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Best roadside assistance services 2021: Breakdown and towing plans

Best roadside assistance services 2021: Breakdown and towing plans
(Image credit: ShutterStock)

The best roadside assistance services are constantly on standby, ready to come to your rescue should your car unfortunately breakdown. Regardless of whether you’re always on the road or your vehicle is more likely to be found on your driveway, the best breakdown and towing plans can deliver the 24/7 peace of mind that you need when behind the wheel.

If you regularly travel long distances, top-rated towing services that operate nationwide are especially valuable given they will deliver you to where you were going or return you home. Alternatively, very casual motorists may find that a good roadside assistance service that offers more basic coverage might suffice, helping to keep the cost of breakdown cover low. Importantly, you should always check the terms of a plan to see what roadside assistance covers, and whether this will be adequate for you. 

As anyone who’s experienced a breakdown emergency will know, being able to call on a reliable roadside assistance service that will arrive fast and has the necessary expertise is a must - and that is exactly where this guide can help. As well as highlighting the best roadside assistance service overall, we also include a number of other top-rated companies that excel if you want bang for your buck, are a senior, or want the best services for towing. Others feature because of their excellent joining offer and no-frills service. 

Motoring reassurance is therefore only a short step away, but it’s still always worth checking the best auto insurance plans to see if you can save with the breakdown cover they sometimes bundle together with. And if the production line is a distant memory for your vehicle, perhaps consider the best extended car warranties if you want to avoid paying full price on auto repairs. 


1. Allstate Motor Club: Best Roadside Assistance Services overall

Allstate is our top overall pick for roadside assistance plans

(Image credit: AllState)

Allstate Motor Club

Allstate has the best roadside assistance plans overall, and is great value for money

SPECIFICATIONS

Membership needed?: No | 24/7 coverage?: Yes | App available?: Apple and Android

Reasons to Buy

Some of the cheapest membership plans 
Membership not required every time
Has a great app

Reasons to Avoid

Plans can be tricky to work out
Not as good for extensive coverage

Allstate Motor Club has one of the cheapest roadside assistance packages on the market, and also also the best. Its prices are far lower than its competitors with a strong enough feature list to make it a worthy choice for those who don’t need extensive coverage but want some roadside assurance. Allstate is where you go when you want roadside assistance within a minimal mile limit while snapping up some great special offers with the member benefits.

The Roadside Advantage plan is the most basic option, and available from as little as $52 annually, or just over $4 a month, it is one of the most affordable plans around. This plan includes $100 worth of roadside assistance, so if you get a flat tire, need a tow, get locked out of your car or run out of fuel, Allstate dispatches assistance and reimburses you for up to $100 of the cost. This is a more generous benefit than other basic services provide – many offer free towing for a limited number of miles, rather than reimbursing you for the amount you pay - and you can call on assistance up to three times a year. 

If you want wider coverage, Allstate has an Elite plan available too, under which roadside benefit increases to $250, and you can be rescued up to five times in a year, but obviously, you should expect to pay more. Overall, however, all of the Allstate plans offer great value, and the service you get should be excellent too.


2. Good Sam Roadside Assistance: Best for towing

Good Sam Club offers unlimited towing, and is great for RVs

(Image credit: Good Sam)

Good Sam Roadside Assistance

An excellent option for extras, especially if you have RVs or trailers

SPECIFICATIONS

Membership needed?: Yes | 24/7 cover?: Yes | App available?: Apple and Android

Reasons to Buy

Great towing service
All family members and cars covered by plan
Good for trailers and bigger vehicles

Reasons to Avoid

More expensive than other services
Some services not available in every state

Good Sam Roadside Assistance’s most notable feature is its unlimited towing – most roadside assistance services have limits set between 5 and 100 miles or only reimburse you for the money you spend. In addition, Good Sam offers unlimited flat tire repairs, jump starts, fuel delivery and locksmith services. For the locksmith, you’re often on the hook for parts and labor, however.

Its standard plan costs $80 a year, or just over $6 a month. The Platinum plan costs about $115 a year, or $9.50 a month. Good Sam’s unlimited roadside assistance comes with both plans. Both levels also cover all your vehicles and family members, unlike other services that require you to pay extra to add more people to their plans. The main difference between Good Sam’s two plans is the Platinum plan includes discounts on hotels and rental cars.

