Being stuck on the side of the road isn’t any fun. That’s where roadside assistance comes to the rescue. But at what price?
Luckily, plenty of options exist to get cheap (or even free!) roadside assistance. The next time you get stuck with a flat tire or an empty gas tank, or if you’re having some other form of car trouble, a quick phone call can get you back on the road fast.
Table of Contents
- 1. Your Cell Phone Company
- 2. An Auto Warranty
- 3. Apps on your Smartphone
- 4. Perks from Your Credit Card
- 5. Sign Up for an Auto Club
- 6. Ask Your Auto Insurance Provider
- 7. Check Membership Perks
1. Your Cell Phone Company
You can do more than make money with your cell phone. Before you find yourself stranded, check the fine print of your cell phone contract. You might be surprised to see an option for roadside assistance.
Even though there’s usually an extra cost, it doesn’t typically add up to that much. Paying a small monthly fee to your cell phone provider can give you peace of mind.
As one of the cheapest roadside assistance options, Verizon is a deal for $3 per month. Keep in mind this is a “per line” cost. If you and your partner are on the same plan, you pay $6 to have you both covered.
It’s a good deal considering what you get. Verizon’s roadside assistance includes:
- Free towing up to 10 miles
- Battery charging if you need a jump
- Help if you lock your keys in the car
- Up to three free gallons of gas if you run out
- Service to replace your flat tire with your spare tire
The best part? You’re covered whether you’re in your vehicle, a friend’s car or a rental. As long as the cell phone that has the roadside assistance plan is in the car, you can take advantage of the services it offers.
T-Mobile has a comprehensive roadside assistance program called SyncUP DRIVE. Install the app on your phone and plug in the on-board diagnostics reader to monitor your car’s health and get roadside help on the go.
SyncUP DRIVE provides a Wi-Fi hotspot and helps you find the best prices for gas. Plus, it comes with Allstate Motor Club Roadside Assistance. If you run out of gas, lock yourself out of your car, get a flat tire or find yourself with a dead battery, you can get help 24/7.
Once you enroll, your coverage begins within five minutes. That means you can agree to the terms and conditions to activate your benefits while you’re stuck curbside with a flat tire.
The cost is pretty steep at $120. You’ll also be required to purchase the diagnostics reader to install in your car. However, the benefits could pay for themselves.
Since you get maintenance reminders, recall information, battery life and car trouble alerts, you could avoid major problems in advance.
Not only can you get Hulu free with a Sprint plan, but you can opt into their Roadside Rescue plan for $4 per month. Like Verizon, that’s a “per line” fee, so you’ll pay double if you want two people covered even if they’re on the same plan.
You can tap into roadside assistance if you’re in your own car, a friend’s car or a rental. As long as your Sprint phone is with the vehicle that needs help, you’re covered for services like:
- Jump-start if your battery dies
- Swap your flat tire with your spare
- Fuel if you run out of gas
- Locksmith if you lock yourself out
- Minor mechanical adjustments
If you have a Sprint Unlimited Plus or Premium plan, you get an additional perk: Sprint will pick up the tab for AAA membership. With a AAA Basic membership, you have even more roadside services at your fingertips.
In addition to towing services and fuel delivery, AAA provides a benefit for trip interruption, hotel discounts, identity theft monitoring and several other perks.
Another low-cost option for roadside assistance comes from AT&T. If they’re your service provider, your coverage is $2.99 per month for each enrolled phone.
The 24/7 roadside assistance covers towing if you have a mechanical failure, a jump-start if your battery needs a boost and fuel delivery. Plus, it includes key replacement if you lose your set of car keys.
If you’re an AT&T customer and you wait to enroll, you could be missing out on getting help when you need it. The service requires you to have it active on your account for at least 24 hours before you can take advantage of the benefits.
2. An Auto Warranty
When you buy a car, you can choose from different warranty options. You might get a basic warranty, drivetrain warranty, anti-perforation (rust) warranty or a battery warranty.
