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Pros & Cons Of AAA Roadside Assistance

Pros & Cons of AAA Roadside Assistance

The best way to plan ahead for a roadside emergency is purchasing a roadside assistance program. There are many different options available whether you decide to sign up through your personal auto insurance company, subscribe to a roadside mobile app or buy an auto club policy from an organization like AAA. Each roadside assistance program will offer different pricing packages which include a variety of benefits and service offerings.

Compare Policies with Roadside Assistance

Let’s explore the features of AAA’s roadside assistance plan in comparison to other popular auto club providers.

How Much Does AAA’s Roadside Assistance Cost?

Since price is often the first thing you consider when deciding to make a purchase, that makes  pricing the most logical place to start our analysis. 

Unlike many other roadside assistance providers, AAA has multiple membership levels.

To give you an idea of AAA’s different pricing, check out the estimated costs below. 

Keep in mind these fees can vary slightly depending on your home state and the number of drivers covered within your household.

Also, if you choose to be billed monthly, AAA will add a fee of $1 per month, which is represented prices above.

What Each AAA Membership Level Includes

AAA’s roadside assistance programs provide up to twenty different services. Depending on which membership package you select (Classic, Plus, or Premier), you’ll have access to a predetermined number of their roadside resources with a maximum of 4 roadside calls per year for each auto club cardholder. 

Use our AAA Membership Level grid below for a better understanding of what types of coverages are available for the different price levels. 

What Can I Expect From Each AAA Service & Benefit?

Although AAA Roadside Assistance Insurance does cost more than most other roadside policies, it’s clear that AAA offers substantially more benefits than many of their competitors.  To give you a better idea of what you’ll be getting for your money, let’s take a closer look at each of AAA’s service and benefits. 

Flat Tire

The AAA service provider will come out to your vehicle and put on your spare tire so you can continue your journey. However, if you don’t have a spare then the service representative will tow your car according to your membership’s towing benefit.

AAA will also take care of flat tires on your RV and motorcycle as long as you purchased the optional coverage for those types of motor vehicles. 

Fuel

Most roadside assistance programs will transport fuel to you for free as long as you ran out of gas during your drive. Of course, you will be charged the market rate for the gasoline but no charge for the service. However, under AAA’s Plus or Premier plan, you will receive a gallon or two of free so you can get the nearest service station.

Towing

According to Angie’s List, $109 is the average nationwide rate to tow a disabled car. Of course, that median towing rate can vary depending on the towing company and location. However, if you are a AAA roadside assistance cardholder then you may have your vehicle towed up to seven miles for Classic members or up to 100 miles for Plus and Premier members.

Those AAA clients that opted for RV and Motorcycle Roadside Assistance coverage may have their vehicle towed up to 100 miles per disablement. 

Some roadside programs will provide towing but only as a reimbursement benefit. This means you’ll have to pay for the tow and then submit your receipt to the provider for a refund. Always check the fine print on any roadside assistance program you’re considering. 

Vehicle Lockout

AAA will dispatch a provider help you gain entry if you accidentally break your car key in the lock or misplace your key fob inside the locked car

If the first attempt at getting into your automobile is unsuccessful then AAA will immediately send out a professional locksmith to assist. 

Your AAA Roadside Assistance Insurance covers locksmith parts and labor services as follows: up to $60 for Classic members; up to $100 for Plus members; and up to $150 for Premier members. 

Battery Jump Start

Turning your car key only to find the battery is dead can be a bit frustrating. That’s why AAA includes a battery jump start service. They also offer a battery replacement program as described below. 

Battery Delivery & Installation

AAA Mobile Battery Service is beneficial if your car battery is completely dead and can’t be jumped. In this case, you can avoid wasting time on a tow and instead have an AAA Mobile Battery Service technician come to the scene, test your battery and electrical system. If you so desire, purchase a fresh AAA battery that meets or exceeds your car’s original specs. All auto batteries come with a 3-year free replacement warranty. 

Keep in mind AAA only provides this mobile battery replacement service in select areas. You’ll have to consult with AAA to be sure you can take advantage of this benefit. 

