Most RVers look for ways to save money when traveling. After all, the more you save, the longer you can keep touring and camping in your RV lifestyle.
Although there are numerous RV memberships available, Passport America and Good Sam are two discount camping clubs that most often come to mind.
With both offering discounts, which one is better?
Following is a review of Passport America and Good Sam based on our experiences.
Passport America has more than 1,600 member campgrounds across the US and also some in Canada and Mexico. Its annual registration fee is $44 a year and offers a standard 50 percent discount to all members. Thus, you will save the cost of the membership in a very short time.
You can save further by selecting a multi-year membership plan. Passport America’s 2 year pricing is at $79 and $109 for 3 years which is at 10 percent and 17 percent discount respectively. It also offers lifetime membership at $349 and with this you don’t have to pay annually for renewals. They also have a reliable iPhone application that enables you to find an RV park at any time.
However, each park has its own stay limitations regarding the availability of the discount—when it’s available and the number of nights. Some parks are significantly restrictive but most are not.
Don’t expect to get the discount during peak travel times. What you will get is a 50 percent discount for one or more night during low season or under used nights of the week (non-weekends).
Double-check the RV park profile to see if they are currently honoring the discount. It’s always best to call ahead and confirm.
Overview: Passport America offers a 50 percent discount at 1,600+ participating campgrounds
Yearly membership cost: $44/year
Savings: 50 percent at each participating campground.
Number of participating campgrounds: 1,600+
- Great discounts—50 percent is a ton of savings
- Large number of available campgrounds
- Pays for itself with two or three stays
- Website and app easy to use
- Some parks are less than desirable
- Stays can be limited by number of days/season/day of week
Good Sam is easily the most popular and well-known of the clubs. Good Sam offers much more than just campground discounts. However, the discount on Good Sam-approved parks is nothing to write home about—you only get 10 percent off the 2,100+ campgrounds in their network.
However, this membership is still a good value. Good Sam also offers discounts on RV-related items. They discount propane at Camping World, free dump at select Camping World stores, discount on gasoline and diesel at Flying J stores, and discounts on Camping World purchases.
The annual registration fee is $29 and offers members a 10 percent discount at participating parks. You can save further by selecting a 2 year or 3 year plan. It will cost you $55 for 2 years and $79 for 3 years.
Good Sam also sells an annual RV Parks & Campground Directory filled with great information that will assist you in your travels and selecting RV parks and campgrounds.
Good Sam also offers travel protection policies and road service. You don’t need to have an active membership to purchase these services.
Overview: Get 10 percent off your stay at all Good Sam parks + discounts at Camping World and Pilot Flying J
Yearly membership cost: $29/year
Savings: 10 percent at each participating campground
Number of participating campgrounds: 2,100+
- 10 percent off 2,100+ campgrounds
- Multiple benefits other than just campground discounts
- Good Sam triple rating system ranks each park by completeness of facilities, cleanliness/physical characteristics of restrooms and showers, and visual appeal/environmental quality so you can know more about the park before arriving
- You won’t have an issue finding a Good Sam park wherever you travel—they are everywhere
- 10 percent savings means you need to use the discount at least 10 times to start saving money
Comparing Passport America and Good Sam
Let’s compare each of these on different parameters. This will give you some idea and based on what you feel is important, you can decide for yourself.
In terms of annual membership cost, Good Sam is cheaper at $29 per year as compared to Passport America that costs $44 per year.
When it comes to saving, Passport America is the better deal. Passport America provides a 50 percent discount. On the other hand, Good Sam only provides a 10 percent.
Number of participating campgrounds
Good Sam has more than 2,100 parks while Passport America has about 1,600 parks.
Most of the Good Sam campgrounds have a generally higher level of upkeep and cleanliness.
Good Sam ranks every park by cleanliness, professionalism, and friendliness to familiarize you with more about the park before arriving.
In general, I would recommend Good Sam club parks. I would also recommend purchasing their RV Travel Guide. Although their parks are generally of lesser quality I would also recommend Passport America. It helps travel to popular destinations off-season and a convenient way to save money during one-night RV camping. For the record we are members of Good Sam and Passport America.
Other discount camping clubs
RV camping is hugely popular and that means the market is large. For this reason you will find other RV membership and discounts clubs competing with Good Sam and Passport America. Many offer different services that you can combine with the above two options.
Escapees (SKP) RV club has celebrated over 40 years in business (founded in 1978) and offers much more than campground discounts and is well known as an RV lifestyle club. They offer mail-forwarding services, campground membership and discounts, RVer advocacy, Xscapers club, rallies, meetups, CARE, and educational offerings including a boot camp program.
Escapees members can benefit from their three different types of RV camping: Rainbow parks, Co-op parks, and discounts on 800+ private RV parks. They have seven of their own Rainbow parks and 11 co-op parks. Your membership provides a 15-50 percent discount at 800+ other commercial parks. Membership is $49.95 per year.
Harvest Hosts is the best RV membership for experiencing, well, experiences! They offer up unique places to park for the night—primarily dry camping stays at wineries, farms, breweries, museums, and golf courses. In exchange, it is implied that you patronize the place you visit, if applicable. However, the bonus is that you get a fun and unique experience and a camping spot for the night. Harvest Hosts has over 4,504 locations you can experience. The program also provides an opportunity to support local businesses and meet the people who run them.
This membership club goes for $99 per year. At time of writing a 15 percent discount was available.
Boondockers Welcome is another unique RV membership club that connects members with free RV parking on private property. Boondockers Welcome is pretty much like it sounds. Locals invite RVers to park on their property, share their stories, and get a good night’s rest. This is a perfect chance to meet new people and make memories. For $79 per year you can boondock at over 3390+ locations with no camping fees.
Thousand Trails offers multiple plans each with different options and discounts. Knowing if this membership club would benefit you depends on how you camp and where you want to stay. There are five Thousand Trails zones: Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast. Each zone includes between eight and 23 campgrounds. New members can opt to include additional zones in their membership.
Pick one of five regions and pay $495. At time of writing a $175 discount was available. Add additional regions for $90. Get 100+ more campgrounds nationwide with The Trails Collection for $370.
Kampgrounds of America (KOA)
Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is the largest system of privately held campgrounds with more than 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Their huge number of parks means that most RVers will stay at a KOA at some point in their travels.
KOA has its own rewards program and does not participate in other RV discount clubs. The KOA Value Kard membership offers a 10 percent discount off your rate at all KOA campgrounds. Members also earn rewards points which can be redeemed for free nights at KOA RV membership parks.
Since KOA parks do not accept other RV membership discounts such as Good Sam or Passport America, KOA Rewards is the only way to obtain a reduced rate at their campgrounds.
KOA Value Card membership is $36 per year.
With both passport America and Good Sam providing a way to save some money, it is my recommendation that RVers join both membership clubs especially if you spend considerable time on the road.
However, if you had to pick one membership club based on the amount of savings provided, it would be Passport America. Now that you have gone through our camping club review, the rest is up to you to choose. Happy trails!
There is adventure in any trip; it’s up to us to seek it out.