Best Roadside Assistance Services of 2019

Eli McCormick ·
Finance Senior Writer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We spent about 40 hours comparing roadside assistance services. During our research, we looked at the towing limits and reimbursements for things like locksmiths and fuel delivery. Most services sell a variety of plans, and we looked at the cost for each company’s basic and premium offerings. 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.      

Best Overall
Allstate Motor Club
Allstate Motor Club pairs affordable plans with generous roadside assistance services. You get $100 reimbursement on towing and locksmith services with the Roadside Advantage Plan, which is more than enough to cover local and some longer distance service calls.
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Best Value
AAA
AAA is the biggest name in roadside assistance. Its basic plan’s low price and wide variety of benefits, including rewards programs and identity protection, make it our choice for best value.
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Best Services
Good Sam
Good Sam Roadside Assistance has some of the best services we saw. For example, it offers unlimited towing, jump starts and flat tire repairs.
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US$69.95@Good Sam
Best Services
Good Sam
Product
Price
Overall Rating
Pricing
Basic Services
Premium Services
Basic Membership
Premium Membership
Basic Towing Limits
Basic Locksmith Reimbursement
Basic Fuel Delivery
Premium Towing Limits
Premium Locksmith Reimbursement
Premium Trip Interruption Reimbursement
Check Price
9.7 9.8 10 9.3
$52
$99
Up to $100
$100
$250
$100
$1,500
Check Price
9.4 8.8 9.8 9.8
$80
$115
Unlimited
Everything But Parts and Labor
Unlimited
All But Parts and Labor
$1,200
Check Price
9.2 9.3 8.5 10
$56
$119
5 Miles
$50
200 Miles
$150
$1,500
Check Price
9.1 10 8 9
$58
$74
5 Miles
$60
100 Miles
$130
$1,500
Check Price
8.9 9.8 8 8.8
$59
$95
5 Miles
$50
100 Miles
$100
$1,500
Check Price
8.8 9.8 8 8.5
$59
$89
5 Miles
$60
100 Miles
$130
$750
Check Price
8.3 8.8 8 8
$78
$120
5 Miles
$60
100 Miles
$120
$500
Check Price
7.3 5 9.3 8
$132
$240
Up to $100
$100
$100
$100
$500
Check Price
7.2 8.8 5.3 7.5
$85
$100
15 miles
$0
100 Miles
0
$1,000
Best Overall
We chose Allstate Motor Club as the best roadside assistance service overall because it’s one of the most affordable and has a strong collection of services and benefits. You don’t need to be an Allstate policyholder to sign up – anyone can join.
The Roadside Advantage plan is the most basic, 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. This means 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 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. It provides up to $1,500 toward food and lodging while your car gets repaired.
Pros
  • Least expensive basic plan
  • Basic plan’s reimbursement is more generous than competitors' plans
  • Reimbursement covers fuel and locksmiths as well
Cons
  • Premium plan offers fewer discounts than other programs
  • Not the most affordable premium plan
  • No middle-tier plan
US$52.00Allstate Motor Club
Read the full review
Best Value
AAA is nearly synonymous with roadside assistance. After comparing plans, we found that AAA offers the best value, 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 in cities. If you get locked out of your car, the service reimburses you $50 for the cost of a locksmith. 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 elsewhere, with a $119 annual cost. Several competing roadside assistance programs’ premium plans come in at less than $100 a year. However, while it may cost more, AAA Premier includes 200 miles of free towing, which is double the distance in most premium plans.
Pros
  • Basic plan one of the least expensive
  • Identity monitoring included in basic plan
  • 200 miles of free towing with premium plan
Cons
  • Only 5 miles of free towing with Classic plan
  • Only $50 for locksmith reimbursement
  • Premier plan costs $119 a year
US$56.00AAA
Read the full review
Best Services
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. One drawback of using Good Sam is it’s one of the more expensive services we reviewed. Its standard plan costs $80 a year, so a little more than $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 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.
Pros
  • Unlimited towing and other roadside assistance
  • All family members and cars covered by plan
  • Platinum plan includes car rental and hotel discounts
Cons
  • More expensive than other services
  • Locksmith benefit requires you pay for parts and labor
  • Some services not available in every state
US$69.95Good Sam
Read the full review
Best for Seniors
You need to be over 50 and a member of AARP to join the AARP Roadside Assistance program.
There are two plans to choose from: Road ‘n Tow costs $58 a year and Premier costs $74 a year. Road ‘n Tow includes 5 miles of free towing, and Premier includes 100 miles of free towing. These plans only cover one person – 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.
Pros
  • Lowest price for a premium membership
Cons
  • Basic plan includes only 5 miles of free towing
$58.00AARP
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Best for Families
If you want your roadside assistance plan to cover more than just yourself, National General Motor Club is the best option.
The Elite plan costs $89, and for an additional $30, you can cover your entire family, including all dependents under 26. Other programs we reviewed restrict either the age or the number of dependents you can add to your plan. Families on the Elite plan get up to seven service calls a year, with 100 miles of free towing and up to $130 of locksmith reimbursement.
Pros
  • Dependents as old as 26 can be added to your plan
Cons
  • Basic plan can’t extend to families
$59.00National General Motor Club
Read the full review

