Why Your Teen Needs a Credit Card With Roadside Assistance

Apr 5, 2019

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“Hey, Mom, can I go to the car and charge my phone?”

I was handling the kids’ annual physicals when my 15-year-old son asked to be excused while I attended to his sister. Without thinking, I handed him the keys.

About 30 minutes later, my daughter and I returned to the car and my son said sheepishly, “Something is wrong with the car.” Sure enough, when I turned the ignition, I got the “click” that signals a dead battery.

(Photo via Getty Images)
The car should be running while charging a phone, otherwise the battery can die. (Photo by Getty Images)

After I chided myself for not telling my son the car needed to be running while he was charging his phone, I took stock. It was 5:30pm, in the garage at the doctor’s office, and I was stuck in a non-mobile car with two kids. That was the bad news.

The good news? I had a credit card with me — in this case, the Chase Sapphire Reserve — which has roadside assistance as a benefit. I called the Chase roadside assistance number.

An agent took my card number, phone number, location, car make and model, and asked about my specific problem. She told me a service vehicle would arrive within 45 minutes and that I’d be kept informed via text. The cost? Zero, since this service would cost less than $50. Turns out that Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a $50 benefit up to four times a year.

I left my teenage son with the car (his phone was charged by now) and walked next door to the grocery to grab dinner to-go with my daughter. We had a text that our savior was en route before I finished checking out with our rotisserie chicken. The jumper cables arrived just as we got back to the car and we were on our way in less than two minutes. All I had to do was sign some paperwork.

The total time from “click” to “vroom” was 37 minutes and $0.

Thanks to the timeliness of roadside assistance offered with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, our author didn’t have to call a cab to get home or leave her vehicle.

Then it occurred to me: what if my son had been alone?

My son now knows not to run down the battery when charging his phone, so that’s a win. However, I realized I needed to make sure he had the tools to get himself out of trouble if he got stuck somewhere with a car that wouldn’t function properly. Driver ed teaches kids the basics, but so much of driving is about managing the unexpected.

I have had the talk about credit with him and was planning on getting him an authorized user card for emergencies, but I realized that I also needed to check that his card had roadside assistance.

Without the credit card benefit of roadside assistance, your loved ones may be waiting a much longer time to get out of a roadside pickle. (Photo via Getty Images)
Without the card benefit of roadside assistance, your loved ones may end up waiting a much longer time to get help during a vehicle emergency. (Photo by Getty Images)

Which Cards Have Roadside Assistance?

Fortunately, TPG had already done this work for me. Here’s a comprehensive review of some premium travel rewards cards. And here’s a reposing of the section that matters in this case. Any of these cards allow an authorized user of driving age and offer the authorized user roadside assistance:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: up to 4X/year, no max.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: up to 4X/year, $50 max.
  • Citi Prestige® Card : No limits listed.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: 4X/year, no max.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: 4X/year, no max.
  • Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express: 4x/year, no max.

The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

I have three of these: Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express Platinum and the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant. In my case, the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant is the winner for him because it does not charge an authorized user fee (see rates & fees). The Hilton Amex Aspire also does not charge an authorized user fee (see rates & fees). The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige charge $75 per authorized user fee, and the American Express Platinum charges $175 for up to three authorized users (see rates & fees) (remember, those users can also access Centurion Lounges).

If none of those more premium credit cards is right for your family, here is a more comprehensive listing of credit cards that offer roadside assistance.

Bottom Line

When your kids start driving, concern for their safety rises to a new level. A credit card with roadside assistance can be a valuable tool for them to have in their wallets. Even if they never need it, it can help contribute to your own peace of mind.

Featured photo by Austin Neill/Unsplash.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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