In addition to picking a warranty, some auto manufacturers also offer roadside assistance when you purchase a car.
Roadside Assistance by Manufacture
Some services are complimentary when you purchase a vehicle. Others may charge a one-time fee or require an ongoing subscription cost. Manufacturers that provide roadside assistance include:
- Alfa Romeo
- Land Rover
Your coverage might be limited based on how old your car is and how many miles you put on it. For instance, Acura’s roadside assistance covers up to four years or 50,000 miles.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average driver between the ages of 35 and 54 drives 15,291 miles per year. At that rate, you’d hit the limit after about three years.
On the other hand, Edmunds.com reports the original owner of a Lincoln vehicle has unlimited roadside assistance coverage.
OnStar has been providing help on the side of the road for over 20 years. It’s a recognized name for roadside assistance and has comprehensive coverage that goes above and beyond basic roadside assistance.
If you’re in a car accident, OnStar will notify authorities through its automatic crash response. The service will work with authorities to locate and recover your vehicle if it gets stolen and will send help if you get stuck in severe weather.
The extra coverage comes at a cost. OnStar plans start at $14.99 a month and go up to $59.99 a month. The less expensive plans let you access features through a mobile app, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices. Higher-priced plans include 4G LTE in-vehicle Wi-Fi with unlimited data.
3. Apps on your Smartphone
Some smartphone apps let you earn money for playing games. While it’s a good way to pass the time, it won’t help you if you’re left high and dry on the side of the road.
Make Some Extra Cash by Taking Surveys
Taking surveys in your spare time can be a great way to earn some extra dough fast. Check out Survey Junkie which will pay you instantly with cash via PayPal. They have over 10,000,000 members and have an 4.5/5 rating on Trust Pilot.
Believe it or not: there’s an app for that. You shouldn’t leave your well-being in the hands of any random app. Your roadside assistance app should be safe and easy to use. You also shouldn’t have to worry about hidden charges that can take you by surprise.
With Honk roadside assistance, you get all the benefits without worrying about a membership fee. Honk helps to save you money by only charging you when you need help.
The app is similar to Uber and Lyft. When you need help in the event of an emergency, Honk connects you to towing and roadside services. The company promises fast response time, saying one of their more than 75,000 service vehicles will arrive to help within 15 to 30 minutes.
If you need aid, open the app and enter your location and some details about your situation. Nearby service providers will bid for the job, with prices starting at $49. You have the option to pick the winning bid of your choice.
This way, there are no hidden fees. You have some control over how much you’ll pay, and you’ll know the cost of the service upfront. Paying is easy, and no cash is necessary. You simply enter your debit or credit card information and pay from the app.
Blink is another roadside assistance app for your phone. Unlike AAA and other auto clubs that charge an annual membership fee, there is no advanced payment required to take advantage of the services you get with Blink.
You simply download the app when you need it.
Blink’s website says over 80 million drivers have used their services. The coverage is far-reaching, considering the company reports servicing 99.4% of zip codes in the U.S.
The app offers typical curbside help you’d expect, such as:
- Vehicle tow services
- A jump-start for a dead battery
- Help if your tire goes flat
- Lockout services to get back in your car
- Fuel delivery if you run out of gas
- Winching service if you’re stuck in a tight spot
If you’re looking for free roadside assistance, try Waze. Waze is different from other apps you encounter. A community of drivers working together powers the roadside service to make the driving experience better.
It’s primarily a traffic and navigation app. Users report construction, heavy traffic and accidents to notify other users of events that might cause a delay in their travel time. Waze also finds the cheapest gas station on your route, which is an excellent way to save money on fuel.
If you get stuck, whether you run out of gas, have a flat tire or need other help, Waze has a Request Roadside Help feature. By using this option, other users of the app can be notified that you need assistance.
It’s easy to use. From the app, click on the “roadside help” report. Your report will stay active on the map for 30 minutes, allowing plenty of time for a professional or another Waze user to come to your rescue.