On the downside, Good Sam Roadside Assistance is riddled with fine print. There are quite a few limitations on its varied plans so you will need to sit down and read them all before you commit. It’s also membership-driven so you’ll have to fork out extra for membership alongside your chosen roadside assistance plan. However, there are multiple benefits to choosing Good Sam Roadside Assistance such as the unlimited towing (within limitations, of course), the rather excellent variety of packages, the affordability of its plans, and the fact it’s only one of two companies reviewed here – Best Roadside Services being the other – that’s accredited with the Better Business Bureau. They also offer RV plans which are competitively priced compared to others on the market. 


3. AARP Roadside Assistance: Best for seniors

AARP has great services for anyone over 50

(Image credit: AARP)

AARP Roadside Assistance

AARP has some superb prices and services for anyone over 50

SPECIFICATIONS

Membership needed?: Yes | 24/7 coverage?: Yes | App available?: Apple and Android

Reasons to Buy

Customizable plans
Perfect for over-50s
Very affordable

Reasons to Avoid

Must be an AARP member to join
Must be 50+ for the best plans

AARP is another membership only roadside assistance service provider but their membership is even more restricted – over 50s only, please. While you can join as a younger member – they have an Associate membership package – you won’t get as many value-added benefits as these have been tailored to the older market. AARP is a good fit for the older market with reasonable pricing, nice value-added extras, an easy to use website and application system, and customizable packages. It’s a dependable choice with few limitations and not too many hidden costs. 

The company offers two programs to choose from: Road ‘n Tow, which costs $58 a year, and Premier, which costs $74 a year. The Road ‘n Tow option gives you 5 miles of free towing, and you get up to 100 miles of free towing with the Premier plan.

If you're on the Premier tier, you can also take advantage of AARP's trip interruption service, which reimburses you up to $1,500 per year to cover hotel, food and/or car rental costs should your car need extensive servicing while you're out of town.


4. AAA Roadside Assistance: A great all-round option

AAA is well-known, and well respected in roadside assistance

(Image credit: AAA)

AAA Roadside Assistance

Offers great value and comes with fine-print-free contracts

SPECIFICATIONS

Membership needed?: Yes | 24/7 coverage?: Yes | App available?: Apple and Android

Reasons to Buy

Flexible plans to suit most needs
Good coverage and towing
Very little fine-print

Reasons to Avoid

Membership required
One of the more expensive options

The AAA has always been known for its membership and the huge swathe of member benefits. The list is pretty endless with anything from a magazine to discounts to freebies that come part and parcel with the AAA. The roadside assistance packages are humdrum and quite standard when it comes to what they offer and the limitations they introduce. The pricing is good, if not extremely cheap and you get the usual tire replacement, fuel fills and recovery features that come standard with most plans. You do get very limited towing distances, which is not great, but you do get lots of other features so your choice will depend on what kind of car you drive, the distances you travel and the security you want as a driver.

The AAA Classic plan currently costs $58 a year, so only a few dollars more than Allstate’s basic plan. For about the same price, you get a variety of benefits, some of which aren’t strictly roadside assistance, but valuable nonetheless.

AAA Classic provides free towing for five miles, which is usually sufficient to get you to a mechanic when in the city. If you get locked out of your car, the service reimburses you $50 for the cost of a locksmith. While this may not be that much, this plan also includes benefits like identity theft monitoring and membership discounts at hotels, restaurants and other businesses. So, if you’re not a long-distance traveler, AAA’s basic plan can provide peace of mind and benefits other services lack.


5. National General Motor Club: Best value for money

National General Motor Club review

(Image credit: National General)

National General Motor Club

A roadside assistance service that delivers value-for-money

SPECIFICATIONS

Membership needed?: Yes | 24/7 coverage?: Yes | App available?: No

Reasons to Buy

Good cover for under $5 monthly
Generous lockout reimbursements
Member discounts up to 50% 

Reasons to Avoid

Limit on service calls
Longer towing distances elsewhere 

National General Motor Club stands out for delivering a good roadside assistance service and excellent value-for-money at the same time. For an outlay of just $59, which equates to less than $5 a month, National General will be on hand to help if you have a flat tire, require a jump start, have run out of gas, locked yourself out, or need winching. You’re also entitled to a five mile free tow as well, which might be slightly shorter than with some other basic roadside coverage, but will suffice if you usually stay local, and is obviously one way that helps the service keep its prices down. 

