Why I Did NOT Renew My AAA Membership

I mentioned my fondness for using AAA discounts for travel in prior McCool Travel articles, so it may surprise you to learn that I canceled my AAA membership. Why did I not renew my AAA membership? Reasons I did NOT renew my AAA membership include no longer using AAA discounts (finding same or better elsewhere) and not needing AAA membership services. Read on for more details.

AAA Membership Card
renew AAA Membership: AAA Membership Card

AAA Membership Advantages

It is only fair to mention the good points of AAA membership. After all, I was a AAA member for 30 years and millions of people still are AAA members.

1. Service emergencies

AAA members can arrange for an AAA-approved technician to diagnose minor vehicle issues and provide basic solutions—like jump start a dead battery, provide a small amount of gas, tow vehicle to nearby repair station.

2. AAA Publications

At AAA offices, I have picked up hundreds of maps, Tourbooks, and TripTiks. Publications can now be ordered online so my visits to AAA offices were reduced to almost zero.

3. AAA Travel Discounts

Especially in recent years, the most valuable AAA membership benefit for me has been travel AAA discounts, especially on hotel rooms and Hertz car rentals.

4. Trip Planning

Although they are a travel agency, I have never booked a travel component (air, hotel, car, cruise, package, tour) through a AAA Travel Agency. I inquired a few times but always found better deals elsewhere. I do know people that regularly use AAA to book travel.

5. Insurance

Similarly, I have inquired a few times about AAA insurance (auto, home, etc.) but did not find it a decent solution for me.

6. Other AAA Discounts

My local auto repair shop offers 10% for AAA members. There are other AAA discounts for merchandise and services. To see all of the AAA membership benefits, view the AAA Member Benefits Chart.

Reasons To Skip AAA Membership Renewal

1. AAA Emergency Service Not Needed

My AAA membership provided peace of mind for breakdowns but it was a benefit I had not used in many years. When I was younger and drove junkers, AAA provided battery jumps or short distance tows. My most recent service calls (several years ago) were canceled (by me) due to extended waits and when I found someone else to jump my car’s dead battery. McCool Travel Tip: buy an auto emergency kit ($20) or jumper cables. Store the jumper cables in the trunk and learn how to properly use them. When you have a dead battery, flag down a passing car or call a neighbor.

2. AAA Publications

Paper maps are cool but do we really need them anymore? I can go online and find detailed maps for practically any area of the world. If I truly want a map, I can stop at a visitor center and pick up a free one. I will miss, sort of, the monthly AAA magazine, although I rarely found anything useful in it. On second thought, maybe I will save a tree.

3. AAA Discounts

Now that I am 50 years old, I am an AARP member. Most AARP travel discounts compare favorably to AAA discounts, especially for hotels. For Hertz, to be determined. There are travel industry grumbles about the AAA / Hertz discount not being as good as in the past. My recent experiences confirm that. In 2014, I rented three cars (all from Hertz); for one I used AAA discount (but other discounts provided same rate), another I used a different discount code, and one was a freebie (award points). McCool Travel Tip: request AAA discounts even if you are not a member. I have never been asked to show my AAA card when renting a car. A few hotels asked  to see my AAA card. Booking Hilton rooms online require you to enter your AAA membership number.

4. AAA Trip Planning

Never used it.

5. AAA Insurance

Same.

6. Other AAA Discounts

Other than 10% off repairs, I cannot recall using AAA for any other non-travel merchant. I will not miss this benefit.

Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back—aka Goodbye AAA Membership

The past few Septembers (AAA membership renewal occurs 1 October), I debated renewing my AAA membership, for reasons I outlined above.

The following situation sealed my decision NOT to renew my AAA membership.

I bought a new car and dropped by a AAA office to get new local maps. It was a Sunday and I used the outside lobby map vending machine (cool feature). The machine denied my card (said my membership was not active). WTH.

Trying again, the machine spewed the same message. When I got home I checked online and my membership was active. Note, I could have (and should have) ordered maps online.

I sent AAA a message and they responded by sending replacement cards. No apology. Not asking what maps I wanted to order. Not thanking me for years of AAA membership. I was rankled (first time I have used that word).

Then the AAA membership renewal notices arrived. Are you kidding me? After the expiration date (Oct 1), I received a call. A customer rep pleasantly reminded me to renew my AAA membership. I said I will not because of this issue and negative customer experience. I suggested that she to relay the information to her supervisor. All she said was, “Oh.”

Summary

Over the past few years I decided I will cease supporting businesses that disrespect me as a customer. AAA is just one recent casualty and I suspect my decision will not adversely affect their bottom line. Emotional detachment from comfortable yet unhealthy relationships is an ongoing but worthwhile process. Easier to do with travel companies, too.

