AARP vs AMAC: Which has the Best Benefits?

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The Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) emerged in 2006 as a conservative alternative to the AARP. But it was in 2010 that AMAC’s membership grew exponentially: from 40,000 to over one million. The reason? AARP threw its support behind Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which alienated many of its members.

If you’re on the hunt for an alternative senior association, joining AMAC is an option. However, in researching this article, we came across some complaints that might lead you to re-think joining.

We’ll compare and contrast the benefits AARP offers against AMAC to help you decide which is a better fit for you.

AMAC Membership Costs

AMACAARP
1 year membership$16$12
3 year membership$42$43
5 year membership$60$63
Lifetime$500N/A

Why AMAC was Founded

Retired insurance owner Dan Weber started AMAC in 2007 to compete against the AARP. The group really picked up steam in 2009, when the AARP lost over 300,000 members due to their support for Obamacare. As of 2019, the group boasts a membership count of over 2 million, much of it defectors who are looking for an advocacy group that promotes conservative values.

AMAC vs AARP: Hotels and Car Discounts

We’ll get into the political aspects of AMAC in a bit, but first the fun stuff. How well do AMAC’s discounts stack up against the AARP’s?

When it comes to passing savings onto members, we find that AMAC is still David to AARP’s Goliath. Both companies offer similar car rental discounts, but when it comes to hotels: AARP’s discounts trounce AMAC’s.

Car Rental Discounts

AMACAARP
BudgetUp to 25% off Up to 30% off
AvisUp to 25% off 10% off
ZipcarUp to 25% off43% off an annual Zipcar membership

Hotel Discounts

AMACAARP
Red RoofUp to 20% off
Motel 6 Up to 10% off
La Quinta Inns & Suites Up to 10% offUp to 10% off
Wyndham Up to 20% off Up to 20% off
Comfort Inn Up to 10% off
Comfort Suites Up to 10% off
Days Inn Up to 10% off
Double TreeUp to 5% off
Embassy Suites Up to 5% off
Hampton by Hilton Up to 10% off
Hilton Hotels Up to 5% off
Radisson Up to 10% off
Ramada Hotels Up to 10% off
Travelodge Up to 10% off
Wyndham Hotels Up to 10% off

Vacation Packages

AMACAARP
Collette $50 to $100 off select tours and cruises $50 to $100 off select tours and cruises
Grand European Tour $50 to $100 off select tours and cruises $100 off and a travel gift

Don’t take these discounts at face value. As we’ve written about in our article on reasons not to join the AARP, oftentimes you’ll actually find better prices using online flight aggregation sites like Kayak and Expedia or by calling the rental companies directly.

One dissatisfied AMAC member says, “I was a member and needed to rent a car. So I contacted AMAC and received a price of approximately $320. I then called the same company at our local airport and the price (for the same vehicle) was $110 cheaper.”

(Sadly, this is more common than you think. For example, airlines are notorious for using senior programs as marketing gimmicks without actually giving you cheaper fares).

Dental

Both AARP and AMAC have partnered with insurance carriers to offer dental insurance. AARP partners with Delta Dental Plans and AMAC partners with Bright Idea.

Note that AARP and AMAC don’t actually issue the insurance themselves. They simply set up a partnership with third parties and collect a commission whenever a member subscribes.

This also means you aren’t guaranteed the best insurance policy, so we always recommend checking with an independent agent for the best coverage. You never want to be pushed into a policy by a company with a financial incentive.

We pulled an AARP/Delta Dental quote for a zip code in Southern California below, but rates will vary depending on where you live.

As for the prices and details of the AMAC/Dental Delta plan: it’s a mystery to us. AMAC doesn’t publish any details about the plan. Instead, they ask that you call Bright Idea’s brokers to get that information. They also won’t give quotes to non-members, which is why we don’t have any numbers to give you.

Some AMAC members are understandably miffed that AMAC hides this information. One user comments on the site, “I don’t need a salesman. I need to see the plans. Lack of info on the site is a BIG red flag.”

