Roadside assistance is one of those things that we buy and then hope we never need. Yet we all know that breakdowns can happen when we least expect them. When they do, having the right roadside assistance can mean the difference between being back on the road quickly and an expensive, time-consuming disaster.
There are many roadside assistance companies to choose from, and they all make a lot of promises to try to attract your business.
The American Automobile Association (better known as AAA) is a household name. “Call AAA” has become almost synonymous with calling for help on the road. Many people join AAA without even considering any of the other options.
Better World Club was formed to provide an alternative to AAA that focuses on environmentally-friendly practices. Many customers were concerned with AAA’s track record on environmental issues and therefore reluctant to support the company. Better World Club aims to provide the same services for a comparable price, without worry about compromising your values.
Which of these companies is the best choice for your roadside assistance needs? What should RVers consider before joining one of these organizations?
Main Differences Between AAA vs Better World Club
The main differences between AAA vs Better World Club are:
- AAA is a collection of regional clubs with varying rates and coverage, whereas Better World Club offers the same rates and coverage nationwide.
- AAA is not committed to practicing and promoting environmental responsibility, whereas Better World Club is committed.
- AAA includes RV coverage in their Plus and Premier memberships, whereas Better World Club charges an additional fee
- AAA’s standard rates apply to any vehicle, whereas Better World Club offers discounts for hybrid and electric vehicles, but charges an additional fee for “gas guzzlers” and large vehicles.
- AAA offers a wide range of discounts and travel services for members, whereas Better World Club has fewer benefits outside of its roadside assistance.
Nationwide Coverage and Reliability
The AAA organization is a federation of 32 different motor clubs across North America. When you join AAA, you are actually joining the regional club for the state or region where you live.
The cost of membership, and the coverage and services you are entitled to at each level of membership, vary surprisingly from one region to another.
This is an important distinction for RVers since we are likely to travel from our home region. Unfortunately, some RVers have learned the hard way that if you are far from home when you need help, you may not be eligible for assistance that you thought you had paid for.
Because Better World Club is a nationwide organization, you have more peace of mind. There will not be differences in coverage based on where you are when you break down. The membership rates are the same regardless of where you live.
If you decide to join AAA, be sure to research the prices and policies for your local area first, especially regarding RV coverage. Verify what happens if you need assistance outside of your home territory. Ask for this information in writing, and keep it in your vehicle as you travel.
For RVers who often travel to different regions of the country, Better World Club is a more reliable roadside assistance service than AAA.
What really sets Better World Club apart is its focus on environmentally-friendly practices. Their headquarters and fleet service program is carbon neutral.
They donate 1% of their annual revenues to environmental causes, and they advocate for more sustainable transportation policies across the country. They were the first company to offer roadside assistance for bicycles, and this bicycle coverage is an option to add on to automobile plans as well.
AAA also actively advocates for transportation policy but has a history of opposing legislation aimed at protecting the environment. Environmental groups have been critical of AAA’s lobbying practices for years.
If environmentalism and sustainability are important to you, then Better World Club is a much better choice than AAA.
Cost Comparison: RV Coverage
When you join AAA with either a Plus or a Premier membership, you are automatically covered for RVs and motorcycles. Any of the four service calls included with your membership can be used for towing, winching, or changing a tire on your RV.
Note that this is capped at a cost of $500 per service call and a maximum of $1,000 per year for your household. Other mechanical issues are not included for RVs. This information is accurate for AAA Texas. Please verify the specific rules regarding RVs for your local chapter.
At Better World Club, adding an RV to your roadside assistance membership is only possible with the Premium membership, and it requires an additional fee of $45. Once you have paid this additional fee, there are no RV-specific limitations. You have the same coverage in your RV as you do in any vehicle.
If the cost of roadside assistance for your RV is your primary factor, then AAA probably wins, depending on the costs in your region. If the circumstances of your RV breakdown exceed AAA’s limitations, however, expect to pay a lot more than $45 to get the help you need.
Discounts, Surcharges, and Consistent Pricing
While Better World Club wins points for having the same rates and policies for all regions of the country, there are other factors than geography that affect their rates.
Information on their website is occasionally vague about the discounts and surcharges that can be applied, and these policies can impact RVers.
Consistent with its environmental focus, Better World Club offers a 10% discount for members who own a hybrid or electric vehicle. The contract states that this is an ongoing discount, available each year at renewal, but other places on the website suggest that this discount may only be available to new members.
In the past, Better World Club has added a 20% surcharge for members who own one of the ten worst gas-guzzling cars. The company has recently updated its website, though, and most mentions of this surcharge have been removed. There is no clear list of which vehicles this surcharge would apply to if indeed it still exists.
The other Better World Club policy to be aware of is that vehicles with 10,000 pounds or higher GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) are counted in the same category as RVs.
This includes one-ton pickup trucks, such as a Ford F350 or a Chevy 3500, and larger. This is due to the difference in equipment needed to tow these larger vehicles. If you are towing a fifth-wheel trailer or a larger travel trailer, you may be driving a truck that fits this category. Since you would need to add the additional RV coverage anyway, though, this isn’t a big issue.
