Every year, about one in three drivers experiences a vehicle breakdown. And every one of them has to pay for the consequences: the average nationwide cost of towing is about $109 — and that’s just to get your car to the shop.
But with roadside assistance, you have someone to call if you need help, and you may even save money. Roadside assistance is available to purchase from many car insurance companies or through AAA, but most credit card issuers also offer it as a perk. However, roadside assistance services and costs differ depending on the credit card you have. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Roadside Assistance?
“There are certain credit cards that offer some variation of roadside assistance, which is a service that helps you with typical car issues like a flat tire, mechanical failure, dead battery, or running out of gas,” says Mike Pearson, credit expert and founder of Credit Takeoff, a website that helps people manage credit.
When you get roadside assistance from your insurance company, you’ll pay a premium to have certain roadside assistance services covered up to your policy limits. With credit card roadside assistance, how it works depends on the card you have. Typically, you’ll pay no additional charges unless you use the service, at which time you’ll likely be charged a flat fee. On some cards with annual fees, services are covered up to a certain amount.
AAA offers another option for roadside assistance. In exchange for an annual membership fee, members get certain services covered, up to four calls per year.
Credit Cards with Roadside Assistance
Access to roadside assistance works differently across various cards, which typically come with other benefits as well. We’ve rounded up some of the best credit cards for roadside assistance, and here’s what you can expect from each one.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Intro offer:60,000 points
- Annual fee:$550
- Regular APR:21.24% – 28.24% Variable
- Recommended credit:740-850 (Excellent)
- Apply Now At Chase’s secure site
Chase Sapphire Reserve
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card comes with a hefty $550 annual fee, it also comes with many perks. With this card, you’ll get access to roadside assistance services like fuel delivery, towing, lockout assistance, flat tire service, or battery service. Only the cardholder driving their owned, leased, or borrowed vehicle in the U.S. or Canada is eligible for coverage. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card allows up to four service calls per year and covers up to $50 per service event. If the cost of the service is greater than that, the difference will be billed to your card.
This is a travel rewards card, aimed directly at people who travel a lot. It earns three Chase Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel worldwide, and it currently offers an 60,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.
UnitedSM Explorer Card
The annual fee for the United Explorer Card is $95, which is waived during the first year. Roadside assistance is available to the cardholder and services such as battery boost, lockout assistance, towing, fuel delivery, and flat tire service are all included while traveling in the U.S. or Canada. You can call up to four times per year and get up to $50 per service event covered. Any excess fees will be billed to your card. The card is also issued by Chase, like the Sapphire Reserve.
Cardholders earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.
The card earns 2x United miles per dollar spent on dining, hotel stays, and United Airlines purchases. When traveling on United, your first checked bag is free with this card.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a credit card with no annual fees. It offers 5% cash back on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% back on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% back on all other purchases. This card also comes with a 0% introductory APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 19.24% – 27.99%. There’s a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer (whichever is greater) in the first 60 days.
It also offers an intro bonus that earns an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). That helps make the Chase Freedom Unlimited NextAdvisor’s pick for the best cash back credit card.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card also offers roadside dispatch as an added benefit. You’ll be informed of a flat fee for the service when you call for assistance, and you may have to pay the service provider extra for towing distances longer than five miles.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
With an annual fee of $95, the Capital One Venture Rewards card gets you double the miles on every purchase. You can also earn 75,000 bonus miles if you spend $4,000 in purchases in your first three months of account opening. The card features other travel perks as well, including a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
Similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, the Capital One Venture card comes with roadside dispatch for a set price per service call, which you can ask about when you call for assistance.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
The Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card* has a $95 annual fee and comes with a 50,000 point bonus offer if you spend $3,000 in purchases within 90 days of opening your account.
Cardholders get double points on travel, dining as well as 1.5x points on all other purchases.
As a cardholder, you’ll have access to roadside dispatch services such as towing, tire changes, lockout service, fuel delivery, jumpstarting, and winching. There’s a $59.95 flat fee for each service call, but if the towing distance is longer than five miles, you’ll need to pay the service provider for the additional mileage.
|Card Name||Annual Fee||Welcome Bonus||Type of Assistance||Coverage Limits|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||$550||60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||Roadside assistance up to four times per year||$50 per service call|
United℠ Explorer Card
|$95||Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.||Roadside assistance up to four times per year||$50 per service call|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||$0||1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year)||Roadside dispatch for a fee||Flat fee provided when calling for assistance|
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
|$95||75,000 miles if you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months||Roadside dispatch for a fee||Flat fee provided when calling for assistance|
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
|$95||50,000 online points a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening||Roadside assistance for a fee||$59.95 per service call|
Roadside Assistance for All Visa Cards
You might already have roadside assistance help, depending on the cards you have in your wallet.
“One perk of having a Visa card is that if you find yourself on the side of the road with a flat tire you can call for roadside assistance,” says Ouriel Lemmel, CEO and founder of WinIt, an app for disputing parking tickets.
Visa roadside dispatch covers the following:
- Standard towing up to five miles
- Tire changing (must have available spare)
- Fuel delivery up to five gallons (plus the cost of fuel)
- Lockout service (without key replacement)
- Standard winching
Most Visa cards come with roadside dispatch for a flat fee per service call. That fee may be listed in your benefits guide, or it may be provided when you call for assistance. You should always ask what the cost is when you call for assistance to avoid any surprises.
Roadside Assistance Compared to AAA Dispatch
“If you don’t have a credit card that offers roadside assistance, you can purchase a membership to AAA, which offers a similar service with some added features, including assistance if your car gets stuck in a ditch and minor auto repairs,” says Pearson.
AAA roadside assistance offers three plans ranging from $79.50 to $170 per year, with some differences in coverage. For example, the Plus and Premier plans offer longer towing distances and higher reimbursement amounts for locksmith services.
When you consider that the flat fee for most Visa cards runs between $60-$70, a AAA membership may be a better value if you estimate needing multiple service calls. “If you are likely to get your keys locked in your car, run out of gas, or get a flat tire more than once in a year, you may be best off getting a service like AAA where for a lower yearly fee you will have your car side services covered,” says Lemmel.
You might already be paying the annual fee for a credit card with free roadside assistance, or you might be interested in getting a card if the other perks are valuable to you.
While most credit cards offer some form of roadside assistance, it varies across cards and in most cases you will likely be charged for certain services. Those cards typically come with annual fees, as well as other perks and benefits.
There’s no such thing as free roadside assistance — you’ll either pay a flat fee per service, an annual fee for your credit card, a membership fee for AAA, or an annual premium with your insurance provider.
Many fee-free cards include roadside dispatch, but you’ll pay a set rate for the service call. Still, this can save you time and money, since you’ll receive a service at pre-negotiated rates.
When deciding which option is best for you, consider your estimated service needs as well as the other benefits you can get from each credit card or service.
All information about the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.