With approaching 60 million paid-up members in the US, the American Automobile Association is one of the largest roadside assistance services in the world.
If you’re unlucky enough to need the AAA’s assistance on the freeway or elsewhere, then you might be wondering whether the AAA mechanic or tow truck driver will be expecting a tip after they’ve got you moving again.
This post will explore the data so you can make an informed choice about whether to tip the AAA.
We’ll look at the customary practice for tipping roadside assistance, how much you should tip and what the average salaries are for AAA mechanics as well as the cost of AAA membership.
Keep reading to find out more…
Do you tip AAA Tow Truck Drivers? The Short Answer
It isn’t customary to tip a tow truck driver whether they are from the AAA or any other company but it is certainly welcomed given that tow truck drivers receive fairly modest pay and are providing a vital service. A tip is particularly warranted if the driver has come out during unsociable hours or during the holidays.
How Much Do AAA Tow Truck Drivers Make?
One thing most people consider before handing over a tip is how much the recipient is likely to earn.
Some professions like servers and grocery delivery drivers expect to supplement their income with tips. Their pay is fairly low partly for this reason.
But does this apply to tow truck drivers?
Probably not as they are much better paid than these professions but how much do they earn?
Here’s the data:
As above, you can see that tow truck drivers for AAA earn on average $17.17 per hour which equates to approximately $686 per week on the basis of a 40-hour workweek. This equates to around $35,700 per annum before tax.
Given that the average US yearly salary is around $41,500, it’s plain to see that AAA tow truck drivers appear to earn below that, albeit not massively so.
Given these figures, you may feel it is in good conscience to tip your tow truck driver.
After all, they’ve likely been a huge help to you if you’ve been stranded on some freeway in the middle of nowhere with a bust car. They may well have removed you from imminent danger.
How Much For an AAA Tow?
One other consideration many people have when deciding whether to tip is the cost of the service they’re paying for.
We’ve had look at the figures for a typical AAA assistance plan and note you’ll likely be paying somewhere between $38 – $90 per year for the basic plan and $60 – $140 for the plus plan.
If you pay for a one-off tow then according to the Balance expect to pay $109 on average.
This goes to show that it’s much better value for a yearly plan with the AAA and fairly reasonable and inexpensive in our view.
On this basis, we don’t think the cost of AAA’s service is steep enough to warrant putting you off paying a tip – to the contrary.
How Much Should You Tip?
It’s common practice in the US to tip between 10 – 20% of the sale value of whatever you’ve purchased.
This may be harder to work out in terms of AAA assistance as you may have forgotten what you actually paid for the service if you paid yearly.
However, if we apply the 10 – 20% figure to your yearly cost of a call out then this would be around $5 – $20 for the basic plan and $10 – $30 for the plus plan.
If you’ve paid a one-off tow charge then we’d say $10 – $20 is probably about right.
If you’d rather pay a fixed tip that isn’t based on the cost of the service then we’d suggest $5 – $20. We wouldn’t go much below $5 which begins to look rather cheap.
However, as above, it’s not actually customary to tip a tow truck driver so they’re unlikely to throw you under the car for not dipping into your pocket.
Other Ways of Showing Gratitude
If you don’t want to offer a monetary tip there are other things you can do to show your gratitude:
- Offer to assist if required;
- Be polite and helpful with any information the driver requires;
- Leave a positive review with the company after.
When You Should and Shouldn’t Tip
There will certainly be examples where you’ll be more inclined to tip or tip a higher amount and these might include:
- When the driver has gone above and beyond. For example, if they’re towed you further than required or they’ve gone the extra mile to help;
- If it’s the holiday season;
- If it’s late at night or at some other unsociable hour;
- They’ve managed to get your car moving again without towing it;
- If they’ve come to you in extremely bad weather like snow or heavy rain;
- If they’ve been polite and professional.
You may want to forget about offering a tip if:
- They are rude or unprofessional;
- The call-out has taken much longer than expected or set out within your contract for services;
- They’ve made the matter worse or failed to fix a simple fault.
While it’s clear from our research that a tip isn’t required for an AAA tow truck driver, we consider that it is in good conscience to offer one and we can’t think of many jobs where a tip is more warranted.
If you are to offer a tip, then we would propose between $5 – $20 and perhaps a little more around the holidays or in bad weather.
The AAA provides a number of relatively cheap price plans so we don’t think the cost of their service should put you off paying a tip. The cost of a one-off call-out is hardly going to break the bank either.
The cynic will note that there will be times when a tip certainly isn’t justified but there will also be times when a tip definitely is.
We suspect on most occasions a tip will be warranted, especially if you’ve been rescued by the AAA at an ungodly hour or in inclement weather.