Roadside Assistance: AAA vs. Cell Phone Plan?

<p>We've had AAA for 43 years but are using it less and less as we rely more on GPS. Am wondering what folks' experience has been comparing AAA vs. Verizon or other cell phone plans that also offer roadside assistance for an additional monthly charge. Would love feedback.</p>

<p>AAA was not as helpful as I had expected when I wanted to get my S enrolled & refused to offer any discount or waive enrollment or anything, even tho hubby & I have been members for 43 years!</p>


<p>So far I haven't been very impressed with AAA's roadside assistance. It seems that more often than not it takes hours for them to arrive (this is out here in the west). It always seems to be 'a busy time'. I don't know what other companies would be like but I assume they all just contract with the various local towing companies anyway so I'm not sure there'd be a difference unless somehow AAA has an exclusive since sometimes the trucks have the AAA logo (but even then, they can still be slow). Sometimes AAA dispatches the truck from a company 30 minutes away when there are half a dozen much closer.</p>

<p>It might be cheaper and more convenient to get some kind of coverage through your insurance company or even credit card. If one buys a new car, more often than not it already includes roadside assistance for free.</p>

<p>I used to have AAA, but now I have AT&T Roadside Assistance. It’s only $2.99 a month and provides all the typical features.</p>

<p>Get</a> Started - | Wireless from AT&T, formerly Cingular</p>

<p>I’ve used it three times in the past few years, and each time the service was excellent—better than AAA because we didn’t have to wait as long. The service travels with the phone, not the car, which turned out to be great for us because one breakdown involved my car and another time we were in my husband’s car. I can loan my phone with the roadside assistance to anyone I want. According to the plan, “Driver or passenger, family member or friend, your car or theirs, as long as the enrolled phone is present, you, or anyone you authorize, can use this service.” As long as that’s the deal, I’ll never go back to AAA.</p>

<p>Our insurance company offers one free tow a year. So far we've only needed it twice in twenty years. They came fairly quickly, but unfortunately I was across the county from where I lived and the service station I got taken too was not particularly convenient for me.</p>

<p>I don't see a big need for AAA maps now that google maps exists. (I can't stand GPS though I suppose I may succumb some day.)</p>

<p>The car S will be acquiring is a 1992 and has over 150,000 miles on it, tho the mechanics say it's sound. Am still "on the fence," but appreciate everyone's thoughts. A friend says that it really is helpful to have the longer towing package because especially in LA you can be pretty far from where you want/need to be when the car has problems. She had the 100 AAA mile one & the Verizon tow package only tows you for 7 miles, tho it is cheap & goes with the phone for $3/mo for one phone or $5/mo for all phones on the family plan.</p>

<p>Don't think the cell companies allow you to pick & choose the # of miles for tows, just the basic plan.</p>

<p>We have roadside assistance with our car insurance and we only pay $8.00 every 6 months.</p>

<p>But remember, AAA gives discounts for museum tickets, hotels, Amtrak, Lenscrafters...I even get a 10% discount at Dunkin' Donuts!</p>

<p>We have used AAA emergency service quite a few times. Generally we have a response within 20 minutes. The worst was about an hour. Obviously your satisfaction is likely to depend on the local provider. We have had good luck so far.</p>

<p>We have found that we usually get the best motel rates through AAA - better than for AARP and other discount sources.</p>

<p>I have not used the trip tik for many years and did not care for it. I do like the free maps and tour guides and get that info for all of my trips including business travel where I often do not rent a car.</p>

<p>Like edad, we do like the maps and tour books. I did have them map out a route when we were looking at colleges with our older child. They were able to warn me about road construction along one highway and suggested an alternative route. I guess one can reroute if one pays the extra fee for traffic info with their gps (I don't have this service).</p>

<p>I called AAA last year when my car was stuck on ice. They were not helpful and I was in such a position that they could not try to tow the car out. I threw down salt and got two other people to help shovel me out of the mess. AAA could not help for that. I found them helpful for a tow, flat tire, dead battery over the years (maybe used them 4-5 times over 25 years). They have shown up within a reasonable time frame for us.</p>

<p>Our local service station gives a 10% discount for any service to AAA members. Since we use them for maintenance checks, brakes, etc., it just about pays for itself. I've also used the AAA link to save on other products (luggage). I like the fact that the coverage travels with the person, so if my D is riding with someone else and there's a problem, all she has to do is give our home phone number to access our account and obtain service.</p>

<p>My main concern is that he can be towed to somewhere he is safe and comfortable & won't get ripped of having the car serviced. It looks like AAA is one of the few that allows longer tows (like 100 or 200 miles). In CA & wherever he may be camping, he could be pretty far from where he's familiar & prefer to get the car closer to campus so he can pick it up again at his leisure. </p>