Why Trust Us

We’ve been writing about roadside assistance services for seven years. As part of our review, we compare prices as well as the services each company offers in its basic and premium plans. The companies we looked at all have open membership.

Before you join any of these programs though, we recommend checking to see if you’re already enrolled in a roadside assistance plan. Many insurance companies offer their own roadside assistance programs for a small additional cost. Also, credit cards often include roadside assistance as well, though you’re charged each time you use the benefit, so it can end up being more expensive. Extended warranties include roadside assistance as well, so if you recently bought a new or used car with a warranty, you’re covered for 30,000 miles or the duration of the warranty.

How We Tested

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. Most roadside assistance services have different service tiers. For the most basic level of service, we saw prices ranging between $52 and $132 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.

Getting help on the road is what you pay for, so we looked at what each service offers. Towing limits were important in our evaluation. Some companies offer reimbursement and some tow you for free for a certain number of miles. Basic plans are uniform in their limits – 5 miles or reimbursement of $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 $250. These premium plans also offer trip interruption services – if you’re in an accident while you’re far from home, the roadside assistance company reimburses you for what you pay for hotels and food while your car is out of commission.

How Much Does Roadside Assistance Cost?

Most basic roadside assistance plans cost between $56 and $132 a year, which comes to about $5 to $11 a month. A basic plan includes towing and locksmith reimbursement, so even if you only use it once, you’ll recoup the cost of your membership. If you’re a heavy traveler, you may benefit more from a premium plan, which costs between $74 and $240, or about $6 to $20 a month. Premium plans have higher towing and reimbursement limits and often include discounts on hotels and car rentals.

Which Coverage Type is Right for You?

With roadside assistance services, there are generally two types of coverage available. Each offers differing benefits. The first covers one specific driver, and the other only covers a specific vehicle. Not all companies offer both options or let you choose which you prefer, so be sure to ask for your options before you sign up with a service. Also research any limitations.

Driver-specific coverage is good if you travel frequently in different vehicles. It isn’t designed solely for business travelers; it also works for families that share multiple cars. This option is especially handy, however, for those who use rental cars while traveling, or if you frequently need to drive a friend or family member’s car. 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 are covered even if you’re simply a passenger. Each company likely has its own restrictions.

Vehicle-specific coverage only covers a designated vehicle. Generally, this coverage is valid regardless of who is driving it or what state the vehicle is currently in when it breaks down. This option is handy for families with multiple members who are of legal driving age. Be sure to double check with the service provider if it covers you while you’re driving the car through different states.

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. That way you know exactly how your money is being spent, especially since not all of these services are created equal.

Service 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

In addition to knowing that one company may not provide all of the emergency services that you need, be aware that many of these companies offer different plan tiers. Basic plans are the most affordable, but they usually cover only a handful of the services with limitations, whereas mid-tier or premium plans typically cover more services with fewer – if any – limitations. Consider what your budget can allow for, along with how frequently you travel in order to find optimal coverage for your travel needs.

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 so that you’re prepared in any situation.

What Else Is Covered?

