What is the best Roadside assistance club?
July 16, 2010 9:30 AM   Subscribe

I want to join an auto club looking at AAA versus AARP. My wife and I are going on some extended driving trips this summer and the insurance company add on does very little for roadside assistance. Any suggestions with pros and cons on different clubs would be very helpful. Thanks!
posted by Upon Further Review to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Don't know much about AARP, but you can get discounts on a variety of services and products with an AAA card.
posted by puritycontrol at 9:36 AM on July 16, 2010

Better World Club is an alternative to AAA. Rather than fumbling for a description, I'll just copy their mission statement: "We are the Nation's Only environmentally friendly auto club. Membership Includes eco-travel Services, Discounts on hybrid car rental, insurance Services, Free Maps, Auto Maintenance discounts and bicycle roadside assistance. We donate 1% of annual revenues toward environmental cleanup and advocacy."

I'm not a member yet so I can't personally recommend.
posted by sharkfu at 9:38 AM on July 16, 2010

Better World Club. Unlike AAA in it's lobbying stuff. I don't believe they are as bad as I've read about AARP either, though I'm a bit young to sign up for them anyway. But of the generation ahead of me I know no members of AARP, they've all refused membership for various reasons.

I'm in a big city so I rely on the ability to phone my mechanic for a tow. My next membership will be BWC, though.
posted by tilde at 9:39 AM on July 16, 2010

I don't know anything about US auto clubs, but you should be aware that many auto clubs lobby against public transit and policies designed to support people who are not currently driving (in the supposed interest of supporting drivers' interests). If that's of concern to you, then you might look into what your various options do with their money.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:40 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another vote for a Better World Club.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:41 AM on July 16, 2010

Okay, i've never heard of Better World until now, and I'm too young for AARP. I have, however, been a member of AAA for many years. I've barely ever had to use the service -- little enough that I occasionally thought about canceling it.

Last Sunday I got a flat while driving in the fast lane of a highway in a fairly rural area. I had my son with me. Night was falling. And...AAA was there 30 minutes later. The spare was on 10 minutes after that and I was on my way. The technician was polite and reassuring. And the phone operator who I originally spoke with via my cell was very helpful, given the situation that I didn't know exactly where I was (I was 400+ miles from home, and in an area where there are many miles between freeway exits).

That satisfied basically my entire criteria in judging a roadside service company. So, yeah, I'm recommending AAA.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:56 AM on July 16, 2010

I'm an AAA member, and their roadside service is really good, but I'd love to switch because of the lobbying issues others have raised.
posted by lukemeister at 10:01 AM on July 16, 2010

Is roadside assistance the only feature you're looking for? You might look into whether your cell phone provider offers a roadside assistance program—I dropped my AAA membership a few years ago and replaced it with Verizon roadside assistance, which is cheaper ($3/mo. vs. ~$5/mo from AAA) and includes a longer free towing distance (10 mi. vs. 5 mi.)

I haven't had to use Verizon roadside assistance, so I can't comment on the quality, but my understanding is that both contract out to local shops and in many cases the same shop would be responding either way. One other note: I do have to have my Verizon phone with me to use their roadside assistance, but I don't have to call from my Verizon phone, so if I can't get cell coverage, or my phone battery is dead, I could still call from a landline and take advantage of it as long as I have the phone physically with me. But if I had forgotten my cell phone and left it at home, I'd be screwed. I don't know whether other cell phone carriers' policies are similar.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:23 AM on July 16, 2010

If you go to the Car Talk website and do a search on 'Better World' you can get 10% off the cost of Better World Club membership.

Your car insurance may also include towing insurance (pay for the towing, then submit the bill to insurance for reimbursement).
posted by apartment dweller at 10:35 AM on July 16, 2010

Fixing Car Talk link.
posted by apartment dweller at 10:38 AM on July 16, 2010

AT&T also has a Roadside Assist package that you can add. It's $2.99/mo. I have used it before and had no problems with it.
posted by drstein at 11:21 AM on July 16, 2010

I've had multiple experiences with AAA, all good. Last time I called for a flat the guy was there in under 15 min. and I was on my way in under 25 min.. I've had family members that have had cars towed 60 mi. with AAA. FWIW we have the AAA Plus.
posted by 6:1 at 11:31 AM on July 16, 2010

Added benefit in California--you can do some DMV things at AAA, which makes life easier!
posted by 6:1 at 11:31 AM on July 16, 2010

One time my car broke down on a road trip. One of the passengers had AAA and they came out and towed my car for free. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that AAA works on other people vehicles as long as someone with AAA is in the car.
posted by magikker at 12:03 PM on July 16, 2010

Seconding maglikker's comment: AAA membership is for a person, not a car. If you have one membership you're covered even if you're in someone else's car; but if you have one membership your wife or children aren't covered if they're not with you. However you can buy associate memberships for each member of your family (at a lower rate) once you're a member.
posted by DanSachs at 6:17 PM on July 16, 2010

Further note--in some states AAA will only let you have yourself and one other person on the account with you, (they are discounted on membership), like So. CA. I was lucky enough to have had them in a state that didn't care how many family members you had on the account as long as you paid for them. For instance, my husband, myself, and our three adult children are on the same account. Between all of us, we are in three states. We've never had a problem using it, and the AAA club in a different state suggested we do it this way. YMMV.
posted by 6:1 at 5:04 PM on July 17, 2010

Thanks for all the responses: I appreciate it
posted by Upon Further Review at 6:32 PM on July 24, 2010

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