Consumer Reports: Choosing the best roadside assistance plan

If you've got a few drivers in your family and several cars, using coverage from your insurer can be a good deal.
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 6:30 PM MST
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Maybe you have a flat tire, run out of gas, or need a jump-start — roadside assistance plans can often help get you out of a jam. There are many options, and choosing the right plan can be challenging. Consumer Reports steers us through the ins and outs of roadside assistance.

No matter where you get your roadside assistance, plans often include the basics like a tow or jump-start and help if you have a flat, run out of gas, or lock yourself out of your car. They’re sold by companies such as AAA, Better World Club, and Good Sam.

This kind of plan is the best if you drive a lot because it has the most robust towing assistance setups, depending on which tier you choose. If you drive an older car, there’s more of a chance that something could happen, and you might need a tow.

If you drive a new car, it might come with a plan from the manufacturer. Typically, these cover the same period of time and miles as the manufacturer’s warranty. Read the plan carefully before you need it because what’s included can vary widely by manufacturer. Towing is generally included, but typically, they’ll only take you to a dealership service department, which won’t do you any good outside of business hours if you need an emergency repair.

That’s why Consumer Reports says getting an additional plan from another provider might be good. Check your credit card or even your auto insurance policy. For example, if you’ve got a few drivers in your family and several cars, using coverage from your insurer can be a good deal. These plans can be added to your insurance premium; just read the fine print to ensure you don’t risk a premium increase if you call for service.

Credit card companies have programs that you don’t have to enroll in. You pay a flat fee per service. It may not be the best value, but their service saves you from paying full price for a tow. Another downside of credit card plans is you miss out on the extra discounts you find with other plans.