AARP vs AMAC Roadside Assistance

There’s virtually no difference in the roadside assistance packages AARP and AMAC offers. Actually, there’s one slight difference: AARP offers a premium option that extends the number of miles they’ll tow you. (Did you know roadside assistance programs only

AMACAARP Row and TowAARP Premier
24 Hour SupportYesYesYes
Towing DistanceUp to 5 milesUp to 5 milesUp to 120 miles
Reimbursement if towing not availableYes (up to $120 reimbursed) Yes (up to $120 reimbursed) Yes (up to $260 reimbursed)
Total Paid Claims per Year334 for a single person
5 for a couple
7 for a family
Lockout ServiceKey replacement reimbursement: $25
Lock out services: $60 reimbursement
Key replacement reimbursement: $25
Lock out services: $60 reimbursement
Key replacement reimbursement: $25
Lock out services: $60 reimbursement
WinchingSupports SupportsSupports
Flat tire changeSupportsSupportsSupports
Emergency FuelDelivers $5 worth of gasDelivers $5 worth of gasDelivers $5 worth of gas

(Source: AMAC Membership Benefits Guide)

Since the basic plans are completely identical, we recommend going with the cheaper option: AMAC. AMAC Roadside Assistance plans start at $54/year. AARP’s basic “Row and Tow” plan is $64/year.

AARP vs AMAC Cell Phone Discounts

Consumer Cellular: AARP Members receive a 5% discount off your monthly fees and usage charges, a 30% discount off select accessories, plus an extended 45-day money back, risk-free guarantee.

Club Cellular: 5% discount off rates and accessories. You don’t need to sign a contract.

As we mentioned in our review of AARP benefits, you can actually find similar low-cost priced cell plans without a membership. For example, Google Fi supports unlimited calls and text and 2GBs of data at $39/month.

AARP and AMAC on Medicare

Consumer Cellular: AARP Members receive a 5% discount off your monthly fees and usage charges, a 30% discount off select accessories, plus an extended 45-day money back, risk-free guarantee.

Club Cellular: 5% discount off rates and accessories. You don’t need to sign a contract.

As we mentioned in our review of AARP benefits, you can actually find similar low-cost priced cell plans without a membership. For example, Google Fi supports unlimited calls and text and 2GBs of data at $39/month.

AARP and AMAC on Medicare

AARP is well known for its senior travel and restaurant discounts, but it is the non-profit’s political moves that are making headlines. Though AARP purports to be a nonpartisan organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of all seniors, they have quite the cash war chest for lobbying in DC.

In 2018, AARP spent over $8 million on federal lobbying, according to public filings.

Their most visible stance is their support for Obamacare, which the AMAC vehemently opposes it. AMAC actively lobbies to repeal Obamacare and to restore Medicare cuts. (To be fair, the AARP has also voiced concern about Medicare/Medicaid cuts).

This ruffled their member base and caused an exodus. Most seniors aren’t fans of Obamacare because the program cut $716 billion from Medicare to cover the costs of providing additional coverage to low-income Americans.

How AARP and AMAC Profit Off You

Some pundits say that AARP directly benefits from Medicare cuts because it partners with UnitedHealthcare to sell seniors Medigap insurance.

What is Medicare supplement insurance? Many people don’t realize that Medicare only covers 80% of medical costs. You must pay the remaining 20% out of pocket. To keep potentially sky-high medical costs down, most seniors turn to Medigap insurance. Medigap insurance simply supplements Medicare coverage to help lower costs.

What does this have to do with AARP and AMAC? Both organizations partner with insurance providers to sell insurance packages to their members. Though some members leave AARP because they don’t like that AARP makes a commission from insurance sales, you’ll find AMAC makes money the same way.

Their site clearly states, “The sales representative discussing the plan options with you is either employed or contracted by a Medicare Health Plan Carrier, Prescription Drug Plan Provider, or Insurance Carrier that is not the Federal Government, and they may be compensated based on your enrollment in a plan.”

In fact, in their FAQs, AMAC drafts a response to the question “Are you being compensated for offering insurance programs to your members? If so, what makes you any different than AARP?”. They write, “While we strive to provide quality discounted products and services to our valued members, our core purpose is to advocate for Americans aged 50+ on issues of extreme importance such as; Social Security, Taxes, Growth in Government, Medical Care, National Debt, and Immigration.”

Reasons Not to Buy Medigap through AMAC or AARP (Without Shopping Around)

For the vast majority of people over 65, getting Medicare supplemental coverage is a good financial decision.

