Don’t Waste Your Money on AAA: Four Options for Free or Low-Cost Roadside Assistance for Your Family

08/31/2012
By
Gettin' juiced

Jumping your battery is a common service provided by roadside assistance (Photo credit: Charles Williams)

It’s time that you stop renewing your AAA membership. There are plenty of great, low-cost options for roadside assistance that make the yearly payout on AAA a complete waste of your family’s money.

AAA is pretty much a rite of passage. A child collects their license at which time parents turn over their keys and a brand new AAA card. Parents want to ensure that their children can get access to a jump, a tow or a spare flat tire should fate strand them on the side of the road. For decades, AAA has meant piece of mind for parents handing the keys over to the next generation.

What does tradition at cost at AAA? A basic annual membership is nearly $60. It covers 4 service calls, towing within 5 miles and a flat rate of $50 for a locksmith. It costs nearly $40 to cover a second driver. In other words, tradition is quite costly compared to your alternatives.

Over the last several years many companies have sought to add roadside assistance to their products as a way to entice new consumers, but many of us simply never took notice. You might already have roadside coverage from many sources without knowing it.

Here are some free and low-cost products that offer roadside assistance.

Your American Express Card

I featured this deal a few weeks ago, but it’s worth bringing up again. American Express offers free roadside assistance to their card members. It even extends to those that have prepaid cards. The card covers towing, battery jump, tire changes and locksmith services. It all costs nothing so long as you have a card that doesn’t use periodic or membership fees. Many other card issuers offer free or low-cost roadside assistance as well.

Your Car’s Battery

Before you are tempted to call a towing company, you might want to pop the hood of your car to take a look around. You don’t need to know anything about fixing cars to find the solution to your problem. You merely need to inspect your car battery to see if free roadside assistance is offered. Some premium manufacturers, like Bosch Batteries, offer free roadside assistance. You only need to call the number on the top of you battery.

Your Car Insurance

Few car insurance companies offer free roadside assistance, but they charge far less than AAA. Progressive charges roughly $30 per year and GEICO charges $24. All State offers free roadside assistance to its customers. Most companies have their own plans and most of those plans offer more coverage than AAA, for less cost.

Your Cell Phone Plan

Many cell providers offer roadside assistance plan and they are cheaper than AAA although not by much. For $3 to $4 each month, you can have access to roadside assistance. It may only save you $10 or $20, but it is cheaper than AAA.

I’ve needed roadside assistance on many occasions. It is definitely an insurance product you want to pass on to your children, but these days there is no reason waste money on AAA. There are plenty of free and low-cost options. You only need to pick the one that makes the most sense for your family.

Do you use AAA? Have you ever used an option outside of AAA?

Get all the financial wisdom of My Family Finances sent to your email daily! Subscribe to My Family Finances by Email

Enhanced by Zemanta

20 Responses to Don’t Waste Your Money on AAA: Four Options for Free or Low-Cost Roadside Assistance for Your Family

  1. Kurt @ Money Counselor on 08/31/2012 at 10:57 am

    Learn how to jumpstart a battery and change a flat tire, and you’ve pretty much got nearly all of AAA’s potential help calls covered.

    I have used AAA (and my wife is still a member–she thinks the hotel discounts alone make it worthwhile), but I moved to an organization called the Better World Club, which promotes itself as America’s only eco-friendly auto club. BWC also has a cyclist’s plan. If these sorts of things matter to you, worth checking out.

    • John on 08/31/2012 at 12:59 pm

      You’d be surprised though. I’ve been in some locations where it was hard to find someone willing to jump me. (cough SNOBS cough)

      What kind of coverage does BWD have? I know that there have been a few times I could have used some roadside assistance.

  2. Lance@MoneyLife&More on 08/31/2012 at 2:48 pm

    I remember my parents using AAA to get maps with highlighted routes to me across the country for the navy. I imagine it was worth it back then before GPS but I agree they have become obsolete. Usaa offers roadside assistance and it is either cheap or free, I can’t remember which.

