Do Hotels Ever Ask To See AAA Cards?

Filed Under: Advice, Hotels

One of the easiest ways to save money on a hotel stay is with AAA. While it won’t save you a fortune, many of the major hotel chains offer AAA members 10% off their best available rates. Generally my strategy with hotel stays is locking in flexible rates far in advance (typically using the AAA rate, since it comes with flexible cancelation policies), and then closer to the stay I sometimes switch to a pre-paid rate. I like to have that flexibility in case my plans change, and also because hotels often drop rates as your stay date approaches.

Anyway, technically the rate terms when you book the AAA rate state that you’ll need to present your identification at check-in. However, I can’t recall ever being asked to show my AAA card. Ever, anywhere in the world.

Well, until today. Upon checking into an airport Sheraton the front office agent said:

“You are a AAA/CAA member?”
“May I see your card?”

To be honest, I’m not even positive that I’m a member right now. I think I am as I always renew when they email me, though I don’t have a valid card on me, and it’s not something that’s really at the top of my mind at any given point. I checked my wallet, and I had a AAA card in there that expired in 2012. So I flashed that at her, and she said “thank you.” I guess that did the trick.

Now that I’ve been asked once after hundreds of hotel stays, I’m curious if my experience up until now has been an exception, or if others have similar experiences.

If you book AAA rates with any frequency, have you ever been asked by a hotel to present your membership card?

  1. I am not usually asked for my AAA card. Although it does, occasionally, happen. Sometimes I just show it. Sometimes they want to take it from me and look at it. It is one of those things I always have with me, so, no biggie. I could get roadside assistance coverage for less from my auto insurance, but I have saved a lot of money with AAA discounts.

  2. I have been challenged for a AAA card only twice in 20 years. Both times domestically, never internationally.

  3. I used Citi Prestige 4th night free to book in Peru. Told the concierge l wanted the members rate but l was booked instead with the AAA rate and the hotel made a huge fuss about the card. Looking at my card/account online was not acceptable l was told. I don’t even carry the card when outside the US and didn’t realize AAA rates were valid outside the US. The Citi concierge finally got it sorted (and were very proactive).

  4. I always use the AAA website to book rental cars with Hertz since that waives the under 25 fee. I am still consistenly charged the under 25 fee from Hertz anyway so now each time I go up to the counter I hand over my license and as the agent is loading my information, I also hand over my AAA card and say “I book through AAA to avoid the under 25 fee”. This speeds up the process greatly as most agents aren’t aware of this perk and will add the under 25 fee to your bill unless you say otherwise.

  5. Hardly ever. Same for AARP card, which I have access to online.

    Usually AAA and AARP rates are the same.

  6. I have been asked a couple of times in last five years. I have the number on my phone. Given the benefit of that rate I am surprised not to be asked more often. I have also been asked by one particularly bad Hertz (Tampa) who my motor insurance provider was beyond the credit card that I booked with (CSP).

  7. Was only asked once at Holiday Inn Aruba. Clerk checking me in wanted to raise my rate since card wasn’t in my wallet. Had to escalate to duty manager and eventually GM to get AAA rate honored.

  8. I’ve been using AARP card for their discounts at SPG properties and just noticed a fluke during the booking process. The Aarp rate terms and conditions show that you must show proof of being age 62 or over at the hotel at check in. This seems to be a violation of spirit of aarp membership. Not sure if that’s true or how to prompt aarp to respond to SPG. Seems to be true of all SPG brands and multiple geographies….

  9. I might be wrong but I think the Hampton Inn requires you to provide your AAA number online in order to complete the booking at that rate.

  10. Asked once at the Sheraton Times Square, and happened to have the card on me. I have the AAA app on my phone which adds my card to my Apple Wallet… I hope that would be sufficient as I don’t think I’ve received a physical card in a few years.

  11. Hampton Inn now requires you to enter your AAA card number when reserving on-line. Otherwise, maybe 1 in 10 hotels ask for the card.

  12. Hilton reservations require you to enter a valid AAA membership number other wise you cannot book the AAA rate. But I’ve never been asked for the card at check-in, despite the wording.

    At least the AAA and AARP cards can be stored in an Apple Wallet.

  13. @Roberto

    I’ll have to look into that AARP issue. I turn 50 this year and had assumed that an AARP rate was for all AARP members, not just those over a certain age.

