Does the thought of your car breaking down in the middle of a busy road fill you with dread? Do you know who has the cheapest towing service in your area?
Whether you’re always on the road or just use your car to pop to the grocery store, you never know when you could be the one looking glum on the roadside. 69 million vehicle breakdowns occur in the United States each year!
Having cheap roadside assistance plans can be an affordable way to ensure help will be on the way when you need it. It gives you instant access to trained and qualified recovery mechanics that help you get back on the road when the unexpected happens.
If you experience a flat tire, dead battery, lockout, fuel shortage, or mechanical failure, cheap tow truck service is available. In fact, you may already have it – free of charge!
I’m always on the lookout for ways to help you save money. That’s why I prepared this list of the cheapest towing service options.
1. Cheap Car Insurance With Roadside Assistance
Car insurance companies are what most people think of when considering roadside assistance.
Insurers offer roadside assistance as cheap add-ons to insurance policies. To make this possible, they partner with an existing network of companies that deliver direct roadside assistance or arrange services on the customer’s behalf.
It’s worth mentioning that most insurance companies offer this coverage if you’ve also purchased comprehensive and collision auto insurance.
Since coverage applies to the car, it protects whoever drives that car but generally won’t cover you when driving another car.
Benefits include changing a flat tire, jump start if your car has a dead battery, towing within certain limits, fuel delivery when you run out of gas and locksmith services if you’re locked out.
It generally costs a few dollars (mostly $2-$5) per month to add roadside assistance to your car insurance plan. The cost depends on your location and the type of car you drive.
While researching cheap car insurance with roadside assistance, here’s what I found:
- State Farm Emergency Road Service – $5-$7 per policy period
- GEICO Emergency Road Service Coverage – $14 per car, per year
- Progressive Roadside Assistance – $10-$18 per policy period
If you own two or more cars, you’ll have to pay a separate premium for each car.
2. Automakers that Offer Roadside Assistance
Your car insurance company is not the only potential source of roadside help. Most new cars (and manufacturer-certified used cars) come with a warranty covering standard roadside assistance for a limited length of time or mileage.
While the coverage varies, you can typically use it if you run out of gas, lock yourself out of the car or need a tow. Service is typically limited to your car manufacturer’s network of dealerships and auto shops.
Every automaker sets its own limits on how long the free service will last.
So what happens when the initial period expires? You can purchase an extended warranty through the dealership or third-party service.
Check Edmunds.com for a list of roadside assistance coverage by the manufacturer.
3. Roadside Assistance Plans Offered by Credit Card Companies
You can also enjoy roadside assistance services through your credit card.
Major credit card networks dispatch roadside assistance to their customers when they’re stuck. Instead of having to call a local mechanic or towing company, you’ll benefit from the convenience of calling the toll-free number on your credit card.
You may or may not be charged for roadside service.
While most don’t require an annual fee, they charge $59-$95 per service call for basic services and limited towing. The fee will depend on the base level of the provided benefits.
Extra services may attract additional charges. MasterCard, Visa, and Discover all follow the preset service charge model.
Bank of America offers free roadside assistance. However, there may be a limit on the number of towing miles. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card will pay the first $50 for services up to 4 times/year.
To understand what your card provides, check with your bank.
4. Roadside Assistance Through Your Wireless Service Provider
Select cellphone companies are helping to drive down the cost of car breakdown coverage by offering add-on coverage plans.
For an additional $2.99-4 per month, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T offer basic roadside assistance coverage that only extends to the primary account holder.
You get tire changes, locksmith assistance, gas service and towing (distance limits may apply).
Smaller wireless providers offer similar options, so check the fine print of your cell phone contract or ask your carrier if they provide roadside assistance.
5. Auto Clubs that Offer Towing and Roadside Assistance
Auto clubs offer a higher level of service and a bigger pool of providers but require a membership.
AAA (American Automobile Association) has a proven record and an impressive network. Founded in 1902, the granddaddy of auto clubs offers plans to members from all 50 states starting at less than $50 per month.
There are 3 membership tiers: Basic (roadside plus free short distance towing), AAA Plus (100 miles free towing plus lockout assistance) and Premier (200 miles free towing plus 24-hour concierge service).
Other notable auto clubs include:
Choosing the Most Affordable Roadside Assistance Plan
With so many roadside assistance plans available, you might be torn on which one best suits you. But as you can see, some options are pricier than others. While cost is an important factor, it shouldn’t be the only factor you take into consideration.
Start by finding out what your insurer offers, but be sure to compare that to other products like auto clubs and to benefits you may already have from your credit cards and auto manufacturer.
Before you sign up for a plan, ask the following questions:
- What are the signup fees? Are there any additional fees?
- How far can I tow?
- What are the annual call-out limits?
- How many tows are allowed per year?
Roadside assistance plans often come with limitations, and sometimes the cheapest plans are not worth the limitations. The best one is going to be a bit of a personal choice.
Go with the automaker’s service if you recently bought a new or certified car. If you own more than one car, go for a full-service plan.
If there are multiple drivers in your family, I recommend a plan where the membership fee covers the whole family.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does a Tow Usually Cost?
Towing fees start at $50 and can quickly get as high as $250, depending on your location, how far you want the car to go and the type of tow.
Most tow truck companies charge a $50-$125 fee for a 5-10 mile local tow. For long-distance towing, you’ll pay a $75 hook-up fee and $2-$4 per mile.
Who has the Cheapest Roadside Assistance?
As mentioned, the best roadside assistance will depend on your specific needs and the plan that can best accommodate those needs.
Most roadside assistance plans bill annually, although some providers bill monthly or even per accident. It’s vital to read the fine print for surcharges, discounts and refund policy.
First, check if you’re already covered in a roadside assistance plan through another source.
If you recently bought a new or manufacturer-certified used car, it may have come with a roadside assistance plan that will last for the warranty duration.
Be sure to check the fine print in your credit card agreements. Some cards offer free roadside assistance.
Next, check the terms of your auto insurance policy. Some insurers offer roadside assistance as an add-on to their auto insurance policies.
How Do I Find a Cheap Tow Truck Service Near Me?
When you Google search “cheap tow truck service near me,” you’ll get a list of the best and the most popular roadside assistance companies.
Pick the best company according to your needs and budget. Try to find out how promptly each roadside assistance provider responds to a breakdown call out.
Do NOT accept service from an unsolicited tow truck driver.
Beware of unscrupulous tow truck drivers who overcharge for services that weren’t necessary.
Before you let a tow truck haul away your car, request for a printed price list and any miscellaneous charges in writing. If the prices seem expensive, ask a police officer or your insurance company to call a towing service for you.
There are many options available to you if you want the peace of mind that comes with having cheap roadside assistance plans.
Roadside assistance plans aren’t one-size-fits-all. Even some of the cheapest towing service providers may not offer comprehensive towing options. Browse benefits, features and costs before deciding on a service.
Once you’ve picked a plan, ensure you have the number saved into your phonebook or written down on a piece of paper and stored in the glove compartment or somewhere easily accessible in your car.
Do you have a roadside assistance plan? Who do you call when you need the cheapest towing service?