AAA vs. AARP for Hotel Stays

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AAA vs. AARP for Hotel Discounts

 

One of the greatest benefits of AAA and AARP are the travel discounts you’d get just by being a member for them. Contrary to common beliefs, you don’t need to be old to be an AAA and/or AARP member. Their membership fee can prove to be a great return on your spend when it comes to booking hotels by offering special discounted rates compared to the standard rates. AAA/AARP rates are also qualifying rates, in which you can earn points and build up your elite night counts towards the next status for the hotel program of your choice. They’re definitely worth considering!

But, both AAA and AARP have differences depending on the hotel chain of your interests, and I’ll break down each of them and inform which membership you should choose.

 

AAA vs. AARP for Marriott Bonvoy

If you’re loyal to the Marriott Bonvoy program, you’d want to get AAA as AARP does not give any discounts. If you do have the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business, then you’ll want to compare with the AAA rate. Depending on the property, one of them will favor the other. Sometimes, the AAA rate may not be available at all, but that doesn’t mean the Bonvoy Business rate will be unavailable as well. It seems though that the Bonvoy Business rate is more available overall compared to AAA, but not by that much.

The Bonvoy Business rate only affects price whereas AAA might give exclusive benefits like free breakfast. One nice example I found is at The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest where AAA rate includes free breakfast. This can be great value as the Ritz-Carlton brand doesn’t typically give free breakfast, even to Marriott’s top elite guests. This particular deal may even be more enticing compared to what you’d get through Marriott STARS or Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts!

AAA Marriott Bonvoy Rates
Sometimes AAA rates may offer special benefits on top of reduced rates.

Beware the difference between prepay rates and standard rates, which AAA may offer depending on the property. Prepay rates have deeper discounts, but comes with unforgiving cancellation policies.

 

AAA vs. AARP for Hilton Honors

If you’re loyal to the Hilton Honors program, then you can receive discounts from either AAA or AARP. Depending on the property, one of them will favor the other, but I found that they generally tend to be very similar.

One noteworthy difference is that AARP will get you a “2pm late checkout” that’s subject to availability. Late checkout is one of the biggest drawbacks in the Hilton Honors program that even its top tier Hilton Diamond status doesn’t guarantee or even promise it. From my experience, getting a 2pm late checkout isn’t as challenging as it’s not as disruptive compared to 4pm checkout (most hotels begin check-in at 3pm). These are based from my experience as a Marriott Gold, IHG Platinum, and IHG Diamond. It is great that the AARP rate at least puts the late checkout benefit in writing, which may carry more weight.

If you travel within the US and use a car as your mode of transportation often, then you can benefit greatly from AAA/AARP since many US Hilton properties offer discount on rates where you’d get free parking with the hotel. Expect a 5% discount from the standard rate with parking included.

AAA vs. AARP Hilton Honors
AARP rates may give you a 2pm late checkout at Hilton properties.

Beware the difference between prepay rates and standard rates, which AAA & AARP may offer depending on the property. Prepay rates have deeper discounts, but comes with unforgiving cancellation policies.

 

AAA vs. AARP for IHG One Rewards

If you’re loyal to the IHG One Rewards program, then you can receive discounts from either AAA or AARP. Depending on the property, one of them will favor the other. For IHG, they seem to only affect base rates and don’t give potential added benefits like what Marriott and Hilton may give depending on the property. Very straightforward.

One thing with IHG is that if AAA rate is not available, that won’t mean that AARP will be unavailable as well, so it’s worth checking both rates when you’re browsing on the site.

 

AAA vs. AARP for World of Hyatt

If you’re loyal to the World of Hyatt program, then you’d want to get AAA as AARP does not give any discounts. Beware the difference between prepay rates and standard rates, which AAA may offer depending on the property. Prepay rates have deeper discounts, but comes with unforgiving cancellation policies.

 

AAA vs. AARP for Other Hotel Chains

Other hotel chains like Wyndham and Choice offer AAA & AARP discount. Depending on the property, one of them will favor the other, but I found that they generally tend to be very similar, if not same.

 

Conclusion

When it comes to choosing either AAA or AARP for hotel discounts, I’d choose AAA as they cover more programs while offering very similar discounts as AARP. While AARP has slight better benefit for Hilton by offering a late checkout, I wouldn’t go out of my way on getting AARP for it.

However, both AAA and AARP membership tend to go on sale during the holidays, so it’s worth picking both of them up as the costs will justify the all-year round discounts for hotels, and that you’d get insurance in case one rate is unavailable where it’s available on the other. Even without the holiday sales, I think it’s still worth picking both of them up thanks to their already low costs.

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