While roadside assistance programs do a good job of covering the most common emergencies that people may experience out on the road, some also cover a variety of additional situations, vehicles and services that many people don’t know about. This extra coverage is usually available only with the most expensive plans. You may also have to subscribe to additional service, pay for part of the service yourself or meet other conditions in order to receive this extended coverage.

These lesser-known services and assistance options aren’t advertised as readily as the standard set of services as they mostly pertain to extenuating circumstances. Be sure to read the fine print for any service before signing up, and keep in mind that not all of the companies in our comparison offer this. 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. Talk with company representatives to get further details and see if a premium plan is the best fit for your travelling needs.

Some examples of this advanced coverage include smaller-scale things like allowing for 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, blood, vaccines or other medication. Some services may also offer less-common services like home lock-out service or lodging discounts.

Newer roadside emergency programs like Urgent.ly won’t cover these kinds of situations, however, and neither will ones offered by your insurance company. So, if you think you may need this kind of assistance, you’ll be better off using a traditional heavy-duty emergency assistance program.

What Isn't Covered by These Services

While many of these emergency roadside assistance services, like Good Sam, provide quite extensive coverage, they aren’t all-powerful. What each provider specifically covers varies by provider and is typically listed on the provider’s website. You can also talk directly with a company representative or pore over their fine print online to discern exactly what they will and will not cover.

It is safe to assume that none of these providers will cover extreme or pre-existing situations, such as acts of god, nature, war or riots. These companies won’t service vehicles located outside their service zone, nor will they cover things like medical bills. They likely also won’t cover anything beyond the obvious borders of their service, like cars that are already damaged, vandalized or abandoned, or commercial vehicles or trailers.

These programs typically also have restrictions or limits on their services. It’s critical that you stick to their rules if you want to receive coverage. If you are late submitting a claim, or get service done at a retailer they did not previously authorize, you might not receive coverage. These companies are all good at posting service details and fine print on their websites, and most offer 24/7 customer service so you should always call in and talk to a representative if you have a question.

National vs. International Coverage

Before signing up for a roadside assistance service, make sure you understand its coverage limitations. If you’ll only be driving locally, this isn’t a big factor for you to worry about. But for those who travel frequently in different states or countries, be it for work or pleasure, ensure you’re covered as much as possible before you leave.

These services won’t work if you travel to a different continent. However, some services will work in adjacent countries on the same continent; for example, if you subscribe to a certain roadside assistance service from within the United States, it may also work in Canada. Most of these services also work when you travel to a different state within the United States, but be sure to check with the company before leaving.

If you need international assistance coverage, your best bet is to purchase separate international travel insurance. Many options out there offer roadside assistance in addition to other helpful services that are handy to have when you travel and include similar coverage wherever possible; you may also be able to acquire travel insurance through your current insurance company. Coverage will also vary per country and service, so consider what your travel plans are and talk with your travel insurance company to ensure their services more or less match your travel needs.

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 know that you could still be covered in a rental car. Most car rental companies offer roadside assistance coverage similar to the traditional services, for only a few bucks more each day you are renting the car. Though these plans are temporary and non-transferrable, and only cover the rented car for the specified rental period, they are a cheap alternative to paying for incidental damages out of pocket or paying extra fees if your roadside assistance service doesn’t automatically cover rental cars.

Keep in mind that emergency roadside assistance coverage from a car rental service may be more limited than what it would be through a traditional and dedicated service. There may be fewer emergency situations covered and fewer service vendor options, and they may be lower quality or take longer to drive out to where you are stranded. Plus, should you end up needing more assistance than the rental car plan covers, you’ll still end up having to fall back on a traditional roadside service or paying out of pocket.

We recommend choosing a comprehensive roadside assistance service that can cover rental cars in addition to your owned vehicles, like AAA or AARP. These companies may be able to help you get a discount on a rental car as well.


Alternative Services

If a traditional roadside assistance service isn’t the right fit, don’t fret. Newer services, startups like Urgent.ly and Honk for example, are increasing in popularity amongst younger users who need emergency roadside assistance, but may not have the generational connection to time-honored services like AAA. These new companies offer the same services as the others: battery jump, towing, fuel delivery, car lockout services, flat tire fix and winch services.

