AAA, AARP and Amazon Have Hidden Perks — 3 Ways to Find Them

Shot of a young man sitting on his sofa at home using a digital tablet
Kindle’s Lending Library is one of the perks available to Amazon Prime members. kupicoo/Getty Images
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I accidentally shared Kindle’s Lending Library with my friend Adriana.

After a phone discussion, I remembered a book she might want to read. “I borrowed it via Amazon just to read chapter five,” I emailed her.

“Wait — borrowed via Amazon? How does that work?” Adriana responded.

She soon discovered that as an Amazon Prime member, she can borrow books with the Kindle Lending Library. She’d been a Prime member for years, but had no idea about the extra benefit.

But this isn’t a post about Amazon, or even about books. It’s about memberships.

Think about all the memberships you pay for on a monthly or yearly basis. You’ll probably think of AAA, your airline points credit card or your college alumni association. You might think of AARP, or your carsharing membership.

Many of these affiliations come with extra perks, from discounts and upgrades to outright freebies.

If you don’t know about the perks, you can’t use them.

If you want to make the most of the memberships you already pay for, here are three ways to max out your benefits.

1. Pay Attention to Promotions

We all try to get to inbox zero as quickly as possible. But if you’re not reading emails from the services you pay for, you’re definitely missing out on special offers and discounts.

Don’t forget to sift through your mail and skim the magazines that arrive as part of your memberships.

What used to seem like junk might turn into dollars saved — if you can spot the discounts flashing at you from the pages of that alumni association or museum membership magazine.

Your email inbox and snail mailbox are the best ways to find out about new promotions to cash in on.

When you’re logged into your online memberships accounts — maybe to pay your bill — take a few seconds to look around.

I scored a discount recently just for paying my credit card bill. I have an airline points card, and my payment confirmation screen included a short list of promotions I could select. This one caught my eye: “Get $15 back when you spend $60 or more at”

What luck! I shop for just about everything on Amazon, and that credit card is already tied to my Prime account.

It was easy to spend enough to get the $15 added back to my card.

All I had to do was click on the offer to have it applied to my card. When you think about it, all I really had to do was scroll down and spot a deal.

2. Look for the Discounts You Want

On the hunt for a certain discount? Head to the web.

“The benefits vary from club to club,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Jeanette Tejada de Gomez, about the company’s discounts. But she advises the internet is the best place to look for both local and national discount offerings.

Review the listed benefits for your membership and take note of what you might be able to use most often.

Then use the heck out of them.

Elizabeth Xu, a freelance writer based in Toledo, joined AAA for car insurance and roadside assistance. She’s only used the roadside assistance service once, but has come to rely on the AAA discount that comes with many travel bookings.

“I nearly always book travel online and it’s really simple to see if an accommodation has an AAA rate — most do, and it’s easy to save $10 to $30 per night,” Xu said.

Another discount category surprised her: Attraction tickets.

“Because my husband and I have moved around so much, we really enjoy getting to know our new city,” Xu said. “It’s nice that we can do so with a discount.”

The couple even found competitive discount rates for Disney theme parks with their AAA membership.

“Some of the most underutilized programs are discounted movie tickets, attraction tickets or savings at stores the member already shops at,” Tejada de Gomez said.

Smart members can earn back the cost of their yearly membership with the savings from one month of applicable discounts, she added.

3. Get the App

Check through your memberships to see if any offer a smartphone app. A quick glance at your app can be the difference between saving and paying full price.

For example, the AAA Mobile app maps out the cheapest gas stations in your area.

Meanwhile, the AARP Member Advantages app will help you find the discounts nearest you. Because an AARP membership gets you a discount on just about anything — if you’re of a certain age — you might need the app to keep track of them all.

Or, take the co-working space I used to pay to visit a few times a week. The company’s check-in app shows me when free member-only happy hours and networking events are scheduled for. Events have included free yoga classes, guest speakers and wine tastings.

Adriana’s book-borrowing discovery worked out for both of us. She’s getting more out of her Amazon Prime membership, and I’m starting to use discounts to make up for the annual fee on my airline credit card.

I’m definitely reading my mail with a more critical eye.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder. Her student ID recently expired, and she’s looking for ways to make up for her student discount at the movies.