay, and 25% off a 4-night stay valid Thursday to Sundays for the summer with a 14-day advance booking.

    A trick to AAA? They usually issue cards that are valid for 2 years. You can just renew every 2 years instead of every year – assuming you’re not using it for the auto benefits, just their discounts.

  6. I recently joined AAA simply because I had to to benefit from a particularly cheap home insurance deal. I’ve used the hotel discount twice and never been carded – but without the insurance, I’m sure that it’s not worth it.

    Incidentally, I suppose that one could claim not to have the card on you if you get carded.

  7. I find AAA’s free state TourBooks to be very useful. If you are going to vacation in a U.S. city, the book for that area will describe and rate the tourist attractions, giving operating hours and prices.

    The best attractions are given a Gem rating, and you can’t go wrong if you visit those. Since the books are free, you can tear out the un-needed sections to reduce weight and bulk.

    The old-style folding paper maps (also free) are better than a GPS or online map for getting a mental overview of an area or city.

  8. AAA membership gives decent discounts on their auto/homeowners/life insurance, too.

    And I did have a battery die once and another time the serpentine belt on a truck snap on a road trip, and got free roadside assistance/tow.

  9. AAA is a great deal, saved us nearly $50/night in Hawaii early this year.

    Slight discounts, depending on state of residence, can be had to Disneyland.

    Booked a Best Western in Hannibal MO in a couple months, booked the AAA rate but now is showing as govt/military on the reservation…we’ll see how this goes on check in!

  10. My first car was a 15-year-old used Renault Alliance. I spent quite a bit of time stranded at the side of the road. I also had to drive around in the summer (100+ degrees outside) with the heat on to avoid overheating. Boy, was I glad to upgrade to a Chevy Corsica 🙂

  11. AAA membership provides a number of benefits, some not previously mentioned. Among them are: free road maps (your GPS can break or get stolen – and sometimes you just need the big picture that only a paper map can give), free passport pictures, trip planning, roadside assistance for dead battery, lockout, towing or flat tire, discounts at many businesses. I always keep maps in my car and get enough of them every year to justify the AAA membership cost. Membership is especially important for young women, who are more vulnerable in the event of roadside breakdown.

  12. The also offer discounts at Target.com and the Gap and Banana Republic outlets. That’s how I make my membership fee back!

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