MCA vs. AAA: Roadside Assistance Services Compared

MCA and AAA offer similar roadside assistance for members, including lockout services, towing, fuel delivery, and tire changes. MCA members are limited to one service call per day but do not have an annual limit, whereas AAA members are limited to four service calls per year. Both companies offer discounts for members on things such as retail, travel, and dining, though AAA has a larger selection. Continue below for details about these two companies and how the costs and services compare.

MCA vs. AAA

Motor Club of America (MCA) and the American Automobile Association (AAA) are two roadside service companies specializing in providing emergency assistance to members. The companies offer similar services such as fuel delivery, tire changes, and towing. Their memberships are similarly priced, but there are a few differences. MCA requires first and last month payments when signing up, which means more money upfront; meanwhile, AAA charges extra for certain services depending on your membership level.

We’ve researched MCA and AAA by visiting their websites, contacting their customer service departments, and checking each company’s profile with the Better Business Bureau. Below, you’ll find a round-up of services, costs, discounts, and customer reviews to help you decide which company is the better fit for your budget and needs.

MCA

  • Cost: An MCA membership costs around $10 to $20 per month. The first and last month payments are due at sign-up, so you can expect to pay a bit more initially than you will every month.
  • When coverage begins: Members are eligible to start using MCA’s services 24 hours after signing up.
  • Services: MCA members have access to multiple emergency services. The average wait time for a service call is about 30 minutes, though certain circumstances like weather or traffic may require a longer wait, per MCA’s FAQs. Roadside services are available to MCA members regardless of what vehicle he or she is in; a member can call for service to any vehicle, provided he or she has their membership card available. Members are limited to one service call per day but do not have an annual limit on service calls. Services include:
    • Towing
    • Lockout
    • Fuel delivery
    • Tire change
    • Battery recharging
  • Types of vehicles covered: Multiple types of vehicles may be covered with an MCA membership, including cars, RVs, motorcycles, livestock trailers, and boats.
  • Discounts and other services:
    • Discounts: Hotels, car rentals, vision care, dental care, and prescriptions
    • Other services: Accident coverage for hospitalization, travel assistance reimbursement, arrest bonds, bail bonds, attorney fees, stolen vehicle reward, credit card protection, and accidental death benefit
  • Cancellation policy: You can cancel at any time without a cancellation fee. Full refunds are available within 72 hours of signing up and paying your membership fee, and partial refunds may be issued within 30 days of membership activation.
  • Insurance: MCA does not provide insurance.
  • Selling MCA: MCA has an affiliate company, TVC Marketing, which allows individuals to sign up as an affiliate to refer others to MCA and receive a commission if those referrals purchase a membership. An MCA membership is not required to become an affiliate, per TVC’s FAQs. The TVC FAQs also state that there is no cost associated with becoming an affiliate. However, if your state requires that you have a motor club agent license in order to sell memberships, you will need to pay the fees required to become licensed in your state, per a TVC Marketing customer service associate.
  • Reviews: The Better Business Bureau profile page for MCA has mixed reviews from consumers, but MCA’s average rating is 4 out of 5 stars. Common complaints include:
    • Being denied service when placing a service call with another vehicle, even though the member had his or her membership card available
    • Multiple claims that the unlimited towing advertised by MCA is false and that members found there were limitations to towing services
    • Difficulty getting refunds processed
    • Difficulty communicating with customer service to make changes to a member’s account, such as updating a payment method
    • Multiple complaints regarding TVC Marketing in which many stated that they were charged fees to sign up to sell MCA memberships

AAA

  • Cost: AAA memberships cost around $6 to $11 per month.
  • When coverage begins: For most memberships, coverage begins immediately. However, RV and motorcycle coverage will be effective seven days after enrollment and do not cover pre-existing problems, such as previous breakdowns.
  • Services: Roadside assistance is included with your membership but is limited to four service calls annually. The average wait time for a service call varies by location, per AAA customer service representatives. The AAA representative you speak with when you place your service call should be able to provide an estimated wait time. Members may receive roadside assistance in a vehicle that is not their own provided he or she has their member card available. Certain services may cost extra in addition to your regular membership fees. Services include:
    • Towing (the number of miles is limited by membership level)
    • Fuel delivery (fuel may cost extra)
    • Locksmith services (may cost extra)
    • Tire change
    • Emergency extraction
  • Types of vehicles covered: Cars, RVs, motorcycles, motor homes, and travel trailers, though some of these vehicles may require additional membership or service fees.
  • Discounts and other services:
    • Discounts: Gas stations, grocery stores, hotels, restaurants, online retailers, vision care, and rental cars plus tickets to concerts, sporting events, and theme parks.
    • Other services: Trip interruption protection (may require extra fees), maps, and guidebooks
    • Additional services (available for premier members only): One day free on car rentals, travel booking with no airline fees, annual Carfax report
  • Cancellation policy: Memberships may be canceled within 30 days of purchase for a partial refund provided no services were used during your membership.
  • Insurance: In addition to roadside assistance memberships, AAA also sells insurance, including home, renters, life, auto, and pet insurance. You may be able to get a bundle discount if you purchase more than one policy.
  • Selling AAA: AAA does not have an affiliate program, but you can become a AAA agent and sell memberships and insurance. Insurance license requirements will vary based on your state.
  • Reviews: Since AAA has offices by region, we viewed multiple Better Business Bureau profiles for AAA including Texas, Mid Atlantic, and Northeast. The average rating for all three profiles was low, about 1 to 1.5 out of 5 stars. To be fair, most consumers only utilize the Better Business Bureau when experiencing difficulties or filing a complaint. Common consumer complaints listed include:
    • Difficulty getting a AAA representative on the phone
    • Long wait times for roadside service calls, inaccurate wait times, no-shows, and rude providers when assistance did arrive
    • Refund difficulties
    • Auto insurance prices that were not competitive
    • Homeowners insurance coverage issues, such as being denied or jumping through hoops to get the claim approved

In Summary

MCA and AAA offer similar services and discounts and have each had complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau. They also have similar prices, with MCA requiring more money during sign-up and AAA potentially requiring more money down the road for certain services. MCA does not limit the number of service calls allowed annually, while AAA members can only use four service calls per year. MCA does not provide insurance of any kind to its members, while AAA offers auto, home, renters, life, and pet insurance policies in addition to roadside assistance memberships. Choosing which company you’d like a membership with largely depends on how often you think you will need the services, whether you’d prefer to pay more upfront or down the road, and if you’d like to have your auto service membership and auto insurance policy all in one place.

If you are interested in shopping for auto insurance, check out our articles about Good2Go auto insurance and online car insurance quotes.

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