Credit Card Roadside Assistance: the Benefit You Didn’t Know You Had!

A little over a week ago I explained how to have your credit card company cover your expenses when your flight is delayed or cancelled. Thanks to your credit card roadside assistance is available, too.

Sherman asked for a rundown of credit card roadside assistance benefits.

Credit Card Roadside Assistance Benefits

You probably have free or reduced cost roadside assistance available to you, even if you don’t realize it.

Some insurance companies offer it. Car manufacturers do too, especially with luxury brands. Most importantly, credit card roadside assistance is very common.

Now, I have a AAA membership for the hotel discounts. Over the course of a year I definitely save much more than the membership cost by booking AAA rates. And I do pay for membership even though I could easily get away with not doing so.

If I didn’t have AAA membership, which would be my go-to for roadside assistance, I’d look in my wallet for credit card roadside assistance benefits.

What Each Card Network Offers

Visa offers Roadside Dispatch. Not all Visa cards come with it, whether a given card does depends on the issuer. Generally Visa Signature cards will come with it, or will have enhanced benefits as well.

The basic benefit, accessible with a call to 1-800-VISA-TOW, costs $59.95.

  • Towing (up to five miles included)
  • Tire changing (must have good, inflated spare).
  • Jump-starting (battery boost).
  • Lockout service (no key replacement).
  • Fuel delivery (up to five gallons and the cost of fuel not included).
  • Winching (within 100 feet of paved or county maintained road only).

Discover Card‘s Roadside Dispatch is similar, but $10 more at $69.95.

MasterCard has a similar program although details vary by card.

credit card roadside assistance from mastercard

American Express has roadside assistance but it’s at your cost — unless your card comes with premium roadside assistance.

credit card roadside assistance from ameican express

Premium Roadside Assistance provides (free of charge, up to 4 times per year in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands):

  • towing up to 10 miles
  • winching
  • jump starts
  • flat tire change (must have workable spare)
  • lockout service when key is in vehicle
  • delivery of up to 2 gallons of fuel.

Two cards in my wallet offer American Express’ premium credit card roadside assistance: The Platinum Card from American Express comes with this premium version. However, it doesn’t cover rental cars, motorcycles, taxis, unlicensed vahicles, or tractors and trucks over 10,000 pounds. The American Express Premier Rewards Gold card has this premium coverage as well. I have the Starwood Amex as well, but that only offers the basic package (your cost).

I wouldn’t choose to get a card because of credit card roadside assistance but it’s worth knowing that you probably have a card that has it, and also to check whether the specific cards you carry come with premium versions where assistance is free or basic versions where you pay. It might save you hassle and money the next time you have trouble with a car, and it might save you from paying for another membership like AAA.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. You’ll still save money by having AAA membership for $52/year even if you have only 1 tow as all the credit cards mentioned by you (except the Platinum Amex) charge $59.95 or higher for 1 tow. AAA gives you 4 free tows a year

  2. State Farm says they offer roadside assistance for about $5 a year but if you use it the rates will be increased. Not sure I fully understand that….

  3. driving regularly through the central valley from LA to SF, I have my AAA Plus membership card on me. I have a mechanic in both locations that I know and trust. At $10/mile, it will cost an arm and a leg to get to my mechanic if I break down midway. I don’t want to go to Bubba and be at his mercy and schedule, either. More than once (albeit when I had high mileage used cars in college), I used the tow benefit for a distance much closer to the 100 mile limit of Plus than the 8 mile standard limit. I never thought about it letting it lapse, or skipping a year while keeping the card for hotel discounts. And for the tow, if you lapse, i believe you can call and rejoin, then request a two all at once. With that thought, one could stop payment basically until a benefit is required. Just saw though there is a $20 first year fee for SoCal. I have it set up for auto-renewel so i never forget. It isn’t that i have a lot of integrity. I don’t even use the hotel benefits cuz corporate rates always win (legit or not).

    As for the CC assistance programs, how do those compare costwise to you calling up a tow truck or locksmith directly?

  4. I have state farm insurance with roadside assistance. I have used it and state farm did not raise my insurance premiums. It may depend on how long you’ve been with them.

  5. If you have the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card and American Express Platinum card with the premium roadside assistance, can you call for towing service twice? one on each card to get up to 20 miles of towing service? Or if you have a Cit Prestige card with premium roadside assistance as well, Call Amex roadside assistance for the first 10 miles and then call Citi Prestige roadside assistance for another 10 miles of towing service?

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