These services work like rideshare companies – think Uber. You open the app whenever you need emergency assistance, enter information about your vehicle and what service you need, then it contacts local service providers and dispatches them to your location. You can even track the provider as they make their way to you in real time, so you aren’t left waiting and wondering.

Both of these programs rely solely on mobile apps; you never have to call anyone or go into a store to sign up or get service. They are also totally separate from the roadside assistance programs offered by your insurance company. Additionally, there are no hidden costs or membership subscriptions for these app-based services, so you won’t have to worry about losing money each year if you don’t happen to use the service. In most cases, prices for every service are provided upfront and start as low as $49.

How Often Can You Use Roadside Assistance Services?

The one downside to subscribing to a traditional emergency roadside assistance service is that you may be limited in how often you can use it. This all depends on which company you go through. Some services may limit the number of times you can file for help monthly or annually. Others don’t have any limits like that, or they limit you in different ways.

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

If you don’t want to worry about limitations, which is understandable especially if you travel frequently, we recommend either finding a traditional roadside service without limits or using a non-traditional service. These alternative options – for example, Honk or Urgent.ly – don’t have any high-use limitations or annual subscriptions. They’re simply there for you whenever you need them, as you need them.

These alternative roadside assistance services may also be something to fall back on should you surpass any limit imposed on you by your primary service subscription. It’s highly unlikely that either service would penalize you for having two services at once, so you should be OK to keep one of these alternative services on standby during your travels. We recommend downloading the mobile apps for all roadside services you plan on using so they’re easy to access during an emergency.

Road Trip Safety Tips

While roadside assistance services can often take care of you during an on-the-road emergency, 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 into a mechanic for a simple inspection. Here, 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 a road trip. This typically costs about $50.

There are also some things you can keep in your car that are helpful in minor emergency situations. Each of 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 it to charge your phone and recharge it easily 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 in your car, they can ameliorate a stressful and unexpected situation.

Avoid accidents by not driving while distracted or impaired. Also, don’t use your cell phone to text or watch videos while driving. If you’re going on a long road trip, try and rest up. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 25 drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel in the last 30 days – if you’re feeling tired, pull over and take a nap. Many roadside assistance services include hotel discounts with memberships, so you can take advantage of those offers if you need a place to stay before finishing your trip.

Tire Safety Awareness

Tires are one of the most common causes of accidents. Per the Department of Transportation, there are nearly 11,000 tire-related crashes each year. AAA reported responding to nearly 450,000 tire-related calls in 2017 alone.

Before you take off, be it at the beginning of your trip or from a rest stop along the way, check your tire pressure to make sure they are all properly inflated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that having properly inflated tires can save you up to 11 cents per gallon on fuel. Also, make sure your spare tire is properly inflated. The NHTSA also recommends checking your tires’ treads. If the tread is at or less than 2/32 of an inch, you need to replace the tire.

Does Your Car Insurance Provide Roadside Assistance?

Many people are unaware that most auto insurance companies have emergency roadside assistance services you can add on to your monthly bill. These add-ons include similar, if not identical, services to those offered by standalone roadside assistance programs, including towing, tire changes, jump-starts, gas or oil delivery, and locksmith services.

However, 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. In most cases, any service you request from your insurance company will be dispatched from a provider they choose, not one you choose. Additionally, some of these services only cover part of the costs incurred from a service call, not the total amount, so make sure you read through the company’s fine print. Lastly, costs for the roadside assistance option on your insurance may change year to year, so check your bill regularly to look for changes.

User Reviews

Before you sign up with any roadside assistance service, we recommend reading reviews from people who have used the service. This will provide insight into how helpful a service is, how fair the pricing and coverage is, and how responsive the representatives are, among other things.

These customer reviews provide great insight into a service that could ultimately potentially make or break your road trip. Just keep in mind that disgruntled users are more likely than satisfied customers to write a review, so the truth is usually somewhere between the glowing reviews and the scathing ones.

Beyond reading customer reviews, make sure to familiarize yourself with the fine print of a service. One may not guarantee immediate dispatch of a service technician, while another may require you to pay for part of a service or not cover it at all. By knowing the ins and outs of a service, and by reading a variety of current user reviews, you can get a better idea of how good a roadside assistance service is and if it’s the right fit for you.