This isn’t news to anyone, but…Canadian winters are tough.

Canada is cold. And if you’re anything like us, sometimes you wish that you could just stay inside your warm house, snuggled in your adult onesie. Hibernate until spring, anyone?

However, sometimes, the outside world calls on us, and we must venture outside our cozy, warm bubble.

And when we do head out and face the winter, we often just assume our vehicles are up for the task. But the truth of the matter is…

  • Any car, new or old, can run out of gas.
  • The best and the worst car on the road can accidentally get locked with the keys still inside of it.
  • And in these cold temperatures, any battery could use an extra boost.

As someone with a car that is less than 3 years old, it might be hard to justify paying for roadside assistance…

Until you consider how forgetful you can be and imagine getting locked out of your car on a -20℃ day. Brrr 

CAA vs Canadian Tire vs Costco

The most recognizable of roadside assistance plans in Canada is CAA. And one really nice thing about CAA is that their membership comes with a lot more than just emergency roadside assistance.

Being a member gives cardholders discounts at select hotels, car rental locations, restaurants, and even select retail locations. Not to mention they have a rewards program that allows you to earn CAA Dollars. At partner locations, CAA Members can earn CAA Dollars that never expire and can be used to:

  • book a travel vacation,
  • stock up on gear,
  • get attraction passes,
  • buy movie tickets, and even…
  • buy a gift CAA membership for someone.

It’s easy to see that for the right person, a CAA Membership could have a lot value…but we digress.

Canadian Tire and Costco’s plans are two other popular choices for Canadians when it comes to roadside assistance. They use their retail clout to offer competitive pricing, nice features, and to sign up a lot of people to their own plans.

Here is a bit of a basic rundown on who offers what:

CAA Classic Costco Standard Plus Canadian Tire Silver Plan
Cost $79.50 $63.99 $69.95
Calls Per Year 5 4 3
Towing KM 5KM Up to 250KM 10KM
Battery Boost
Door Unlock

Up to $50 cost

Winch/Pull Out

One operator and truck


Only if on a regularly traveled, safe road

One operator and truck

Tire Change

Does not include repairs

Does not include repairs

Does not include repairs

Gas Delivery

+ Free gas

Eligibility Membership stays with the person that is registered Membership stays with the vehicle that is registered (must be less than 12 years old) Membership stays with the vehicle that is registered

It looks like the Costco plan has the edge here, but you’ll need to be a Costco member to take advantage of it, which has its own yearly cost. You get 250km towing, no door lock cap, and it comes with free gas. However, if you drive a beater, you’ll want to look elsewhere with that 12 years age cap for a vehicle to be covered. Membership is also tied to the vehicle, so if you’re riding in another car – you’re out of luck.

Keep in mind, all three of these programs also offer different “levels” of service, so whether you are looking for something very basic or you want a little more security and coverage, you should be able to find a plan that suits you, if you’re willing to pay for it.

But, what if you didn’t want to pay for it?

Plus a $150 travel bonus.
Only 300 gift cards available.
Offer ends October 31st, 2018.

Free Credit Card Roadside Assistance

Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the security of roadside assistance, without actually having to pay anything for it?

Even though that almost sounds too good to be true, there is a way. There are actually credit cards that include roadside assistance at no extra cost. So you get to enjoy the rewards, perks, and benefits that go along with a credit card, as well as the security that comes with an emergency roadside assistance plan.

In fact, there are 5 different Canadian credit cards on the market right now that have this feature and you can find out all the information here.

BMO Roadside Assistance Gives You Choice And No Fee Options

BMO is the only Canadian credit card issuer that offers roadside assistance on more than one card.

In fact, BMO currently offers emergency roadside assistance on 3 of their top credit cards:

  • BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard
  • BMO CashBack World Mastercard
  • BMO Shell CashBack World Mastercard

With annual fees ranging from $79 to $120, these cards all have good cash back earn rates and impressive insurance packages, plus they come with different premium perks like Concierge Service and the rare free Roadside assistance we’ve been talking about (worth $69/year).

BMO Roadside Assistance allows cardholders to call a 24 hour, 1-866 number from anywhere in Canada and continental USA. BMO will then arrange for a pre-qualified towing professional to come help you out of your sticky situation. As long as your qualifying BMO account is in good standing, BMO will have you covered – whether you are in the car you own, in a rental, or even just the passenger in the car.

With this roadside assistance package cardholders are covered for:

  • battery boost,
  • emergency gas delivery (Cardholder pays for gas),
  • flat tire change if a safe and inflated spare tire is available,
  • lockout services, winch from mud/ditch/snow, and…
  • tow in the event of a mechanical breakdown to the nearest qualified repair facility within 10km from breakdown.

