Planning a trip to Europe with your motorhome, campervan or caravan? Want to use campsites and are able to travel outside of peak season? Then the ACSI camping card is perfect for you.
What is ACSI Camping Card?
ACSI is a company which works alongside a network of thousands of campsites across Europe (including the UK).
In return for buying membership to the club each year, you get access to huge discounts on the cost of using the campsites, as long as you are travelling outside of peak season. These campsites are available for motorhomers, campervanners, caravanners, cars with tent camping and anyone else who uses a campsite.
What does ACSI stand for?
Great question! They don't even have it on their website anymore- they just use ACSI. After much digging, I believe it stands for Auto Camper Service International.
It is a Dutch company which was founded in 1965 and wanted to make things easier for people enjoying Europe road trips by bringing campsites in multiple countries together to offer discounts. Now, there are around 10,000 campsites in the guide- and more being added regularly!
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Ok, honest talk time. USING the ACSI card is easy-peasy lemon squeezy (we'll get to that next.) But BUYING the card is a pain in the backside. For some reason, their website confused the heck out of me. I think it's because if you type ‘ACSI camping' into Google you get about 7 results- and it's not clear which one you should buy.
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If you own a motorhome, caravan or campervan, this is probably the option you want. The ACSI Camping card is a guide and a discount card, which shows you up to 3,000 campsites in Europe where you can get a discount of up to 60% in early and low season. It's a great alternative to free motorhome parking and overnight stopovers in Europe.
You use the guide to find campsites where you can stay for as little as 12€/ night and the card ensures you'll pay less than the campsites lowest advertised rate.
When you buy the CampingCard ACSI guide, you get access to the website, which shows all details and rates for participating campsites. For a small additional fee, you can also get access to the CampingCard ACSI app, which is simple to use whilst you're already on the road.
And no- it's not the same thing as the Camping Card International, which is a similar scheme but a lot more expensive
ACSI camping card fee- what does it cost?
In 2021, there are a couple of purchase options:
- If you buy a subscription (which renews automatically), you'll get the CampingCard guidebook and the app for just 12.95€
- A non-renewing purchase for the CampingCard guidebook and app is 16.95€
- If you already own the CampingCard guidebook and would like access to the app, you can purchase it for 3.59€
NOTE: The CampingCard ACSI is valid for one calendar year and always renews on 01 January. So, if you buy it in November or December, you'll have to buy it AGAIN in January if you want to use it the following year. So be careful when you purchase it.
Where can I buy the ACSI Camping card membership?
The best place to buy the CampingCard ACSI is here.
How to use the CampingCard ACSI
The CampingCard ACSI is very simple to use- you need to take it with you on your trip and show it on arrival at the reception of your campsite. You'll then be given the discount.
Only one person in the vehicle needs to be a member. You must have a card valid for the year you are in.
How to use the ACSI CampingCard App
The app is also really straightforward to use- you open it and either search around your location or search around your planned destination. You can click on the icons and read more about the campsite and the facilities.
TOP TIP: You need to download the correct areas in order to use the app offline. Try to do this BEFORE you leave otherwise it will chew up a lot of your data. (Learn more about getting internet in your camper here)
Where have we used our ACSI CampingCard?
Whilst touring in our motorhome, we've used our ACSI card all over the place.
- We stayed by the beach in Croatia, which was MAGICAL.
- Used it at Lake Bled campsite in Slovenia
- We've used it numerous times whilst touring France in our motorhome
- and many more!
ACSI- other membership types
And then things start to get a little more confusing. ACSI also has a website called ACSI Eurocampings. This is a site where you can search nearly 10,000 European campsites which are all inspected by ACSI and therefore you can be reasonably confident in their quality.
BUT- not all of those campsites will accept an ACSI card for a discount. And that's the part which confuses many people (including me!) So it's a great search tool, but be aware that you might not be able to make a saving. Although, if you're only able to travel in school holidays/ peak season, it won't make any difference.
ACSI Great Little Campsites (with app)
Bear with me, because there's more! ACSI also have a website and app called ‘Great Little Campsites'.
This is a collection of over 2000 small campsites and motorhome pitches around the UK and Europe. Facilities vary, from rustic to those with swimming pools! This is a great compromise if you want to get away from noisy and overcrowded campsites but still want to the security of a site instead of an aire in Europe (or even motorhome wild camping!)
You can get access to the app for just 3€ for the year here (but remember, not all these small campsites will accept the ACSI discount CampingCard.
Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?
ACSI Club ID card
And then, there's the ACSI Club ID- which is NOT the same thing as a CampingCard membership. The Club ID allows you to get discounts on items in the ACSI shop, plus some discounts on days out and camping equipment.
One of the big advantages of an ACSI Club ID card is that you can keep your passport safely tucked away: almost 8,800 ACSI campsites accept the card in place of your ID, so you don't need to hand over your passport on check-in. It also insures you for 3rd party liability.
The Club ID costs 4.95€/ year (2021 price) and you can buy it here
And lastly, there's Suncamp, where you can book camping and motorhome holidays which are family-orientated, staying at locations with kids clubs and many facilities to give them an amazing holiday. We've never used these, so can't recommend them, but you'll see that option on the ACSI website if you're interested.
What are the benefits of joining ACSI for motorhome/ camper owners?
There are some HUGE benefits to purchasing the CampingCard ACSI for anyone who enjoys travelling to Europe and plans to use campsites, even if it's just occasionally. Heck, you can save more than the cost of membership in just 2 nights!
Let's take our motorhome tour of France as an example.
But there have been several places where we've struggled to find a wild camping spot, or an aire- especially on the French Riviera. On those instances, we used an ACSI campsite and saved about €10 each night! That adds up to a lot of savings over the duration of a motorhome trip.
Another thing we like is that, unlike with other motorhome clubs, you can still use the campsites even if you aren't a member- you'd just pay full price. So we can arrange to meet friends or family at a certain campsite without issue.
When can you use ACSI CampingCard?
There are some small differences on when sites will accept the ACSI card (it's clearly marked in the guide for each place), but generally speaking many campsites will accept CampingCard ACSI most of the year and even as far into the summer as beginning of July.
The peak season times where it is NOT accepted generally include Easter (and the week either side of it if the schools in Europe are off), and the month of August. Some bank holiday weekends are also excluded.
Do you have to book ACSI campsites in advance?
The whole point of the scheme is to encourage camping outside of high season and peak times. Therefore, by definition, it shouldn't be too busy. I think nearly every ACSI site we've used, we've just turned up- which is good, because we rarely plan our motorhome trips too far in advance!
But if there's a specific site you want to stay at, or you're meeting people there, then it's worth booking, just to be safe.
ACSI camping card review- is it worth membership?
If you're going to be travelling around Europe and using campsites and you're able to travel outside peak season, then yes- absolutely!
If you can ONLY travel during school holidays/ peak season than no, ACSI is not right for you.
Also, many campsites close at end of September/ October and don't re-open until March. If you're only using your motorhome in winter, or going motorhome skiing, then ACSI might not be right for you either (although there are a few campsites which stay open all year).
Planning a European Road trip? These posts might help:
- Driving in Europe – everything you need to bring
- Driving in Europe after BREXIT– essential changes to know about
- How to find free overnight stopovers for motorhomes and campervans
- How to get LPG in Europe
See all our Europe travel tips here