How I “found” $57 in my Amex benefits package.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Amex lately (little do they know, ha ha), because I’m anticipating their next super-limited-time sign-up bonus offer. Last year, Josh and I earned a total of 175,000 Membership Rewards points by signing up for just 1 card apiece – for us, it was definitely the best bonus offer of 2014!

Now that I have a Platinum card, I love it, because it’s packed with benefits that I use frequently. It’s definitely a keeper for me at this point. One of the card’s unexpected perks that I have used in the past year is the Roadside Assistance program. Do you know about this feature? It’s pretty similar to AAA coverage, and it comes as a benefit on a selection of Amex cards.

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Amex personal cards featuring Roadside Assistance

While several Amex credit cards offer limited roadside assistance, the following American Express cards offer the full roadside assistance package detailed in this post:

  • Delta Reserve
  • Platinum
  • Mercedes Benz Platinum
  • Gold
  • Premier Rewards Gold
  • Business Gold

Are you paying for double Roadside Assistance? I was.

When I first got the Platinum card, I also had AAA. However, after I compared the coverage of both programs, I realized that I now had too much roadside assistance – and that I was paying for it! So I decided to cancel my AAA membership. This saved me $57.

American Express Roadside Assistance details

I had a surprisingly hard time locating this info online or in any of my cardmember agreements from Amex, so I finally called the Roadside Service department to get the lowdown. Here’s what I learned:

  • The benefit covers lock-outs (when you leave your car key is in the vehicle), jump starts, fuel delivery (up to 2 gallons), winches, and tire changes (if you have a spare).
  • Amex will also pay for towing of up to 10 miles. (After that, the charge is $3/mile.)
  • You can use the service for any car you designate – as long as you are with the car (for example, your friend’s car, or your spouse’s car). The exception is that the service does not extend to rental cars.
  • You can only use this service once per every 7 days, with a calendar-year limit of 4 times. After 4 incidents, the service converts to a “pay per use” service.
  • If more than one thing happens at the same time (for example, you run out of gas, you lock your keys in the car, and you need a tow), the total only counts for one incident.
  • You are covered while driving 4-wheel vehicles and trucks with a carrying capacity of up to 2 tons.
  • The policy only covers emergency situations, and does not cover unlicensed, illegally parked, or impounded vehicles.
  • The policy won’t pay for the actual repairs (parts, labor, etc), just the tow.
  • Coverage applies to the entire US, Canada and Puerto Rico.

To use Roadside Assistance, simply call the number on the back of your Amex card. Or, you can dial direct: 800 333 2639.

AAA benefits details:

For comparison purposes, I have included the AAA benefits chart.

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I’m glad that I decided to cancel my AAA membership. It definitely wasn’t worth it to me to have double coverage. When I used the Amex Roadside Assistance program last year, it was definitely a positive experience (if you can call needing a tow a “positive experience”). For me, this benefit is yet another way that the big annual fee of the Platinum card is majorly offset by its benefits.

Do you have double coverage? Or did you also choose to go with Amex Roadside Assistance?

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Comments

  1. I like AAA’s program for their discounts. I also have both of my young adult children on my AAA account for my peace of mind. If they are away from home, I don’t want them to be stuck if they have car trouble. They have both used it on several occasions in the past few years for lockouts and tows. It’s nice to know Amex offers that service as well. Thanks!

  2. Wow! We both have The Plat AMEX cards and have been paying $143/year for AAA plus with an additional driver. I kinda feel like an idiot, although we do frequently use AAA hotel rates. IHG properties very seldom ask for proof of membership, but Hyatt requires that you enter your AAA number in your reservation. However, Hyatt now offers the “My Elite Rate”, which offers a better discount, so it may be time to cancel our AAA membership.

    I just renewed our AAA membership, effective December 1. Do you know if they offer pro-rata refunds for mid-year cancellations?

