Best credit cards that offer roadside assistance in 2021
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Need a jump or help with a flat tire? When things go wrong — especially on the road — it can be easy to panic and forget about all the options you have. However, one or more of your credit cards may provide a roadside assistance benefit that can help.
The level of assistance and terms vary widely, though. Some cards cover up to a certain amount per event. But, many only arrange help at a negotiated rate and leave you to pay the bill. So in this guide, I’ll discuss the best credit cards for roadside assistance and describe what type of help you can expect with each.
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The best credit cards with roadside assistance in 2021
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for overall travel protections, including roadside assistance
- United Explorer Card: Best for roadside assistance with a sub-$100 annual fee
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for roadside dispatch at a set rate with no annual fee
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best Capital One card for roadside dispatch at a set rate
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: Best Bank of America card for roadside dispatch at a set rate
Comparing the best cards for roadside assistance
|Card||Sign-up bonus||Rewards rate||Roadside assistance type||Annual fee|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.||10x points on Lyft rides through March 2022
3x points on travel and dining
1x points on everything else
|Up to $50 for each service event, up to 4 events each year||$550|
|United Explorer Card||Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.||2x miles on United purchases, dining and hotel stays when booked with the hotel
1x miles on all other purchases
|Up to $50 for each service event, up to 4 events each year||$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||$200 bonus cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
3% cash back on drug store purchases and dining at restaurants
1.5% cash back on other purchases
|Provides select services at a flat fee per service call||$0|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening||2x miles on every purchase||Provides select services at a set price per service call||$95|
|Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card||50,000 points after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening||2x points on travel and dining purchases
2x points on grocery store purchases through Dec. 31, 2021
1.5x points on all other purchases
|Provides select services for a set rate||$95|
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the best credit cards for roadside assistance.
Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Based on TPG’s valuations, these bonus points are worth $1,000.
- 10x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on Lyft rides through March 2022
- 3x points on travel and dining
- 1x points on everything else
Roadside benefit: Roadside assistance benefit covers up to a maximum of $50 per service event, up to four events each year
Annual fee: $550
Even after Amex added some travel protections to select cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has remained my pick for the best travel rewards card. After all, the travel and shopping protections offered by the card are solid. And earning 3x points on travel and dining results in an effective 6% return based on TPG’s valuations.
You likely won’t sign up for the Sapphire Reserve solely due to its roadside assistance benefit. But, it’s one more reason to consider getting the card if you travel at least semi-frequently. For more information, check out the full Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card review.
Apply here: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus United MileagePlus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. Based on TPG’s valuations, the total 40,000-mile bonus is worth $520.
- 2x United MileagePlus miles on United purchases, dining and hotel stays when booked with the hotel
- 1x miles on all other purchases
Roadside benefit: Roadside assistance benefit covers up to a maximum of $50 per service event, up to four events each year
Annual fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
The United Explorer Card has the lowest annual fee of the cards that provide complimentary roadside assistance of up to $50 per service event (up to four times each year).
Plus, the United Explorer Card can also help you defeat United’s basic economy fares. After all, you’ll get priority boarding and the first checked bag free on United-operated flights for you and one companion on the same reservation when you use your card for the flight purchase. So, the United Explorer Card can make financial sense even if you usually only pay to check a bag a few times each year on United flights. For more information, see the United Explorer credit card review.
Apply here: United Explorer Card
Sign-up bonus: Earn $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Plus, earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
- 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants
- 1.5% cash back on everything else
Roadside benefit: Roadside dispatch benefit provides access to select roadside services at a flat fee per service call
Annual fee: None
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is an excellent starter card and one of the top cards for everyday spending. And, it can become one of the most rewarding cards in your wallet if you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card — such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — or plan to get one of these cards in the future.
After all, you can turn your cash back into Ultimate Rewards points if you also have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points. Based on TPG’s valuation of Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, you can get about double the return when you redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel instead of cash back. For more information, check out the full Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card review.
