When you’re looking for a great discount on merchandise, travel, gas and more, club memberships can give you “insider” prices that can save you big money. They also come with membership fees, so you would be wise to do the math to see if the annual cost outweighs the money you’re savings each year. Here are the discount membership clubs and organizations we feel are most worth it for consumers.
It’s become somewhat of a rite of passage to join AARP once you turn 50. After all, it only costs $16 a year (or less if you join for multiple years at a time) and gives you useful discounts all around town and even when you travel. Oh, and you get an additional membership for a household member absolutely free.
But is it worth it?
Let’s see: You pay $16 for the year. You get your card and use your AARP discount when you book a room at a Hilton Hotel, saving you 10% on a room rate of $250/night. You just saved $25 – more than it cost to join AARP. So the answer is yes, it’s worth it.
We spent time clicking around on AARP.com and found tons of ways members can save money on everything from groceries and eyeglasses to car rentals and cell phone service. You also have the option of an upgraded membership for $58/year that includes roadside assistance through Allstate (to compete with AAA, we’re guessing). But for us AARP gets extra Point Savvy kudos for its Rewards for Good program, in which members can earn points toward merchandise, gift cards and more just for reading articles on the website, playing games and taking quizzes, or using any of its online tools and calculators. Any time you can earn points (for no extra cost) just for doing the things you would normally do anyway, do it.
Click here for a full listing of AARP benefits, to decide for yourself.
Wholesale clubs like Costco have a big fan base. And for good reason. Members can save between 30% and 60% off retail prices. But you have to keep it in perspective. For large families, it’s a no brainer because the $55 cost of membership could easily pay itself back in savings on just one visit. For individuals or couples who wouldn’t necessarily see the value in an 8-pack of toothpaste, maybe the other savings available at Costco would be of more interest.
If bulk-buying isn’t your thing, Costco offers vision and eye health exams, glasses and contact lenses at a substantially reduced cost compared to leading vision store chains. And apparently, Costco members rave over not only its prices but the quality of service in the optical department. Another great non-bulk savings opportunity is in electronics. Not only are laptops and PCs much more affordable at Costco, they also come with a 2-year warranty and 90-day return policy. And then there’s the cheap gas. If you have a Costco gas station near you, join it.
In all, you can absolutely find the cost of membership well worth it at Costco if you just take a look through the aisles.
For the peace of mind alone, AAA is well worth the cost of membership. The company has built a strong reputation for providing quick and reliable roadside assistance. That kind of reassurance makes it easy for members to renew their membership year after year. Basic membership is $52/year and includes a free membership for another household driver for the first year. AAA has higher levels of membership, up to Premier membership for $122/year.
In addition to its roadside service, AAA gives great travel discounts on hotels, car rentals, train travel and more. And outside of travel, you can save a lot every day at restaurants, department stores, museums, and pharmacies.
Some AAA perks you should make note of: TripTik Travel Planner, a very useful online service that helps you plan a roadtrip; the AAA mobile app, with updated fuel prices, and recommended restaurants, attractions and events along your route; and tag & title service for members in select states. And like AARP, AAA also offers members access to auto, home and life insurance as well as finances services of all kinds.
Click here for more information on the benefits of AAA.