No vehicle is completely immune to the risk of a flat tire or a dead battery, which can be inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst. Roadside assistance does the work of locating and dispatching a tow truck or service vehicle for you, which comes in handy at odd hours or in unfamiliar locations. A service call, such as a tire change or jump-start, may also cost less if made through a roadside assistance plan than one booked directly.
Here’s where to look for roadside assistance coverage.
Roadside assistance and motor clubs
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Membership clubs like AAA offer standalone roadside assistance plans at various price points and coverage levels. Premium plans usually include longer towing distances and additional perks compared to basic options. You can expect to pay anywhere from around $60 to $130 per year for a plan from a provider like AAA, AARP, Good Sam, or Better World Club.
Roadside assistance may be an easy add-on to your car insurance policy. Most insurers provide coverage for basic benefits like towing and battery jump-starts—some have additional perks like included labor, winching, and rental car coverage. Costs range from around $12 to $60 per year on top of your policy premium. Allstate also offers a standalone plan and pay-per-use coverage, even if you aren’t an auto insurance customer.
Credit card issuers
Certain credit cards offer roadside assistance coverage as a benefit to cardholders without needing to subscribe to a separate membership such as AAA. Credit card roadside assistance perks are generally pay-per-use, and the coverage varies by card. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve covers up to $50 per event for up to four events per year, while Chase Freedom Unlimited cardholders pay a pre-negotiated fee for each service event.
Cell phone providers
Like auto insurers, some telecom companies offer roadside assistance to customers as a mobile plan add-on. Verizon, for example, charges $4.99 per line per month and allows four service claims per year. However, while short-distance towing is included at no charge, other services, such as a tire change or jump start, cost nearly $100 per incident. T-Mobile offers eligible customers a one-year AAA membership.
Apple also recently announced that its Emergency SOS feature now allows users to obtain AAA roadside assistance via satellite. While this feature is free for two years upon activation, the services provided are pay-per-use unless you have a AAA membership.
Some car manufacturers offer roadside assistance as part of the warranty on new and certified pre-owned vehicles, so ask about this benefit if you’re purchasing from a dealer. Extended warranties from companies like Carchex and CarShield also include roadside assistance coverage.
Questions to ask when choosing a roadside assistance plan
The first thing to consider when shopping for roadside assistance is what services are included. Plans typically cover towing, lockouts, jump-starts, tire changes, and fuel delivery, though the specifics vary across plans, and some limit towing distances and the number of service calls allowed per year. Premium benefits include winching, trip interruption (such as reimbursement for food and lodging), replacement battery installation, and rekeying.
You should also determine whether your plan will cover services provided to additional drivers and family members as well as rental cars.
Price is another factor when shopping for roadside assistance coverage. If you have a credit card that offers pay-per-use services, you get the peace of mind for free and can simply hope you won’t need to use the benefit. Note that while an auto insurance or mobile plan add-on may be cheaper upfront, using your coverage may cost you more in the end compared to a comprehensive membership plan.