Credit Cards With Roadside Assistance
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When you see the warning light come on in your car, it’s never a welcome sign. Or you may get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere or notice you’re running near empty without a gas station in sight — all panic-inducing situations. Your credit card may be able to help as a select few offer roadside assistance benefits.
Sometimes referred to as roadside dispatch or roadside assistance, these services provided by your credit card are typically a premium service that you won’t find with store cards or cards for bad credit, and a few issuers have removed this benefit over the past few years.
However, because it’s a premium service, it may not be free. Eligible services covered through your credit card often come with a fee. But if you’re not a member of an auto program like AAA, then your credit card’s roadside assistance can really come in handy.
How roadside assistance works
Roadside assistance benefits are typically pay per use — which means you only pay when you utilize the benefit. The fee varies by issuer — Visa® or Mastercard® — and not all disclose the cost online.
However, Visa states it charges $69.95 per eligible service call. This is a one-time fee each time you use the service, unlike auto programs such as AAA that require you to pay an annual membership fee, regardless if you use the benefit or not.
If you constantly experience flat tires, battery burnouts or other issues, using a credit card’s pay-per-use roadside assistance benefit will add up. You’d probably be better off using an auto program that charges a flat rate year-round and covers various issues. If you bought or lease a brand new car, the roadside assistance provided by your credit card should be sufficient since your card shouldn’t have many issues. But you never know with cars, so ultimately the decision to join an auto program is up to you.
What roadside assistance is worth
While the cost for auto issues like towing, jump-starts and lockouts vary by vehicle and mechanic, the cost for using your credit card’s roadside assistance is often pre-negotiated. You’ll pay the same flat fee for all eligible services (and maybe more if you require fuel, a new key or long-distance towing).
However, you may wonder if you’re overpaying for basic services. To put things in perspective, we’ve researched the average prices for some common services provided by credit card roadside assistance programs as well as AAA. We’ll compare them with Visa’s $69.95 pay per use fee. Fees mentioned below are accurate as of the date of publishing.
Independent roadside assistance costs:
- Standard towing (up to 5 miles): $35-$125
- Tire change (must have good, inflated spare): $50-$120
- Jump-starting: $50-$120
- Lockout service: $85-$175
Compared with the prices listed above, Visa’s $69.95 fee per use is fairly reasonable when used occasionally. You can always compare prices when you need assistance and see if the quote a mechanic gives you is less or more than the flat fee provided by your credit card’s roadside assistance and make your decision that way.
Now, let’s take a look at how your credit card’s roadside assistance stacks up against an auto program like AAA. Note: Prices vary by region, so we used Northeast prices below:
- AAA Basic: $59
- Includes: Towing up to 3 miles, free fuel delivery at pump price, flat tire service, battery boost, vehicle lockout service up to $50
- AAA Plus: $89
- Includes: Towing up to 100 miles, free fuel delivery, flat tire service, battery boost, vehicle lockout service up to $100
- AAA Premier: $119
- Includes: Towing up to 200 miles, free fuel delivery, flat tire service, battery boost, vehicle lockout service up to $100, car rental reimbursement, travel concierge and home lockout service
It’s clear that AAA may have more value than your credit card’s roadside assistance program, but again, that’s in exchange of an annual fee.
The Basic AAA level is cheaper than Visa’s $69.95 fee per use and provides more coverage — you receive a free flat-tire change, battery boost and towing up to 3 miles for $59, compared with each Visa towing request costing $69.95 for up to 5 miles. If your car is older and often breaks down, you’re probably better off using a formal roadside assistance program like AAA. And, even if you don’t think you’ll ever need roadside assistance, $59 a year really isn’t going to break the bank — and it’ll be cheaper in the long run if issues do arise.
Credit card issuers that offer roadside assistance
We’ve listed the major credit card issuers, the roadside assistance benefits they offer cardholders and some card recommendations. Discover and Barclays don’t currently offer roadside assistance for its branded cards.
American Express discontinued roadside assistance beginning Jan. 1, 2020.
Bank of America
All Visa-branded Bank of America cards, including the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, have pay-per-use roadside dispatch, currently $59.95 per service call, that provides emergency roadside assistance, towing and locksmith services.
Capital One cardholders who have Visa Platinum or Signature cards have access to pay-per-use Roadside Dispatch® through Visa. Similarly, 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. For both Visa and Mastercard’s roadside benefits, the rates for standard service calls are set by Visa or Mastercard, respectively, not by Capital One. The rates for Visa are currently $59.95, but Mastercard doesn’t disclose its rates prior to requesting service.
All Chase Visa credit cards offer roadside dispatch for anything from a tow or jumpstart to a tire change, lockout service, winching or gas delivery. Cardholders pay a pre-negotiated rate when contacting Chase for service. All Chase Mastercards offer roadside assistance and the rates vary by service provider (there’s no set rate).
There’s also added roadside assistance coverage for select cards: the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited®. With these cards, if you have a roadside emergency, you can call for a tow, jump-start, tire change, locksmith or gas delivery and you’re covered up to $50 per incident four times a year.
Citi discontinued several benefits across its card portfolio in September 2019, including roadside assistance.
All Wells Fargo consumer credit cards have access to 24-hour roadside assistance or dispatch, which is a pay-per-use program. The benefit varies slightly between Wells Fargo Visa and Amex credit cards. 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. For Wells Fargo Amex cards, the fee is currently $59.95 and covers delivery of fuel or other standard fluids (up to 5 miles), jump-starts, lockout service and tire changes. Additional terms apply.
The information related to The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card has been independently collected by LendingTree and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.