Roadside assistance: worth it or not?

When I bought my car three years ago, its three year warranty came with roadside assistance anywhere in North America! That seemed like a pretty sweet perk at the time, being a 22 year old who knew (and knows…) very little about cars, just bought a brand-new car, and planned on driving most of her miles on long stretches of the highway to visit family. Well, guess what? That policy is expiring soon! And I’ve been debating what to do about it. The way I see it, I have several options:

1) Car insurance: Add this as an additional benefit/cost on my car insurance policy. I investigated this and it would cost $30/year.

2) AAA: Buy a AAA membership. The classic membership would cost me $56/year and would get me free towing up to 5 miles. For free towing up to 100 miles, it would cost $89/year.

3) Credit card benefit: Investigate my existing credit cards for if they have a roadside assistance benefit and if not, apply for a new credit card with no annual fee that does. None of my existing credit cards have this benefit and I don’t want to get another credit card just for this.

4) Go without: This is the catch-all, take no action option.

After much consideration over the last few months, I am opting for the last option, do nothing. Why? In the last three years, nothing has happened to my car. It also seems fairly unlikely. I have a smartphone, with which I could look up the phone number of a local towing company wherever I am and call them or if I have no data service, call a friend who has internet access to look one up and then I can call that number.

Readers, do you have a roadside assistance policy? If so, how often have you used it?

11 thoughts on “Roadside assistance: worth it or not?

  1. We have AAA and have thankfully only needed it a couple of times, but it’s been so great when we have needed it. The membership also gets you discounts on things like hotel rooms through special member rates.

    • Yep! My parents have AAA as well and they like it, though they’ve never really ever used it to get towed as far as I know. I sometimes use their AAA card to get discounted rates on hotel rooms, but I very rarely stay in hotels not for work. I also have a ton of hand-me-down maps from my parents that they got from AAA.

  2. I have AAA car insurance and membership. For me the aggravation dealing with various towing companies with outrageous rates helped me make the decision to use AAA services. Until you have a bad experience, you might regret not including towing as part of your car insurance policy.

    • Yep, that’s why I’ve been considering it. I haven’t had a bad experience yet, thankfully. $30/year doesn’t seem that bad and possibly worth it.

  3. We do option 1. Because we went without and could have used it once (and AAA is more expensive and I don’t like their sketchy advertising practices where they send a card and a bill without us applying for one). Since getting it we haven’t needed it.

    • Figures, right? If you have it, you don’t need it. I have a feeling I’ll end up needing it if I don’t have it. I’m mostly driving around the city right now, but maybe I should add it since the drive to my parents’ at this time of the year can sometimes be snowy and it’s a long stretch on a highway mostly with no street lights.

  4. I do 4. I heard a rumor that you could just join AAA then order a tow immediately – not sure if that is true…

    If I did join, I’d look through my insurance or:

    Our car is pretty new. When I was in high school / college and drove much older cars, I had AAA. My parents paid for it as part of a family membership, but it was nice to have when I had unreliable cars and regularly driving ~500 miles to visit a boyfriend. I don’t think I ever actually used it though, except for preventable things like locking my keys in the car.

    • Hmmm I’m not sure I would want to act on that rumor! Just in case…

      Looks like my insurance is still cheaper than Better World Club, so I’ll probably do that or the extra credit card.

      My parents are about 250 miles round trip from my place, which is the main reason I have been looking into this. My car is still fairly new (only 3 years old) and so few miles on it, that the likelihood of it breaking down is fairly low. I can’t lock my keys in the car because I have keyless. If I leave my keys in the trunk and close the door, it’ll actually open back up again!

  5. A couple years back, I was driving a 3-4 year old Ford Escape with low miles and the battery died. I think it must have been the factory battery and just ran out of juice because the Escape had automatic headlights. Anyway, I bring it up because even “reliable” cars can have issues. I called AAA and they had someone come to my condo and install a new battery. Since you admit you know little about cars and may not recognize the warning signs of an impending issue, AAA might be a great buy.
    I think $89/year is a low price for peace of mind. When something inevitably happens, instead of freaking out and trying to figure out how you’re going to handle it, you make 1 call to AAA. I’ve also done the whole “call someone and have them look up auto repair places online” and personally I would never want to go through that again.
    Note: Sometimes AAA wait times can be…extreme.

Comments are closed.