If you do want wider coverage, there’s a mid-range plan available for $79 a year, which takes the towing distance up to 20 miles, and includes $750 of trip interruption costs if you’re in an accident. And at the top end, the Elite plan costs $89 for the year- which is still only just over $7 a month - which will cover interruptions for breakdowns too, and tow you 100 miles without charge. 

Discounts for members of up to 50% on a range of dining, shopping, hotels and entertainment options will save you money too, while there’s a free mapping service available if you want to get a better idea of where you’re heading the old fashioned way. 


6. CARCHEX Roadside Assistance: Best no-frills roadside assistance

Carchex offers no-frills breakdown cover

(Image credit: Carchex)

CARCHEX Roadside Assistance is an excellent option if you want a straightforward roadside assistance service, but little more. Catching the eye in particular is CARCHEX’s low-cost Single Vehicle plan, thanks largely to the 25 miles of free towing on offer - similarly priced plans will usually only take you around five to seven miles before charges start to apply, so it’s well worth a look for this alone. 

All of the roadside assistance basics you’d expect are available too, including battery charging, flat tire change, lost key or lockout assistance, and fuel delivery, which all combine to make the Single Vehicle plan option a solid roadside assistance choice. Where you might want to be a little cautious is if you’re considering the premium-priced Unlimited Vehicles plan - yes, it will cover four members of your household and all the vehicles in it, but unlike with other top-end plans, the towing mileage doesn’t increase and remains at 25 miles. 

CARCHEX Roadside Assistance stacks up well in terms of its network, with over 45,000 services on standby, and can be contacted via app or over the phone if you need help - the typical waiting time for this to arrive is a very reasonable 30 minutes too. You won’t find trip interruption coverage or any member discounts at CARCHEX, but for some motorists, the breakdown basics are all they want and need, and what you will find here. 

CARCHEX Roadside Assistance

Breakdown cover that delivers the roadside rescue basics brilliantly

SPECIFICATIONS

Membership needed?: Yes | 24/7 coverage?: Yes | App available?: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Basic plan has 25 miles free towing
Single vehicle cover is good value  
45,000+ rescue trucks

Reasons to Avoid

Limited additional benefits
Towing distance low for premium plans


7. BRS Roadside Service: Best website

BRS has a great website

(Image credit: BRS)

BRS Roadside Service

A great customer journey and website

SPECIFICATIONS

Membership needed?: No | 24/7 coverage?: Yes | App available?: No

Reasons to Buy

Website is great
Decent prices available
Great network for towing

Reasons to Avoid

No app available
No plans for RVs or trailers

BRS is hard to find because it has a generic name, but when you do find them, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what they offer and how well they do it. This is a great choice for the road warrior that wants to know that they’re protected for miles (up to 75) and that they can be rescued within minutes (an average of 34 minutes). 

It’s also superb for families or individuals who want to customize their plan according to their life not their car – you can opt for a vehicle plan or an individual plan which then tacks the service onto the car or the person which really does make life easier. It’s one of the only roadside assistance companies to be accredited with the Better Business Bureau and it has a really good A+ rating. 


8. BP MotorClub: Best joining offer

It's only $1 to join BP MotorClub

(Image credit: BP)

BP MotorClub

You can join for just $1, and it's great for RV owners too

SPECIFICATIONS

Membership needed?: Yes | 24/7 coverage?: Yes | App available?: No

Reasons to Buy

Join for $1 for the first month
Good RV plans

Reasons to Avoid

Terrible website
Membership required

BP MotorClub is a good roadside assistance option if it's a great sign up offer that always catches your eye, or you're after short-term cover at next to no cost at all. That's because with BP MotorClub you'll pay just $1 for the first month, and are free to cancel within the first 30 days should you want. 

If you can see past the rather dated website, BP provides plenty of different plans from which to choose. You get some nice advice and insight in their information center too, including a number of in-depth articles detailing vehicle buying advice and guidance, which is a nice touch. BP is also one of the few roadside assistance companies to offer coverage for RVs without a hefty extra cost, which makes them a good choice for the RV traveler and explorer as well. 


What to consider with roadside assistance services

Roadside assistance services range from traditional breakdown plans to at-will services, and are also often offered through car insurance companies too. 

