Choosing the right roadside assistance membership program requires a careful evaluation. Many programs target specific populations, such as RV drivers or drivers of environmentally friendly vehicles. Others can be added to an existing membership, such as AARP or the Good Sam Club.
AAA: The most basic AAA plan covers tows up to 5 miles, which doesn't seem like much. However, upgrading your plan is easy. AAA is a good pick for those who need assistance in Spanish as they offer both English- and Spanish-speaking agents. AAA is also a great resource for travel and lodging discounts if you are a member, something to keep in mind for individuals or families who like to travel.
OnStar Roadside Assistance: OnStar, a service offered for GM vehicles, has a very inclusive roadside assistance membership program. It works well with the other services offered, such as automatic crash response and turn-by-turn navigation. Because OnStar is connected directly to your vehicle, you needn't worry if you get stuck and don't know your location. However, the $200 a year price tag is a bit hefy.
Allstate: Allstate offers a rare guarantee of assistance within 30 minutes of dispatch time (or 25 percent off next year's fees). However, one critique of Allstate is that their towing limits and other services are gaged in dollar amounts rather than miles. Some customers complain that this causes them to use up their allotted services rather quickly.
Progressive: Progressive's roadside assistance program is great for individuals looking to spend less on their plans. However, with the smaller fee comes more limitations. Roadside assistance only covers cars that are insured under the Progressive policy, which means that helping a friend or family member who has locked their keys in their car may not be an option.
Good Sam: RV owners should consider getting their roadside assistance through Good Sam Club, an organization that caters to RV owners. A great perk of signing up is that the most basic plan allows four service calls a year. Also, members of the Good Sam Club get discounts on their roadside assistance plans, so if you're already a member, you may want to consider this plan.
National Motor Club: National Motor Club is a great option for those who like to cover all their bases and are looking for all-inclusive coverage. Though it comes with a higher price point, some plans will cover reimbursement of home locksmith services or even legal fees for an attorney.
AARP: AARP roadside assistance services are available for individuals 50 and older. Perhaps the biggest advantage to using AARP, if you qualify, is the price. A basic plan costs around $30 to $40, whereas most other roadside assistance membership programs are $50 to $60 for a basic membership plan. Keep in mind that this is in addition to nominal AARP membership fees, so if you're looking to save money, this price difference may be worth it if you already pay to have a membership with AARP.
Better World Club: If you drive a hybrid or electric vehicle, Better World Club could be a great option. They offer discounts for green vehicles and have optional bicycle coverage as well. Just as with AAA, towing coverage starts at 5 miles with the most basic plan. If you have a much-longer commute, it may be wise to upgrade your plan. They offer services in English, Spanish and French, making it easier for more customers to comfortably request assistance. Better World Club also touts a 30-60 minute response time.
Paragon Motor Club: One unique feature of the Paragon Motor Club roadside assistance program is that they offer tire and wheel protection. The price level for this type of protection depends on the type of car, with luxury vehicles costing more. They also allow up to five service calls per year.
Carchex: With modest prices and one of the best towing allowances for a basic plan (up to 25 miles), consider Carchex. You can even try it before you buy it. If you decide within the first 30 days that you don't like your service with Carchex, simply cancel for a full refund. They've even been known to periodically offer a three-month free trial.