One important thing to keep in mind…

Premium BMO banking clients can get the $120 fee of the BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard waived along with their monthly banking fee if they keep a minimum of $6,000 in their chequing account.

If you’re willing to do that, you can get:

  • free premium banking,
  • a free premium credit card, and
  • free roadside assistance all in one place.

Not a bad deal.

BMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard

Deluxe TD Auto Club Membership

The TD Cash Back Visa Infinite is another card that comes with complimentary roadside assistance and with an annual fee of $120. As a deluxe plan it does have a few extra perks.

Like the BMO Roadside Assistance, the TD Auto Club has a 24 hour, toll-free telephone number that you can call to get help in almost any road emergency. In fact, TD is so confident in its service that they have said:

“…if there isn’t a qualified approved roadside service facility (“Service Facility”) near you or, if there is one but it is unable to help you for any reason, the TD Auto Club will mail you a reimbursement cheque…”

As a primary cardholder, as long as your TD Cash Back Visa Infinite account is in good standing, your TD Auto Club membership will cover you, your spouse, and any of your unmarried children under 22 years of age, who reside with you, when driving any car.

The TD Auto Club Membership covers you if you:

  • have a dead battery,
  • require a tire change,
  • require delivery of gas to a stranded vehicle,
  • need to retrieve your keys out of your locked car,
  • experience a mechanical breakdown disabling it from proceeding under its own power, or if you…
  • need to have a vehicle winched out of snow or a ditch.

On top of this, however, the TD Auto Club Membership will keep you covered in the event that you have a car accident. If it is a local accident, TD will give cardholders up to $25 for personal transportation in the event of a mechanical breakdown within 80km of their home. However, if the accident happens further from home, TD offers some pretty extensive traffic accident emergency services that include:

  • up to $200 in accident towing,
  • up to $200 in emergency transportation/rental car,
  • up to $200 in emergency accommodation and meals,
  • up to $200 in transportation to return to the location of repair site, and even…
  • up to $50 in personal necessities.

Home Trust Roadside Assistance

The Home Trust Preferred Visa is the only no fee card that comes with this premium benefit, but it also turns heads for other reasons. This card is one of the only cards in Canada that has no foreign transaction fee which will save you up to 2.5% any time you make purchases in foreign currencies.

As if 1% cash back, no foreign transaction fee, a small insurance plan, and no annual fee wasn’t enough, the roadside assistance that comes with this card (though not the best plan out there) really pushes this card over the edge.

With the Home Trust Preferred Visa roadside assistance you are protected for up to 4 emergency roadside services per year with a toll free number you can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere in North America. This card will give you:

  • emergency towing services – will take you to any garage within a 5km radius,
  • have 5L delivered to you free of charge, if you run out of gas,
  • tire service,
  • winching,
  • battery boost, and
  • lost key lockout assistance.

Because charts make everything better…

BMO TD Home Trust
Calls Per Year 4 Unlimited 4
Towing KM 10 KM Up to 200 KM 5 KM
Battery Boost
Door Unlock
Winch/Pull Out
Tire Change

Does not include repairs

Does not include repairs

Does not include repairs

Gas Delivery
+ 5L of free gas

+ 5L of free gas
Eligibility Membership stays with the credit card holder. Membership stays with the credit card holder. Membership stays with the credit card holder.

Related: How to Maximize the BMO Rewards Program

Credit Card Vs. Paid Roadside Assistance

I think it’s pretty clear after doing the analysis that there are a lot of upsides for credit card roadside assistance – the main one being you can get it for no additional cost.

You’re going to get pretty good basic coverage for when emergency strikes, which can actually be pretty rare. And now you don’t have to choose between extra security and the extra cost.

The all inclusive premium option from BMO is pretty enticing as well. You get one of the best all-around cash back rates on the market, premium perks, and market leading insurance coverage in addition to the roadside assistance. Then if you pair that with their premium banking plan, you can get a lot more perks plus all your fees waived with a minimum balance.

On the other hand, if you want the best roadside assistance out there or you drive a real beater to save money, you may want to consider a premium paid plan. You’ll need all those bells and whistles – you might be calling every month or two after all.

Whatever your choice, now you’ll know that if you ever get locked out of your car on a freezing cold Canadian night, help is on the way.

Your turn

Do you have one of the credit cards above that offers roadside assistance? Has roadside assistance gotten you out of a tight bind?

Let us know in the comments below.