Do Hotels Make You Prove You’re Eligible for AAA or Corporate Discounts?

Lucky at One Mile at a Time reported being carded at an airport Sheraton when checking in on a AAA rate. He says he showed a card that expired in 2012 and that was good enough.

Five years ago a couple of commenters noted being asked to show their AAA card at hotel check-in when staying on a AAA rate. I have never seen this happen myself.

Later that year when AAA sent me a renewal notice with the card I asked readers whether I should just pocket that to show ‘just in case’ or actually pay for the membership, universally the sentiment was ‘you use the discount you pay for the membership.’ I’m certainly good with that.

AAA discounts at Amtrak have been sunset. I did use AAA roadside assistance once in the last 25 years. Chase Sapphire Reserve roadside assistance benefit is good for $50 four times a year so I don’t even need AAA for that. I really just keep it for the hotel discounts.

Copyright: kolotype / 123RF Stock Photo

AAA discounts are often bigger than chain ‘member discounts’. That puts the lie to the idea that you’re really getting a good great ‘for being a member’.

Of course corporate discount codes are sometimes (much) cheaper. In the U.S. you rarely get carded for those, either (e.g. to show a business card, or a letter on the company’s letterhead).

  • For awhile some Las Vegas hotels were carding IBM rates especially, those rates were so good. The practice seemed to move to New York for awhile.

  • In Asia asking to substantiate a company discount is more common. For instance the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong has been known to email guests in advance of their stay on an IBM rate emphasizing that they will need to show credentials at check-in. Reportedly free signup IBM PartnerWorld IDs suffice.

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

In the U.S. though it’s rare to get asked to substantiate eligibility for a hotel discount. But when it happens it’s awkward if you’re not able to. If it’s late at night and you don’t have options, or you’re traveling with someone, you really don’t want to put yourself in that position. And using the discounts you’re eligible for is probably the right thing to do anyway, which is why I continue to pay for AAA.

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, 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. American Express Platinum has a similar benefit to Chase Sapphire Preferred for this as well, correct?

  2. I always carry my TripTik and my card, lest the hostess at the front desk of the local Choice Inn deny my status

  3. @boilers
    It does, I’ve used it for a dead battery after a long trip. The provide longer towing distance, lockout service and gasoline (I think). It’s the same as AAAPlus benefits.

    Btw… Love that IBM tip Gary. Never saw that before. 🙂

  4. I occasionally use corporate rates when I cant find any other discounts to stick. This is most likely during high occupancy periods when there are no sales etc. A good place to start is the companies that are headquartered in a particular city – usually the corporate codes are easy to find. I have never been carded in the US, except at a Holiday Inn in some small town while driving cross country.

  5. I travel on my corp. rate all the time. Never have been asked for id. Even in Asia, where our corp rates are shockingly low. My spouse has my corp rate code on all their profiles. Never been asked either. But I have been asked a couple times for AAA. Usually it is road trip hotel. But at airport properties during emergency overnight/irrops, when no other discounts are being offered, AAA works. And you better have the card. I have encountered some hotel websites, requesting an AARP card, if not age 65, at check-in. I consider that funny because, any one, any age, can get an AARP membership.

    I keep our AAA mainly because the towing out here in the boonies, are big distances. Covered by the Gold AAA membership only. Second for the discounts.

  6. i rarely use the AAA code, but did for a stay at the Barclay over the weekend, but only because i had received an associate member temporary card, lasting into Feb. they send it a couple times a year as a marketing exercise.

    i think the rate was no different to a no cancellation rate that was available, that i could have opted for.

  7. I’ve used the AAA discount at many hotels in the U.S., and don’t EVER recall being asked to show the card or otherwise demonstrate I’m a member. It’s not reliably the best rate at all hotels; sometimes the “Senior Citizen” rate is better; sometimes the chain’s frequent traveler rate is better. Typically I haven’t found the AAA discount exists (or at least I’ve not found it) outside North America.
    It’s not always the best price, but on a number of occasions I’ve gotten the best car rental rates booking through AAA — saving more than enough that way to pay the annual AAA fee.

  8. hotels, none so far

    car rental – a single location has ever asked for corporate ID – the Hertz counter at YVR, despite my Hertz elite status ….. luckily i convinced him to send an email to my corporate email address and i just pull it up on the blackberry app to show him.

    and i guess how you dress might make a difference. if i went to the hertz counter in full suit and tie i’d doubt they’d be so inclined to challenge my corporate rate.

  9. Not just AAA or AARP, but also IATA / IATAN travel agent rates are often fine. I’ve had 1 out of maybe 30 stays that asked me about the IATAN card. In some chains, (e.g. IHG’s travel agent rate) qualifies for points and elite stays too. I get consistently 30 – 50% off public rate. Google large hotel chains’ travel agent rate, it is there.

