AAA Emergency Road Service Subscription Worth It?
AAA membership is a nonprofit driving club that is a subscription service and largely identified with its key benefit of emergency roadside assistance for drivers in the event that you had problems while traveling in your car. Its a very popular service with currently 51million members in the US & Canada.
My wife has always had AAA membership and has felt it was an important subscription to have incase she had a problem while driving. As you may know I have a strong dislike for subscriptions; they often result in a poor value despite their initial appeal based on optimistic usage assumptions. I think AAA membership for roadside assistance is expensive - but is it?
AAA Membership Costs
I suspect AAA membership costs vary pretty widely as each club may have a different rate. On top of that its clear that AAA utilizes a variety of marketing gimicks to attract/retain customers. Just look at these two direct mailings my wife received from AAA Carolinas in the last couple of months:
Its the exact same offer at two different price points. I have also seen a direct mailing previously that offered a heavily discounted rate for renewing an expired membership. So what can we tell from all this? The cost of AAA membership varies - sometimes significantly.
How Much Roadside Assistance Do You Use?
There are a lot of variables that would likely defined how much you use a roadside assistance service including the reliability/age of your car, the # of miles you drive, your experience as a driver, how handy you are (would you change your own tire or wait for help?), and where you do most of your driving. However as a data point AAA NY recently published stats that indicated they have nearly 880,000 AA memberships and in 2010 had 515,455 roadside assistance calls. That would roughly suggest that each member on average has a roadside assistance call every 20 months or 1.7 years. How do you think you compare to the average AAA member?
Non Subscription Alternatives
I recently found that not only does Allstate have a competing service, but there is also an Allstate pay-per-use roadside assistance offering that allows you to only pay for roadside service you actually use. Cost for the roadside assistance services covered in the AAA plan are $50-$75 per use in the Allstate plan.
Is it Worth it?
If a service call is worth $50-$75 and your average usage of a roadside assistance service is once every ~20 months or so then an annual subscription would be worth ~$30-$45/year.
I believe my wife and I would be below average users of roadside assistance. I recall us having a need/benefit to use the service 3 times in the last 7 years (keep in mind though were were on assignment in China for 1yr of that). For now I plan to keep the Allstate Service phone # in our cars in case we need it and see how it goes.
Related in Money Saving Tips:
Free Museum Day 2014 (Sep 27, 2014) The Smithsonian Magazine is holding Museum Day on 9/27/2014 (today!) which is a great opportunity to get 2 free tickets to any participating museum. You can sign up for free museum tickets here. Also, it is National Public Lands Day...
Buy The Cheapest Baby Crib (Sep 20, 2013) My wife and I have learned and experienced a lot in the past four wonderful years of parenthood. My advice to future parents out there - buy the cheapest baby crib you can find. I believe when you are...
Free Museum Day 2013 (Sep 08, 2013) The Smithsonian Magazine is holding Museum Day on 9/28/2013 which is a great opportunity to get 2 free tickets to any participating museum. You can sign up for free museum tickets here. For folks with young children this is a...