I’ve had a AAA membership since I was 16.
I get a new card in the mail each year but usually just slide it in my wallet. Or I forget to even do that, which isn’t fun when my car breaks down.
I need to start carrying that thing around — and not just because my car isn’t always reliable. That $66-per-year security blanket could help me save money on so many other expenses.
Sure, you’re probably familiar with the traditional AAA discounts that involve travel: car rentals, train tickets, hotels and airport parking.
But there are also a lot of less traditional opportunities to save.
8 AAA Discounts You Probably Didn’t Know About
Say — knock on wood — you don’t have to have your car towed.
You still dropped $66 on a AAA membership. But by taking advantage of these discounts, you can easily make up for the yearly expense.
Start flashing that piece of plastic to save on these unexpected items.
Most AAA food discounts hover around 10%, but exclude alcoholic beverages.
In my region, Auto Club South, AAA partners up with a range of eateries from family-owned chains such as Joto’s Pizza to the more upscale, fish-flown-in-daily Oceanaire Seafood Room.
You’ll even find deals for greasy classics such as McDonald’s and Denny’s.
Standout deal: At Papa John’s, take 25% off regular-priced menu items when ordering online. You’ll get a large Tuscan six-cheese pizza for only $10.50 or one of those giant gooey chocolate chip cookies for $4.50.
Finding a clothing sale will make a shopper’s heart go pitter-patter. But if you have your AAA card, you don’t have to wait for the sales.
AAA offers a variety of deals on clothes and — even better — shoes. You can get 10% off at Adidas Outlet, New Balance, Payless Shoesource and Reebok Outlet.
AAA bonus: Before hitting up an outlet mall, call or stop by the guest services desk, and ask if they have a VIP coupon book or savings brochure.
Standout deal: Show your card at New York & Company to get 25% off your entire in-store purchase. You’ll get 10% off when shopping online.
If your current insurance doesn’t cover prescriptions, don’t opt to go without. Instead, use AAA and print out a special prescription saving card online, or call to receive it by mail.
Standout deal: The AAA Prescription Savings program is all you need to know about. With your new card in hand, you’ll be eligible to save up to 75% off meds for everyone in your family — even pets.
Go online to find pharmacy locators, and use the price estimator tool to see how much you could be saving. The program works at 90% of pharmacies, according to AAA.
4. Eye Care
Looking — see what I did there? — to upgrade your drugstore readers? Having trouble making out street signs? Might be time to see the eye doctor.
I’ve had glasses for more than 15 years, and I know eye care can be a hassle, but AAA has some solid deals worth digging into.
Standout deal(s): Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical and Target Optical all give you a 30% discount on eye exams and eyewear — even sunglasses. You can also get 10% off contact lenses.
5. TVs and Computers
AAA offers HP and Dell discounts, which are great if you’re investing in a new computer.
Right now, I could get a Dell Inspiron 5000 15-inch touchscreen for $587.99. I’d save $112, plus I can combine it with other select deals and discounts.
I could also buy a TV from Dell and pair that up with a $200 discount on a new DirecTV account.
Standout deal: The real MVP in this category goes to HP printer ink. It’s a pain when you run out and even more of a pain to buy more. Go online, and take 15% off when you use your AAA card, plus get free shipping.
Or if you’re in a long-distance relationship and want to surprise your significant other without having to bake or get crafty, here’s your deal.
Standout deal: Order from 1-800-Flowers and get $20 off your purchase of $79.99. This isn’t hard to reach, considering prices start around $40. With a quick order, you can put your gift-giving anxiety to rest.
7. Amusement Parks
If you live near an amusement park or other attractions like zoos or museums, chances are you can find some sort of discount through AAA.
Even if it’s only $1.50 off a game of mini-golf, it’s worth checking out.
Standout deal: SeaWorld and Busch Gardens tie for first in this category for Auto Club South. Take $23 off a day pass; that’s about 25% off the retail price of $89.
8. Sporting Events
These deals might be rare, but they’re worth looking into during your favorite sporting seasons.
AAA Club South, for example, has discounts for baseball, hockey, football and basketball games.
Standout deals: Right now you can get up to 50% off Tampa Bay Rays’ tickets in select seating areas. (OK, so they’re not the best team, but it’s still a fun summertime activity.)
Or if you’re a Braves fan, look into the two-for-one upper box tickets ($20-30 value) in Atlanta.
What are Your Favorite AAA Discounts?
If you’re looking for other deals, visit AAA.com, and sign in or create an online account. Because the deals vary by your club’s service area, you’ll want to navigate to “Discounts & Rewards” to browse your offerings.
And be sure to frequently check in for new deals, especially under “Special Offers.” For example, until September 1, AAA gives you 15% off your first three orders on Jet, an e-commerce site similar to Amazon.
Some deals also offer you AAA dollars, which can go toward paying off your yearly dues.
In the meantime, I’m going to order a discounted large Papa John’s pizza. Hey, I have to get my money’s worth!
Your Turn: What’s your favorite way to save money with your your AAA membership?
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing graduate school, she focuses on saving money — and surviving the move back in with her parents.