Cost is usually an important consideration for any motorist choosing a service, and fortunately, roadside assistance plan pricing tends to be straightforward – you pay an annual membership fee, either upfront or in monthly instalments. 

However, when assessing what you're being asked to pay, you'll also need to look at the full scope of what each service offers specifically. Towing limits in particular can be an important differentiator, with some companies offering reimbursement, while others tow you for free up to a certain number of miles. Basic plans tend to be pretty uniform in their limits, and usually offer around five miles of free towing or a reimbursement which should be enough to cover a short tow. That said, Good Sam Roadside Assistance stands out by offering unlimited towing with its basic plan.

With premium plans you can expect higher towing or reimbursement limits, and also usually trip interruption services as well. So, if you’re in an accident while you’re far from home, the roadside assistance company reimburses you for a good chunk of what you pay for hotels and food while your car is out of commission.

What services are included with roadside assistance?

While the idea of subscribing to a roadside assistance service is comforting in its own right, it’s good to know exactly what they cover so that you know exactly how your money is being spent, especially since not all of these services are created equal.

Coverage varies by company but, generally speaking, you can expect these services to cover most or all of the following:

  • Towing
  • Jump-start
  • Tire change
  • Oil delivery
  • Gas delivery
  • Locksmith services
  • Stuck in ditch/winch services
  • Car key replacement

Knowing how a roadside assistance service works is just as critical as knowing what services it covers. Some may require certain criteria to be met before dispatching an emergency service to you, or they may only cover part of the payment. Though it is time-consuming, we recommend reading the fine print for a service before signing up so you’re prepared in any situation.

Certain service providers offer premium plans that include additional benefits and coverage. Though it's more to pay, you get all kinds of protection that may prove helpful in extenuating circumstances. If you think you may require this level of coverage at any point, we recommend going with Good Sam, as it offers the most options for any situation.

Some examples of this advanced coverage include smaller-scale things like the coverage of recreational vehicles and motorcycles, or animal transportation. If you have an emergency while travelling outside of the U.S., there may be a need for something more extreme, like worldwide emergency medical evacuation, repatriation or the transference of medical records, vaccines, blood or other medication. Some services may also offer less-common services like home lock-out service or lodging and rental car discounts.

Are you already covered?

Before you join any of these programs, we recommend checking to see if you're already enrolled in a roadside assistance plan through another source. Many car insurance companies offer their own roadside assistance programs for a small additional cost to your monthly bill. These add-ons include similar, if not identical, coverage to that offered by standalone roadside services, including towing, tire changes, jumpstarts, gas or oil delivery, and locksmith services.

However, in order to benefit from these services, your insurance company will likely require you to be current on your monthly insurance payments and to be past any initial waiting periods. There is a big downside to getting roadside assistance through your car insurance company, however, which is that every claim goes on your record and can affect what you pay each month.

Some credit cards include roadside assistance as an additional feature, though you’re charged each time you use the benefit, so it could end up being more expensive in the long run than a traditional service. Extended car warranties can also include roadside assistance. So, if you recently bought a new or used car with a warranty, you could be covered for up to 30,000 miles or the duration of the warranty.

Which coverage type is right for you?

There are two types of roadside assistance coverage available, each offering different coverage and benefits. The first covers one specific driver, and the other covers one specific vehicle. Not all companies offer both options or let you choose which you prefer, so be sure to clarify with a provider before you sign up with a service.

Driver-specific coverage is good if you travel frequently in different vehicles. It is a good option not only for business travelers, but also for families that share multiple cars. We also recommend it for those who use rental cars while traveling. Before choosing a service, be sure to clarify with the company if you are required to be the driver in order to be covered or if you’re covered even if you’re only a passenger. Each company has its own restrictions.

Vehicle-specific coverage only covers a designated vehicle. With this, vehicle coverage is valid regardless of who is driving it. This option is a good choice for families with multiple members who are of legal driving age.

Rental car coverage

Whether you're planning an adventurous getaway or your car's going to be in the shop for a few days, it’s nice to be covered, even when you’re in a rental car. Most car rental companies offer roadside coverage for only a few bucks more per day.  They’re a cheap alternative to paying for incidental damages out of pocket or paying extra fees.

It is possible that coverage from a car rental service may be more limited than what it would be through a dedicated service. There could be fewer situations covered, fewer service vendor options, and they may be lower quality or take longer to drive out to you when you are stranded. Traditional roadside services are the best bet for rental car coverage, as they are the most comprehensive.