Another one of the best roadside assistance apps you’ll find is Urgent.ly. The company claims to have helped over 200,000 drivers find roadside assistance in the 15 years its been in business.
When you enroll, you get access to the auto club’s roadside assistance benefits. Membership comes in two levels, and you must choose between “roadside assistance” and “exclusive membership.”
The roadside assistance program includes typical services you’d expect, such as towing, tire change for a flat tire, help getting back in your car if you get locked out and fuel delivery. And it includes a winch to help you out of a tight spot.
The additional benefits you get with an exclusive membership are:
- $20 Uber ride with a tow
- $100 for key replacement
- $750 trip interruption benefit
- Discounts on hotels
4. Perks from Your Credit Card
People are generally in one of two camps when it comes to credit cards. You either think they’re evil because they get you into credit card debt, or you love them because they unlock travel perks and other benefits.
One of the benefits you can take advantage of with a credit card is roadside assistance. Not every card has this option, but some of the more well-known credit companies offer the service to cardholders.
The best credit cards for roadside assistance
Be aware that certain credit card companies will only arrange for help. In contrast, others will give you greater peace of mind by covering the cost up to a certain amount.
Credit cards that cover up to $50 for each service but have a maximum limit of four service events each year are:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- United Club Card
- United Explorer Card
Chase Freedom cardholders get the standard assistance you’d expect, such as towing, tire changing, fuel delivery, lockout service, jump-starting and winching.
If you have a Visa-branded Bank of America card, you can take advantage of pay-per-use roadside dispatch. Bank of America Mastercards offers a similar service, but different limits can apply.
Roadside benefits for all Chase cards
Chase has multiple credit cards geared toward different types of users. Depending on the card you have, benefits can vary. Generally, cardholders can take advantage of a flat fee rate for each roadside service event.
Roadside service provided by all Visa credit cards
Capital One cards come with Roadside Dispatch for a set rate per service call. Currently, the rate is $69.95. If you get into a situation, call the phone number anytime, day or night. They’ll stay on the phone with you while you wait for a tow operator or locksmith to reach you.
5. Sign Up for an Auto Club
An auto club is what most people think of when considering roadside assistance. AAA is one of the most popular names in the auto club industry. The company has been around since 1902, so they know a thing or two about what drivers are looking for.
But they’re not the only company providing auto club benefits.
If you don’t have a roadside plan through your cell phone provider or a manufacturer’s warranty on your car, signing up for an auto club can give you some comfort.
AAA is an all-inclusive auto club. The company is an advocate for driving safety and often researches to benefit traffic and safety measures. AAA offers travel services, auto insurance, discounts on hotels and restaurants, roadside assistance and benefits for international travelers.
However, membership isn’t free. Depending on where you live and what coverage options you choose, you might pay $38 to over $100 per year. You can select from three different tier levels:
- Classic membership
- Plus membership
- Premier membership
The roadside assistance coverage you get increases as you graduate to the higher membership plans. For instance, a Classic membership might limit you to five miles of towing. In comparison, the Premier level includes up to 200 miles of towing.
The benefits of a AAA membership extend far beyond roadside service. Discounts can be varied depending on your location, but can include:
- 10% off AAA-approved auto body and repair shops
- 10% discount on oil changes
- Discounts on monthly cell phone plans
- Prescription and vision care savings
- 20% off car and truck rentals
- Reduced pricing at amusement parks and museums
- Discounts on movie tickets, dining and floral delivery
Better World Club
Better World Club is another excellent auto club. What sets them apart is their focus on green values. The company supports a clean environment and is dedicated to social and environmental responsibility.
If you get stranded, the 24/7 roadside assistance is available throughout all 50 states and Canada. Plus, you’re covered no matter what car you’re in or who’s driving. Better World Club covers towing, fuel delivery and gives you help if you lock your keys in the car.
