Best roadside assistance 2019: don't get stranded

We've reviewed and rated the best roadside assistance plans so you no longer have to worry about being stuck by the side of the road in a broken down car. 

Breaking down is something we all dread and can also lead to unwanted expenses like tow trucks, jumpstarts and hefty repair bills, but for a yearly fee, drivers have instant access to a trained recovery mechanic giving piece of mind and, hopefully, minimizing the financial hit. 

Best for services: Good Sam

Good Sam Roadside Assistance has some of the best services of any company. For example, it offers towing, jump starts and flat tire repairs.

In partnership with Good SamVIEW DEAL ON Good Sam

Many insurance companies nowadays offer plans that may include roadside assistance, but you can also split the two, so if your insurance company does a great insurance plan, but its roadside assistance package is subpar, expensive or unreliable, you can go somewhere else for the best roadside assistance. 

Many large companies welcome customers of other insurance companies. So you can get AAA, Geico and State Farm roadside assistance even if you’re with a competitor or a local insurance provider. But which ones offer the best bang for the buck? Which roadside assistance plans gets you the best range of services, and for the best price?

To find out, we carefully compared roadside assistance service providers. During our research, we looked at the services' towing limits as well as their reimbursement limits for things like locksmiths and fuel delivery. We also considered average response times and user reviews. Most services offer as-needed servicing or sell various plans, and we looked at the cost for all options for each company. Based on what we found, we decided that Allstate Motor Club is the best option for roadside assistance. Its basic plan is the most affordable and has generous reimbursements for towing and lockouts.

1. Allstate Motor Club: best overall

Allstate Roadside Assistance

(Image credit: Allstate)

Allstate Motor Club

The best roadside assistance service overall because of its affordability and strong collection of services and benefits

Reasons to Buy
Least expensive basic plan
Basic plan’s reimbursement is more generous than competitors' plans
Reimbursement covers both fuel delivery and locksmiths
Reasons to Avoid
Premium plan offers fewer discounts than other programs
Not the most affordable premium plan
No middle-tier plan

We chose Allstate Motor Club as the best roadside assistance service overall because of its affordability and strong collection of services and benefits. You don’t even need to be an Allstate policyholder to sign up – anyone can join.

The Roadside Advantage plan is the most basic option, and it is one of the most affordable plans we saw. It costs $52 annually, or a little more than $4 a month. 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.

The Platinum Elite plan costs $99 a year, or about $8 a month. That’s about $20 less than average for premium roadside plans. The Platinum plan includes over $250 worth of reimbursement, so if you need a longer tow, you’re covered for it. In case you get in an accident far away from home, Allstate provides a trip interruption benefit, which provides up to $1,500 toward food and lodging while your car gets repaired.

Allstate’s roadside assistance service offers a great balance of price and features, so is a worthy winner in our test.

Read the full review

2. AAA: best value

AAA offers great-value roadside assistance

(Image credit: AAA)

AAA

We found that AAA roadside assistance offers the best value to the buyer, especially with its basic plan

Reasons to Buy
Basic plan one of the least expensive
Identity monitoring included in basic plan
200 miles of free towing with premium plan
Reasons to Avoid
Only 5 miles of free towing with Classic plan
Only $50 for locksmith reimbursement
Premier plan costs $119 a year

AAA is nearly synonymous with roadside assistance. After comparing plans, we found that AAA roadside assistance offers the best value to the buyer, especially with its basic plan.

The AAA Classic plan costs $56 a year, which is about $4.66 a month and 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 5 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.

The company’s higher-level plan, AAA Premier, is slightly more expensive than comparable plans at other companies, with a cost of $119 annually. Several competing roadside assistance programs’ premium plans come in at less than $100 per year. However, while it may cost more, AAA Premier includes 200 miles of free towing, which is double the distance in most premium plans. In all, AAA’s roadside assistance service plans offer very good value for money.

Read the full review

3. Good Sam: good service

Good Sam offers unlimited towing

(Image credit: Good Sam)
Reasons to Buy
Unlimited towing and other roadside assistance
All family members and cars covered by plan
Platinum plan includes car rental and hotel discounts
Reasons to Avoid
More expensive than other services
Locksmith benefit requires you pay for parts and labor
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. One drawback of using Good Sam is it’s one of the more expensive services we reviewed.

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.

