AAA Roadside Assistance: Find Out If It’s Right for You

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There are at least 60 million people who think it’s worth paying for a roadside assistance program.

For the one in four U.S. households these people live in, AAA offers emergency towing, battery replacement, and other services when breakdowns or other misfortune occurs.

If you’re considering whether AAA membership makes sense for you, here’s what you should know about how the service works. 

What is AAA Roadside Assistance 

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a membership-based federation of motor clubs that provides roadside assistance and other benefits (like discounts and travel perks). 

If your car breaks down or you’re involved in an accident or a hit and run, AAA can help remove your car from the scene and recommend an approved repair shop. Membership covers you whether you’re the driver or a passenger — in your car or someone else’s. 

Anyone can become a AAA member (even if you don’t own a car), but you must sign up based on where you live.

AAA Roadside Assistance Membership Pricing and Benefits

The annual cost of membership is between $40-$165. The actual cost and exact benefits included will vary depending on your location and membership tier. You can enter your ZIP code on the AAA website to see your region’s exact pricing and membership details.  

Membership TypeAnnual CostCommon BenefitsCommon LimitsIdeal For
AAA Classic/Basic$40-$74• 24/7 service

• Tows up to 3 miles per year

• Fuel delivery

• Flat tire and dead battery services

• Car lockout services up to $50
• 48-hour waiting period after enrollment

$4/mile for each additional mile over towing limit

• Fuel provided at pump price 

• Up to 4 service calls per membership year. Charges apply after the limit is reached
People with limited driving distances from home 
AAA Plus$60 – $124• 24/7 service

• Tows up to 100 miles each

• Free fuel delivery

• Flat tire and dead battery services

• Car lockout service up to $100
• 5-day waiting period on some benefits after enrollment

$4/mile for each additional mile over towing limit

• Up to 4 service calls per membership year. Charges apply after the limit is reached 
People who regularly drive more than 10 miles from home 
AAA Premier$77- $164• 24/7 service

• A 200-mile tow, three 100-mile tows

• Free fuel delivery

• Flat tire and dead battery services

• Car or home lockout service

• One day free rental car with tow
• $150 lockout limit

• 10-day waiting period on some benefits after enrollment

$4/mile for each additional mile over towing limit

• Up to 4 service calls per membership year. Charges apply after the limit is reached
Frequent travelers 
Source: AAA

New members usually have to pay an initiation fee, ranging from $8-$20 per person (depending on the region). You can add family members as associate members, and the cost to do so varies by region and tier. In the Carolinas, for example, additional members cost $30-$45 each. 

AAA members pay annually to renew their membership. “It’s always been an easy choice to renew,” says Kevin Jordan, AAA member and director of operations and planning at Macke Financial Advisory Group based in Fort Myers, Florida. 

Other Features That Come With a AAA Membership

Along with roadside assistance, AAA members gain access to things like:

  • Discounts at 100,000+ retailers nationwide 
  • Travel perks like special rates, booking assistance, and upgrades
  • Identity theft protection
  • Discounts on car rentals, cruises, and sightseeing activities 
  • Exclusive insurance rates
  • Car-buying services
  • Driving lessons 

AAA spokesperson Jeanette McGee says each region has its own list of specific amenities.

“Any time we travel we’re looking for the AAA rate on a hotel. And any time we’re making a significant purchase, we know it’s probably likely there’s a discount option with AAA,” says Jordan. 

Pro Tip

AAA membership includes way more than just roadside assistance. To recoup the annual fee, members should take full advantage of all discounts and services included in their membership.

Limits to the Service

Since AAA places a limit on how many service calls members can make a year, there’s always a chance of exceeding that limit. 

Or, the monetary reimbursement from AAA may not cover your total expenses. Both of these vary depending on membership tier, too. 

Only a AAA member can make a service call — if someone in your household wants to have access to your membership, you’ll need to add them as associate members, which costs extra.  

Some credit cards and car insurance companies also offer roadside assistance, especially in the first year or two of ownership, so it’s worth checking to see if you already have access to something comparable (and less expensive) than AAA. 

Is AAA Roadside Assistance Worth the Cost?

The average cost to tow a car is $109, according to Angie’s List. Therefore, you’re likely to recoup your membership fee if you take advantage of the discounts and make at least one service call. 

Beyond the monetary value of membership, Jordan pointed out peace of mind and easy access to mechanics (that don’t work on commission) are helpful membership perks. 

The annual membership fee is something you can plan for financially, unlike an unexpected car repair. “At least we know when we have to pay it, so we can budget for it,” says Jordan. That could be a huge plus if an emergency tow could derail your finances for the month.