Roadside Assistance: Does Your Credit Card Offer It?

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Have you ever experienced the panic of not knowing who to call when your car breaks down? Your credit card company probably wasn’t the first phone number that came to mind, but it could have been helpful.

That’s because many credit cards offer a roadside assistance perk that will help you get cost-controlled help during your time of need.

Visa and Mastercard both have roadside assistance programs that are included with card membership for many popular credit cards.

But not everyone will get it. Much like cell phone protection or extended warranty programs, your card issuer ultimately determines if the card in your wallet qualifies for these roadside programs.

In this article, I’ll walk you through what’s covered by the major roadside assistance policies and explore which credit cards offer them.


Table of Contents


Visa Roadside Dispatch

If you have a credit card with the Visa logo in your wallet, it most likely includes Visa Roadside Dispatch as part of its benefits package.

Visa describes Roadside Dispatch as a pay-per-use roadside assistance program. This means you don’t have to pay for an annual membership or endure any sort of special enrollment process: You just call the number provided and get help when you need it.

Program Details

Call 1-800-847-2869 to access the 24-hour service. Visa’s Roadside Dispatch will ask you where you are and what the problem is and will schedule the dispatch of a reliable tow operator or locksmith.

The flat rate charge for this service was $69.95 per usage as of September 2022. There’s no limit on how many times you can access this perk.

For a set price per service call, the program provides:

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  • Standard towing (up to 5 miles included in base price)
  • Tire changing (you must have a good, inflated spare tire)
  • Jump starting
  • Lockout service (no key replacement)
  • Fuel delivery (up to 5 gallons plus the cost of the fuel)
  • Standard winching

You may want to read the fine print before using these services. It’s worth noting that you could incur a charge that exceeds $69.95 if you need services beyond the specifics listed above.

Popular Cards That Offer It

This Visa benefit is available on many popular credit cards. A few examples include:

Again, you’ll want to check your card’s guide to benefits to ensure it is eligible for this perk.


Mastercard RoadAssist Roadside Service

If you have a Mastercard in your wallet, you may also have access to roadside assistance as part of its RoadAssist program, but it’s not as uniform as the Visa program listed above.

The level of coverage you get and the price you pay for services is determined by the agreement your card issuer makes with Mastercard. It may also depend on whether your card is a Mastercard Platinum, World or World Elite card.

I was able to access the information given to Chase Freedom FlexSM customers to provide an example of program details.

Example of Program Details

Call 1-800-627-8372 to access 24-hour roadside assistance. No membership or pre-enrollment is required.

The fee for this service was not laid out in the card benefits, only an acknowledgment that the “pre-negotiated fee” would be automatically charged to the credit card when you use the service.

For that undisclosed pre-negotiated fee, the program provides you with:

  • Jump starting
  • Standard towing
  • Fuel delivery
  • Tire changing

The fine print on this program is worth a cautionary mention: “You are responsible for emergency road service charges incurred by towing facilities responding to your dispatch, even if you are not with your car (or it’s gone) when the tow truck arrives. Chase is not responsible or liable for the service the towing facility provides. Towing facilities are independent contractors, solely liable for their services.”

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Popular Cards That Offer It

Select Mastercard Platinum, World and World Elite credit cards offer some variations of this coverage. A few examples include:

You’ll want to check your card’s guide to benefits to ensure it is eligible for this perk.


Premium Credit Cards Sometimes Offer More

It’s rare, but there are some credit cards that offer roadside assistance coverage that is superior to the perks listed above. The cards that do this, typically speaking, are premium rewards credit cards with hefty annual fees.

For example, in September 2022, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card was offering an enhanced version of the Visa roadside benefit outlined above.

The card’s guide to benefits says that it will cover up to $50 of the cost for each of four road service events per year for cardholders. It also shows that having the Reserve will remove some restrictions like the five-mile limit that other Visa cardholders get on towing distance.

Keep in mind that the annual fee on this card is $550, so cardholders are paying for the additional benefits.


What About American Express and Discover?

American Express

American Express announced in January 2020 that it was eliminating its roadside assistance program as a part of a larger overhaul to its credit card benefit strategy.

Instead, Amex users can find travel protections that include car rental loss and damage insurance, trip delay insurance, baggage insurance and trip cancellation coverage. The terms and availability of these benefits vary from card to card within the Amex ecosystem. You can find the benefits for specific cards here.

Discover

Discover also has realigned its cardholder benefits in recent years to move away from roadside assistance programs. Instead, Discover focuses on perks like online privacy protection, free FICO score access and social security number monitoring.

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A check of Discover’s benefits database turned up the following explanation:

“Right now, we don’t offer benefits like purchase protection or travel related insurance, including car rental insurance.”


Final Thoughts

When it comes to picking the right credit card for your wallet, I recommend that you focus on things like annual fees, interest rates and purchase rewards programs before considering a secondary benefit like roadside assistance.

Before applying for a new credit card, remember to check your existing cards to see if you may already offer some sort of roadside assistance program.

If you don’t find one and the new card you’re considering provides this benefit, I’d classify that as a “nice to have” perk but not mandatory.

Have you used a credit card roadside assistance program? We’d love to hear about your experience in the Clark.com community!

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