<p>We're leaning toward going for the most expensive package, as the car is a 1992 BMW that has a goodly # of miles on it and who knows what can go wrong.</p>

<p>For hotel discounts the 'Lowest online price' or 'best available rate' from the hotel's website is often better than the AAA rate and the hotels can sometimes be had for even less on certain other websites.</p>

<p>On a recent cross-country road trip we had the AAA tourbooks but found the combo of the maps/GPS function of my iPhone together with the browser function of the iPhone to be more convenient and accurate than the books and ended up not really using the books much as a result.</p>

<p>I've never used AAA to route a trip for me because I can easily do that myself and functions like Google maps (or the iPhone maps or others) make it easy to compare the time/distance of various routes.</p>

<p>I think AAA needs to figure out a way to step it up to try to compete with the recently available and more relevant technology available to the average person nowadays and the ubiquity of included/low cost roadside assistance from others.</p>

<p>Some credit cards offer free "travel" roadside assistance, which kicks in when you're a certain number of miles away from home.</p>

<p>I figure that I can find my way around in LA, so the card covers the rest.</p>

For hotel discounts the 'Lowest online price' or 'best available rate' from the hotel's website is often better than the AAA rate and the hotels can sometimes be had for even less on certain other websites.


<p>This has not been my experience with Marriott or Holiday Inn, especially HI Express, which we tend to like for road trips. for instance, for this Saturday night, cheapest "normal" rate for the Wash DC capital hill Residence Inn is $139. AAA is $132. Senior rate is much higher than either. Holiday Inn Washington Capital shows $100.99 "best available". AAA is $95.99. I should add that we've often found AAA discounts to be more than this.</p>

<p>The other area where we've found AAA discounts to be invaluable is in car rentals. I've been Hertz Gold for many years even though I don't do biz travel much anymore. We've found that most of the time Hertz with an AAA discount is the cheapest on airport option. Frequently, the combo beats off airport choices too, and we certainly get better cars than with a non-name rental company. For example, we did a two week UK trip in April of this year (visited DD who is at Oxford...). AAA+Hertz beat any other option by a good amount, and was very quick and convenient in and out of the airport. </p>

<p>Nothing like data to drive a conclusion.</p>

<p>If you go with AAA, your son may find it handy that the SoCal headquarters is a short walk from the USC campus. It is that fabulous and huge building on the corner of Fig and Adams. My family uses AAA frequently for inexpensive passport/visa photos and for many DMV services. The lines are much shorter than at the real DMV.</p>

<p>Yea, that was one of the attractions for AAA. We have admired that USC branch office & I believe we've even been inside it at least once.</p>

<p>We've had AAA for decades and mainly use it for the travel books that tell you about hotels, restaurants and attractions. The internet can provide a lot of information but it's nice to have the book on the road to read while you're on the way. I think that modern vehicle reliability has reduced the need for services like AAA. I've never been stuck in my Toyota Avalon and it has 185,000 miles on it. It drives like a new car too. I'm an absolute stickler on maintenance and it has treated me very well over the last decade.</p>

<p>I have a GPS system so I never get the maps anymore.</p>

<p>I also use the membership discounts for hotels and other things.</p>

<p>I don't know about the cell phone plans but the AAA longer-distance towing is very helpful; we have used it several times. AAA wait times can be long but are not always excessivet. </p>

<p>As far as hotel-chain discounts I think AAA and AARP are the same, at least at Hilton brands.</p>

<p>I guess I would stick with AAA, despite occasional annoyances--it's a somewhat proven entity that works nationwide.</p>

<p>Another vote for AAA. I've NEVER used the maps but I have used the towing more than once. We have D on it, too. But again, we live in a place where a 3 or 7 mile tow is worthless. Gas station? Mechanic? Heck, sometimes in that short of a distance I'm lucky to see signs of previous human habitation. ;)</p>

Nothing like data to drive a conclusion.


It's interesting but I've found no consistency in the AAA discounts. In some cases there's a slight discount yet in other cases there's no discount over the 'best available rate' and in some cases there's actually an increase. I just randomly checked some Fairfield Inn by Marriott at the Dulles airport area and the AAA discount amounts to $6 at one of the nearby hotels yet the AAA rate at another hotel nearby is actually $2 HIGHER. And nowadays many hotels have an 'advanced purchase' option which provides a discount far higher than the AAA one and booking through some of the online companies like or can provide far lower rates as well (depending).</p>

<p>So I agree that there's nothing like data to drive a conclusion however, different data can yield different conclusions. ;)</p>

<p>Regardless, if one is choosing AAA primarily for the towing package and isn't one to stay in a lot of hotels each year, the hotel discount won't be meaningful.</p>