There are many services we can live without, but driving without a roadside assistance plan is probably not the best idea especially if you aren’t well-versed in DIY repairs. AAA roadside assistance plans may cost a bit extra, but they are definitely worth it.
What Is a Roadside Assistance Plan?
A roadside assistance plan is a safety net for when your car breaks down or if you run out of gas on the road. You should not look at this service as a luxury, but rather as a safety precaution. Your car can break down at night or in the most inconvenient places, such as a dangerous, busy highway. In exchange for a monthly premium, you get an assistance plan that gives you access to 24-hour assistance with mechanics or towing services. The most common breakdown causes are:
- Faulty, old or flat batteries
- Alternator problems
- Flat or faulty tires
- Electrical problems
- Keys locked in cars or lost key
- Wrong fuel
- Clutch cables on manual cars
- Blocked diesel particulate filters
- Broken starter motors
- Cars overheating
A Brief History of AAA
Founded in Chicago in 1902 through a collaboration of nine motor clubs, the American Automobile Association was the first to introduce a roadside assistance program for its members in 1915. Today, AAA is made up of 32 motor clubs, each with its own roadside assistance program. AAA responds to almost 30 million assistance calls on average every year. Since its establishment, AAA has diversified into several other services and markets, such as car and gap insurance, among others.
AAA Roadside Assistance
AAA roadside assistance coverage is available in all 50 states and comes in three membership packages:
Classic Membership, $59.99 Per Year
This plan only includes 5 miles of standard towing and a $50 car locksmith reimbursement. The classic membership excludes RV and motorcycle towing services and the emergency fuel at no extra cost but can be paid for separately.
Plus Membership, $94.99 Per Year
This plan includes 100 miles of standard towing, a $100 car locksmith reimbursement, and the emergency fuel at no extra cost service. This plan does, however, still exclude RV and motorcycle towing.
Premier Membership, $119.99 Per Year
This plan includes all services, 200 miles of standard towing, and $150 car and home locksmith reimbursement.
The table below breaks down all the services included in the three AAA roadside assistance plans:
|Calls allowed per year||4||4||4|
|Motorcycle and RV towing||No||No||Yes|
|Charge for delivered fuel||Yes||No||No|
|Recharging electric vehicle||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|$25 off AAA battery purchase||No||No||Yes|
|Vehicle lockout service||$50||$100||$150|
|Meals, lodging, car rental||$500||$1,000||$1,500|
|Post-tow free car rental||No||No||Yes|
|Identity theft monitoring||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|$50 toward windshield repair or replacement||No||No||Yes|
|Passport photos and notary services in AAA branches||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Discounts on movie tickets, hotels, car repairs, and more||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Vacation planning help from AAA travel experts||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Trip interruption and baggage coverage within the U.S., Mexico, and Canada||No||$750||$1500|
|Lost baggage coverage||No||$250||$500|
|Worldwide travel accident insurance||No||No||Yes|
|Emergency medical transportation coverage worldwide||No||No||Yes|
|Cost per month||$5.67||$9.25||$12.42|
Table via AAA.com
What AAA Does Not Include
There are a few things that AAA roadside assistance doesn’t cover, including:
- AAA roadside assistance plans do not include car insurance — this must be bought separately.
- AAA does not service Mexico, only the U.S. and Canada.
- AAA will not reimburse you for repairs done at repair shops outside of their network.
- Only the plan holder can make service calls, but you can add other household members to the plan at an extra cost.
- Immediate coverage is not included and requires a 48-hour waiting period after enrollment.
Competitor Cost Comparison
Although the AAA roadside assistance basic plan does cost a bit more than similar competitor plans, you do get a lot more value for money. Below is a breakdown of similar providers with their basic plan costs:
- State Farm: $48
- Allstate: $25
- Farmers: $23
- Progressive: $23
- Geico: $14
AAA vs. Allstate
The table below illustrates the significant difference in value for money between Allstate’s advantage plan and AAA’s basic plan:
|Calls per year||Four calls||Three calls|
|Towing||Up to 7 miles||$150 limit|
|Jump-start||Free||$100 limit per call|
|Minor mechanical adjustment||Free||$100 limit per call|
|Winching/Extrication||Free if near the road||$100 limit per call|
|Flat tire service||Change to spare tire or tow||$100 limit per call|
|Car locksmith||Up to $50||$100 limit per call|
|Trip interruption reimbursement||Up to $250||Up to $ 1,500|
|Auto/Stereo theft information reward||$500 auto/$200 stereo||$ 5,000 theft and hit-and-run|
|CARFAX vehicle report||20% off||Three free reports|
|Legal defense reimbursement||$50–$300||$50–$400|
|Fuel services||Free delivery, retail price for fuel||Free delivery, retail price for fuel|
|Products/Services discounts||Extensive discounts||Extensive discounts|
|Emergency electric vehicle charging||Free||Not included|
|Battery delivery and installation||Free, retail price for battery||Not included|
|Identity theft protection||Free||Not included|
|Passport/ID photos||Minimal fee||Not included|
|Bicycle breakdown (transport of you & bicycle)||Up to 7 miles||Not included|
Table via AAA.com
How To Choose the Right Plan
Most roadside assistance plans are very similar, and most providers offer tiered plan options at different costs. To help you choose the right plan, consider:
- How much you want to spend
- What services you can and can’t do without
- How far and frequently you drive
- If you want yourself or just the vehicle covered
A roadside assistance plan is a product that’s great to have, and the AAA roadside assistance plans offer great value for money.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.