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In this article, we compare the major roadside assistance services available from auto insurance companies, clubs, manufacturers, and even your credit card. Each provider has a different menu of features, access to a network of body shops, and cost. Then, we'll review the strength and cost of each of the providers' roadside benefits. We've included the three biggest auto insurance companies, the largest roadside assistance club, car manufacturers, two credit card issuers, and an on-demand service so that prospective members can see how their service can differ. We've 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, as a benchmark. Here are how the programs from the major roadside assistance providers stack up on the major benefits.
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. AAA Plus members have services others do not as well. Out of the best auto insurance companies, GEICO's roadside assistance program is the most competitive to the AAA Plus. It offers similar services for an annual rate starting as low as $14, depending on someone’s driving history, state they live in and other factors. What GEICO doesn’t have is an extremely long list of discounts and rewards available to AAA members. Here are how the programs compare to each other and Urgent.ly. Note that most of these providers have an annual fee, while Urgent.ly is an on-demand road assistance smartphone app that charges per incident.
|AAA Plus||Up to 100 miles||Yes||Yes||Services up to $100||Free limited supply to nearest station||Yes|
|State Farm Emergency Road Service||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|GEICO Emergency Road Service Coverage||Up to 100 miles||Yes||Yes||Limit up to $100||Yes||Yes|
|Allstate Towing and Labor Cost||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Progressive Roadside Assistance||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Farmers Towing and Road Service||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Urgent.ly||$99 for 0-10 miles; tiered pricing||$75||$75||$75||$75||$75|
While AAA Plus members are not necessarily saving money (remember, there’s no guarantee they will need any service), their out-of-pocket costs are more predictable because the majority of the basic services are free to AAA Plus members or have reasonable limits. You do not need to have 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 the ones offered by other programs.
|Service/Company||Cost||Need Collision or Comprehensive?||Phone Number|
|AAA Basic/Plus/Premier||$52/$92/$129||N/A||Depends on Area|
|State Farm Emergency Road Service||$4.56/year||No||877-627-5757|
|GEICO Emergency Road Service Coverage||$15.60/year||Yes||800-424-3426|
|Allstate Towing and Labor Cost||$125 per Occurence||No||800-255-7828|
|Progressive Roadside Assistance||$16/year||No||800-776-2778|
|Farmers Towing and Road Service||$23.2/year||Yes||800-435-7764|
|Out-of-Pocket Costs on Urgent.ly||No Annual Fee; paid per incident||N/A||Depends on Area|
For example, if an AAA Plus member needs a vehicle towed, the service will tow the vehicle up to 100 miles before the member is charged. In comparison, Allstate’s Emergency Roadside Assistance program has no annual fee but charges $99 per tow and that rate can be more depending on the circumstance. Most of the other providers will provide free towing up to 10 miles away. So even if you needed your car towed only once in a whole year, you would be spending 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, that could result in a substantial amount of out-of-pocket expenses. There’s no telling where the nearest service garage will be and some garages will not work on every make and model of vehicle, especially luxury brands. If the nearest service garage happens to be 45 miles away, a AAA Plus member wouldn’t pay anything out-of-pocket to have their vehicle taken there. 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.
Something else that differentiates AAA Plus service from the others in the chart above is their fuel delivery. AAA Plus members get a free limited supply of fuel delivered - enough to get them to the nearest service station. Other roadside assistance services will deliver fuel to you, but you’ll be charged the area market rate for the fuel. Even if a driver needed only a couple gallons, they would be saving themselves at least a few dollars out-of-pocket with Triple A. Allstate’s Emergency Roadside Assistance charges members $84 for any service other than a towing, including fuel delivery.
AAA Plus members can worry less about the cost of being stuck somewhere too. Extrication or winching - pulling a vehicle out of somewhere or something - can be complicated and expensive. If your vehicle slides off the road and is stuck in grass, mud or a snowbank 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 others, this could be a huge savings. For example, if the extrication takes longer than one hour, a State Farm Emergency Road Service member would have to pay out-of-pocket for however much time two trucks spent to dislodge their vehicle.
In addition to battery jump-start service, AAA Plus members have mobile battery replacement. If a battery is dead and cannot be jump-started using 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 for dining, hotels, shopping, car repairs and entertainment. Here's a random assortment: one free set of passport photos and complimentary domestic and foreign maps are available to AAA Plus members. They are also eligible for up to $1,000 of Delay Protection which is reimbursement for certain meal, lodging and travel expenses incurred while a vehicle is disabled and the member is more than 100 mile from home. Members get a free membership to the 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 here.
Roadside Assistance Through Your 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-start, and towing to the brand’s dealership if needed. They can last anywhere from the first two to five years of the life of the car or up to as many as 100,000 miles. You will typically be restricted to getting serviced by 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 that specific vehicle and will not travel with a driver. If you have an old car, or simply value flexibility and convenience more, roadside assistance through a third party may be worth your while.
On the other hand, if you have a specialty car, such as a hybrid or electric vehicle, or even a Tesla, there may be limited expertise and your best bet may be getting roadside assistance directly from your manufacturer. Other auto shops simply 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 vehicles models.
|Annual Fee||None; complimentary for 50,000 miles or 4 years, whichever comes first||None; Generally available for 4+ years or 70,000+ 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 have a roadside assistance feature that cardholders are already part of and do not need to enroll in. We’ve broken down a couple below and determined whether or not someone with one of the cards should consider purchasing additional roadside assistance.
American Express AmEx will discontinue this benefit across all of its cards beginning January 1, 2020.
Bank of America All Visa-branded Bank of America cards have pay-per-use roadside dispatch, currently $69.95, that provides emergency roadside assistance, towing and locksmith services.
Capital One Capital One cardholders who have Visa Platinum or Signature cards have access to pay-per-use Roadside Dispatch® through Visa. Also, Capital One cardholders who have a Platinum, World or World Elite Mastercard have access to the Master RoadAssist® Service through Mastercard, which is also pay per use.
Chase All Chase Visa credit cards offer roadside dispatch. Cardholders pay a flat rate, currently $69.95. All Chase Mastercards offer roadside assistance and the 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℠ Card (consumer and business), United℠ Explorer Card, United℠ Explorer Business Card, United MileagePlus® Presidential PlusSM Card (consumer and business), and Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. If you have a roadside emergency, you can call for a jump-start, tow, tire change, locksmith or gas delivery and are covered 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®, and the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi. For the Citi elite cards, if a cardmember is having car trouble while on the road in any of the 50 United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Citi will send help directly to their location at no cost. For the travel cards that have an annual fee and the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi (consumer and business), roadside assistance dispatch service is also available, but the cardmember is responsible for the cost, paying 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 currently $69.95 and covers standard towing (up to 5 miles), flat tire changes, jump-starts, winching, lockout service and delivery for up to 5 gallons of fuel.