As one of the largest membership organizations in the Southland, the Automobile Club of Southern California has been able to negotiate discounts with hundreds of retail outlets and online merchants throughout the U.S., providing its members with savings that can significantly extend their holiday shopping budgets.
Last year, the AAA Show Your Card & Save program saved consumers nearly $1.2 billion through member discounts.
The Auto Club has several tips to help shoppers save money both on gifts and necessities during the holiday season, and maximize value when buying gifts:
- Look for coupons. Retailers are eager to boost business and may provide discounts even during the holidays. In addition to the newspaper, many stores and products provide online coupons on their Web sites. Auto Club members can pick up a Member Savings Guide filled with coupons for special holiday savings at any of the 75 Auto Club offices in Southern California, or visit AAA.com/discounts.
- Shop where you can get the biggest bang for the buck. This year, the outlet malls aren’t the only places offering deep discounts. Many stores at the mall are continuing their “Black Friday” sales or similar deals through December. Auto Club members can often slash even more off prices by using coupons in the Member Savings Guide or just showing their card at checkout at retail outlets such as New York & Co. and Payless Shoe Source. For a complete list of retailers offering member savings on clothing, toys, electronics, jewelry and other gifts, visit AAA.com/discounts.Of course, outlet malls are also offering some significant deals this season. Auto Club members receive additional savings at many outlet malls throughout Southern California by showing their card to receive a discount coupon book to use on many retailers at the outlets. For outlet locations and a list of other retail stores offering member savings, visit AAA.com/discounts.
- Slash your gift shipping costs. Online shopping often provides free or discounted shipping to your gift recipients. Auto Club members receive both discounts and/or free shipping when they use AAA.com/discounts to access online retailers like Barnes & Noble.com, Blue Nile jewelry and Sirius Satellite Radio. Whether shipping holiday gifts across country or skis ahead of arrival, Auto Club members receive 5 percent off UPS shipping and 15 percent off packaging materials and other eligible products and services at The UPS Store locations.
- Save on meals out while shopping. You don’t have to eat at a fast-food restaurant to save – look for coupons online or in your newspaper for local restaurants, or find out which ones offer a senior discount if you qualify. Also, Auto Club members can save up to 15 percent off their bill at select restaurants throughout South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and at many other restaurant locations throughout Southern California simply by showing their membership card. For a complete list of restaurant discounts, visit AAA.com/dining.
- Save time for holiday errands. There’s holiday cards to write, gifts to buy, decorations to put out, and baking to do. Who has time to cook? Fast food and pizza aren’t the only options. A meal preparation option such as Dream Dinners allows families to prepare meals ahead of time in batches so they can be assembled and heated in a hurry on busy pre-holiday nights. Auto Club members receive a special offer when reserving a meal-assembly appointment at Dream Dinners at AAA.com/dining.
- Plentiful travel deals make vacations a particularly great value this year. Vacations make a great gift for friends or family, and in a tough economy, there is no better time to take advantage of additional values offered by sales-hungry travel providers. Through the end of this year, Auto Club members can take advantage of special deals offered by some of AAA’s top travel providers. For details, visit a travel agent or click on AAA.com/savingsevent. Also, while gas prices are at historic lows, it’s never been a better time to take an RV vacation. But renting an RV is not just for vacations, it’s also a great way to add sleeping accommodations to visiting friends and family – complete with its own kitchen and bathroom right outside your door! Auto Club members get special rates on rentals at El Monte RV.
- Family experiences – like events and attractions – can also make a great family gift. Many Southern California attractions offer Auto Club members special holiday discounts on tickets, annual passes and/or special events such as SeaWorld San Diego, the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, and Universal Studios Hollywood. Smucker’s Stars on Ice, which offers three Southern California shows in January and February, is giving Auto Club members a 50 percent discount on select tickets. Visit AAA.com/discounts for details.
- Don’t keep the savings to yourself – Auto Club gift memberships are a great value. Each one-year Auto Club membership costs $67, including a one-time $20 admission fee. Through the end of the year, those who purchase a gift membership will also receive another gift to give to themselves or others – the choice of a picnic backpack or a certificate for a one-pound box of See’s Chocolates.