  3. What a valuable piece of information – thanks! I almost signed up for the AAA membership mainly to get gift cards without paying the fee. Now that I realize I have all the AAA roadside assistance benefits with the Amex card (AAA costs $69/yr here, not $57) it’s definitely not worth it.

  4. I wonder if anyone has ever done a side by side comparison for the benefits. There has to be some differences. I currently have AAA, and use it for the discount on hotels while traveling.

  5. Is this limited to personal (not business) AMEX cards only?

  6. re: the AAA hotel discount…. usually one doesn’t need to show the card, just has to request the special rate at time of booking. Some hotels, like Hyatt as Gene mentions above, require the AAA number for the reservation. TIP: The reservation tool will accept & apply the discount, even if not an active number.

  7. Points Pixie says:

    Cindy – I would also keep AAA if my kids were able to use my account…but I’ve got a few more years before they are on the road 😉

    Gene – Don’t feel like an idiot! I’m not sure what the AAA policy is for pro-rata refunds, but they are pretty good about customer service/satisfaction, so I imagine that they would offer refunds. Let us know if you find out the answer!

    Claire – Yay!

    Ryan – There are some differences, but the similarities were enough to make it worth my while to cancel AAA.

    Jason – The Amex Business Gold card also offers these services. Not sure about the others.

    Rebecca – Good tip, thank you!

  8. I called once for help for my mom and they said she had to be 30 miles from home. If you read through the coverage I’m not sure this would be a substitute for AAA. My auto insurance actually includes roadside assistance and my daughter was able to add it to her policy for just a few dollars per 6 month term.

    • Don’t Get Stuck – When your car breaks down, call Roadside Assistance1 for help.
    • We’re Here to Help – We can send help your way for towing, winching, flat tires, battery boost, fuel delivery or emergency lock-out.
    • Coverage Availability – Coordination and assistance is available through the dispatch hotline in the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and only when Cardmember is present with the vehicle. For most Card Members, third-party service costs are your responsibility. Select Card products may cover service costs including towing for up to 10 miles (in certain cases only when over 50 miles from home). In the case of inclement weather or natural disasters, we may be unable to provide you with Services. Please see terms and conditions for details.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Heather – sounds like you (or your mom) had the “basic” service plan (you need to be over 50 miles away from home). Some Amex cards come with the premium service, while some only feature the basic service.

      Also – I think you are absolutely right, it is important to read through the coverage details to decide which works best for you and your family!

  9. Guys.. don’t be surprised at the Front Desk when they ask you for your AAA card and you don’t have it on you anymore. I’ve worked as a FD agent for multiple hotels and always asked for the guest’s AAA rate if they’re booked that rate.

    Personally, I won’t cancel my AAA card even though I have the AMEX Plat because of the AAA hotel discounts and Premium Outlet coupon books. I save more than $300+ a year on shopping with the coupon books.

  10. Thanks for the great information! Unfortunately my husband’s truck is too big to qualify, but it’s good to keep in mind for my little car 🙂

  11. Wanted to say a huge thanks for this blog post!! I totally forgot about this benefit until I read your post on January 9! Yesterday – 1/25 – I locked my keys in my car and called AMEX. Within 40 min a locksmith arrived at the garage I was at and 5 min later I was on my way!

  12. Good post. Makes me think to review my coverage. Even if I keep AAA your post points out the differences in coverage and cost in different regions. Mid-Atlantic charges $71 for Basic

    Surprised to see that AMEX coverage doesn’t include rental cars.

  13. Amex is dropping this program as of November 30th, 2014. They will still help you get a tow, unlock your car etc.–but you are on the hook for the cost of that service (which can be billed to your Amex card). I am looking at going back to AAA starting December 1st.

  14. If you have the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card and American Express Platinum card with the premium roadside assistance, can you call for towing service twice? one on each card to get up to 20 miles of towing service? Or if you have a Cit Prestige card with premium roadside assistance as well, Call Amex roadside assistance for the first 10 miles and then call Citi Prestige roadside assistance for another 10 miles of towing service?

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