If you are trying to figure out if a Good Sam membership or KOA membership is better value for your RV lifestyle, this article is for you.
I’ve tried both of these memberships over the years and heard a lot (second hand) about other RVers experiences. I’ll say it up front that having at least one of these memberships will easily pay for itself within a year (or season) of travel. In other words, get one!
That said, WHICH one can be a different story based on a whole host of particulars regarding your situation and what type of benefits you value (and have actually used / needed in the past).
Without further delay, let’s get right into it.
My TL;DR: If you really just need a cheap campground discount program, I guess KOA is fine for $36/year. It just doesn’t really compare to the value of Good Sam’s roadside assistance, member discounts and – most importantly – their 2,000+ certified campgrounds compared to KOA’s 500 in North America. If I had to pick just one, Good Sam is the one I’d go with.
The Main Differences Between Good Sam and KOA Membership
There’s a lot of places I could start, but in the interests of getting it all on the table, here’s how I see the key differences:
- Discounts on Stays: A KOA (Kampgrounds of America) membership, known as KOA Rewards, offers a 10% discount on daily registration fees at KOA campgrounds (about 500 throughout North America), whereas a Good Sam membership provides a 10% discount at over 2,400 Good Sam RV parks and campgrounds across the United States and Canada.
- Annual Fee: The KOA Rewards membership has an annual fee, which typically offers additional value through reward points and other campground-specific benefits, whereas Good Sam membership also has an annual fee but often includes wider-ranging discounts beyond just campgrounds, such as fuel discounts and savings on RV supplies.
- Point System: KOA Rewards members earn points for every dollar spent on eligible stays and services at KOA campgrounds, which can be redeemed for discounts on future stays, whereas Good Sam does not offer a point system for campground stays but provides discounts and other benefits through its membership.
- Fuel Discounts: KOA does not offer fuel discounts with its membership, whereas Good Sam members can enjoy fuel discounts at participating Pilot and Flying J locations, which can be significant for RVers who travel frequently.
- Camping Focus vs. Broad RV Lifestyle Support: KOA membership is primarily focused on enhancing the camping experience with benefits and discounts at KOA campgrounds, whereas Good Sam membership offers a broader range of benefits that cater to various aspects of the RV lifestyle, including discounts on RV insurance, extended warranty services, and more.
- Retail Discounts: While KOA Rewards membership focuses more on camping and campground-related benefits, Good Sam membership offers discounts at Camping World, Gander RV & Outdoors, and Overton’s, providing savings on RV parts, supplies, and accessories.
- Free Night of Camping: KOA Rewards members are eligible for a free night of camping during KOA Rewards Appreciation Weekend at participating KOA Campgrounds, whereas Good Sam does not offer an equivalent free camping night but focuses on year-round discounts and benefits.
The folks at Good Sam let us know they are offering a discount for our readers with code "new_member" which is pre-filled using our link here (helps keep this blog running). A 3 year membership costs just $99. We actually USE Good Sam, long before they partnered with us!
Membership Cost and Benefits Compared
The membership offers a host of benefits, including protection plans (insurance) for RVers, trip planning, emergency road service, and access to campground directories and trip planning apps.
There are additional fees for emergency roadside assistance protection, which vary depending on the type of camping vehicle to be covered.
KOA’s rewards membership starts at just $36 per year.
Good Sam is really a FULL membership program (and is priced as such), whereas KOA is more focused on campground discounts and partner discounts.
KOA doesn’t offer a direct roadside assistance program, but does offer a discounted partnership with via Drive America for $124.95 annual “RoadHelp” coverage.
Good Sam vs KOA Campground Network
Good Sam also extends its services to campgrounds. Campgrounds pay a fee to be evaluated and identified as a Good Sam Campground, use the Good Sam reservations system, and display the Good Sam membership logo.
Currently, over 2000 campgrounds across the United States and Canada are authorized to display the Good Sam campground sign. They offer a 10% discount on the nightly rate for club members staying in their parks.
KOA, on the other hand, only has about 500 member campgrounds in North America, meaning it may be more difficult to find local options as you go.
KOA also offers different kinds of campgrounds that are not necessarily RV-centric (although ALL KOA campgrounds need to be able to accommodate RVs). Cabins and tent camping might be nice for a change of pace, but don’t directly service the RV crowd like Good Sam does.
Good Sam vs KOA Discounts Comparison
Another way to look at these two programs is for the discounts they both offer. It’s probably not the MAIN reason to sign up, but every little bit helps.
Good Sam Extra Benefits:
- Camping World Benefits: Because they are owned by Camping World, members get special member deals, participate in the rewards program, get free shipping on all orders, and dump station privileges (very underrated benefit… if you know, you KNOW).
- RV Magazine: 12 issues at a special low rate.
- Rotating Deals on Dining, Shopping, Travel
- Tire Discounts: 10% off RV tire purchases with free shipping to your service location.
- Trip Planner App
- Fuel Discounts: 5 cents on every gallon of gas / 10 cents diesel at Pilot Flying J locations. 15% off propane at Camping World.
- Cash Back Credit Card: Good Sam has a 5% cash back credit card for members.
- Rewards Points: Good Sam members also receive additional rewards points when shopping at Camping World or Overton’s (both online and in-store).
KOA Extra Benefits:
- Goodyear Tires Discounts: KOA members get 15% off tires purchased
- RV Mattress: Members can save 30% off select RV mattresses as KOA members.
KOA’s Drive America partnership also isn’t a better deal than Good Sam pricing wise at $124/year AND Drive America doesn’t have much of a reputation or service footprint compared to Good Sam’s network.
Other Alternatives to KOA and Good Sam
There are some other RV membership programs with similar aspects to both KOA and Good Sam.
- Coach-Net: Coach-Net is a “premium” version of Good Sam. Service is a bit more reliable, BUT cost is 2X+ Good Sam. A good option if you are a full-time RVer. Coach-Net also doesn’t have the same discounts and extra benefits like Good Sam (outside of the service plans). See how Coach-Net compares directly to Good Same here.
- AAA: Most will be familiar with the AAA auto clubs and they do have service coverage for RVs and 5th wheels, but the lack of SPECIALIZED coverage means lower service quality and – as with all things AAA – you are at the mercy of the local garages in network. AAA DOES have some great extra perks, like discounts and travel promotions. See how AAA compares to Good Sam.
- Progressive: Progressive probably has the best RV roadside assistance plans of the “traditional” insurance companies. It’s ok if you have a great deal or existing bundle, but lacks most of the ancillary benefits of a Good Sam or Coach-Net.
So Which Do I recommend?
My Bottom Line: Honestly, they are both nice to have, but the better VALUE is definitely with Good Sam here. There’s just more benefits, discounts, and at the end of the day MORE CAMPGROUNDS to choose from. It’s not that KOA is a bad deal (they have some great sites), it’s just that you’ll rarely just find yourself near a KOA site and they don’t offer the additional roadside assistance or discount programs that Good Sam has.
KOA is still a nice a option to have and at $36 per year, it’s not a HUGE outlay. BUT, if I had to choose one I’d go with Good Sam.