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AAA tests program to allow California users to get Real ID

July 14, 2021
3 min read
AAA tests program to allow California users to get Real ID
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated. It was originally published July 14, 2021.


Getting a Real ID just got a little bit easier for travelers living in California, as AAA begins a pilot program this month to allow members to skip the lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to a release announcing the partnership.

Starting later this month, AAA members can choose from 19 regional auto club locations throughout Southern California to ensure their driver's license is Real ID-compliant by May 3, 2023, ABC7 reported.

The AAA-DMV pilot is the first of its kind and is specific to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

AAA, a federation of independent motor clubs, may roll out similar programs in the future.

"This is a pilot program between the CA DMV and the Auto Club and specific to Southern California," Jeffrey Spring, a spokesperson for AAA California, said via email. "If a similar program begins in other states, it will be between the local AAA club and that state’s DMV."

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In April, the Department of Homeland Security extended the Real ID deadline from Oct. 1, 2021, to address a DMV backlog due to pandemic-related closures and capacity limits. Congress passed the Real ID Act to provide for increased security after 9/11.

"Beginning May 3, 2023, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel," the DHS announced in a release.

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Read more: The Real ID deadline is being pushed back (again) until 2023

As TPG previously reported, you will need a Real ID to fly unless you plan to travel with your passport domestically. All 50 states and Washington, D.C., are issuing Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, but that doesn't necessarily mean you will automatically receive one, so we suggest taking a DHS quiz to see if yours is compliant.

AAA hopes the program will "streamline" the Real ID process and ultimately make it easier for applicants.

“The DMV continues to streamline its processes and incorporate technology to become more mobile and better serve its customers through more convenient service options,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said in a press statement. "We hope our partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California will prompt its members to get their REAL ID now and not wait until the last minute.”

"They suggested that we make it available to help make that a reality, and so that's why we formed this partnership to extend our DMV services to REAL ID, and we're very, very pleased and excited to be able to offer that," Mike Johnson, the senior vice president of member services for AAA of Southern California, told ABC7.

Read more: Everything you need to know about getting a Real ID

AAA's program does not allow you to bypass the DMV entirely, as members will still be required to make an appointment on the California DMV website. The cost varies by state, ranging from approximately $10 to $85 to get a compliant ID. In California, it's $38 for both a Real ID or regular license.

Featured image by Bloomberg via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
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  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.