Did you know you can get roadside assistance for free in Canada? This post will go over the road side assistance options that you would normally pay for and some options that you may not have known that are pretty much the same except they are free.
Recently our car got a flat tire and I called roadside assistance to have the spare tire applied. I used to be able to change a flat tire but I forgot how now. I appreciate not having to try to change a flat tire with a toddler around, so I called Roadside Assistance for some help with the matter.
Not only was it fun for my toddler son to meet a tow truck driver, but the nice tow truck man got the spare tire on with no trouble. All for free. In this post we will look at how to get roadside assistance for free in Canada.
First, we’ll look at the two popular paid options for roadside assistance in Canada:
- Costco Roadside Assistance
- CAA Roadside Assistance.
Table of Contents
Costco Roadside Assistance
Costco offered something called a Standard Plus Emergency Roadside Assistance for $54.99. There is a caveat, and it only includes coverage for a car that is less than 12 years old. It includes four service calls per year, and the standard inclusions such as: Towing, jump start, tire service, gas deliver, lockout service, and winching.
The reviews on the Costco.ca website are not very positive, it seems.
Also, as of late 2021, Costco Roadside Assistance is no longer being offered.
CAA Roadside Assistance
CAA stands for Canadian Automobile Association and it has 6.4 million members across Canada. The CAA Plus Membership (for $115) is the most popular membership and it includes: Free roadside assistance, towing distance up to 160km, fuel delivery free up to 10L, 4 roadside assistance calls, road trip interruption coverage, and locksmith coverage. The coverage is across North America.
I’ve used BCAA in the past and they have been great, but didn’t renew the membership due to the annual fee. The CAA memberships include assistance for your bicycle, too!
BCAA even does home insurance in Vancouver.
However, is a CAA membership worth it?
Now we will go over the free options (which in my humble opinion, are just as good).
Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance (Free)
I was a bit skeptical when I signed up for the Canadian Tire Triangle World Elite Mastercard and it said it included free Gold Roadside Assistance (a $99.95 value).
However, all my negative thoughts were cast aside when I tried out the free service. I called the number given to me on the card and a friendly tow truck driver (contracted out to a Vancouver company) came and changed my spare tire. It was completely hassle free.
Here’s what is included with the Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance Gold Plan:
Roadside Assistance Gold Plan (provided by Canadian Tire Services Ltd)
With this you can choose to have Roadside Assistance for a particular vehicle, OR for you as the driver.
- 24 hours Roadside assistance in the United States and Canada
- This encompasses towing, changing a flat tire, boosting a battery, lockout service, and extrication
- Your coverage for the Roadside Assistance program starts 24 hours after you register online
- You have to be the primary holder to activate a plan
- Tows to any Canadian Tire service centre (within towing limits of 250km)
- 5 service calls per year
Personally I chose coverage for myself as a the driver since we have two cars in our household that I both drive.
Canadian Tire also has paid plans too ranging from $69.95/year to $289.95/year:
So as long as you have the Canadian Tire Triangle Mastercard, you will get the Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance for free.
They send you a new updated membership card each year with a new expiry date.
I have used it multiple times it is great, there have been no issues at all.
The tow service is usually contracted out for example, Drake Towing in Vancouver, but you still don’t have to pay for the service because it is covered by the card.
BMO Roadside Assistance
BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard gives you free membership in the Dominion Automobile Association (DAA) where you can get basic BMO Roadside Assistance Coverage.
There are often promotions available, right now the BMO World Elite is offering 10% cash back for the first three months and it is first year free (a $120 value). The maximum for 10% cash back is $2000 which is $200 cash back. After the promotional period of 3 months, it is 1% cash back, but for categories like groceries it is 5% cash back up to a $500 spend.
The minimum income to apply for BMO World Elite is $80,000 per year though.
The BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard also provides free Dominion Automobile Association membership, but it has a $69/year annual fee.
For basic coverage with DAA membership and BMO Roadside Assistance, you get 4 service calls per year (A $69/year value). It is user dependent (not car dependent).
