Is CAA Worth It? (And the FREE Alternatives to Consider)

I have CAA car insurance and recently received an offer in the mail for a discounted CAA Basic Membership. I also used to be a CAA member because my car battery was dying pretty often for a while a few years ago. I thought it would be helpful to analyze whether CAA membership is worth it.

Is CAA Worth It?

Some people I know swear by CAA and just absolutely adore the membership.

I can see why, there are a lot of bonuses for the membership cost (which is under $150 annually for one individual), like the bike assist, where it covers your assistance for your bicycle (from my knowledge, there are no free roadside assistance coverage options that cover bicycles).

However, if you are just looking for run of the mill roadside assistance (towing the car, flat tire help) there are some alternatives to CAA car insurance that might save you a few bucks.

CAA Membership

There are over 6 million fellow Canadian drivers that use CAA membership.

CAA is a not-for-profit federation with 8 different regional clubs, there are:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Ontario
  • Atlantic
  • Manitoba
  • Saskatchewan
  • Territories
  • Quebec

There are different tiers for CAA Car Insurance:

  • Basic
  • Plus
  • Premier

Here is a summary of what is included with the Basic, Plus, and Premier CAA memberships.

CAA MembershipBasicPlusPremier
Cost per year$80$115$145
Additional Family Member$50$85$120
Roadside Assistance Calls Included444
Towing Distance5km160km2 x 320km
2x 160km
Fuel deliveryChargeUp to 10L freeUp to 10L free
(unlocking your car door or to fix or replace keys)
Kids Free CAA MembershipIf under 15If Under 15
Motorcycle and E-Bike coverageYesYes
RV Coverage$30 extra$30 extra
Two Day Car Replacement
(For car repairs- allowable once per year)
Passport Photo at CAA Member LocationYes

The CAA basic towing distance is 5km.

This is what is included in all of the CAA Car Insurance memberships.

  • 24 Hour Roadside Assistance-
    • Free Mechanical First Aid
    • Free open a locked car
    • Free flat tire change
    • Free Tow to safety
    • Free deliver spare gas
    • Free battery jump-start or battery installation
    • Any vehicle, any time, any place and even if you’re a passenger on someone else’s car
    • Can be anywhere in the world
    • 24/7 coverage even if it’s 3:23am
  • CAA Member Savings-
    • There are exclusive CAA membership discounts where you can get instant savings or cash back in CAA dollars
    • For example:
      • 10% off New York Fries
      • Free Appetite or Dessert at Swiss Chalet
      • 10% off at Toronto Zoo or CN Tower
      • 20% off VIA Rail
      • 15% off Science World Admission in Vancouver
      • 20% off CAA home insurance
      • Free Evo car share membership and 60 Free minutes, 10% off driving rates
  • Safe Ride Home
    • If you cannot drive due to medical treatment, injury or other impairment in BC, you can call CAA for a ride once per year
  • Bike Assist
    •  If your bicycle has a flat tire, broken chain they will send a technician out to fix it and if they can’t fix it, they will send it to a bike shop 

CAA Membership Cost

How much is CAA?

I received an offer for a CAA Basic Membership for $70 annually, with the option of adding another family member for $24 annually because I have BCAA optional car insurance (CAA Car Insurance).

However, normally per year CAA Membership is:

  • $80 for the Basic Membership
  • $115 for the Plus Membership
  • $145 for the Premier Membership

How Long After Joining CAA Can I Use It?

You can use your CAA membership right away after signing up, however an additional fee ($40 administrative fee) will be charged if you use it within 48 hours of signing up.

I’ve done this before (actually was advised to do this the one time my car broke down and needed a tow), where you sign up to get the included tow with the CAA Membership because it is cheaper than getting a tow truck.

Does CAA fix flat tires?

They can patch up your flat tire or change your tire and tow it as needed.

It is important to note that CAA Membership fees are not refundable.

CAA Alternatives

There are other options for roadside assistance in Canada other than CAA. For example, did you know that there are:

  • Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance
  • TD Roadside Assistance
  • BMO Roadside Assistance

These roadside assistance options are included as part of the associated credit card benefits package.

Costco used to offer a Costco roadside assistance with their Costco membership, but this has now stopped.

There are some of the roadside assistance options that are offered free of charge if you have the associated credit card.

How to Get Free Roadside Assistance in Canada?

To get free roadside assistance in Canada, you would just have to apply for the associated credit card (and be eligible for it).

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.

