When I pulled out my AAA membership card to get a discount for Sea World tickets, I locked eyeballs with “YEARS AS MEMBER: 40” printed on the card. I nearly nearly passed out. That seemed absolutely impossible, until I did a little mental calculation. It’s true. AAA has been an important part of my life for four decades.

If you are a member of AAA, it’s likely that you depend on it to get you out of an automotive bind with a roadside jumpstart, a gallon of gas or a tow. Just so you know, they also come to the rescue should you ever lock your keys in the car. Or a sleeping baby. Let’s just say that AAA has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.

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photo credit: EdenPictures

AAA membership has so many other benefits that just roadside assistance—some I’ve taken advantage of in the past, but many others I didn’t even know about. If you’re a member, perhaps you’ll be surprised too, by all of the hidden benefits in your membership.

AAA is a non-profit organization with branches in all states. Not all branches offer the same benefits, so be sure to check with yours. Many AAA branches offer the following benefits with membership:

Prescription drug discounts. If you don’t have prescription drug coverage that meets your needs, check your AAA membership. You can save up to 50% on the cost of meds and diabetic supplies with your AAA membership.

Discounts on travel. We’re talking hotels, restaurants, auto repair shops, cruises, air fare and train travel, too. AAA has its own travel agency, offering all kinds of travel discounts for AAA members.

International travel. You can get your passport picture taken at almost all AAA branches, and the first two sets of photos are typically free. You can get your international driver’s license at your local AAA office, as well.

Discounts on entertainment. AAA has partnerships with nearly ever amusement park like Sea World, Disney Parks, Six Flags, to name only a few. I’ve gotten in the habit of inquiring whenever I purchase admission to any kind of entertainment to simply ask if they offer a AAA discount. Usually the answer is yes. You can expect your AAA to get you a discount at sporting events, performance and movie theaters, museums and zoos.

Discounts on local services. Make sure you have set up your account online, then simply log in and click on “Discounts” to see all of the current discounts available to you in your local area. At this writing I can get 35% off at my local florist, 10% discount on appliances at Home Depot, discounted car washes, driver training, parking and bike services.

Rental cars. I frequently depend on my AAA membership to get significant discounts when I rent cars from Hertz as well as other agencies. If you’re 25 or younger, you know that most car rentals either refuse to rent to you or add a big surcharge due to your youthfulness, but with your AAA membership most car rental agencies waive that requirement.   

Discounts on services. Many services you may be using right now offer AAA discounts—ADT Home Security, The UPS Store, Sprint, Sears Commercial, DIRECTV Satellite TV and more.

Department of Motor Vehicles. Some states let you do some DMV tasks right at the AAA office, such as auto registration and driver’s license renewal.

Car buying. There are many AAA authorized car dealers who will give you a AAA discount through their fleet pricing. Many AAA offices will give you a free or discounted CARFAX report on a used vehicle you are interested in purchasing.

As for the baby, it was a very hot day when I arrived to pick her up to care for her over the weekend. I wanted the car to be at a proper temperature, so I left the engine running with the air conditioning set to 72 F. and went into the house to get the child. So far so good.

I loaded up all of her necessary equipment then carefully strapped the baby seat with sleeping baby into the backseat. Ever so gently, I hit the lock button out of sheer habit and shut the door. My blood ran cold as I realized my keys were in the ignition and the car was now locked up as tight as a drum.

A few very long minutes later, AAA showed up and all was well. Thankfully, I didn’t get arrested for child endangerment.

Several weeks ago I had the occasion to meet up with that baby, after all these years. She’s now a  beautiful, fully functional, adult woman—without any noticeable effects of childhood trauma. We shared a good laugh, and I a sigh of relief.

AAA membership does have its benefits.

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