    Interestingly, I have a colleague who’s in her 30s that has (and uses) her AARP membership courtesy of her 55 year old husband.

  14. A few times.. once at the IAD airport hotel which threw me off. I keep it in my Apple Wallet on my iPhone so it’s easily accessible.

  15. You can print AAA discount cards if you want: Foreign AAA-equivalents extend discounts to AAA-members and AAA does the same for members of those clubs. While you’re supposed to show the card of said club along with that AAA discount card, most front desk never ask or are satisfied if you just show the printable AAA card (they type in the code on it and are happy).

    In the worst case scenario you could play stupid and don’t know that you have to show your membership ship from for AAA-equivalent club (e.g. AA in the UK, ADAC in Germany, etc.) and the discount card.

  16. Didn’t some of the early MS’ers heavy hit that AARP Chase card? So you could have an AARP card and be in your 20’s or 30’s.

    As far as AAA I seem to get “temporary” cards in the mail every couple months or so, as they try to get me to join. I bring them in case I need to use the benefit. Generally I find that a government rate, which I do legitimately qualify for (I always have business cards and often have my “badge”/ID card) is often cheaper than AAA.

  17. I’ve only been asked once in the US in the past ten years. That was at the W in Washington. I keep the card in my briefcase, and this was a personal trip so I didn’t have the card. They honored the rate anyway, and I came down later and showed them my info when I added the app to my phone.

    I’ve been asked a few more times internationally, but it is still rare.

  18. I don’t use the AAA rate much since I usually can beat it with other rates but the few times I’ve used it over the years I’ve been challenged a few times but usually they waive a need to actually see it if you just tell them you don’t have it with you etc. I can see where an odd hotel might.

  19. I’m intrigued that people don’t see this as dishonest and unethical. I’m guessing most would react negatively to self-upgraders, or stealing airline pillows? Just an observation about where we as a society are willing to draw a line.

  20. Thousands of hotel nights, asked probably 3 times at check in – I believe all 3 were Hyatt Place in the Southwest USA. I actually carry a miniature sized one I printed and laminated – valid for several years so not a problem.

  21. Hi Lucky, I always book hotels using AAA rates (in California), using the hotel chains website directly, but I’ve always been asked to show my AAA card upon check in. I only stay at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton properties. Apparently, California trains their employees to always ask for the membership card. I guess this isn’t the case in other locations.

  22. Uh, I’m not sure I’d make this story public. You’ll have a memo go out to every hotel chain to frontline employees now.

  23. I get quized on my corporate code I use pretty regularly and have even been asked to show a business card or provide a corporate contact. AAA card (despite their horrible app) I have on my phone for when I use it, and almost every time I use it I seem to get asked.

  24. More than a few times. It kinda shocks me to see hardly anyone asked for one. Once at the Ritz in Miami they took it to the back and made a copy of it. I keep it in my travel wallet.

    But then again, I lack the privilege/demographic that most middle-aged business travelers have.

  25. In the 16+ years I’ve had a AAA membership, I can only remember being asked to show the card once. The clerk really gave the card a once-over for some reason. Otherwise, nada.

  26. This one also gets tough – for instance, a lot of companies allow you to use their corporate rate when traveling to them as a contractor, but, as a contractor you aren’t always badged so you have no form of identification.

    My personal favorite was when I got asked to show proof I was eligible for my corporate rate and I was able to respond, “besides that corporate AMEX you are holding that says the company’s name?”

  27. Sometimes they have Hot Rates that are far more than 10% off. A recent Omni booking went from $209 to $156 a night. Worked out perfectly with Amex $60 statement credit after $300 spent at Omni hotels and resorts.

  28. I was never asked to show the card but I recall once I had to enter the AAA number during my online reservation. I think it was a Hilton hotel. I have a valid AAA membership and have the digital card downloaded to my iPhone Wallet.

  29. Such a great post! I’ve wondered the same thing for years. I’m probably 60+ stays the past few years, I’ve never been asked.
    However when booking a AAA rate on Hilton’s website, the site usually asks for my AAA number – I believe my AAA number is now saved in my profile. So, those hotels may not need or ask for the card because my number is in the system.

  30. Lucky

    You do realise that you have just admitted to possibly (if you are not a current member) gaining a financial benefit by deception. In some places that may constitute fraud or theft. And in some places that could be construed as money laundering, which could see you report on what staying in a prison cell is like.