Membership plans come in two tiers:
- Basic Auto for $58.95
- Premium Auto for $97.95
The coverage is different based on the plan you pick. The Premium Auto coverage includes towing up to 100 miles while towing is limited to five miles with the Basic Auto plan.
Unlike other companies, Better World Club also offers Bicycle Only roadside service. Coverage for bicyclists starts at $39.95. If you get a flat tire on your bike or have another emergency, you get transportation service for you and your bicycle up to 30 miles.
Better World Club offers discounts similar to what AAA provides to its members. Hotel discounts, savings on airfare, personal travel planning and trip routing.
If you live in Massachusetts, California, Arizona or Oregon, you can take advantage of the company’s green auto insurance.
National General Motor Club
Formerly known as the GM Motor Club, the National General Motor Club simplifies the process of buying auto club roadside service. You don’t have to own a GM vehicle to join, and your plan will cover both you and your spouse if you’re married.
When selecting a membership plan, you get a choice of three programs:
The best for you will depend on your driving habits and preferences. Included in every National General Motor Club roadside assistance plan are jump-starts for your battery, tire changes if you get a flat and fuel delivery.
If you do a lot of traveling, opting for the Elite plan at $89 could be a good investment because it includes up to $750 toward trip interruption benefits. It also covers collision and mechanical failure.
The Basic plan is a good choice for a budget-conscious person. It’s $59 and includes traditional roadside services that can get you back on the road if you find yourself in a bind. For a middle-of-the-road solution, the $79 Standard plan has trip interruption and higher limits on lock replacement.
Towing coverage varies depending on your plan, but you get perks such as entertainment, dining and retail discounts no matter which you choose.
Good Sam Roadside
Good Sam Roadside Assistance is one of the top auto clubs available. Even though the company primarily offers services for recreational vehicles (RVs), there is a plan for regular automobiles.
The RV plans include coverage for fifth wheels, travel trailers, pop-up camping trailers and toy haulers. Your car or truck is also covered with an RV plan.
If you don’t own an RV, you can still benefit from Good Sam Roadside services. The auto plan covers cars, vans, pick-ups and SUVs.
Membership options are available in four levels:
- Platinum Auto for cars, trucks and SUVs
- Standard includes your owned vehicles and one towable RV
- Platinum expands coverage to multiple RVs and motorized RVs
- Platinum Complete is the most comprehensive plan and adds emergency medical assistance
Generally, prices range from $99.95 to $239.95. New members can sometimes take advantage of discounts that bring costs down to $69.95 to $189.95.
Whether you get the RV or auto plan, your spouse or domestic partner and all dependent children up to age 25 are covered at no additional cost.
6. Ask Your Auto Insurance Provider
If you’re looking at cheap roadside assistance, chances are you have a car. And if you have a car, you probably have an auto insurance company. When’s the last time you read the benefits package that came with your auto policy?
Many comprehensive and collision auto insurance plans come with roadside towing and assistance. Some companies charge a small fee to add these services, and the cost can depend on your location and the type of car you drive.
Roadside plans with Allstate start at less than $7 per month if you have car insurance with them. If you don’t, you still have the option to take advantage of their services through membership or a pay-per-use plan.
No matter what plan you pick, you get:
- 24/7 roadside assistance
- Access to providers nationwide
- Mobile access
- Towing coverage
- Roadside services
If you get stuck and need one-time-only help, you can contact Allstate. The cost will depend on where you are and the type of service you need. To give you an idea, you’ll pay $119 for the towing service with the pay-per-use option.
Purchasing a membership plan can help you relax during your commute or on your next road trip. With a membership plan, you can access services around town, or anywhere in the U.S. You’ll pay $79 for the first year, and you get access to membership-only savings and services.
Roadside service isn’t part of your Progressive insurance plan, but you can add it to your policy. Progressive partners with Agero to deliver services. Depending on which you pick, your coverage could include your motorcycle, RV and boat, as well as your automobile.