These DAA service calls can include:
- Battery boosts
- Fuel delivery (up to 10L- you pay for the gas)
- Changing a flat tire
- Lockout services, extrication, towing due to mechanical breakdown (up to 160km)
TD Roadside Assistance
TD also offers roadside assistance through the TD Deluxe Auto Club. TD Deluxe Auto Club is provided by AXA Assistance Canada.
The TD Cashback Visa Infinite Card includes free membership in TD Deluxe Auto Club. Right now, there is also a first year free promotion and a 10% cash back on all purchases for the first three months (with a total spend of $2000 maximum).
You can also add this as an optional feature if you have other TD branded credit cards, like the TD Visa Infinite Aeroplan. I’m not sure how much the TD Deluxe Auto Club membership is.
This is what is included in the TD Deluxe Auto Club membership:
- Coverage in continental USA and Canada
- Battery boost
- Spare Tire Change
- Fuel delivery (5L of gas is INCLUDED)
- Lockout service and breakdown service (towed to a service centre within 200km)
- Winching service
- Personal transportation (up to 80km for you and your family for bus, taxi etc. ) if you are stranded- but only up to $25
- Includes personalized trip planning service to help you plan your road trip (this seems outdated, I mean, that’s what Google Maps is for, isn’t it?)
- If they don’t meet your needs (as in can’t bring your car to service facility or they say they can’t help you) you get a $50 cheque mailed to you towards your next tank of gas
In addition to the above features, here are some what I call ‘over and above’ inclusions in the TD Deluxe Auto Club membership (things that are covered that you didn’t know you needed):
- Traffic accident emergency services (Accident towing, rental car (up to $200), emergency accommodation and meals ($200) , personal necessities (up to $50) while staying at a hotel/motel and waiting for your car to be repaired).
- Stolen vehicle emergency services (same as above)
- Hazardous weather services– if you are stranded due to road blockages because of snow, landslide, hurricane, forest fire etc. you can get up to $200 of emergency accommodation and meals and towing up to 200km.
- Motorist Legal Services from 8:00am to 8:00pm EST up to $150 for the call, and up to $300 for legal defence, legal representation at inquest
- Finally, you can also access free fax forwarding service for business related matters if you are in the continental USA and Canada. There’s a 24 hour toll free fax forwarding service, you call the number and relay your message and it will be sent via fax within 30 minutes.
Home Trust Roadside Assistance
The Home Trust Preferred Visa has no annual fee and gives you 1% cash back on all your purchases. There are also no foreign currency exchange surcharges.
They previously included free roadside assistance, however, this is no longer the case as of 2021 thanks to a reader for alerting me to this change.
Roadside Assistance from Your Dealership
Also, don’t forget about your dealership for free roadside assistance in Canada. When you drive your car off the lot, it can be easy to forget that you might have gotten a free roadside assistance package for two years (or however many years).
Keep your papers handy so you can remember whether you have roadside assistance (or better year, put the number in your phone and date when it expires so you know whether you are covered when the need arises).
For our pre-owned vehicle (a Mazda) that we financed, we are covered 24/7 throughout Canada or the continental USA. We had purchased a added protection plan and could have called our car’s roadside assistance, which includes towing, winching, battery boost, fuel delivery service (up to 10L), tire service, lock-out service, emergency travel expense reimbursement, and travel planning and dealer locator.
Roadside Assistance in Canada Summary
To summarize, there are a number of providers of roadside assistance in Canada, namely CAA being the most popular.
The annual membership for road side assistance through CAA is over $100 a year, this is not chump change.
There are ways to get roadside assistance for free in Canada and this is mainly related to having the right credit card.
- Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance
- TD Roadside Assistance
- BMO Roadside Assistance
Home Trust Roadside Assistance
These can all be provided by credit cards, for free. Some Roadside Assistance services are better than others.
I would say the Canadian Tire Gold Plan from the Canadian Tire Triangle World Elite Mastercard and the TD Deluxe Auto Club Membership come out on top, out of the free roadside assistance packages available in Canada.
I’m very happy with our Canadian Tire Triangle roadside assistance, it’s been great to use on a number of occasions.
Also, Canadian Tire is really on fire lately as they have a Canadian Tire high interest savings account with one of the highest rates in Canada.
Do you have Roadside Assistance?
When was your most recent need to call Roadside Assistance?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.