You have your gas card to earn points for free gas. You have your grocery and convenience store card to take advantage of weekly savings and BOGO deals. Do you have your camping club discount card like Passport America to save money on campground rates?
The average RV campground rates range between $25 to $80 a night. Bigger resort-style parks that are near major tourist destinations like Disney World can be higher if you want a premium site with full hookups and a cement pad to park on. What if there was a way to cut those campground rates in half?
Passport America is one of the top discount camping clubs that give their members 50% off normal rates at participating member campgrounds. The program has a small annual entry fee and you can use it as often as you like.
Before we explore the details of the program and if Passport America is worth the money, check out our video review.
How Passport America Works
Passport America has over 1,600 campgrounds that participate in its program across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Your membership includes:
- A membership card with an individual ID number
- A printed catalog of all the participating campgrounds that’s updated yearly
- A quarterly newsletter via email with important updates and other information
- Access to the online member’s only portal and mobile device application
- Customer support via service line and email
One of the first questions asked is how much is the Passport America membership and are there any additional fees. With this discount camping program, there’s a one-time entrance fee. They don’t ask or blindside you with any additional fees. You can also apply for a multi-year or the Passport America lifetime membership program.
- $44 for 1 year
- $79 for 2 years
- $109 for 3 years
- $179 for 5 years
- $399 for the lifetime membership
For some perspective, after using the Passport America discount for 2 to 3 nights, the discount pays for the one-year membership. If you choose the lifetime membership, after 30 nights, the discount pays for itself as well. The 5 year and lifetime memberships are Passport America special offers that won’t be available much longer.
If you choose the one year plan and decide to continue, Passport America membership renewal doesn’t have a special rate. It’s another $44 per year or whatever multi-year plan you choose.
You do save on the membership fees through the multi-year plans. For example, If you choose the two-year plan, instead of $88 dollars, you save $9 since the plan is only $79. The bigger the plan, the more you save in the membership fee.
How Passport America Pays For Itself
Passport America claims it pays for itself in the first 2-3 nights you use it. It does this through the discounted rate you receive when your camping. The savings you receive will add up to the membership fee and more.
For example, as we mentioned above, the average campground rate ranges between $25- $80 a night. If you were to stay at a campground that has a normal rate of $40 a night for three nights, it would add up to $120.
With the membership discount, those three nights change to $20 a night. Your total cost for those nights is $60, and you saved sixty dollars. That savings just paid for your membership fee and gave you another $16 to use towards your vacation fun. The same equation holds true for multi-year memberships.
Using the Passport America Discount
Using your Passport America membership benefits is an easy process. Look up the campground you want, give them a call with your membership ID number, and your discounted rate is locked in. There are some key points you need to know, so we’ll take you through the process step-by-step.
1. Look Up The Campground You Want
Use the printed catalog, website, or mobile app to find the campground you want. As you can see from the example below, you’ll find the contact information, rates, amenities, highlights, and directions.
Focus on the Important Campground Notes. This section tells you the limitations the campground has set for those using the program. To be clear, these limitations are set by the campground, they’re not Passport America restrictions.
Campgrounds benefit from the Passport America program by drawing in business by participating in the program. It costs less for them to join than advertise on a billboard, and gives better results. Campground membership allows them to set limits on how guests can use their Passport America benefits. The notes section tells you about their limits and rules people look for:
- Limit how many consecutive days a guest can receive the discount
- What days of the week are eligible
- Specific months, holidays, or special events are ineligible
- General campground rules concerning pets, minimum nights required, and other important information
Many campgrounds do accept drive-up accommodations upon availability. While reservations are always preferred (unless otherwise stated), this is a great alternative to boondocking.
2. Making Your Reservation
Once you’ve chosen the campground through the website, mobile app, or catalog, call them on the phone. Passport America doesn’t allow you to make the reservation through their website. In the age of the internet, this can seem archaic, but in actuality talking to a live human being can be a real benefit.
When you talk to the campground’s representative, let them know that you’re a Passport America member. They’ll ask you for your member ID number. When they enter it into their system, it will lock-in your discounted rate for the applicable nights.
RVBlogger Tip: Phone Conversations Are Always Better: Every RVer’s situation is unique. When you’re making your reservation, a best practice is to always phone it in. You never know what extra considerations you can receive unless you ask.
If you have bigger dogs that need more exercise, they may have a space available closer to the dog park. They may have a campsite that’s more isolated from others if you prefer a more quiet experience. For those camping with friends, you have a better chance of getting campsites next to each other.
