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If you drive regularly, eventually your car could break down and you will need to call for help. But instead of paying an expensive towing bill, you can use credit cards with roadside assistance protection benefits to cover all of the costs. Several credit cards include these benefits for free. Read on to see if your credit card is on the list.
What Does Roadside Assistance Cover?
Every credit card might have a slightly different policy, but you can expect your benefits to cover the following events:
- Tow to the nearest repair shop or desired location (usually a 10-mile distance for free)
- Jumpstart a dead battery
- Replace a flat tire (if you have a spare tire)
- Two gallons of gas
Your car insurance policy or AAA membership might offer similar benefits, but you usually need to pay an additional monthly fee. If your credit card already includes these benefits, why pay more for your car insurance?
Credit Cards With Roadside Assistance Exclusions
Like many benefits, there are a few exclusions regarding what type of vehicle qualifies for the benefit. You’re most likely covered if you drive a regular passenger car, SUV, or truck. You will need to pay your own way when your vehicle meets one of the following characteristics:
- Weigh more than 10,000 pounds (the average car weighs 4,000 pounds)
- Is a camper
- The vehicle is in tow
- Unlicensed vehicle
Credit card roadside assistance benefits are usually valid in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands.
Since you’ll most likely rent a car if you travel overseas, the rental agency should offer roadside assistance for your non-covered situations. Or, you can purchase an add-on rider for your travel insurance policy.
American Express Roadside Assistance Benefits
Some people regard American Express as having the most generous roadside assistance benefits because they don’t set a price limit.
To get free roadside assistance benefits, you will need to use one of the cards listed below with Premium roadside assistance:
- Platinum Card from American Express
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card
- Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
- The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express
The other American Express rewards credit cards only offer free access to the roadside assistance hotline. It’s free to call Amex for help, but you will need to pay for any assistance.
With the American Express Premium Roadside Assistance, you’re entitled to free assistance up to four times a year:
- Free tow service up to 10 miles ($3 per additional mile)
- Flat tire when you have a workable spare tire
- Lockout service when the key is in the vehicle
- Up to two gallons of gas
Considering a 5-mile tow costs up to $125, this little-known benefit can be more valuable than you realize.
Chase Roadside Assistance Benefits
Chase also offers roadside assistance benefits on several premium credit cards, but they will only cover up to $50 per incident. You can use this benefit up to four times a calendar year, but only once every seven days for the next dispatch to be free.
The benefits apply to any vehicle you own, lease, or are driving a vehicle furnished by the owner for the following services:
- Battery Boost
- Flat Tire Service
- Fuel Delivery
- Lockout Assistance
Depending on how much the total service costs, you may not have to pay out of pocket for roadside assistance. You only need to pay any expenses in excess of the first $50 Chase pays.
Chase offers free roadside assistance on the following rewards cards:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- United Explorer Card (Personal and Business) [Expired]
- United Club Card
- The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
The United Explorer Card is the one exception to this list as it only has a $95 annual fee. Considering most credit cards reserve the free assistance benefits for the premium travel credit cards with a $450 annual fee, this benefit is something to keep in mind for a regular consumer credit card.
The premium Citi Prestige is the only Citi-branded credit card that offers free roadside assistance benefits. Citi’s benefits are very similar to American Express in that you only need to pay when the tow distance is longer than 10 miles. You can also call Citi’s 24/7 hotline when you need a battery jump start, flat tire repair, fuel delivery, or lockout assistance too.
Credit Cards With Roadside Assistance vs. Your Car Insurance
Your auto insurance provider most likely offers roadside assistance for an additional fee. Most insurance roadside assistance plans cost between $5-$10 a month for similar services. The one area where your car insurance might be better is the free towing distance. For example, they might offer free towing services for 20 miles or 30 miles instead of 10 miles.
Depending on your driving habits, breaking down in a rural area means you’re more likely to be at least 10 miles away from a repair facility. When this is the case, your car insurance policy can be the better option because the $3 charge per additional mile adds up quickly.
Another reason to consider going with your own car insurance is if you don’t own one of the credit cards with roadside assistance mentioned above. The main reason you go with a premium travel credit card is so you can enjoy top-notch rewards and benefits when you travel. However, not everybody travels enough to justify the higher annual fee.
What To Do When Your Credit Card Doesn’t Have Roadside Assistance Benefits
When your credit card doesn’t offer free roadside assistance benefits, you have three options:
- Apply for one of the cards that have free roadside assistance
- Pay the fee through your credit card’s 24/7 travel assistance hotline
- Add roadside assistance to your car insurance policy
If you have a newer vehicle, you may choose to rely on your credit card benefits to save a few bucks in car insurance. Even though you might have to pay for each dispatch, it can still be cheaper than adding the benefit to your insurance policy.
Summary of Credit Cards With Roadside Assistance
Most credit card companies now reserve roadside protection benefits for their premium credit cards. By owning one of the cards, you have the additional peace of mind when you drive your personal vehicle. And, you can use the benefit up to four times a year for free and save hundreds of dollars when the unexpected happens. Credit cards with roadside assistance are great if you hit the road often.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.