If, like me, you thought AAA travel benefits only cover roadside assistance, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that they offer much more. With plans starting at $52 annually, you can save a lot on travel with an AAA membership—here’s how.
Free or Discounted Passport Photos
Depending on membership level, some AAA subscribers are entitled to a free set of passport photos per year. They’re discounted ($8) for basic members. You can also get a passport application at your AAA branch—although AAA doesn’t process passports.
[st_related]How to Take Your Own Passport Photo[/st_related]
International Driving Permits (IDP)
Renting a car overseas? You can get an international driving permit (IDP) at any AAA location, or you can mail in your application. An IDP is a necessary form of driver identification abroad, is valid in over 150 countries, and comes printed in 10 languages. To get an IDP through AAA you’ll need a valid U.S. license, the $20 fee, and two passport-sized photos on a white background.
Travel Money: Money Cards and Foreign Currency
[st_content_ad]For foreign currency, AAA travel benefits afford members a few different options to choose from: The Visa TravelMoney card is a pre-paid and reloadable card not attached to your personal bank account. AAA members get a discount on the card activation fee ($4.95 per card) and it can be reloaded online, by direct deposit, or at an AAA branch.
AAA members can also order over 90 types of foreign currency. Getting cash ahead of time can be a great way to avoid high fees and unfavorable exchange rates at airports and hotels. AAA currency must be ordered in person, and purchases are shipped to the branch location in about three business days. Plus, orders over $200 are shipped free.
[st_related]12 Most-Hated Travel Fees and How to Avoid Them[/st_related]
Car Rental Plans
AAA has its own rental car search engine and offers coupons with Hertz for additional savings. Some highlights include a waived young renter fee (for those between 20 and 25) as well as up to a 20 percent discount on daily, weekend, weekly, and monthly rentals.
AAA offers members Allianz Global Assistance as well as travel protection plans by region. According to its website, the AAA Northeast Travel Protection Plan offers trip cancellation and interruption coverage.
[st_related]9 Nightmares Your Travel Insurance Won’t Cover[/st_related]
Theme Park & Ticket Discounts
AAA offers small to significant discounts on parks like Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, as well as at movie theatre chains like Showcase and AMC. For families, check out AAA’s special Orlando Vacations packages for even more savings.
Road Trips & Planning
The traditional AAA roadside benefits include towing, flat tire assistance, vehicle lockout service, fuel delivery, and more, but there are other AAA travel benefits when it comes to hitting the road.
AAA also offers online travel guides, free guidebooks and maps at branch locations (or you can place an order online), and even a handy map planning feature called TripTik. TripTik helps you plan your ideal road trip and plots rest areas, pit stops, scenic sights, and reports construction and traffic conditions.
[st_related]10 (and a Half) Tips for Road Trips[/st_related]
Search for hotels via AAA’s hotel search engine for the best member rates. Preferred partners include Best Western, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, and MGM Resorts. AAA rates are also eligible for partner loyalty point credits, too.
The AAA website is also a booking website for hotels, flights, cars, cruises, and vacations. AAA agents at branch offices and over the phone will help you plan and book group trips and destination weddings and honeymoons using its bookings services and member savings. For group travel, you can even fill out an online form ahead of time stating your group’s interests and requirements.
Avoid the DMV
Most AAA branches also have registry services, which is a huge time saver and avoids trips to the DMV. This is even more beneficial now since you can renew your license to a REAL ID, which will be necessary for domestic air travel by 2020.
[st_related]Everything Travelers Need to Know About the REAL ID Act[/st_related]
If you need forms notarized for travel purposes (or other reasons), AAA also provides this service for free.
Identity Theft Protection
With any AAA membership you get basic ProtectMyID coverage which includes credit monitoring, lost wallet protection, and fraud resolutions support, other levels of membership get even more benefits.
“Identity theft is a growing problem worldwide—especially for travelers, who are very vulnerable, forced as they are to use unsecured Internet connections, carry extensive personal documentation with them at all times, and share their credit cards with merchants …” says SmarterTravel’s Ed Hewitt.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Best AARP Travel Benefits to Use in 2018
- 11 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft While Traveling
- Do AAA Travel Discounts Really Save You Money?
Editor’s Note: All information is based on research done on the AAA website using a Boston area code. Services, pricing, and benefits vary based on location.