With the Canadian Tire Triangle World Elite Mastercard you get the Gold Plan included (for free), they mail you out a Gold Plan membership card every year.

The Canadian Tire Triangle World Elite Mastercard has no annual fee (and you can also pay your property taxes with a credit card)

Here’s what is included in the 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

I have used this multiple times over the years to tow my car (most recently just a few months ago) and even change my flat tire one time, and it has been great.

You don’t need to pay an annual CAA membership if you’re looking for flat tire changes if you have the Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance.

Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance contracts out the tow truck service to a local tow truck company.

For more information on how to get free roadside assistance in Canada, click here.

Is CAA Membership Worth it?

Okay back to the original question, is CAA Membership worth it?

I definitely think SOME road side assistance coverage is worth it for the peace of mind. Just like Optiom car replacement insurance, you pay for peace of mind. The ability to call someone (up to four times a year) to have your car towed if you can’t start your car is priceless.

It can be worth it if you use your bicycle frequently, or if you have an RV, or if you have an e-bike, as the other roadside assistance options in Canada likely don’t cover these options.

CAA Membership can also be worth it if you bundle it with CAA home insurance, or CAA travel insurance (they have some of the most competitive travel medical insurance options available), or CAA car insurance.

In addition, if you have a child under age 15 who car pools frequently with other families, and pay for the Plus or Premium Membership options, this can be worth it too (for peace of mind and the help the carpool parent).

Finally, CAA membership can also be worth it if you take advantage of their CAA member discounts for travel attractions (like Science World in Vancouver) or VIA rail, or dining options.

However, if you’re looking for a standard tow service within 160km to the car repair shop and standard help with flat tires, there are other roadside assistance options that are free instead.

Also, if you already have a roadside assistance package included with your car purchase or car warranty, there’s not much point getting a CAA membership, until at least that warranty or roadside assistance package is finished.

Do you have CAA Membership? Is CAA worth it, in your experience?

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6 thoughts on “Is CAA Worth It? (And the FREE Alternatives to Consider)”

  1. I just want to comment for CAA wait times in BC province which is also known as BCAA in this province. The average wait time for the tow trucks for BCAA in a super clear weather is about 2 hours.

    Last week we had atmospheric snow of 5cms (sorry 5 cms in BC is emergency :)) as our cities aren’t equipped with snow trucks to clear highways, mid-city roads (despite we pay highest property and sales tax in our province). The wait times for BCAA during emergencies atmospheric snow is about 6-8 hours. Not sure if I would consider value for money if my time is significantly more than waiting. The only fancy thing here is you get free or $2 evo membership (a car-share program offered by BCAA) and they throw discounts if you get their Home, auto insurance (the discounts pay off for basic membership if that is something you considering. Also BCAA is broker and not underwriter for those home,auto policies just incase you looking indepth about insurance)
    So I would highly check with other towing services companies like CT or others as mentioned above. Before you buy any of the roadside assistance membership test them out when its hailing, super-snow storm or during atmospheric river (climate change can give you those chances in bit positive way) as you getting stuck in snow is more probable then winning the 6/49s

    • @Shaz- Good point! The wait time that I had for my contracted-out tow truck with Canadian Tire, was only 20 minutes (but there was no snow). The membership and discounts for CAA are quite good though.

  2. A nice perk with Canadian Tire Road Assist is that they send you oil change and car wash coupons that are worth at least half the membership fee.

  3. There are a number of additional CAA benefits not mentioned in this article, but keep in mind that I live in Southern Ontario and the benefits may be different here.

    First of all, as a long term member of CAA (ie. more than 10 years), I received a 20% discount on both my Auto and Home Insurance from CAA. For those members less than 10 years, it is a 5% discount). If a member chooses both insurance products, there is an additional discount (I believe it is 15% on home insurance, but not certain). No Insurance company comes close to matching premiums with membership.

    Second, in Ontario it is my understanding that certain auto service companies are not allowed to tow from a 400-series highway (the rules are recent, in order to discourage vultures circling the major highways). I read about this on a blog, so I can not verify this point. However, before anybody gets an alternative auto service, give them a call to verify. CAA tow trucks are allowed on all public roads in Ontario.

    Third, the travel-service discounts, free maps and trip-tiks, tour books and travel advice are certainly above the competition. Although the Internet may appear to make these services obsolete, there is something special about walking into a local CAA office and getting some maps or travel advice. For those traveling in the US, I use my CAA membership at all AAA offices. It is simple peace-of-mind that you do not get from Canadian Tire and the others.


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