Ed Perkins on Travel: Discounts for Everyone — But they’re small

Everybody loves a discount. And almost everybody can get a discount on hotels, car rentals, and other travel services. Yes, they’re small, but even a small discount beats full price. Those small discounts are easily available to members of two giant organizations, popular with millions of consumers, with very low membership costs: AAA and AARP.

AAA features hotel deals, with typical discounts of 5 percent to 10 percent off the usual base rates. It has deals with four major chains that offer a spectrum of brands and sub-brands that range from near-bottom budget to luxury. Three — Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott — skew upscale, with most brands in the midscale to luxury range, but Best Western is more focused on budget and midscale brands. Each chain includes a dozen or more named brands and sub-brand levels. AAA deals apply to most brands within each chain, although a few locations opt out of the system.

AAA offers rental car discounts with Hertz. Although the postings say “up to 35 percent,” rental car pricing is so crazy that I wouldn’t even begin to try to calculate a “true” discount rate. Just be sure to include looking at AAA rates when you’re searching. AAA rates include an additional driver and young renter (ages 20 to 24) at no extra cost along with other extras. The AAA website does not show the deal as extending to Hertz subsidiaries Dollar, Firefly, and Thrifty, although they may honor AAA discounts.

Surprisingly, AAA includes no other discount contracts, although ma