Apply here: Chase Freedom Unlimited
- 2x Capital One miles on all purchases
Roadside benefit: Roadside dispatch benefit provides access to select roadside services at a set price per service call. Benefit only available to accounts approved for the Visa Signature card. Terms apply.
Annual fee: $95
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a popular credit card that earns miles that can be redeemed at a fixed rate or transferred to travel partners. And all purchases earn 2x miles, so you don’t have to worry about determining whether a purchase will earn bonus rewards. For more information, see the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card review.
Apply here: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
- 2x points on travel and dining
- 2x points on grocery store purchases through Dec. 31, 2021
- 1.5x points on all other purchases
Roadside benefit: Roadside dispatch benefit provides access to select roadside services at a set price per service call
Annual fee: $95
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is one of the highest-earning cash back credit cards if you belong to the highest tier — Platinum Honors — of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. At this tier, which requires you to maintain a three-month combined average daily balance of $100,000 or more in qualifying Bank of America and Merrill investment accounts, you’ll get a 75% rewards bonus on the points earned by the Premium Rewards card. So, as a Platinum Honors member, you’d earn 3.5 points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 2.625 points per dollar spent on everything else.
Check out the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card review for more information.
Apply here: Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
Roadside assistance with select Chase cards
The Chase Sapphire Reserve and United Explorer Card provide roadside assistance when you’re stranded away from home in the U.S. or Canada with a roadside emergency. Call the number on the back of your card and they’ll arrange assistance. You’ll be covered up to $50 per service event (up to four events each year) when using this assistance.
These Chase cards offer coverage when you are traveling away from home and driving a vehicle you own, lease, or furnished to you by the owner. Although the guide to benefits for both cards note that you must be “away from home,” no minimum distance away from home is defined in the most recent guides to benefits, found here:
Coverage includes battery boost, flat tire service (if you have an inflated spare), fuel delivery (up to two gallons), towing (up to $50) and locksmith services (up to $50). Self-propelled, four-wheel vehicles designed, licensed and used for private on-road transportation — as well as trucks with a carrying capacity of up to 2,000 pounds — are covered. However, commercial vehicles aren’t covered.
Roadside dispatch provided by all Visa credit cards
- Standard towing (up to five miles included for vehicles that weigh 10,000 lbs. or less)
- Tire changing (if you have a good, inflated spare)
- Jump starting
- Lockout service (no key replacement)
- Fuel delivery (up to five gallons, you must pay the cost of fuel)
- Standard winching (only within 100 feet of a paved or county-maintained road)
Even Visa credit cards with no annual fee include this type of protection.
Roadside benefits provided by other credit cards
Although roadside assistance is no longer a benefit on most Citi and American Express cards, some other cards still offer roadside assistance as a benefit. However, many only help with arranging services that you then need to pay for yourself. This benefit can still be valuable since it saves you from searching for a provider on your own. But, you might end up with a hefty bill.
To determine whether your card provides roadside benefits, check your guide to benefits or call the number on the back of your card.
How does credit card roadside assistance compare to AAA?
I keep a AAA membership for the discounts and benefits, especially at hotels and amusement parks. So, I typically call AAA if I need roadside assistance. But suppose you only maintain your AAA membership for roadside assistance. In that case, it may not be as necessary as you’d previously assumed if you have a credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the United Explorer Card. After all, these cards offer complimentary roadside assistance up to $50 four times each year.
Some other credit cards — including all Visa cards — provide paid access to roadside assistance. This access may be adequate if you don’t utilize the benefit too frequently. Just remember that the roadside assistance benefit supplied by some credit cards technically requires you to be traveling away from home. So, the benefit might not apply if your car battery goes dead in your driveway.
Roadside assistance, like travel insurance, is a benefit that’s easy to forget about because it’s one you hope never to need. You likely won’t apply for new cards solely based on their roadside benefits. But, it’s worth figuring out if any of your current cards offer roadside assistance benefits. After all, it’s always good to know who to call for the cheapest and fastest fix if you need roadside assistance.
Featured photo by PeopleImages/Getty Images.
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