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October 29, 2008


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If you are eligible, I don't know of a better place to bank and get insurance than USAA. Generally speaking, in order to qualify, you or your parents need to have served in the military. USAA has very competitive banking rates, low cost insurance, and phenomenal customer service. If you qualify, be sure to check it out.


I agree that USAA is fantastic. Another membership which is totally worth it for me is the Zune Pass music subscription. One $15 per month payment lets you download unlimited music onto up to three different computers and synch with up to three different Zune MP3 players. Very economical way to explore music. My family has 2 Zunes on one pass (my son is too young) and I'm considering letting my friend join my account.

I would never waste my money on an amusement park subscription; at least not at this point in my life. If I decide to go, I'll just purchase a one time ticket. Every time I buy a subscription to something, I end up not using it.

Like you, I'm not old enough for AARP yet.

AAA is good and I'm seriously considering joining Costco.

Thanks for the list.

A very interesting list of which I have one one membership and that is a warehouse club. As a young adult I really don't have the need for some of the other memberships.

Jesse W.

I recommend Hotwire for hotel discounts (cheaper than AAA discounts) and if your car breaks down, you can call AAA and join on the spot and get a tow (I've done it twice).

I agree that if you have preschool-aged children that zoo and aquarium memberships can pay for themselves very, very quickly. We joined the Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago when our son hit 6 months old and we go about once or twice a season. He loves it plus it's great for him to see all the animals from his books in person -- not to mention a relaxing afternoon for mom and dad. If the Shedd Aquarium downtown wasn't such a hassle to get to I would join there as well.

I disagree on #4 and 5. AAA is easily replaced by my towing/rental car coverage on my car insurance for like $10 a year. I have used it twice in the past year or so for a locksmith and a tow from a dead battery. Saved me about $100 I bet.

Amusement parks are just overpriced in general and usually you can get discount tickets online rather than doing a membership and having to go multiple times to justify the cost of the membership. Multiple trips means multiple purchases of their overpriced food, games and souvenirs. at $11.99/month for 40 downloads is a very good deal.

The concept of joining local attractions, especially those catering to children, can pay back in multiple ways including admissions savings, lower stress during each visit, increased tax deductions, and the support of your community.

I have to look at AAA again. Like Kevin M, I saw how much cheaper it was to get the road service through my insurer. But given my travel schedule, I suspect I am forgoing hotel discount savings that would exceed the difference in AAA vs. the insurer's premium.

AAA is not just for road service. How about discounted movie tickets, free maps??

I like AAA because if I lock myself out of my car, they come fix it. I also enjoy bypassing DMV lines to just go to a AAA office and get my license renewed.

I also LOVE USAA. The coolest thing about it is that as long as generations continually join USAA, the benefits never end. My dad was in the Air Force, so I have been a USAA member since I was young. Now my husband is a USAA member since he married me. When we have kids, they can be USAA members. It just continues on and on. The benefits are wonderful - great credit cards, great deals on all kinds of insurance (we have car insurance, renter's and property through them) as well as mortgages and loans. It's great.

I'm a Costco Executive member, and I get a good discount on auto and home insurance with Ameriprise. AAA insurance was more expensive. Did you know that you can join AARP as an associate member if you're under 50 years old? You will not get a physical card, but you will get a membership number. In most cases, hotel discounts are as cheap or cheaper for AARP members than AAA members. Keep the towing option through your auto insurance and pay $12.50 to AARP. You could probably save $50 per year for a couple.

I love AAA. We added my daughter when she turned 16. Everywhere I go I ask if they have a AAA discount and I have saved lots!

We in Southern California, so we are near all the parks. We tried the memberships, but it is easier and cheaper to find discounts. Plus then you can go to different places and not feel like you have to go somewhere because you have membership.

Many cities have CityPasses ( you can get good discounts. If you have a Costco membership, you can buy the Citypass at a discount. The only caveat is that you have a limited time once you start using the passes to complete the activities. We usually use them when we have company coming in.

Like Lauren I have a legacy USAA membership, my parents weren't even military it was my grandparents. I've had their insurance in the past, they were more expensive for my current car and won't insure my house, neither would AAA cause it's older than 1950. The AAA membership has paid off in towing costs, we've had several flaky cars recently and use the towing at least once or twice a year. And I love the free maps and guidebooks and triptiks, I'm a map geek.

The only thing I know about AARP is that my father avoided joining because he disagreed with their political agenda. They were generally left leaning on a lot of issues and Dad was pretty conservative. We always had AAA though.

I would expand your zoos/aquariums/amusement park items to include museums and other forms of entertainment that you're likely to attend multiple times, including sporting events (season tickets or multi-game packs aren't "memberships" per se, but they serve a similar function sometimes.)

i joined up at costco after reading the article last week. it really is a good savings and my sister and i are going to split the membership and go to the store together so we can split larger items too.

Zoo/Aquarium/Botanical Garden memberships also give you reciprocal membership at other national zoos/aquariums/botanical gardens. And you don't have to wait in line to get in when you go!

It's good to pick a different entertainment membership or season ticket each year (or maybe one per kid). So, for example, one year you go to the zoo every other weekend. The next year, the art museum. The next year, an amusement park. After a whole year, you know a place pretty well and don't feel deprived.

I have had memberships in my state park system, a botanical garden, a history museum, a gym, a ballroom dance club, and even an amusement park in a city I was visiting all week. (Also my public radio station and my local public TV station, but not for the personal benefits.)

Local food coop memberships can be a good investment.

A similar idea is to get yourself added to the mailing lists of your favorite places. Then you will always know when the sales are and you may even get coupons. I'm on the list for a thrift store, a used book store, and a couple of restaurants.

I like AAA too because, if I lock myself out of my car, they come fix it soon. But my experience in the past with others service make me afraid. just remain.

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