Roadside Assistance Program Comparisons

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 Companies

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. {#benefits}

Service/CompanyTowingBatteryFlatLockoutFuel DeliveryWinching

AAA Plus

Up to 100 milesYesYesServices up to $100Free limited supply to nearest stationYes

State Farm Emergency Road Service

YesYesYesYesYesYes

GEICO Emergency Road Service Coverage

Up to 100 milesYesYesLimit up to $100YesYes

Allstate Towing and Labor Cost

YesYesYesYesYesYes

Progressive Roadside Assistance

YesYesYesYesYesYes

Farmers Towing and Road Service

YesYesYesYesYesYes

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. {#cost}

Service/CompanyCostNeed Collision or Comprehensive?Phone Number

AAA Basic/Plus/Premier

$52/$92/$129N/ADepends on Area

State Farm Emergency Road Service

$4.56/yearNo877-627-5757

GEICO Emergency Road Service Coverage

$15.60/yearYes800-424-3426

Allstate Towing and Labor Cost

$125 per OccurenceNo800-255-7828

Progressive Roadside Assistance

$16/yearNo800-776-2778

Farmers Towing and Road Service

$23.2/yearYes800-435-7764

Out-of-Pocket Costs on Urgent.ly

No Annual Fee; paid per incidentN/ADepends on Area

Towing:

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.

Fuel Delivery:

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.

Extrication:

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.

Battery Jump-Start:

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.

Other Benefits:

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.

TeslaGM Vehicles
Annual FeeNone; complimentary for 50,000 miles or 4 years, whichever comes firstNone; Generally available for 4+ years or 70,000+ miles, whichever comes first, depending on model

Calls Allowed Per Year

N/ANo limit when appropriate

Roadside Assistance

YesYes

Towing

YesYes

Battery Jump-Start Service

NoYes

Flat Tires

NoYes

Lockout Service

NoYes

Fuel Delivery

N/AYes

Extrication

NoYes

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

provides Premium Roadside Assistance that can effectively serve as the primary and only roadside assistance service for select cardholders. It's actually the best option aside from Triple A's service, since it's complimentary for the first 4 calls you make. Premium Roadside Assistance offers essentially the same number and quality of services that would be available to an AAA Plus member - only there is no annual fee to the card holder. One difference is the service will only cover the cost of the first 10 miles of towing. The card member would have to pay any expense after that out-of-pocket for towing, or any of the other services for the first 4 incidences during the year. Here are a few examples of the cards whose members have access to Premium Roadside Assistance:

Amex Cards with Complimentary Roadside Assistance

American Express Gold Card for Ameriprise Financial

Business Gold Rewards Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business Platinum Card

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card

Delta Reserve Credit Card

Corporate Gold Card
The Plum Card® from American Express OPENCorporate Platinum Card

The following table describes how other credit card companies handle their roadside assistance benefits compared to American Express:

Type

CoverageCostCards

American Express

Towing (10 miles), Tire Replacement, Lockout, Jump Start, Winching, Fuel Delivery (2 gallons)Free (for cards above)/ Whatever Price QuoteAll American Express Cards

Visa

Towing (5 miles), Tire Replacement, Lockout, Jump Start, Winching, Fuel Delivery (5 gallons)$59.95 per dispatch (first $50 free for Chase Sapphire Reserve)All Visa cards

Master

Towing, Tire Replacement, Fuel Delivery, Jump StartPre-negotiated, billed to your cardAll Master Cards

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