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There are more car associations out there than ever before. See below for help determining which ones are for you.
The BCAA offers the standard automobile association benefits - emergency roadside service, travel discounts and other perks. There is some minimal stuff offered under the 'members only' banner for the car shopper. There is quite a bit of free information too.
The basic membership is $86.67 and includes 4 roadside assistance calls per year. Other perks include the members only CAA Automaker that gives you easy access to new car prices, models, options and reviews. You can look at cars in stock at Budget Car Sales in Victoria, Vancouver and Prince George. BCAA also offers vehicle inspection services, travel discounts and savings on a variety of different types of purchases.
There is no invoice pricing service offered to BCAA members nor is there any members 'buying service' that offers a members-only price on new vehicles to BCAA members.
Automobile Protection Association
The Automobile Protection Association has slightly different offerings from other associations in this category. They do not offer roadside assistance and travel perks like the Automobile Associations but they do offer invoice pricing quotes and some other potentially useful services for car shoppers.
The APA membership cost of $68.90 ($74.07 in Quebec) gives you 5 'membership quotes' per year. You also get access to a members only buying service, recommended garages in Alberta, BC, Ontario and Quebec, vehicle inspection services and more. The Lemon Aid guide online is a very helpful service and it is nice that they have the 2003 and 2004 guides online as well as 2005 so you can look at previous models. Another recently added offering is a free lease analysis for members - presently this is done by telephone but by the summer of 2007 (or fall at the latest) this should be online and completely automated.
It is hard to know whether the additional $26 that it will cost you to join APA is offset by the additional services they offer over an invoice pricing site like CarCost Canada. Also, if you are not currently shopping for a vehicle you will have very little incentive to join APA - especially if you aren't in Quebec or Ontario (since the site and the services it offers have a strong eastern slant).
CT Roadside Assistance
From the main page click on the Roadside Assistance link in the left hand column.
This is strictly a roadside assistance offering association (as the name implies) - there are no travel perks, information for car shoppers or other incentives to encourage you to become a members.
The least expensive membership is the silver plan - $86.50 plus applicable taxes. A number of roadside assistance situations are covered and as Canadian Tire has service bays in many stores you can get discounts on repair of your vehicle as well as towing services.
The CT Roadside Assistance plan has taken a big price jump along with its name change and offers fewer calls than (for example) the BCAA for a very similar price. There are no other service offerings at this association.
Alberta Motor Association
The AMA offers the standard automobile association benefits - emergency roadside service, travel discounts and other perks. There is quite a bit of information on new and used vehicle shopping that is 'members only'.
The basic membership is $80 plus GST and unless I am reading the site wrong it looks very much to me as if you are covered for any number of roadside assistance calls for this price - if you are a member of AMA and this is not the case please disabuse me of this misconception! There is also an AMA credit card which allows you to earn CAA dollars towards membership fees. Other useful member only services for the car buyer are used vehicle pricing, new vehicle research and leasing information.
There is no dealer invoice pricing service offered by the AMA nor do they offer any kind of new vehicle buying service.