Ever had car trouble when traveling? Or even a flat tire while commuting? If so, you know how frustrating it is to have issues when traveling on the road. For many of us, it’s both easier and safer to have roadside assistance help us out. However, did you know that many premium, and even some non-premium credit cards offer roadside assistance? Credit card roadside assistance is an important but often overlooked benefit.

What’s Covered and Under What Conditions?

Not all road assistance is the same. For simplicity sake, let’s look at three premium travel credit cards: The American Express Platinum, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the Citi Prestige, in order to understand how each card compares when it comes to roadside assistance.

The services covered by a credit card’s roadside assistance is pretty standard with all the cards. This includes 24-hour towing, lockout services, battery boosts, flat tires, and fuel delivery. Coverage is also similar in that it’s generally limited to the US and Canada, with some cards like the American Express Platinum and Citi Prestige offering the service in US territories like Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Some roadside assistance benefits only apply if you’re over a specific number of miles away from your residence. In this regard, all three of these cards offer roadside assistance regardless of how far you are from your home.

With the exception of the Citi Prestige, both the American Express Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve let you use this benefit only four times per calendar year. The Citi Prestige, on the other hand, does not have any limits on the number of times that you use the benefit.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige will cover rental cars, while the American Express Platinum does not. This is really important to note, especially if your travel plans include a rental car.

Is it Free?

The American Express Platinum and Citi Prestige do not charge for the service. However, there are some limitations. Towing is limited to 10 miles. If you need additional towing, you’ll pay a flat rate per mile. Also, fuel delivery is limited to two gallons.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve will cover up to $50 per incident. From what I can tell, to have a towing truck sent to you cost around $60, so you’ll end up paying around $10 for the service. Also, towing is limited to only five miles for free, so you’ll have to pay per mile for anything over that distance. Fuel delivery is limited to five gallons, which is more than double the other cards.

Is it Better Than Other Roadside Assistance Services?

So, is it worth it? That’s a tough question! I think it’s a good benefit, especially if you’re not covered by your personal auto insurance policy or from an external policy like AAA . If you’re driving a rental car abroad, then you might need to search for other options, including the ones offered by the rental car company. Otherwise, these roadside benefits could come in handy if you have a problem on the road.

Personally, I rely on my personal auto insurance to provide roadside assistance when driving my car. If I happen to be driving a rental car in the US, then I’ll opt to use the insurance on my Chase Sapphire Reserve. If I find myself renting a car abroad, then I’ll pay for insurance from the rental car company, even though it’s overpriced and full of fine print.

So, in addition to everything, here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to roadside assistance.

Tips to Consider

1. Service covers you (and not your car):

This is an important thing to keep in mind when using the roadside assistance benefit from your credit card or AAA. You’re generally covered, regardless of the car you’re driving. This is not usually the case though for roadside assistance from auto insurance companies. While they will cover you as a driver for their insurance policy, they typically will not provide roadside assistance when driving a car that isn’t in the policy. So check with your auto insurance company if you don’t have coverage via your credit card or AAA.

2. Motorcycles, large trucks, and recreational vehicles are excluded:

Credit card roadside assistance generally does not cover non-traditional vehicles like motorcycles and ATVs.

3. Roadside assistance from auto insurance is usually a cheaper option:

While roadside assistance from auto insurance policies may not provide coverage for rental cars, they are usually a good choice for your daily commute. The rates are extremely low, and you’ll usually get the same type of service you would expect from a company like AAA.

4. Roadside assistance offered by rental companies is usually unnecessary:

Much like the auto insurance that they offer, the roadside assistance is usually pricey, full of stipulations, and filled with additional fees. I would avoid opting for this insurance unless you are traveling abroad and lack coverage.

5. Beware of unauthorized roadside assistance when traveling:

This is a common scam when traveling. I’ve heard stories of people getting their rental car tires punctured, then getting help from an unauthorized service truck. The truck then charges them a lot of money, or even worse, robs them. I would suggest sticking to help provided by the rental car company, and checking your tires for any punctures before driving on the road.

6. Consider AAA or a similar service:

I know a lot of folks love having AAA roadside assistance. Being from Los Angeles, it feels like everyone has it. I do think that they provide the most comprehensive roadside assistance services, as well as great discounts for travel. I personally find it more cost effective to have roadside assistance from my insurance provider for my personal vehicle, while using my credit card’s benefit when renting a car in the US. Though I totally understand the appeal of using a service like AAA and not having to file anything with your insurance company. Using AAA or a similar service reduces the risk of the insurance company raising your premium because you filed a roadside assistance claim.

Have you used your credit card’s roadside assistance benefit? If so, please share your experience. 

References

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