Roadside assistance for luxury & exotic cars

Whether you bought a Bentley or went all out with a Lamborghini, you may still need roadside assistance in case of an emergency. Many of the services out there – both traditional and at-will alike – are happy to cover your vehicle. However, keep in mind that, although some of these services cover the cost of standard towing, you may still be charged more if your vehicle requires upgraded towing services.

How often can you use traditional services?

The one downside to subscribing to a traditional emergency roadside service is that you may be limited in how frequently you can use it. This all depends on which company you subscribe to. Some services may limit the number of times you can file a claim, meaning you may only be able to file a certain number of claims per month or year.

Should you exceed the set limits of a particular service, you’ll have to take on the burden of paying for repairs, towing, fuel delivery, locksmith services and anything else on your own. Although, some companies may offer partial, decreased coverage once you’ve bypassed their limit.

If you don’t want to worry about limitations, we recommend using an at-will service, like Honk. These don’t have any high-use limitations or annual subscriptions; they’re simply there for you whenever you need them. They are also a great option for when you hit a limit with your traditional service.

Is your service available internationally?

Before signing up for a roadside assistance service, make sure you understand its coverage limitations. If you only drive locally, this isn’t a big concern. However, if you frequently travel in different states or countries, be it for work or pleasure, make sure you are covered as much as possible before you leave.

These services don’t cover you when you travel to a different continent. However, some work in adjacent countries on the same continent. For example, if you subscribe to a roadside assistance service in the United States, you may also be covered in Canada. Most roadside assistance services also work when you travel to other states within the United States, but be sure to check with the company before leaving.

If you need international roadside assistance coverage, your best bet is to purchase separate international travel insurance. Many policies include roadside assistance in addition to other helpful services that are handy to have when you travel, and they include similar coverage everywhere. You may be able to get travel insurance through your current insurance company. However, coverage can vary by country and service, so consider your travel plans and talk with your travel insurance company to ensure its services more or less match your travel needs.

How to limit using roadside assistance

If you’re worried about exceeding your roadside assistance plan’s limits or prefer saving it only for extreme emergencies, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of needing to use it. Mostly, it comes down to regular maintenance, keeping certain supplies in your car and being mindful while on the road.

The best thing you can do is take your car in for regular tune-ups and maintenance. This keeps you on top of problems and ensures everything works properly. It can even give you a heads-up about parts that need to be replaced in the near future. We also recommend regularly checking your tires’ tread and inflation – make sure they are always properly inflated, regularly rotated, and have enough tread to handle rainy and snowy conditions.

You should also keep jumper cables, fluids, flashlights and other tools in your car. Knowing how to jump a car and replace simple fluids can save you money on maintenance and emergency servicing. Roadside assistance plans generally cover these types of problems, but taking care of them yourself helps you save the service for more severe emergencies.

Try to plan travel around high-traffic days and times of day so that you can avoid them. By avoiding high-traffic situations, you reduce the likelihood of an accident or other emergency. Additionally, make sure that you drive safely, without distraction. Set up your GPS and music before putting the car in drive, and never text while driving.

You can also opt to use one-time, as-needed roadside assistance services, such as Honk, in place of your traditional service. This can help save you money during a less severe emergency.

Road trip safety tips

While roadside assistance services can often take care of you during an emergency on the road, there are a few other things you can do to prevent or lessen a potential crisis without ruining your entire trip.

Before leaving on a road trip, take your car in for a simple inspection. A mechanic can perform a quick diagnostic to make sure belts, hoses, fluids, tires and other moving parts are in good enough condition to handle the trip. This typically costs about $50.

There are also some things you can keep in your car that are helpful in minor emergency situations. These are relatively inexpensive and can save you time and money in the long run. We recommend getting a flashlight, flares, basic tools for changing a tire and a portable car battery charger. These are superior to traditional jumper cables, as they allow you to jump your battery immediately without having to flag down another car. Plus, you can use them to charge your phone, and you can easily recharge the battery charger after using it.

Beyond these, we recommend keeping a few items on hand for you and your passengers in case of an emergency, such as a first-aid kit, GPS or maps, blankets, medicine and bottled water. While it may seem like a hassle to store these things, they can ameliorate a stressful and unexpected situation.