If you’re in your driveway or traveling across town or the country, roadside assistance with Progressive can include:
- Vehicle towing up to 15 miles or the nearest qualified repair shop
- Winching service within 100 feet of the road if your car is stuck in mud, snow, water or sand
- On-the-scene battery jump-start
- Fuel delivery excluding the cost of the fuel if you run out of gas
- Battery charging for electric cars
- Locksmith service if your keys are lost, stolen or locked inside your car
- Flat tire change as long as you can provide a spare
- On-scene labor for minor work
GEICO offers emergency road service as an add-on option for current insurance customers. The plans are incredibly affordable and start at just $14 per car per year.
The services you get with a GEICO add-on plan aren’t as comprehensive as other options. However, common situations are covered. If you find yourself down and out with a dead battery, flat tire or can’t get in your car, you can request assistance.
Download the GEICO mobile app to make getting help easy. The app is user-friendly and lets you request assistance in as little as two minutes. No matter what time of day or night, the GPS locator will get someone to your location quickly.
7. Check Membership Perks
Lots of people get memberships based on their age, job industry or interests. Every club can come with a unique set of perks. Benefits can include dining and travel discounts, as well as health and financial resources to help you live your best life.
Some organizations offer road services as a member benefit. If you aren’t sure, it’s time to read the fine print. Two membership-based companies that provide roadside help are AARP and Union Plus.
If you’re 50 years or older, you’ve probably gotten a postcard in the mail from AARP. There are many advantages to being a card-carrying member, and discount roadside service is one of them.
If you’re ever in a lurch, AARP partners with Allstate to provide help. Plans are available throughout the U.S, and members of AARP can save up to $10 on your first year of service.
You have your choice of two plans:
- Roadside Advantage
- Platinum Elite
Roadside Advantage is an excellent option if you’re on a budget or don’t travel far from home. It includes up to three events per year, such as tow service, jump-starts, fuel delivery, lockout service and tire change.
The plan also includes:
- $1,500 benefit for trip interruption
- $100 road hazard benefit
- Three free Carfax vehicle history reports
If you do a lot of traveling or have a motorcycle or RV, the Platinum Elite plan might be a better value.
- Up to five events per year
- Trip interruption up to $1,500
- $250 road hazard benefit
- Seven free Carfax vehicle history reports
Union Plus Motor Club
The non-profit organization of Union Plus is created and endorsed by the AFL-CIO. Union Plus focuses on the middle class and offers benefits tailored to supporting union members and their families.
One of the preferred perks is 24-hour roadside assistance in the event of an emergency. If you’re a member of a union, you may qualify if you’re a:
- Dues-paying member of participating labor unions
- Retired labor union member
- Spouse, domestic partner or child of union members
- Widow or widower of union members
- Union Plus credit card hold
The Union Plus Motor Club could cover your entire family for just $69 per year. The 24/7 emergency roadside coverage includes typical services such as towing, battery jump-starts, flat tires, lockout services and fuel delivery.
The Union Plus Motor Club goes a step further than standard emergency coverage. Here are some additional perks you get with your membership:
- Gas rebate of $40
- Second opinion on service or repair estimate from ASE-certified mechanics
- Customer service from U.S.-based call centers
- Maps, road atlases, trip routing and travel assistance
With any luck, you won’t need emergency roadside assistance. But accidents can happen at any time and anywhere. It’s better to be prepared than to be caught off-guard.
Your cell phone, credit card or auto insurance company could give you access to a low-cost service plan. Contact the company to ask about roadside plans.
While you’re on the phone, it won’t hurt to ask about other perks that you can take advantage of, such as trip interruption or discounts on dining or entertainment.
If you’re not able to get an add-on roadside assistance plan, consider purchasing a plan on its own. However, some of the stand-alone plans can seem expensive.
But with the cost of calling a tow truck for help if your car breaks down, the price of a membership plan could pay for itself even if you only use it once per year.
Who do you call when you’re stuck on the side of the road? Do you have a roadside assistance plan?