    I am not a lawyer, so take this with a pinch of salt, but a check in clerk on a bad day, in the wrong place and the wrong time, with a police force with targets to meet for the month………

    And the next time customs or security check your web history, “So Mr Lucky why should we believe you are telling us the truth, when you publicly admit to ‘pulling fast ones with intent to defraud?’

    Look Lucky, you are in the fortunate position to be able to afford global travel. I can’t. I enjoy learning from you as you travel, but I don’t want to learn how to make bad decisions. Especially from someone who can afford to pay that 10%.

    Come on man, keep inspiring me.

  31. I use the US government rate for personal travel when the rules permit it—sometimes it is a lot cheaper. I have ID, but I have never been asked to show it.

  32. Stewart Edwards – What a naive fool you are! Jail time for using an AAA discount you weren’t entitled to!?!? Do you even know what money laundering is?

    I can only assume you live in some backwards/rural part of the US and so don’t have the slightest idea how law enforcement works out in the real world…

  33. Hi the AAA booking with hilton, on web site , you have to place your number in, AARP is the same, but you can join for 15/25 dollars per year, on special, even if you are 25, I went for a washer at age of 40, and the guy said 40% off if you have AARP, so i said yes, then joined, you could say you are in Alcohol Access Always, Ha HA, ps or borrow someone,s number, and place photo on your phone, of the number,also with Gov ID, Hilton Hotels, in Hawaii always ask, Village, and Embassy suites,

  34. Here’s a tip. I basically only stay at HIlton properties, and I can’t pre-pay (work changes things up on me too much and I’ve been burned one too many times). When I’m checking in and I’m not booked on the AAA rate for whatever reason, I present my AAA card and ask very nicely ask for the 10% discount. And I’ve succeeded plenty of times! Saves me a few extra bucks which is always appreciated.

  35. Never, but tonite I have a “Government rate” nite at Doubletree PHL because I have jury duty tomorrow. $350 nite rack rate, $148 government rate. I’m bringing my summons, but I figure 50-50 they don’t ask.

  36. In my past experience, I’ve been sporadically asked for my CAA (AAA) card while staying at various Hampton Inns across the Eastern US. I haven’t been asked recently, but also haven’t been using the AAA rate recently, since my corporate rate tends to better (and they don’t seem to ask for ID).

  37. I’ve never been asked for my CAA (the Canadian AAA equivalent) card or for that matter my AARP card when using those rates. I can understand the latter as my photo ID that must now be presented with a credit card shows I’m of an AARP-eligible age. However I do carry an e version of these cards if not the actual card (CAA particularly when renting a car just in case I encounter auto-related issues on the road).

  38. Looks like I am an outlier, but I get asked nearly every time, regardless of chain (Hyatt, Starwood, Marriott, IHG).

  39. Never and I continue to use my corporate rate at all MR and SPG properties even though I’m retired ten years. Never once was I asked for proof of AAA or employment once in 47 years. You just tell them the name of the company and voila.

  40. Been asked to show it a couple of times BUT only in Europe. I even had one instance where I had booked the AAA rate and my membership had been expired 6 months. The hotel asked for the card and since I didn’t have a valid card they insisted that they could not honor the AAA rate. Ended up paying the going rate for that stay which luckily was just a couple of Euros more than the AAA rate I had booked. This was at the LeMeridien Frankfurt years ago.

  41. Not AAA, but always with Costco and rental cars. I can get away with giving them the number, that’s what they are really after.

  42. I always book a AAA rate when booking SPG, mostly because of thr flexivle cancellation terms. I have never been asked – more than 10 years of regular use of AAA bookings. I just booked a room where the AAA rate was nearly 40% off the normal rate – the savings was more than the cost of the AAA membership, so I just became a member on Sunday.

  43. Never once have I’ve been asked for aaa card from Hyatt or Hilton. Once I accidentally booked a government rate with hyatt, checked in and they didn’t even ask for a valid gov ID. Wasn’t until I checked out and looked at my receipt, then realised the rate I got was for federal gov employees.

  44. I’ve never been asked to show my AAA card.

    In a similar vein, I am a municipal (local) govt. employee. Most all “Government” rates offered by the hotels are specific to Federal Government workers or State Government workers but not Municipal Government workers. There are a few exceptions (sometimes Hilton, Omni). Nonetheless, I have booked “Government” rates and have not been asked. However, I was asked once at the LAX Westin for Government papers and they were adament that I did not qualify for the Government rate. As a result, I was charged the going regular rate for the night. Lesson learned!! Since then, I’ve been hesitant to book a Government rate unless it specifically includes Municipal Government.