Campgrounds rely on positive customer reviews on websites like The Dyrt, Google Reviews, and others. If you enjoyed your experience and/or they helped you out, make sure you spend a few minutes giving them a great review to let others in the RV community know how great they were to you.
3. Level of Campsite
Some people may think that a discounted rate means they’ll receive a lower level campsite. If you’re looking for a premium level campsite that has full hookups and a cement pad to park on, the Passport America discount won’t automatically seclude you to a primitive space on dirt without any connections.
You can reserve the premium site at the 50% discounted rate. Before you call for your reservation, make sure you read the important notes section on the campground’s listing. Premium sites may not be available if they are specifically listed as a limitation or they’re not available at the time you’re making your reservation.
Passport America Trip Planner on the App
There are many ways to plan your navigation to your destination. Some of the more popular tools are:
- Google Maps
- AAA TRIPTIK
- RV Trip Wizard
- The Next Exit website or book
- Go Pet Friendly
- Your Favorite Atlas
Each one gives you great information on how to get to your destination and what’s on the way. Passport America has a trip planner exclusive for members. If you’re on a multi-day trip, you can discover the many participating campgrounds on your route that will display on the Passport America Map.
Through the Passport America app, you enter your starting point and your endpoint. Their system will then display the campgrounds you can receive their discount all the way through. Many who prefer not to boondock, or need a break from parking lot dry camping can take advantage of this feature to change out their holding tanks and get a peaceful night’s sleep.
Many participating campgrounds do accept drive-in stays upon availability. A good practice is to call when you’re about an hour or two away to find out if they have room for you. Weekdays (Monday-Thursday) are usually your best chance for success.
The Pros and Cons of Passport America
- Passport America works for the whole country: You can use this discount program throughout the entire United States, parts of Canada, and Mexico. It doesn’t break the country up into regions or have any “no-fly zones.”
- Limitations are set by the campgrounds, not Passport America: Any limitations set are the responsibility of the campground, not Passport America. This includes blackout periods, number of qualified days, days of the week, and other parameters. If you have a problem with them, speak to the campground staff to work the issue out.
- No “Home” Campground: Passport America doesn’t require you to declare a primary campground. It isn’t like a timeshare, where you are limited to one campground. You can visit any of the 1,600+ participating campgrounds as many times as you want.
- Referral program earns you money: If you refer a friend to Passport America, you will receive $10 per friend. If you successfully sign up a campground, you will earn $50 for your efforts.
- 50% without fine print: The discount off the eligible campground rate is 50%. It’s not 10%, a discount upon conditions, or any other hidden agenda.
- Low entrance fee: For a one-year membership, it’s $44. There aren’t additional fees.
- Campgrounds are indiscriminate: Participating campgrounds are of different quality levels, located in various locations, and aren’t reviewed on Passport America. If you’re unfamiliar with a campground you’re looking at, you may want to check other review websites to determine if its right for you. Passport America does have a testimonial section for each campground. It’s relatively new and members haven’t fully utilized it.
- Participating campgrounds are independently owned: Passport America participating campgrounds are privately owned. Public parks and franchised locations don’t participate in this discount club.
- Updated information is online only: The website and mobile app show new listings as they come. Members receive quarterly newsletters making them aware of the new updates. Hard print catalogs reflect new information once a year when they are republished.
- Passport America membership doesn’t guarantee or give you preferential treatment for reservations: Membership allows you to receive the discount on your reservation upon availability only. Once you have a reservation you’re all set.
- Passport America works for members only: If you’re using your membership with a group of friends, the discount works for one RV and one campsite. If you’re friends and family are regular RVers, this may be a great opportunity to take advantage of the referral program.
- Tent campers can take advantage of the program: Passport America has a separate list specifically for those that enjoy the #TentLife. As members, you can search for discounted rates for tent camping at participating campgrounds.
Is Passport America Discount Camping Club Right For You?
Most everyone who enjoys the RV lifestyle will enjoy the advantages of Passport America. It’s easy to use, very affordable, and benefits all categories of camping. Whether you’re a part-timer or full-timer, it’s unrestricted camping discount is great for all.
Those that haven’t built up their own portfolio of favorite campgrounds will want to rely on customer review websites before making a reservation at one of the 1,600 participating campgrounds. Since Passport America doesn’t conduct its own rating system, you’ll want to make sure the campground meets your expectations beforehand.
There are many ways to determine what’s the best Passport America membership. Some like the test-drive method by starting with the one-year method. Others who know they’re in it for the long-haul will jump in with multi-year memberships. Whatever you decide, Passport America will help you keep making those family memories affordable and keep you out on the road.