Read the full review

4. AARP: best for seniors

AARP

(Image credit: AARP)

AARP

You need to be over 50 and a member of AARP to join the AARP Roadside Assistance program

Reasons to Buy
Offers travel and car rental discounts
Is available 24/7
Plans are some of the most affordable
Reasons to Avoid
Basic plan only gives 5 miles of free towing
Must be a qualified, existing AARP member to join
Limited number of service calls per year

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.

You can be reimbursed up to $50 for locksmith services on the basic plan and up to $130 with the premium option. These plans only cover one person, though, and it costs $10 to add a spouse and $30 to cover your entire family. AARP limits a single user to four service calls a year, a couple to five calls a year and a family to seven calls a year.

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.

Read the full review

How we researched the best roadside assistance service

We researched all types of roadside assistance services, from traditional options to at-will services and those offered through car insurance companies. Because all services offer coverage for the same situations - from towing to key replacement - we looked primarily at pricing to evaluate them.

Price is perhaps the most important consideration when choosing a service. Fortunately, roadside assistance plan pricing is straightforward – you pay an annual membership fee, either upfront or in monthly installments. For the most basic level of service, we saw prices ranging between $52 and $96 a year, with most falling between $60 and $80 annually. Premium plans have higher service limits and often provide discounts on hotels and rental services. The premium plans we looked at range from $74 to $240 annually, with most falling between $90 and $115 a year.

We looked at the full scope of what each service offers specifically. Towing limits were important in our evaluation. Some companies offer reimbursement, while others tow you for free up to a certain number of miles. Basic plans are uniform in their limits - 5 miles of free towing or a reimbursement of up to $100, which is usually enough to cover a short tow. Good Sam Roadside Assistance stands out by offering unlimited towing with its basic plan.

Premium plans have higher towing or reimbursement limits, usually 100 miles or up to $250. These premium plans also generally offer 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.

The companies we looked at almost all have open membership or don't require membership at all.

How much does roadside assistance cost?

As we've just touched on, most basic roadside assistance plans cost between $52 and $96 a year, which comes to about $5 to $8 per month. Typically, basic plans cover tow trucks, jumpstarts and locksmith reimbursement, so even if you only use it once, you’ll likely recoup the cost of your membership. If you’re a heavy traveler, you may benefit more from a premium plan, which can cost between $74 and $240 a year, or $6 to $20 a month. Premium plans have higher towing and reimbursement limits, and often include discounts on hotels and car rentals as well. 

You can also go for non-traditional options – like Honk, Urgent.ly, and Blink – which have no monthly or annual membership costs and allow you to use a service only as you need. Prices usually start at around a flat $49 fee, and they cover the same types of emergencies as traditional roadside assistance services.

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.

Read more:

Best Dash Cam
Best Backup Camera
Best Car Alarms
Best Car GPS Navigation Units
Best In-dash GPS Navigation Units
Best Car Speakers
Best Car Warranty

ProductPriceOverall RatingPricingStandard ServicesBasic LimitsPremium LimitsOther FeaturesBasic MembershipPremium MembershipFlat Fee (starts at)TowingJump-StartTire ChangeGas DeliveryAuto LockoutDitch/Winch ServicesBasic Towing LimitsBasic Locksmith Reimbursement MaxMax Dependents - BasicPremium Towing LimitsPremium Locksmith Reimbursement Max Premium Trip Interruption Reimbursement MaxMax Dependents - Premium24-Hour AssistanceReal-Time TrackingLuxury/Exotic CarsCar Rental DiscountsTravel DiscountsService Call Limit
Allstate Motor ClubView Deal5/5109.89.89.88.8$52.00$99.00--$100$100$250$100.00$1,500.00--3/Year
AAA Roadside AssistanceView Deal5/59.9108.88.89$56.00$129.00-5 Miles$50.00200$250.00$1,500.00--4/Year
Good Sam Roadside AssistanceView Deal4.5/58.51010109.8$69.95$189.95-UnlimitedUnlimited$1,200.00--None
AARP Roadside AssistanceView Deal4.5/59.31098.39$58.00$74.00-5 Miles$60.002100$130.00$1,500.003+--4/Year
National General Motor ClubView Deal4.5/59.2108.37.88.5$59.00$89.00-5 Miles$60.000100$130.00$750.00---4/Year
Better World ClubView Deal4.5/59108.57.39$58.95$97.95-5 Miles$50.003100$100.00$1,500.003--4/Year
National Motor ClubView Deal4/57.5103.83.87.3$96.00$240.00-----------