Extrication/ Winching Service

Bad weather, like rain and ice storms, causes many drivers to lose control and end up in a ditch along the road. Should you find yourself off road, AAA Roadside Assistance Insurance does cover extrication and winching services. 

Rental Car

Once each year an AAA member can get a replacement automobile at a special discounted rate from one of AAA’s participating rental car providers. Plus members enjoy a complimentary upgrade (by one car class) along with their discounted rate. 

Concierge Services

AAA Premier cardholders may utilize 24/7 concierge travel assistance prior to departing on a domestic or international trip or while they are in the midst of their journey. 

AAA’s robust list of concierge resources includes:

  • Event tickets
  • Restaurant/spa/health club recommendations
  • Travel referrals
  • Destination and tour information
  • Gift basket and floral delivery
  • Business services
  • Golf tee time reservations 

Product Discounts

Unlike some other roadside assistance plans, AAA members get other perks such as AAA discounts for more than 100,000 locations across the U.S. Save on things like popular restaurants, entertainment, retailers, and travel specials. Purchases can also earn you reward points that can eventually be applied to future shopping. AAA discounts are available to all membership levels. 

AAA claims money saved from cardholder discounts can actually off-set the full price of membership fees. This may be true as long as you utilize AAA discounts frequently since they typically account for only 5% to 10% off a purchase.

Feel free to browse the discounts offered in your state at AAA.com/discounts

If you are one to be diligent about using and tracking a discount card then you may find AAA’s auto club to be your best option. That extra cash in your pocket may very well help you earn back the AAA membership fee. Plus, it’s rare that you’ll find any other auto club program offer such a reward program. 

How Does AAA’s Basic Roadside Assistance Compare to Other Providers?

Even though AAA’s basic membership costs much more than most providers, it does include much richer benefits. In fact, AAA’s roadside insurance package has double the benefits offered by their closest competitors. Maybe you simply get what you pay for? 

It’s always recommended that you look closely at each auto club’s plan and decide if their services will meet your particular needs. For example, if you travel far from home often then you will definitely want to buy a roadside plan with generous towing miles. 

The below table is a great tool for determining if AAA is the right fit for you. 

Many of the large insurance carriers, like Allstate and Geico, do have their own roadside assistance programs but it’s not wise to select your car insurance solely based on the cheapest roadside assistance plan. The most accurate way to figure out which company is really offering the most competitive insurance premium is to compare quotes that reflect identical coverages, including roadside services. 

Compare Policies with Roadside Assistance

How Does AAA’s Classic Plan Compare to AllState’s Similarly Priced Roadside Advantage Plan?

Allstate’s Roadside Assistance program is similar to AAA in a number of ways. A noticeable deviation is that Allstate’s highest level of coverage is priced the same as AAA’s most basic plan. That’s quite a pricing differential. 

Many drivers are surprised to learn that joining Allstate’s Roadside Assistance Membership plan is possible even without being an Allstate insurance customer. 

As you can see right off the top, AAA allows one more service call per year than AllState. This difference can be significant if you’re stranded on the side of the highway. In addition to the number of service calls allowed, we also uncovered 5 benefits at the bottom of the chart that AllState lacks including unique perks like Identity Theft Protection, Bicycle Breakdown, and Emergency Electric Car Charging.  

On the other hand, AllState offer’s more generous Trip Interruption Reimbursement, Theft Rewards and CARFAX reports. 

Which Roadside Assistance Plan is Best?

The majority of roadside assistance plans are pretty similar so you’ll have to consider your own needs and budget when comparing programs. 

We listed for you a few of the main points consumers take into consideration when shopping for a roadside assistance policy. 

How far do you drive? 

If you rarely travel far from home or infrequently get behind the wheel then the most basic roadside assistance plan should be sufficient. For example, AAA’s Classic membership that covers 7 miles of towing would do just fine. There’s no need to pay extra for a plan that includes as much as 200 miles of towing because if you’re unlikely to use the service.

What is the age of your vehicle? 

