Free Roadside Assistance in Canada

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Free roadside assistance has saved me on more than one occasion over the years. Just recently, I had to get my battery boosted twice during a one-week period. There was another time where I got a flat while driving and I called for help because I was stuck on the side of a somewhat busy road. Then there was that time my wife was hit by another driver who wasn’t paying attention. The car was clearly not safe to drive so we had it towed to the reporting centre first, and then over to the body shop.

The cost of roadside assistance is pretty reasonable as the premium plans usually cost around $130 a year, but did you know that you can get free roadside assistance pretty easily? There are multiple credit cards that give it as a standard benefit and even some car dealers offer it now when purchasing a new vehicle. Here’s how to get free roadside assistance in Canada.

TD Auto Club

  • Free via TD Cashback Visa Infinite Card
  • Regular price: N/A
  • Plan: Deluxe TD Auto Club

TD Auto Club is provided by AXA Assistance Canada and is easily the best roadside assistance. You can get a free Deluxe TD Auto Club membership by signing up for the TD Cashback Visa Infinite Card. That card has an annual fee of $120, but it’s waived for the first year. That means after the first year, you’d have to pay $120, but you get free roadside assistance, so it’s worth paying for.

That said, you can get a free Deluxe TD Auto Club membership if you have an All-Inclusive Account with TD. This is TD’s premium account and they’ll waive the annual fee for one of their premium credit cards which includes the TD Cashback Visa Infinite Card. If you maintain a minimum balance of $5,000 in your account, the monthly account fees are also waived, so it’s totally worth it.

Since TD Auto Club is exclusive to TD users, the service is quite impressive. Here’s what you get with your Deluxe TD Auto Club membership:

  • 24/7 service across Canada & the USA
  • Unlimited tows
  • Tows up to 200 km per service call to any destination (includes flatbed, reimbursement option up to $250)
  • Battery boost
  • Flat tire change
  • Winching service
  • Lockout service (reimbursement option up to $100)
  • Fuel delivery (includes 5 litres)
  • Personal transportation (Up to $25, 80 km from your home)
  • Traffic accident or stolen vehicle emergency services
    • Accident towing (up to $200)
    • Transportation/Rental Car (Up to $200)
    • Accommodation and meals (Up to $200)
    • Return to location of repair site (Up to $200)
    • Personal Necessities (up to $50)
  • Motorist legal services
  • Trip planning services

As you can see, the Deluxe TD Auto Club membership is impressive and covers you for just about every scenario. All of the services offered are similar or better compared to what you’ll find lower on the list. I would argue the best benefit is the option to be reimbursed for certain services. Basically, you can use any service provider and then make a claim later via TD Auto Club. That said, if you’re able to use someone from TD Auto Club right away, you won’t pay anything out of pocket.

The travel accident emergency services can also be quite handy. As mentioned, my wife was hit by a driver who wasn’t paying attention once and everything was taken care of. The tow to the accident repair centre and then to the body shop was covered completely. When she arrived at the body shop, they had already been in contact with TD Auto Club and had ordered a rental car which was being delivered right to the body shop. Had my wife known meals were included, I’m sure she would have got herself a nice lunch.

What’s really interesting about TD Auto Club is that your membership covers you no matter whose vehicle you’re driving. If you need to add your spouse or children, there’s an additional fee. That said, I believe supplementary cardholders also get coverage.

As long as you’re holding the TD Cashback Visa Infinite Card (which requires a personal annual income of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000), you’ll have access to TD Auto Club. Your membership number is your credit card number. TD Auto Club can also be purchased as an add on benefit if you hold a qualifying TD credit card. However, it’s not available as a standalone product.

TD Auto Club phone number: 1.800.265.1289

Canadian Tire roadside assistance

  • Free via Tire Triangle World Elite Mastercard
  • Regular price: $99.95
  • Plan: Gold Member Plan 

In my opinion, the easiest way to get free roadside assistance is to sign up for the Canadian Tire Triangle World Elite Mastercard. It has no annual fee and comes with Canadian Tire roadside assistance. To be specific, you’re getting a Gold Member Plan that normally costs $99.95 a year and comes with the following benefits:

  • 24/7 service across Canada & the USA
  • 5 service calls a year
  • Tows up to 200 km per service call to any destination (includes flatbed)
  • Unlimited tows to a Canadian Tire Auto Service Centre for up to 200 km (does not count towards your 5 service calls)
  • Battery boost
  • Flat tire change
  • Extrication and winching service
  • Lockout service
  • Fuel delivery (up to $5)
  • Trip accident assistance (up to $300)
  • Member exclusive benefits

Once you have the Canadian Tire Triangle World Elite Mastercard, the primary cardholder must register online for the Canadian Tire roadside assistance to become active. It does take 24 hours to kick in, so you may want to wait a bit before you start driving. 

When registering, you can choose to be covered under the vehicle plan, where one vehicle is registered. Or, you can select the member plan that covers the primary cardholder only. The vehicle plan is great if you only have one car since it covers all drivers. However, if you have multiple cars, the member plan is likely the better choice. If your partner needs coverage, have them sign up for the Canadian Tire Triangle World Elite Mastercard too. Note that this card requires you to have an annual personal income of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000 to qualify.

