Roadside assistance is something you never think about—until you need it. Having one of these credit cards in your wallet will ensure you're never caught off guard. Use this guide to choose the option that's right for your spending habits and needs.
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Add roadside assistance to the list that includes a plunger, first-aid kit and a screwdriver small enough to fix your sunglasses: Things you don’t realize you need until you need them. But discovering your credit card has this perk can feel like you won the lottery when you’re stranded on the highway during a good ol’ Canadian snowstorm. And that’s why we scoured for the best credit cards with free roadside assistance.
You know credit cards can help you earn travel points or cash back; roadside assistance is a less-celebrated, but still valuable perk. And it’s worth considering when choosing which credit card you want in your wallet. Roadside assistance could cost $70 or more a year if you pay directly for a membership from CAA or another provider. Depending on where you live, the price of a tow can vary, but without a membership plan, some Canadians have been gouged $4,000 in towing fees for a single tow. Add on a roadside assistance on a credit card as a built-in service, and it’s nice to get emergency towing, flat tires fixed, gasoline delivery when you’ve stuck, your dead battery revived, access to your car when you’ve locked the keys inside, and much more.
Surely, the automotive retailer’s credit card comes as no surprise on this list. Canadian Tire should know Canadians’ needs when it comes to our cars. It does offer a range of pay-for-access Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance plans, from $70 per year with its Silver plan. And with the Triangle World Elite credit card, you get Canadian Tire’s Gold plan for free—which otherwise costs $100 per vehicle or member when you pay for it on its own. What is included in the Gold plan? Up to five emergencies a year, plus unlimited towing provided by a Canadian Tire Auto Service centre within 250 kilometres, maximum tow distance of 250 kilometres (you can choose your tow destination), 24/7 access, and on-site help including tire changes, winching (safe removal of a stuck car), battery boost, lost key lockout assistance and emergency fuel delivery. Plus, this standout benefit: Up to $200 for meal and/or hotel reimbursement for when you’re stranded due to a car incident. Trip planning for road trips is included, too.
Annual fee: $0
Welcome bonus: None
Earn rate: 4% in Canadian Tire Money on purchases at Canadian Tire and its stores (including Sport Chek and others); 3% on groceries at any grocery store (except Walmart and Costco); $0.05 to $0.07 back per litre at Gas+ and participating Husky stations; and 1% on purchases everywhere else
Income requirement: $80,000, or $150,000 for the household
You might not expect a bank to offer roadside assistance, but TD does. Its Delux Auto Club membership comes along with the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite credit card. Roadside assistance coverage is 24/7, and the service calls are unlimited. The max towing distance is 200 kilometres to the nearest appropriate service centre. Also included are emergency tire changes, winching, battery boost, lost key lockout assistance, emergency fuel delivery, and even stolen vehicle emergency services and claims (accommodations, transportation, personal necessities, etc.). Get up to $200 in meals and/or accommodation reimbursement for when you’re stranded due to an auto incident. And if you’re in need of legal advice for an automotive incident, in certain circumstances, you can receive up to $300 towards fees you paid. Also included are travel planning and emergency car rental reimbursement.
Annual fee: $120 (but waived for first year)
Welcome bonus: 10% cash back on all purchases within the first 3 months on initial $2,000 in purchases
Earn rate: 3% cash back on gas, grocery and recurring bill payments; 1% on all other purchases
Income requirement: $60,000 (personal) or $100,000 (household)
Additional benefits: TD Auto Club membership; some medical insurance
Cash back and roadside assistance make a great pairing—and the Home Trust Preferred Visa has both. Unlike other cards on our list, the minimum income is low (just $15,000 a year), which makes it accessible to most, including students. As for the roadside assistance, here’s what you get: 24/7 coverage, up to four service calls a year, tire changes, winching and battery boosts. There is a cap on the towing distance, though, at five kilometres, but that should be enough to get you to a nearby gas or service station. If your towing distance is further, you will pay a nominal fee of roughly $3 to $3.25 for every additional kilometre. If you run out of gas, you’ll get five litres of gas delivered to you, free of charge.
Annual fee: $0
Welcome bonus: None
Earn rate: 1% cash back on purchases
Income requirement: $15,000
Additional benefits:No foreign exchange fees; rental car loss and collision coverage; hotel reservation guarantees; purchase security for 90 days
With the BMO CashBack World Elite credit card, you get basic coverage access to the roadside assistance program with Dominion Automobile Association (DAA) for free. (It costs $69 annually on its own.) Coverage is 24/7, and you get up to four service calls per year. The maximum distance for towing is 10 kilometres. The service includes emergency tire changes, winching, battery boost, lost key lockout assistance and emergency fuel delivery. Coverage is free for additional cardholders.
Annual fee: $120 (waived for your first year)
Welcome bonus: 10% cash back on every $100 charged for the first 3 months (maximum $2,000)
Earn rate: 1.5% cash back on purchases
Additional benefits: Travel insurance including on interruptions, cancellations and delays of trips; car rental accident insurance; Mastercard Airport Experiences membership; purchase protection and extended warranty
Income requirement: $80,000 or $150,000 as a household
Like what you saw above but not sure about the annual fee or income requirement? You might like this less-frills version, too. The BMO CashBack World Mastercard offers the same roadside assistance perks as highlighted above. Just a few tweaks make it more accessible: A slightly lower cash-back rate (1.25% vs 1.5%), and a lower minimum income requirement as compared to the BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard.
Annual fee: $79
Earn rate: 1.25% cash back on purchases
Welcome bonus: None
Additional benefits: 3% cash back on Shell purchases and car rental at National and Alamo as well as car rental insurance, as well as other discounts
Income requirement: $60,000 or $100,000 as a household
Purchase interest rate: 19.99%
Summary: Best credit cards with roadside assistance
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