Roadside assistance ensures that you and your vehicle are covered in the event of emergency car trouble — and it's surprisingly affordable. You can get roadside assistance from auto insurance companies, cell phone providers, car manufacturers and credit card providers.
This article outlines how to find the best roadside assistance program, including:
What to ask yourself when choosing a roadside assistance service
The ideal roadside assistance plan is different for everyone. Before researching and contacting companies to ask about their roadside assistance programs, ask yourself the following questions:
What is covered?
Most companies provide basic roadside assistance services like jump starts, flat-tire changes, towing, gas delivery and lockout assistance. But some companies restrict the distance they will tow your car, or they'll only pay for emergency services up to a certain price limit. After reaching the limit, you will have to pay additional rates to use these services.
Always take the time to familiarize yourself with the terms of your roadside assistance program to see any limitations to what is covered and to know what kinds of protections you have.
Is it easy for me to ask for assistance?
Service is key for roadside assistance. If your car breaks down miles away from home, you're upset enough. You want to ensure that your vehicle is taken care of when you're in a rut. If the service provided by your company is poor, the process of getting your vehicle back home may be extra tedious and stressful. Even if the rates are inexpensive, it might not be worth it if it's in exchange for bad service quality.
Most companies have apps that make it easy for you to call and ask for assistance within minutes. You don't want to find yourself stuck on the side of the road, spending more than a few minutes trying to solve your car issue.
What kind of vehicle am I trying to cover?
Each company has certain restrictions regarding the types of vehicles covered by roadside assistance. For instance, if you have roadside assistance through Visa's cardholder benefits, you can't cover any vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds, which includes many RVs. Additionally, not all companies offer coverage for motorcycles.
When shopping around for a roadside assistance plan, make sure that the company covers your particular vehicle.
Where can you get roadside assistance?
Roadside assistance is available through your insurer, cell phone provider, credit card company and car dealer. They each have their own benefits, downsides and requirements. For example, some companies only provide coverage for vehicles under a certain weight, or do not extend coverage to RVs or motorcycles.
Therefore, it's important that you consider all your options before signing on with a company.
Your auto insurance company
A common way to get roadside assistance is through an auto insurance company.
Many insurers offer inexpensive rates. For instance, Allstate estimates its costs to be as cheap as an additional $25 per year. However, some insurers require you to purchase comprehensive and collision coverages in order to be eligible for roadside assistance. If you use roadside assistance frequently, your company may flag that as a risk concern, and it may impact your premium.
In the table below, we reviewed roadside assistance programs from some of the top car insurance companies.
Click on a company name to read our full review.
|Company||Approximate cost*||Better Business Bureau rating|
|*Cost data was gathered from each insurer's website and estimation.|
An organization membership
Various organizations, including the American Automobile Association (AAA) and Good Sam Club, offer roadside assistance services as part of their membership packages.
AAA roadside assistance
When you purchase a AAA membership, you receive multiple benefits, not just enrollment in a roadside assistance program. This is in addition to other membership benefits like travel and shopping deals, savings on gas and discounts on movie tickets.
There are several AAA packages to choose from that offer roadside assistance, including:
|*Cost data was gathered from each insurer's website and estimation.|
All AAA plans include:
- Service call limit: Four calls per year. Additional calls cost more.
- Battery service: Members receive free battery jumps and troubleshooting. If a replacement is needed, customers pay for replacement parts, but AAA covers labor costs.
- Flat tire: If you have a functioning spare, AAA will replace your flat for free. If you don't have a spare, they will tow your vehicle to your preferred destination.
- Bicycle service: Experiencing technical difficulties while biking? AAA can help you. Be aware that bicycle assistance does count as one of your four annual service calls.
Good Sam roadside assistance
Good Sam is one of the largest organizations geared towards RV owners.
There are several Good Sam RV packages to choose from that offer roadside assistance, including:
There are many other membership programs that offer roadside assistance besides AAA and Good Sam. They include Better World Club, AARP and OnStar. Every membership has its own distinct perks, so it's important to compare each.
Your cell phone provider
Do you have a cell phone plan with a major provider? If so, contact the company to go over its roadside assistance options. To add roadside assistance, you must already have a phone plan with the company.
One of the major perks of going through your cell phone provider is that many of them offer roadside assistance for little additional payment. For instance, AT&T offers coverage for just an additional $2.99 per month to your regular bill.
Another major draw of purchasing a plan through your phone company is that coverage applies to wherever the phone is. You can be a passenger in another vehicle, in a rental car or even lend your phone to someone else — it's all covered.
Some major cell phone companies that have roadside assistance programs include AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.
Your credit card company
Depending on your credit card, you may already be part of a roadside assistance program. Some credit card companies offer roadside assistance as a complimentary cardholder perk that covers you up to a certain limit.
Others, however, have roadside assistance but charge you a fee when you use the service. Standard Visa cardholders, for instance, have access to its pay-per-use roadside assistance program, which is available 24/7 and has a flat fee of $65.95.
Some credit card companies that offer roadside assistance include Visa, MasterCard and Discover. American Express discontinued its roadside assistance service on Jan. 1, 2020. If you're unsure of what coverage limits your credit card provider offers, contact them to go over their roadside assistance program.
Your car manufacturer
If you own a new car, chances are your car manufacturer offers a roadside assistance program. From the time you purchase your car, roadside assistance can last between three years to the life of the car. If your roadside assistance is through a car manufacturer, it only applies to that vehicle; it doesn’t follow the driver. Also, you’ll usually have to get your car serviced by a manufacturer-approved shop or dealership.
Many car owners with a Tesla, BMW or other luxury vehicle opt for roadside assistance through their manufacturer because of their car’s unique needs. If you own a Ford, Honda or Hyundai, you may find more flexibility with a roadside assistance program through a third party.
Do I already have roadside assistance service?
Some insurance companies, cell phone providers, credit card companies and car manufacturers automatically include roadside assistance when you sign up for their services.
Check with your policyholders and providers to see if you already have roadside coverage. If you're already covered, review the policy to see if the plan has an expiration date, as some providers only cover you for a few years. You should also make sure that the coverage limits sufficiently meet your needs.
Otherwise, you could be unnecessarily paying for coverage you already have.
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