Many travelers invest in a AAA membership because of the savings promised. Discount theme park tickets, hotel discounts, rental car discounts, and free notary services. Did you also know that AAA provides an arrest bond and bail bond service of $1000 and $5000 by showing your AAA card and a printed certificate if you are detained for a motor vehicle violation?(Hopefully, you and your family won’t ever need that service!)
At roughly $75 annually does the average family use that many discounts? For most families who travel and stay in hotels the savings will far outweigh the cost but there are some tricks you need to know.
Are you using your AAA discount to book a hotel? These days that doesn’t always mean it will be cheaper. Because hotels negotiate AAA room rates up to a year out if the areas hotel room prices fall the regular nightly rate can fall below the negotiated rate. It pays to be a smart consumer and look up the rates both with and without AAA to see if you’re really scoring a good deal.
Ask yourself a few questions.
Is it a higher end hotel in the brand family? The upper level of hotels (Hilton, Doubletree, Marriott, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance) tend to have AAA rates that are lower than their nightly rates. If you’re booking a higher end hotel it’s smart to double check the rates with and without AAA but chances are the AAA rate will end up being lower.
Are you staying a city? In larger cities the rack rate tended to be higher than the AAA negotiated rate. In these cases the AAA rate provided significant savings.
We compared prices being charged in Madison, WI for 2 adults with a date of 3/8 for all of the below searches.
Next we’ll add in the AAA rate.
See how each price is actually higher with the AAA rate? From a low of $5 higher to $14 higher for the Homewood Suites. When the room rate is higher the taxes on the room increase as well on the final check out bill.
Now when we look at the Marriott- First without AAA :
Now when we look at the AAA rates at the same Marriott properties for the same night:
Suddenly the rate of 3 of them jump, with one staying the same. One of the Fairfield Inn’s ends up $25 higher with AAA.
Some hotel chains like the Sheraton may have higher rates using AAA but make those rate discrepancies more obvious to the vacationer by putting them on the same screen.
Bottom line: When using a AAA discount to book a hotel be sure to do your homework or you could end up paying more.