Breaking down on the side of the road is a situation most drivers hope to avoid, but it’s a reality that can happen to anyone. A lot of drivers have services like AAA Roadside Assistance that they can call if they find themselves stranded. These services promise peace of mind and quick solutions during emergencies, but do the benefits justify the cost? Here are some things to consider to make the right decision for your particular situation.
1. Peace of mind
The primary selling point of roadside assistance is the peace of mind it brings. Knowing that help is just a phone call away can alleviate the stress and anxiety of being stranded in an unfamiliar or unsafe area, or in bad weather.
2. Quick response
Professional service providers like AAA Roadside Assistance usually offer prompt response times, which can be just what you need in critical situations. They can handle a range of issues, from flat tires to dead batteries, and can often get you back on the road faster than if you try to deal with the problem yourself.
3. Expertise and equipment
Roadside assistance services employ trained professionals with the right tools and knowledge to handle various vehicle-related issues. This eliminates the risk of causing further damage by attempting DIY repairs, and also keeps you from being out on the road trying to change a tire or fix your car, which can be dangerous.
4. Coverage beyond breakdowns
Roadside assistance usually covers more than just breakdowns. Some plans offer services like fuel delivery, lockout assistance, and even towing to the nearest repair shop. These extras can come in handy and potentially save you a lot of money in the long run.
One of the most significant drawbacks of roadside assistance is the cost. While monthly or annual fees might seem reasonable, they can add up over time—especially if you never require the services. Paying for something you might never need can be a financial strain.
2. Limited usage
If your vehicle is relatively new or well-maintained, you might not be likely to encounter breakdowns or emergencies. In that case, paying for roadside assistance maybe isn’t the most cost-effective option.
3. Service area limitations
Roadside assistance coverage may have geographic limitations. If you often travel outside of the coverage area, you might need to pay additional fees or rely on other means of assistance.
4. Overlap with existing coverage
Some auto insurance policies, credit cards, or vehicle warranties might already include roadside assistance services. Before investing in a separate plan, be sure to review your existing coverage to avoid paying more for something you already have.
Alternatives to AAA
Along with checking to see if you have existing coverage, it’s also a good idea to proactively consider other options that may be a better fit for you than AAA. Here are some of the top ways to get roadside assistance coverage aside from AAA:
Good Sam Roadside Assistance
Good Sam started out as roadside for RVs, but now they offer it for cars as well.
They provide the same services but now they offer it for cars as well. Their pricing is
similar—but they often have specials that are 10-25% cheaper than AAA’s rate.
Some credit cards include roadside assistance coverage as a
Benefit to cardholders, and they may be worth considering if you’re
open to getting a new credit card. A few that typically offer roadside
are: Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire, and Capital One Savor.
Car insurance companies
Another way to get roadside assistance is through certain
car insurance carriers. Companies like Nationwide, Progressive, and
Allstate offer roadside coverage, usually for a small monthly fee on
top of your insurance premiums.
In an unexpected twist, AT&T offers basic roadside assistance to
their customers who have a mobile phone plan with them, for just
$2.99 a month—the only catch is that the mobile phone that has the
roadside plan attached must be present with the car when you call
The bottom line: Is AAA Roadside Assistance worth it?
Deciding whether roadside assistance is worth the cost depends on your individual circumstances and priorities. If peace of mind, quick response times, and professional expertise are high on your list, then AAA Roadside Assistance or a similar plan can be a worthwhile investment. But if you rarely experience vehicle issues or have coverage through other means, the cost might outweigh the benefits to you.