You have many insurance options to choose from. Coverage and rates from insurance carriers vary dramatically state to state. That’s why it’s important to talk to an independent broker who knows what the most competitive plans are in your neck of the woods.

Since AARP only offers one policy (which is underwritten by UnitedHealthcare) and AMAC only partners with a few insurance companies, it’s important to find an independent broker who works with all insurance companies.
Otherwise, you might find yourself in the position Raven Asher did. Raven reports, “I joined AMAC after a friend recommended them, and had this experience: The Medicare supplements I purchased were higher than what I found on my own, thus I have dropped them. I am leaving them as I see no benefit.”

AMAC’s Lobbying and Politics

AMAC is only one of several senior organizations that have crept up in the past decade in reaction to (what they perceive as) AARP’s liberal policies. Other groups include the American Seniors Association and the 60 Plus Association.

What sets AMAC from the pack is the organization’s heavy emphasis on lobbying. They say, “One of the biggest differences between AMAC and other senior-focused organizations is our approach to advocacy.”

They take the following stance on these issues:

  • Healthcare
    • As should be abundantly clear now, AMAC doesn’t support Obamacare. They are “presently developing an alternative health system.” They support making Medicare more competitive.
  • Social Security
    • According to AMAC, they have developed a Social Security Guarantee reform plan that ensures the solvency of Social Security for 75 years without raising taxes
  • Abortion
    • AMAC is pro-life
  • Second Amendment
    • They support the second amendment
  • Taxes
    • AMAC supports tax cuts for all wage-owners
  • Illegal Immigration
    • AMAC states, “We believe in sensible immigration reform. We don’t believe in racial profiling or the harassment of legal immigrants.  AMAC supports the legal immigration process, including a requirement to learn the English language. AMAC does not believe in providing benefits for those who are in the United States illegally, and we support the use of E-Verify by all employers. AMAC believes that our borders should be strictly guarded and protected.”

AMAC Member Reviews

The reviews we found about AMAC are a mixed bag. Many people are happy to have an alternative that represents their values, while others are disappointed by the lack of transparency around insurance prices.

One member asks, “Where is the integrity of AMAC when all these people including me just want a hard copy of the Dental Plan coverage to see if it’s worth signing up for?”

Richard Baldwin similarly writes, “Why do I have to join to find out if your plans are what I need, only find out they are not. Now I’m a member of an organization I don’t want to be a member of.” He’s referring to the fact that AMAC does not provide Medigap insurance quotes to non-members.

Gene Moser writes, “All I know is I would be screwed if I did not have the supplemental insurance that AARP has for seniors on Medicare. They have picked up whatever Medicare did not pay. I’m a Tea Party-leaning person. But until someone comes up with better insurance, I’m stuck to use AARP.”

(Our note:  you actually have many Medicare supplement options to choose from. And depending on where you live, AARP/UnitedHealthcare might not be the cheapest option for you. Contact an independent broker who can shop around deals from multiple carriers).

Garry Baso says, “I joined AMAC because I felt AARP was becoming more and more liberal and against my beliefs”

One ex-AARP member writes, “We purchased AARP for 2 years. Found out they backed Obama care 2 months into the policy. Called AARP and told them to cancel our policy as we did not want it. Were told they would not return the money for the other 22 months that we were not insured. Just another example of how the big companies rip off us nobodies. AMAC could not be any worse than AARP.”

Conclusion

Is joining the AMAC worth it? It depends on your reasons. If you’re simply looking for discounts, we don’t think the organization is a good bang for the buck. They don’t offer nearly as many restaurant or hotel deals as AARP. They also don’t offer exclusive and well-regarded Medicare supplement insurance like AARP. Instead, they contract with insurance carriers and pass your information to third parties.

However, many members join because they want to belong to an organization whose values and politics are more closely aligned with their own. If you prioritize being part of an advocacy group that pushes for issues you believe in, then becoming a member may well be worth it.

Political affiliations aside, AMAC is surprisingly similar to AARP in one way. And it’s not a good one. AMAC purports to be a senior membership program, but the main way it makes money is by selling its members Medigap insurance policy. If you’re put off by the AARP’s aggressive marketing, you’ll find the same issue with AMAC.

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