AAA does not offer discounts for driving fuel-efficient vehicles, but neither does it require any additional coverage for larger trucks or SUVs. The price you pay is determined by your location and the level of service you choose.
Neither company wins for simple, straight-forward pricing. Your individual circumstances will determine which company can give you a better price for the coverage you need.
Additional Benefits of Membership
Most people are familiar with the many discounts and benefits that AAA offers its members. These include travel services, such as currency exchange, trip planning, and maps, as well as discounts on movie tickets, hotels, and more. Most of us have seen the AAA logo on businesses, indicating they offer AAA discounts.
Better World Club offers some discounts and travel services to its members, but it is simply a smaller company that does not have the reach and influence to provide the breadth of benefits that AAA does.
If you’re looking for discounts that you can use in your everyday life to offset the cost of your roadside assistance membership, AAA is the obvious choice.
AAA vs. Better World Club Side-by-Side
Compare the costs and benefits of AAA and Better World Club to help you decide what is best for you. The most basic levels of membership from both companies, AAA Classic and Better World Club Basic, do not cover RVs or allow you to add RV coverage. Therefore this chart only includes AAA Plus, AAA Premier, and Better World Club Premium memberships.
|AAA Plus*||AAA Premier*||Better World Club Premium|
|Types of RVs covered||All||All||All – with added RV coverage ($45 / year)|
|Number of Included Service Calls per Year||4 per household||4 per household||4 per member|
|Towing Benefits||Vehicles: up to 100 miles
RVs: up to $500
|Vehicles: up to 100 miles; One call per year up to 200 miles
RVs: up to $500
|Up to 100 miles|
|Flat tire service||Included||Included||Included|
|Fuel / Battery / Lockout||
|Cost for Primary Member||$90 / year + $20 one-time admission fee||$116 / year + $20 one-time admission fee||$97.95 / year + $15 one-time signup fee**|
|Cost for Additional Family Members||$30-65 per person (up to 1 additional adult plus dependents under age 26)||$30-65 per person (up to 1 additional adult plus dependents under age 26)||$51 per person (up to 3 additional people per household)|
* Note that regional differences exist between AAA clubs. These charts were completed with information from AAA Texas. Go to aaa.com and enter your zip code to confirm important details with your local club.
** Better World Club will match the AAA Plus price for your local area and waive the $15 signup fee for current AAA customers who switch to Better World Club Premium.
Limitations of Both Companies for RVers
It is worth pointing out that neither of these companies is focused on the needs of RVers specifically. If your roadside assistance needs are primarily for everyday driving in your car, but you also want to make sure your RV is covered for the occasional weekend outing, then both of these companies are worth considering.
If you travel frequently with your rig over long distances, then there are better options out there. Neither AAA nor Better World Club list details about what happens if you are towing an RV and have a breakdown with your tow vehicle.
In most cases, towing is only covered for the damaged vehicle, meaning they will tow your truck to the shop, but may leave your trailer stranded on the side of the road. Finding someone to tow your trailer will be up to you, and at your own expense.
There are better options for roadside assistance that were developed with the specific needs of RVers in mind. Before choosing between AAA and Better World Club, be sure to look into roadside assistance from Good Sam and Coach Net.
Answer: Yes, AAA offers roadside assistance for RVs for members with Plus or Premier memberships. RV coverage is not available with Classic memberships. Consult your local AAA branch for information that applies where you live.
Answer: For RVers, there are absolutely better options for roadside assistance than AAA. AAA is not ideal for people who often travel outside their home region. Both Good Sam and Coach-Net offer excellent roadside assistance services that are designed with the specific needs of RVers in mind.
Answer: Which company is best depends on your needs and wishes. For RVers, both Good Sam and Coach-Net are excellent options. Many RVers find Good Sam to be the more cost-effective option, but this can vary depending on what type of RV you have and what level of service you prefer.
Answer: Most RVers find that AAA membership is not worth it. There are much better roadside assistance options available. In terms of discounts, there are RV-specific memberships that cost less and give discounts that are more relevant to RVers.
Deciding Between AAA and Better World Club: Final Thoughts
The more I travel and see the world, the more concerned I am about environmental issues and sustainable practices. It is important to me that these natural wonders are preserved.
I love that there is an environmentally-friendly alternative to AAA that can provide the same level of service. Because Better World Club adjusts their prices to match the rates of AAA in each local region, it is guaranteed that the cost will be comparable.
On a practical level, AAA has more limits on coverage that could cause issues, especially if your RV needs service. Not knowing what differences in benefits may arise as you travel outside your home region is a big disadvantage of AAA membership.
If you have narrowed down your choices to AAA and Better World Club, the Better World Club is clearly the better option.
That said, as a full-time RVer, I am uncomfortable with both of these options for our family’s roadside assistance needs. Neither can provide the peace of mind and level of service that we are looking for. Fellow full-timers and others who travel extensively with RVs should look elsewhere.