  10. I travel often on government rate and have been asked only a handful of times to show my government ID. One time I accidentally showed my NYC MetroCard and the desk agent said that was OK before I realized that I displayed the wrong ID.

  11. I don’t book AAA hotel rates that often, but I’ve never been asked for my card at a hotel. I have, however, been asked for my AAA card at several car rental desks.

  12. I know Hilton asks for your AAA membership number when booking a AAA rate – not sure if they actually verify it however.

  13. I’ve literally been asked once. I renew every two years because they always send the next year’s card in advance, but perhaps I should opt for expired cards 🙂

  14. What service/number would you call to get a tow if you don’t have any memberships or decline the service from the rental agency but have the Chase Reserve card?

  15. @Endlos… For CSR roadside help…you are paying $450 per year for the card, therefore the number to call is Chase Sapphire customer service number. From my cell phone I always call the the international number printed on the back of the card. From a pay phone, use the toll free number. They answer quickly when I call. Maybe better than AMEX.
    In the near future you will be able to text them, but for now call them and find out about roadside assistance. Let us know.

  16. 1) I *always* check the AAA rate to the “member” rate and book whichever one is the least expensive (for the same room). And yes, quite often it’s the AAA rate. The card is in my wallet regardless, but I’ve never been asked to show it, period, regardless of whether I’m in the US or abroad.

    2) My AAA membership gives me (among other things) up to 100 miles of FREE towing, up to 4x/year. Trust me, that beats the CSR, which only covers “up to $50, 4x/year.”

  17. I was asked to show my AAA card once, at the Hotel Julian in Dubuque Iowa.

    I just booked a suite at the W Hotel in South Beach and saved $245 a night with the AAA rate. I have no idea if they will ask to see my card but I have it ready

  18. I always compare member, AAA, corporate, and senior citizen rates. So surprised to see there is no consistency.

    Never have been asked to prove eligibility, though always have credentials available.

    All especially useful, as I never accept non-refundable rates.

  19. I was asked this past weekend to show my AAA card at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, Marriott’s National Harbor location, in Maryland. Glad I had my current 2018 card on me, which had just been renewed in January.

  20. I bought an Amtrak ticket from Penn Station on January 8 and got the AAA discount.

    I just now returned to and tried to buy the same route with AAA discount for 1/31 and it works. So I guess it hasn’t been sunset.

  21. I have been asked for my AAA card once in the past ten years, at a Hilton. BTW Gary, download the AAA app and place your card in your “wallet” instead of pocketing the card. I regularly use a Starwood SET rate, of which I’m eligible, and I’ve never been asked for proof. Same with my Hilton MVP rate for which I’m eligible.

  22. I have rarely been asked for my AAA card at hotels. I can’t remember when if ever. But I used to buy Entertainment Books, which made me their member. A few years later, I booked an Entertainment Club rate at a Holiday Inn in Michigan. SURPRISE! They asked me for my membership, which made me realize that it had expired years earlier. ‘No soup for you!’ I said ‘sorry’ and cancelled the reservation because the regular & AAA rates were much higher. He let me cancel although I was 10–15 minutes later than their deadline of 6 PM day of stay.

  23. I am an IBM retiree and use my corporate rate for car rentals and hotels. I usually am never asked for ID, but I carry a copy of my old ID (luckily I still look similar to the photo!) and business card now. Only once was I asked for ID – 2 years ago at a Marriott in Annapolis because it turned out that our stay was during Commissioning Week – what did I know when I booked it. And, of course, I had no ID with me, but remembered my cellphone bill shows IBM and my employee ID number next to my name. Manager was tough, but when I pulled up the bill on my phone, he very grudgingly honored the rate.

  24. Fake caption alert! This may already have been pointed out but the pic used of “Grand Hyatt Hong Kong” is a view of Kowloon from the hotel. Didn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression of the great city I’m privileged to call home.

  25. Been asked for my corporate ID at Marriot Courtyard in Taipae…no worries…had in my carryon…

  26. Every few months, AAA sends a ‘temporary membership’ card that is valid for 2 – 3 months. Any use the benefits even though you’re not paying for a membership?

  27. yes, i receive the same maketing card.

    i used the AAA rate at theBarclay last weekend, wasn’t asked to provide card, but had the “Associate Member Temporary Card” in my pocket, in case it was needed.

  28. Dear Garry

    Is it really possible to use Reportedly free signup IBM PartnerWorld IDs suffice for using IBM corporate codes?
    I really want to know 😉

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