According to recent statistics, most drivers only use their roadside assistance about once every three years. If the driver has a new automobile then that number drops even lower. In fact, if your car is brand new then you can probably just rely on the roadside plan provided under the manufacturer’s warranty. 

Below are examples of how long some popular car manufacturer’s offer free roadside assistance on new vehicles: 

  • Ford & Chevrolet: 5 years or 60,000 miles 
  • Dodge: 5 years or 100,000 miles 
  • Toyota: 2 years or 25,000 miles 
  • Volkswagen: 3 years or 36,000 miles 

Always check the details of your manufacturer warranty or talk with your auto dealership for specifics. Of course, if you’ve surpassed the vehicle warranty then it makes good sense to purchase a roadside assistance insurance policy. 

Do you need coverage for your vehicle or for you? 

Roadside assistance coverage comes in two different forms, vehicle specific or driver specific. Vehicle roadside insurance is only useful when driving a named car and is best for families with multiple drivers all using the same car.

On the other hand, driver specific plans mean your roadside coverage follows you – no matter which vehicle you drive. Driver specific coverage is best for business travelers, families that share multiple cars, or if drivers that use rental cars.  

What services will you actually use? 

It’s easy to go with a pricey plan that includes lots of frills but if they are not features you’ll realistically use then you’re simply overpaying. Consider the age of your car, the average distance you drive, and how frequently you travel. For auto clubs, like AAA, that provide additional perks like discounts, trip planning, and identity theft monitoring, it’s important to decide if you’ll actually take advantage of these benefits or will you just be paying for something you don’t need. 

We also recommend that you periodically evaluate your roadside assistance needs because they will certainly change over time. When your current roadside plan isn’t working for you any longer then begin shopping for a new plan that will.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Whether or not AAA roadside assistance is the best plan for you depends on your needs and budget. Please refer to our tips and comparison charts for determining which roadside coverage is the best match for you.

Technically there is a way to use your AAA membership the same day you sign up for the coverage. However, AAA will ask for a one-time fee (usually around $70) and you will only receive Classic Membership level services. It actually takes a full 48 hours after purchase for your AAA Roadside Assistance policy to take effect.

AAA Roadside Assistance Insurance covers the driver instead of the automobile. This means, as an AAA member, you can use your roadside plan with any vehicle you are a passenger in or any vehicle you drive. On the other hand, this also means a friend driving your car will not have access to your AAA plan.

AAA representatives will dispatch an AAA provider to you as soon as you call-in an emergency roadside assistance incident.

Yes, AAA roadside assistance follows the driver and can be used even if he/she is 
driving a rental car.

There are 3 different AAA Membership packages available to buy and the cost varies depending on the program selected. Currently the AAA Classic costs $79 annually or $7.58 monthly, AAA Prime costs $129 annually or $11.75 monthly, and AAA Premier Costs $169 annually or $15.08 monthly. In addition, AAA offers a Plus Motorcycle/RV plan for $190 annually ($16.83 monthly) or the AAA Premier Motorcycle/RV plan for $260 annually ($22.67 monthly).

Yes, AAA road service technicians install spare tires. If you don’t have a good quality spare tire available then the AAA technician will offer to tow your car per your membership’s terms and conditions.

Yes, if you purchase the AAA Plus Motorcycle/RV plan or the AAA Premier Motorcycle/RV plan then your motorcycle is considered a covered vehicle.

Yes, AAA has lockout/locksmith services. Your AAA Roadside Assistance Insurance covers locksmith parts and labor as follows: up to $50 for Classic members; up to $100 for Plus members; and up to $150 for Premier members. If the service technician is not able to unlock your vehicle, they will tow your car as per the terms of your membership.

No, AAA members have the option of purchasing an AAA-branded battery from a service technician. However, AAA will cover the cost of delivering and switching the battery on the site of breakdown, which can be a real timesaver.

Once you are an AAA member (which means payment has been made) then you’ll be allowed 4 FREE emergency roadside service calls during your 12 month policy. Be sure to review the terms and conditions of your particular coverage plan to determine which services and benefits are free.