  3. femmefrugality on 09/01/2012 at 5:35 pm

    I have mine through my insurance….but I totally use my mom’s AAA card to get hotel discounts.

  4. Weekly Roundup on 09/02/2012 at 9:36 am

    [...] Don’t Waste Your Money on AAA: Four Options for Free or Low-Cost Roadside Assistance for Your Fami… – From my family finances. I didn’t know about the battery tips. Good one. [...]

  5. Squirrelers on 09/03/2012 at 11:30 pm

    We still do subscribe, and I do think it’s worth it depending on the family members involved.

    That being said, you bring up some interesting points. In particular, I did not know that some cell providers offer roadside assistance. Might have to look into this one a bit more!

    • John on 09/04/2012 at 6:10 am

      Glad I could point out a new potential opportunity.

  6. Nick on 09/04/2012 at 10:53 am

    Pretty cool stuff. My mother-in-law keeps buying us AAA… there seems to be little I can do to stop it, haha! Maybe if I can convince them that we have alternatives they’ll stop and just send me a fruit cake…

    • John on 09/04/2012 at 1:49 pm

      1) This would be the perfect article to send to your Mother-in-Law
      2) I’m going to pretend that fruit cake is a brand of beer

  7. Debt Free Teen on 09/04/2012 at 6:58 pm

    My mom is the only one in the family with AAA. She also uses the free maps as wrapping paper!

    • John on 09/05/2012 at 9:00 pm

      That is the coolest sounding wrapping paper ever!

  8. Harry @ PF Pro on 09/10/2012 at 2:04 am

    I’m going to play a little devil’s advocate here. I locked my keys in the car 3 times within a couple months 2 years back. Aside from the fact that I’m dumb, I called AAA every time and they were there within 10 minutes every time. Since they contract out to local shops around the country they have a presence very close to almost anywhere you’ll be.

    I actually have an AMEX gold card but I’ve only needed a jump once and I knew that if I called AAA they’d be there within 10 minutes(which they were), not sure how long amex would take. Has anyone tried it?

    • John on 09/10/2012 at 6:36 am

      I would hope that it is good, since it’s a big part of marketing their member services, but I haven’t tried it yet. I did get a card and will be using it for the next roadside adventure that I have. I’ll be sure to report back.

  9. [...] presents Don’t Waste Your Money on AAA: Four Options for Free or Low-Cost Roadside Assistance for Your … posted at My Family Finances, saying, “There are plenty of great, low-cost options for [...]

  10. [...] @ My Family Finances writes Don’t Waste Your Money on AAA: Four Options for Free or Low-Cost Roadside Assistance for Your … – There are plenty of great, low-cost options for roadside assistance that make the yearly [...]

  11. [...] @ My Family Finances writes Don’t Waste Your Money on AAA: Four Options for Free or Low-Cost Roadside Assistance for Your … – There are plenty of great, low-cost options for roadside assistance that make the yearly [...]

  12. [...] @ My Family Finances writes Don’t Waste Your Money on AAA: Four Options for Free or Low-Cost Roadside Assistance for Your … – There are plenty of great, low-cost options for roadside assistance that make the yearly [...]

  13. [...] @ My Family Finances writes Don’t Waste Your Money on AAA: Four Options for Free or Low-Cost Roadside Assistance for Your … – There are plenty of great, low-cost options for roadside assistance that make the yearly [...]

  14. [...] @ My Family Finances writes Don’t Waste Your Money on AAA: Four Options for Free or Low-Cost Roadside Assistance for Your … – There are plenty of great, low-cost options for roadside assistance that make the yearly [...]

  15. [...] @ My Family Finances writes Don’t Waste Your Money on AAA: Four Options for Free or Low-Cost Roadside Assistance for Your … – There are plenty of great, low-cost options for roadside assistance that make the yearly [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search My Family Finances

Custom Search
Proud Member of the Yakezie Challenge
I'm a featured publisher in Shareaholic's Content Channels