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Roadside assistance could provide a helping hand if you experience car troubles. However, not all roadside assistance plans cost the same or offer the same services. Some include specified basic services for no additional cost, while others offer reduced-price services that you must pay for as needed.
The right roadside assistance plan for you might depend on your driving habits and vehicle type. Bankrate has surveyed the market and found plans that may provide the best balance of price and services for your needs.
What is roadside assistance?
Roadside assistance is a service that provides help when you are unable to drive your car. Whether you have run out of fuel, locked your keys in your car or have a flat tire, you may be able to use this service to get your vehicle moving again. You typically use a mobile app or call the company that administers your plan to submit a request for assistance.
Roadside assistance costs vary depending on the service provider you choose and what services are included. There are companies that provide independent roadside assistance plans, but you might also be able to purchase a plan through your car’s manufacturer, your cell phone company, your auto insurance provider or your credit card company.
What does roadside assistance cover?
Roadside assistance services may vary by provider, but typically include:
- Towing services
- Lockout and key services
- Tire changes
- Battery jump-start and replacement
- Fuel delivery
- Winching services (when your car is stuck in ice, snow, a ditch or mud)
Where can I buy roadside assistance?
There are many ways you may be able to purchase a roadside assistance plan. The best provider for you may vary based on your location, budget, vehicle type, driving habits and comfort level with basic repairs. Some common roadside assistance providers include:
Some car manufacturers include a free roadside assistance plan when you purchase a car. However, coverage may be limited to a number of years or miles, whichever comes first. Typically, this service transfers with the car so you might be able to purchase a used car with an active roadside assistance plan. Additionally, you may be able to purchase an extended warranty plan to continue this service even after your complimentary period ends.
Cell phone companies
Cell phone roadside assistance plans often impose limits on services. For instance, the AT&T plan includes four service events annually and only pays up to $75 per event.
Credit card companies
If you like the idea of using a pay-per-use model for assistance, you might consider a roadside assistance plan from your credit card company. Some credit card companies, like Visa and Chase, include roadside assistance dispatch services for a flat fee. Visa requires no membership or annual dues, but charges users a flat fee per service call as well as any additional fees associated with services like towing.
Car insurance companies
Many car insurance companies enable you to add roadside assistance coverage as an endorsement to your auto insurance policy. This may be a convenient way to roll the service into your policy. Roadside assistance coverage may vary by insurer, from pay-per-service to a specified number of incidents per year. Typically, coverage is only for the vehicle(s) where the endorsement is added. Talk with your insurance agent, or review your policy coverage online, to make sure you have the coverage you need and how your coverage would apply (or not apply) in a claim situation. The cost of coverage may also vary in cost by insurer, so your insurance agent may be able to provide you with specific details regarding your carrier.
Best roadside assistance companies
Roadside assistance is available from a variety of sources, but some companies stand out in the industry for especially accessible or robust services. Some popular companies include:
AAA is an auto insurance company, but you do not have to be a policyholder to purchase one of its roadside assistance plans. AAA plans include services such as battery replacement, flat tire repair, lockout service, minor auto repairs, winching and fuel delivery. These plans limit services to four service calls per year, after which additional charges may apply.
AAA roadwise assistance may be ideal for drivers who take multiple road trips far from home or drive an above-average number of miles per year. Bear in mind that AAA offers roadside assistance through numerous local car clubs. Benefits and prices may vary by the club you choose and your membership level.
Better World Club
Better World Club offers roadside assistance plans in all 50 states and Canada. The provider offers basic auto and premium auto plans, and all plans include battery jumpstart, fuel delivery, lockout, tire change, towing and winching services.
All members may add bicycle or motorcycle coverage to their plans, for an additional fee, and premium members can add a recreational vehicle.
Good Sam offers three roadside assistance plans: Platinum Auto, Platinum+ Auto and Platinum Complete Auto. All plans include battery service, flat tire changes, fuel delivery, locksmith service and onsite technician support for the subscriber, their domestic partner or spouse and dependent children under age 25.
While the Platinum Auto plan only covers vehicles owned by the subscriber, Platinum+ and Platinum Complete also cover borrowed, leased and rented vehicles, and feature hotel and rental car discounts and recreational vehicle concierge service.
Do I need roadside assistance?
Having an emergency roadside assistance plan may provide you peace of mind on the road. You might also compare the cost of a plan with the out-of-pocket cost of a tow or other vehicle service. You might consider a roadside assistance plan if you:
- Drive an older car or one that requires frequent maintenance
- Have a long commute
- Take frequent road trips
- Live in a region with extreme weather like heat waves or winter storms
- Are inexperienced or uncomfortable with vehicle maintenance like tire changes
- Want additional roadside support for a child or other family member