Another perk of having Canadian Tire roadside assistance is the member perks. You get discounts on oil changes and car washes at Candian Tire Gas+. You’ll also get discounts at select merchants such as Mark’s, Choice Hotels, Adidas, Hello Fresh, and more.

Canadian tire roadside assistance number: 1.888.727.7478

BMO roadside assistance

  • Free via BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*
  • Regular price: $69
  • Plan: Dominion Automobile Association basic BMO Roadside Assistance Coverage

Finally, the last free roadside assistance in Canada is available via the BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*. The card actually has an annual fee of $120, but it’s waived for the first year.

You can get the annual fee waived every year if you have a Premium Chequing Account with BMO, but that has a monthly fee of $30. That said, if you keep a minimum of $6,000 in your account, your monthly fees are waived so it becomes completely free.

As the name implies, the basic BMO Roadside Assistance Coverage provided by Dominion Automobile Association is pretty basic. You get the following benefits:

  • 24/7 service across Canada & the USA
  • 4 service calls a year
  • Towing due to mechanical breakdown up to 10 km
  • Battery boost
  • Flat tire change
  • Extrication and winching service
  • Lockout service
  • Fuel delivery up to 10L at your cost

Although the BMO Roadside assistance covers the primary cardholder and each additional cardholder, the coverage is really not that good at all. Yes, the battery boost and flat tire change are handy, but I wouldn’t rely on this service for anything serious. 

Both the TD Auto Club and Canadian Tire roadside assistance give you better coverage and require fewer steps to get. That said, if you already have the BMO CashBack® World Elite®* Mastercard®*, it’s a nice benefit to have.

BMO roadside assistance number: 1.866.731.4999

Roadside assistance from your auto dealer

In recent years, many auto dealers have been providing free auto insurance when purchasing both new and used vehicles. Generally speaking, this perk lasts for two years and comes with standard services such as towing, battery boost, tire change, fuel delivery, and winching. What you’re covered for depends on what you’re dealer is offering. That said, some new car warranties now also include roadside assistance so you could be covered for five years.

This is actually a great temporary service since you’re getting it free for a little while. When your term is about to run out, look at one of the options above so you’re never missing out on coverage.

How does free roadside assistance compare to Costco and CAA?

CAA roadside assistance is easily the most recognizable service and their gold plan is competitively priced at $119 a year. It’s similar to the Canadian Tire Gold Member plan, but CAA gives you a few extra perks such as free Canadian passport photos, motorcycle coverage, and CAA Bike Assist.

Costco Roadside assistance is popular since it’s cheap. The Standard Plus Emergency Roadside Assistance is only $63.99 a year. That’s half the price of what CAA charges. The one major thing that you need to know is that coverage only applies if your vehicle is less than 12 years old.

CAA roadside assistance and Costco roadside assistance are decent products, but why bother with them when you’ve just learned how to get free roadside assistance?

Is roadside assistance worth it?

Free roadside assistance is always worth it since it’s not costing you anything. Even if you need to go through the extra steps to get a Deluxe TD Auto Club membership for free, it’s worth it. Trust me, after your first service call, you’ll be so relieved that assistance is on the way. There’s no need to panic if you have a flat tire or if your battery dies. Just call for help and someone will arrive shortly to assist you. 

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

9 Comments

  1. Sandra Sharpe on October 4, 2021 at 10:05 AM

    Barry….what about Home Trust Visa? It is a no-fee credit card, and I haven’t heard anything about them discontinuing their free Roadside Assistance.

    • Barry Choi on October 4, 2021 at 10:07 AM

      Hey Sandra,

      They dropped it from their card back in March. The benefit is no longer mentioned on their website.

  2. Perry on October 4, 2021 at 7:30 PM

    Hi there, isn’t the Canadian tire coverage for the credit card a silver plan which is only about a 25 km tow?
    Thanks for all the info!!!

    • Barry Choi on October 4, 2021 at 7:41 PM

      Perry,

      This link is showing a Gold Membership with the Triangle World Elite Mastercard – https://triangle.canadiantire.ca/en/world-elite-roadside.html

      • Perry on October 4, 2021 at 8:33 PM

        Awesome Barry, thanks so much for the clarification! Have a great day!

      • Deborah S. on October 28, 2021 at 10:16 AM

        You’re overlooking the free roadside assistance that may come with your car’s warranty. We get 5 years from Hyundai and we’ve used it. Services provided by the same providers as CAA.

        • Barry Choi on October 28, 2021 at 10:19 AM

          Deborah,

          Excellent point.

  3. Sarina on October 16, 2021 at 7:15 AM

    It’s not free then. You have to pay for the credit card annually. Yes, given the first year is free, you still have to pay interest on purchases. And, it states the you have to have a personal annual income of 80 000/yr or 150 000/yr combined income to get this credit card. I’m sorry, but if anyone has incomes that high they are purchasing vehicles with free roadside assistance.

  4. Steve on November 1, 2021 at 2:03 PM

    TD “Deluxe” auto plan towing service is not as good as you make it out to be. Towing is to the *nearest service center* within 200km. So, you’ll be charged extra (per km) to tow to the mechanic of your choice.

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