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We compared roadside assistance services from auto insurance companies, clubs, manufacturers and credit cards. We checked the menu of features, network of service providers and costs involved, then reviewed each provider's offering. We included some of the biggest auto insurance companies, the largest roadside assistance club, several car manufacturers and credit card issuers, and an on-demand service.
As a benchmark, we used the middle tier of services or average across multiple plans where applicable, and the cost of individual services from Urgent.ly, a smartphone app that suggests roadside service providers based on your location.
Here's how roadside assistance programs from the major providers stack up.
AAA vs. roadside assistance from auto insurance
If you drive as many miles as the average person (13,475 per year) and take advantage of the benefits, AAA is the best roadside assistance option. We compared the middle-tier membership (AAA Plus) to other roadside assistance options in the chart below, and this was still the case.
Out of the best auto insurance companies, Geico's roadside assistance program is the most competitive to AAA Plus.
While the Geico towing distance is only 20 miles, it offers similar services for an annual rate starting as low as $14, depending on the user's driving history, state and other factors. What Geico lacks is a long list of discounts and rewards, which are available to AAA members. Here's how the programs compare:
|AAA Plus||Up to 100 miles||Yes||Yes||Services up to $100||Free limited supply to nearest station||Yes|
|State Farm Emergency Roadside Service||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Geico Emergency Road Service||Up to 20 miles||Yes||Yes||Limit up to $100||Yes||Yes|
|Allstate Roadside Assistance||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Progressive Roadside Assistance||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Farmers Towing & Roadside Assistance||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Urgently||$99 for 0 to 10 miles; tiered pricing||$75||$75||$75||$75||$75|
While AAA Plus members won't necessarily save money (remember, there's no guarantee you'll need service), their out-of-pocket costs are more predictable because most of the basic services are free to AAA Plus members, or they come with reasonable limits. You don't need AAA auto insurance to be a member, and the enrollment fee is only $10. AAA Plus members pay a $92 annual fee, but even some of the basic roadside assistance services are better than those offered by other programs.
Need collision or comprehensive coverage?
|AAA Basic/Plus/Premier||$52/$92/$129||N/A||Depends on area|
|State Farm Emergency Roadside Service||$4.56/year||No||(877) 627-5757|
|Geico Emergency Road Service||$15.60/year||Yes||(800) 424-3426|
|Allstate Roadside Assistance||$125 per occurrence||No||(800) 255-7828|
|Progressive Roadside Assistance||$16/year||No||(800) 776-2778|
|Farmers Towing & Roadside Assistance||$23.20/year||Yes||(800) 435-7764|
|Out-of-pocket costs on Urgently||No annual fee; paid per incident||N/A||Depends on area|
AAA Plus service providers will tow a member's vehicle up to 100 miles before they're charged. Meanwhile, Allstate's Emergency Roadside Assistance program has no annual fee, but charges at least $99 per tow. Most of the other providers provide free towing up to 10 miles. So even if you need your car towed only once during the year, you would spend more with Allstate. State Farm's Emergency Roadside Service charges a $5 annual fee, but covers only the first hour of labor for a service call.
Depending on where your car breaks down, the bill could be substantial. Your car may need to be towed a long distance, and some garages don't repair every type of vehicle or every make and model. If the nearest service garage is 45 miles away, then an AAA Plus member wouldn't pay anything out of pocket for the service. It would likely take more than an hour for the tow truck to secure the vehicle and drop it off at the shop, in which case a State Farm policyholder would have to pay for any service after that hour.
This service helps set AAA Plus apart from the other providers we reviewed. AAA Plus members get a free limited supply of fuel delivered — enough to get them to the nearest service station. Other roadside assistance services deliver fuel to you, but you are charged the area market rate for the fuel. Even if a driver only needs a couple of gallons, they would save at least a few dollars with AAA Plus. Allstate's Roadside Assistance charges members $84 for any service other than towing, including fuel delivery.
AAA Plus members can worry less about the cost of being stuck somewhere, too. Winching, or pulling a vehicle out of something, can be complicated and expensive. If your vehicle slides off the road and gets stuck in mud, a snowbank or a ditch, it might take more than one service truck to pull it out. AAA Plus members get two drivers and two trucks free for the first hour. When compared to other providers, this could add up to huge savings.