  45. I always carry my card, but I’ve never been asked. I think it has to do with a man known as Murphy and me carrying the card. I’m sure the first time I forget it, I’ll be asked.

    Something else to note: Most AAA rates are fully-refundable and cancellable close-in, unlike many of the newer rates hotels have come up with. As far as 10% goes, I’m usually seeing 15-20% over the past few bookings.

  46. My tracking spreadsheet tells me that I’ve checked into hotels with a paid rate (i.e. not points) 427 times in the last 9 years of travel, 95%+ of them would have been with a corporate, AAA, or government contractor rate (mostly corporate). The other couple percent were conferences where travel was booked for me separately or other such ‘odd’ cases. I’ve been asked to show proof that I qualified one time (and that might have actually been before I started tracking my travel 9 years ago; I just remember that I have been asked to show a business card once). That’s not to say I didn’t quality; I qualified for my rate at every one of those reservations. But I’ve never been asked to prove it.

    @CRSouser: I’m amazed you’ve been asked to show proof that often. The rates I use typically aren’t ridiculously cheap, but they’re often 20%+ off the normal rate and often as high as 50% off (in cases where we have a specific negotiated rate but the normal rate has fluctuated high due to increased expected demand).

  47. I don’t have AAA but I occasionally book a Military/Government rate and I am always asked for my Military ID. I’ve heard others say they never get asked for Military ID.

  48. Almost never until I was recently asked at the Viceroy in Chicago. I did not have my current card in my wallet and couldn’t remember my password to log into the mobile app to pull up the ecard while checking in. I was told I had to come back with the member number before I checked out otherwise the rate would not be honored.

  49. I book the AAA rates online at Hilton.

    I have no idea where my card is but I have the membership number in my contacts.

    I have been asked twice in 14 years and told them the number and they have the option to verify.

    I also book government rates ( I have a state ID as a consultant) and seem to be asked about 50% for ID.

    So now I just forgo the free Hilton bottle water and use the electronic key and never stop at the front desk.

  50. Just recently at the Mayflower (Marriott) in Washington. Showed the app with the number on my phone and that worked fine.

  51. It’s required when booking Hilton hotel rooms online in order to get the lower rate. Last year I was asked for it in person, in Bangkok at a Hilton. Fortunately I had it in my wallet and the membership was current. Seems to be in part a function of whoever is at the desk at the time of check in.

  52. I can’t be the only one, but some properties I stay at regularly, but certainly not weekly, not only don’t ask me for AAA they don’t even ask for my credit card or photo ID, as they simply recognize me and hand me the room key.

  53. I know the Sheraton Airport Lucky is referring to: JFK Sheraton Airport. It was the first time anyone asked to see my AAA card at check- in for at least 25 years!
    Good to hear that AAA offers to waive under 25 fees for rental cars. My 22 year old son will be happy to hear.

  54. I’ve been asked once at a Marriott Residence Suite property after they had a booking issue and we attempted a live re-book. So about once in 15 years.

  55. Yes, this happened this past August, I was at the Vienna Austria Marriott. I had checked in around 3 pm and no one asked to see the AAA card. At 11:15 pm, they called our room (we were sleeping) to ask us to come down to provide them with a hard copy of our AAA card. We suggested with some sarcasm that we work out this issue in the morning and they agreed. We took the card down the next morning; they did not apologize for waking us. Weare Gold members. I was turned off by their attitude.

  56. I frequently get a ‘temporary’ card in the mail good for a couple of months. Been tempted to use the benefits even though I’m not paying for the membership. Any downside to this?

  57. late to this but i work in a luxury hotel. a commission is paid to “use” the aaa and aarp rate. not unlike the fee vendors have to pay to be able to process credit cards.

    we have to put the aaa or aarp member number into our reservations so if you dont have the card you dont get the rate. it’s on every piece of correspondence we send out and since our rate fluctuates we have no way of knowing what our rate was the day you made the RSVN. if it was 250 two months ago and you thought you’d be clever by using AAA when you dont have it and now the rate is 290, youre paying the 290.

    it’s just like when people call up and ask for a corporate rate… we dont have a corporate rate, we have contracted rates and if you get them, you know to ask specifially for them and provide the company you work for.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *