Best credit cards that offer roadside assistance
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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 assistance up to a certain amount per event. But, many only arrange help and leave you to pay the bill. As such, today I’ll discuss the different types of roadside assistance provided by select credit cards.
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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 offering roadside assistance
|Card||Sign-up bonus||Rewards rate||Roadside assistance type||Annual fee|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening||3x points on travel and dining
3x points at grocery stores (on up to $1,000 per month) from Nov. 1, 2020, to Apr. 30, 2021
1x points on everything else
|Covers up to $50 for each service event, up to four events each year||$550|
|United Explorer Card||40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.||2x miles on purchases with United, at restaurants and on hotel accommodations when booked directly with the hotel
1x miles on everything else
|Covers up to $50 for each service event, up to four events each year||$95 (waived first year)|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||$200 bonus after spending $500 in their first 3 months of 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 when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months||2x miles on everything else||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
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 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months
- 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining
- 3x points on grocery store purchases (on up to $1,000 in purchases per month) from Nov. 1, 2020 to Apr. 30, 2021
- 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 overall 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.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card review
- Sapphire showdown: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve
- What credit score do you need to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve?
- The power of the Chase Trifecta: Sapphire Reserve, Ink Preferred and Freedom Unlimited
Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Sign-up bonus: 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.
- 2x United miles on purchases with United, at restaurants and on hotel accommodations when booked directly with the hotel
- 1x miles on everything else
Roadside benefit: Roadside assistance benefit covers up to a maximum of $50 for each service event, up to four events each year
Annual fee: $95 (waived first year)
The United Explorer Card is the lowest annual-fee card to 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 basic economy. 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.
- Premium perks without a high annual fee: United Explorer Card review
- 4 reasons someone in your family needs a United credit card
- The best credit cards for United Airlines flyers
- How to unlock additional award availability with United credit cards
Apply here for the United Explorer Card
Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 bonus after spending $500 in their first three months of account opening.
- 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 choices for everyday spending. And, it can become one of the most rewarding cards in your wallet if you plan to get a Chase Ultimate Rewards card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card in the future.
After all, even though the Freedom Unlimited earns cash back, you can save your cash back until you get a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points. Then, you could turn your cash back into Ultimate Rewards points. Based on TPG’s valuation of Ultimate Rewards points at two cents each, you can get about double the return when you redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel instead of cash back.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: A great card for beginners and pros alike
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- Credit card showdown: Capital One Quicksilver vs Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Get the most out of Chase with these credit cards
Apply here for the Chase Freedom Unlimited
Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus Capital One Venture Rewards miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- 2x miles on everything else
Roadside benefit: Roadside dispatch benefit provides access to select roadside services at a set price per service call
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 of one cent or transferred to travel partners. Based on the value you can get from transferring your miles to travel partners, TPG values Capital One miles at 1.4 cents each. All purchases earn at least 2x miles, so you don’t have to worry about determining whether a purchase will earn bonus rewards.
- Capital One Venture Rewards card review
- 5 reasons to get the Capital One Venture Rewards card
- 7 types of purchases you should make with your Capital One Venture card
- Capital One Venture Card vs. Capital One VentureOne Card: Which one is right for you?
Sign-up bonus: Earn 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
- 1.5x points on all other purchases
Roadside benefit: Roadside dispatch benefit provides access to select roadside services at a set price
Annual fee: $95
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is one of the highest-earning cash back credit cards — but only if you belong to the highest tier — Platinum Pro — of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. At this tier, which requires you to maintain a three-month average 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, you’d earn 3.5 points per dollar spent on travel and dining, as well as 2.625 points per dollar spent on everything else.
- Not to be underestimated: Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card review
- 5 reasons to get the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card
- Your guide to the Bank of America Premium Rewards card airline fee credit
- Stop ignoring Bank of America Preferred Rewards
Roadside assistance provided by 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. When using this assistance, you’ll be covered up to a maximum of $50 for each service event, up to four events each year.
These Chase cards offer coverage when you are traveling away from home and driving a vehicle you own, lease or that is 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, although commercial vehicles are not.
Three additional Chase cards — the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, the United Club Card and the United Presidential Plus Card — also offer this type of roadside assistance but are no longer available to new cardholders.
Roadside dispatch provided by all Visa credit cards
All Visa cardholders have access to roadside dispatch by calling 800-847-2869. This assistance gets you the following services for a set rate (currently $69.95) per service call:
- Standard towing (up to five miles included for vehicles that weigh 10,000 pounds or less)
- Tire changing (must have good, inflated spare)
- Jump starting
- Lockout service (no key replacement)
- Fuel delivery (up to five gallons; you pay the cost of fuel)
- Standard winching (within 100 feet of paved or county maintained road only)
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 needing to find a provider on your own — especially when you’re traveling. But, you might end up with a large bill.
How does credit card roadside assistance compare to AAA?
I keep a AAA membership for the discounts and benefits it provides, especially at hotels and amusement parks. So, I’ll usually call AAA if I need roadside assistance. But if you only maintain your AAA membership for roadside assistance, 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 be applying for any 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 Maradon 333/Shutterstock.
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