AAA Plus members get this service, along with mobile battery replacement. If your battery is dead and can't be jump-started with another vehicle, a service professional will bring a new battery. If the vehicle still doesn't start, they will provide a tow service.
All AAA members (Basic, Plus and Premier) are eligible for numerous discounts and rewards towards dining, hotels, shopping, car repairs and entertainment. For example, members get one free set of passport photos and complimentary domestic and foreign maps. They are also eligible for up to $1,000 of Delay Protection, which reimburses members for meals, lodging and travel expenses incurred if a vehicle is disabled and the member is more than 100 miles from home.
Members also get a free membership to car rental company Hertz and 600 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points after their first rental — enough for one free rental day.
If you're having trouble choosing between large auto insurance companies like State Farm, Geico and Progressive, read our comparison.
Roadside assistance through a vehicle manufacturer
Most vehicle manufacturers offer roadside assistance programs for new vehicles. The programs generally provide lockout services, flat-tire changes, fuel delivery, battery jump-starts and towing to the brand's dealership if needed. These programs last anywhere from the first two to five years of the life of the car, or up to as many as 100,000 miles.
Service is typically limited to your manufacturer's network of dealerships and auto shops, so you'll have to consider the geographic coverage of your manufacturer's network. Remember that this service is only good for a specific vehicle and won't travel with a driver. If you have an old car, or you simply value flexibility and convenience, then a different type of roadside program could be a better fit.
On the other hand, specialty cars such as hybrids and electric vehicles may require specialized expertise. In that case, your best bet is getting roadside assistance directly from your manufacturer. Other auto shops may not be equipped to fix your roadside headaches. Our table below gives a snapshot of the roadside services for a major and a specialty manufacturer for new vehicle models.
|Annual fee||None; complimentary for 50,000 miles or four years, whichever comes first||None; generally available for four-plus years or 70,000-plus miles, whichever comes first, depending on model|
|Calls allowed per year||N/A||No limit when appropriate|
|Battery jump-start service||No||Yes|
Roadside assistance through a credit card
Some credit cards automatically offer roadside assistance benefits. We've broken down a couple of these programs below and determined whether a cardholder should consider purchasing additional roadside assistance.
American Express AmEx discontinued this benefit across all of its cards on Jan. 1, 2020.
Bank of America All Visa-branded Bank of America cards have pay-per-use roadside dispatch, currently $69.95 per call, which provides emergency roadside assistance, towing and locksmith services.
Capital One Capital One cardholders with Visa Platinum or Signature cards can use Visa's pay-per-use Roadside Dispatch service. Also, Capital One cardholders with a Platinum, World or World Elite Mastercard have access to Mastercard's pay-per-use Master RoadAssist Service.
Chase All Chase Visa credit cards offer roadside dispatch, and cardholders pay a flat rate of $69.95 per call. All Chase Mastercards offer roadside assistance, and rates vary by service provider. A few select cards offer a more enhanced service, such as the J.P. Morgan Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, United Club℠ Infinite Card (consumer and business), United℠ Explorer Card, United MileagePlus® Presidential PlusSM Card (consumer and business) and Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. You can call for a jump-start, tow, tire change, locksmith or gas delivery, and you're covered for up to $50 per incident up to four times a year.
Citi Roadside assistance dispatch service is available for elite Citi cards, including the Citi Prestige® Credit Card, as well as for annual-fee travel cards including the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi. Citi elite cardholders can get roadside assistance at no cost in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Roadside assistance dispatch service is also available for travel cards with an annual fee and the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi (consumer and business). However, the cardmember must pay a pre-negotiated price per service call.
Wells Fargo Wells Fargo consumer credit cards have 24-hour roadside assistance or dispatch access, a pay-per-use program. For Wells Fargo Visa cards, the set price for a standard service call is $69.95 and covers standard towing up to five miles, flat-tire changes, jump-starts, winching, lockout service and delivery for up to five gallons of fuel.