I went to a travel conference and heard countless disgruntled stories. Many former and previously very loyal United Airlines elite flyers switched to American Airlines in the past year. I respected them for doing that; their tales helped justify my AAA membership non-renewal decision and inspired me to finish this post.

“Support businesses that disrespect their customers.”

Do you have an AAA membership? Are you considering your AAA membership renewal? Let me know what you decide.

See also these travel reference articles:

Why I Did NOT Renew My AAA Membership was first published for McCool Travel on 9 December 2014.

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24 thoughts on “Why I Did NOT Renew My AAA Membership”

  1. I’m not renewing because AAA have dropped the ability to pay premiums monthly. It’s more that they didn’t have the courtesy to tell me that they were ending the option before my membership expired Oct 1. On calling them tonight they told me that because I had been a member since 2002 I had been grandfathered in to the monthly option that they claim they dropped in 2017. But because my membership had expired I was now being treated as a new member and that 17 years’ continuous membership counts for nothing. So no hesitation in telling them where to shove it. Tbh the only real benefit was hotel discounts, which I now get with AARP anyway. No great loss to me.

    Reply
  2. I have been a AAA member for 13 years and just received a letter from them today indicating that after “extensive review” they have “elected” not to renew my membership a result of it being used excessively…. I pay for AAA plus for 3 members. Oh well….. glad I never signed up for their life insurance or I guess I would lose that also. The only thing I ever used it for was towing and the tow drivers say they receive very little pay from AAA. Has this happened to anyone else?

    Reply
      • I have the premiere AAA and we have an RV that ran out of diesel on a trip and called and requested some fuel brought to us on the side of the interstate we just couldn’t make it to the exit. And they told me they would not being us diesel. I could not find anything saying they won’t bring diesel fuel to our bus made into an RV. I finally got a friend to bring us some from their friends at a truck stop. My membership is due to renew Dec 1 and I am not going to renew.

  3. Please provide generic AAA number so everyone can use for hotel bookings. It is just a validator. AAA services expensie and stink so no interest in signing up. I juts want discounted hotel.

    Reply
  4. I wish I could drop Comcast for cable for precisely the same reason and their shameless upselling. I feel the same way about American, but my home city is Philadelphia, their hub for direct flights to many European cities, so hope springs eternal. I just blindly renew my AAA membership every year. They actually did bail us out of a bad dead battery situation last year.

    Reply
    • AAA DOES have some pretty decent travel discounts, though. I have just reached that breaking point. I may go back to the dark side when/if anyone in my family starts driving older cars.

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  5. Totally understand your reasons for dropping AAA… and bad customer service is, well, bad! But… AAA will not only give you a jump, but replace your battery on the spot, for maybe $30 more than you’d spend on a costco battery… and their warranty is as good (maybe slightly better). I won’t detail all the other reasons you might need assistance (locking keys in the car and fixing flat tires come to mind), but do think it’s important to mention one of the best parts of AAA car service… your membership is attached to you, not your car. So no matter whose car you’re in, if you need help, AAA is there for you.

    Reply
  6. I was on United Airlines and arrived late at our layover destination. I asked an attendant on the plane (prior to landing) for the terminal we would be at for our connection and she said she couldn’t get that information and to ask when we got off the plane. We rushed off the plane, looked at the board and found we had just enough time to get to our connecting flight if we ran. We ran… Upon arrival at the gate we were told there would be an hour delay. I would have thought they would update their departure times on the boards in the airport, but apparently not.

    On the connecting flight, with my 3 young boys (7,9 and 12), they put on a PG-13 movie, I complained to the flight attendant: “My younger children should not be watching a movie like this”. She said “they can close their eyes”.

    Not planning to use United Airlines again anytime soon.

    Reply
    • It really stinks (for the consumer and the company) when trust is broken. Too bad, for consumers, that carriers are currently reaping record profits. Expect customer service to get worse, before better.

      Reply
  7. I can totally understand your feelings, and I am all for dropping a company that provides bad customer service. I’m a very loyal AAA customer, the main reason being that I have their auto and home insurance and their customer service in those departments has been very good to me, especially when we had a distressing break-in at our house. Little known fact: you can get a 10% discount off your purchase at Banana Republic and Gap outlets with a AAA card. 🙂

    Reply
  8. In July I vowed that, whenever possible, I will not fly US Air (American now due to merger). This us tough to do when you live in Phonex but, after years of rude service (with a few exceptions) a trip to Ireland wit 3 mechanical issues, rude flight crews, losing out on a day in Europe, dishonesty and rude telephone “assistance” and supervisors, I felt as if their employes had disdain for their customers.

    Reply

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