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The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card Bailed Me Out When My Car Broke Down. Here’s How

Using roadside dispatch was a good reminder to keep track of my credit card's benefits and perks.

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There can be plenty of benefits to using a credit card, both in terms of rewards and card perks. And while you may focus on a welcome bonus or rewards rate, you may be only vaguely familiar with protections your credit card offers -- like purchase protection, cellphone protection or travel insurance. For me, that perk was roadside dispatch.

These things always seem to happen at the worst time

Allow me to set the scene: It was a record-breaking negative 10 degrees outside. The roads were covered in thick ice and slush. Snow was falling steadily and piled high on either side of the street.

I finally found an open parking spot, pulled in, took a large step out to avoid plunging my boot into icy water, and realized I should’ve taken the “low tire pressure” light far more seriously. My front tire was as flat as a pancake.

Luckily, there was a spare in the trunk, plus the standard jack to help replace the tire. However, it was dangerously cold outside and there was a large, slushy puddle beneath the car. That left me with two choices: Either change the tire (and presumably my clothes) or find a local repair shop to lend a hand. This is where my credit card came in handy.

As I headed back to my car, resigned to my fate of being soaked and chilled to the bone, I remembered that one of the cards in my wallet could act as a lifesaver.

What is roadside dispatch?

Roadside dispatch is a credit card perk that can provide assistance if your car breaks down while you’re a certain distance from your home. I got coverage as a benefit with the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Wells Fargo’s roadside dispatch covers:

  • Standard towing -- Up to 5 miles
  • Tire changing (must have good, inflated spare)
  • Jump starting
  • Lockout service (no key replacement)
  • Fuel delivery -- up to 5 gallons (plus the cost of fuel)
  • Standard winching

Your coverage might vary depending on your card issuer, but you can find everything it covers in the Guide to Benefits that was provided with your card.

Check your card information

If you’re going to the card issuer’s website to find your Guide to Benefits, make sure you look up the info for your specific card. Benefits and coverage can vary greatly among credit cards from the same issuer.

How to use roadside dispatch

If you’re like me and aren’t into polar plunges in dirty street water -- or you just need some assistance --  you might be able to use a credit card perk to help get your car repaired. Here’s how.

Call your roadside dispatch benefit number

You can access roadside assistance on your online account page, in your issuer app or by googling the benefit. I have access to it through Wells Fargo, so I called the service number (1-800-847-2869) and was put in contact with a customer service representative.

Describe your issue

I explained the situation, and after giving them my location, they contacted a local repair shop. I was warned it might take a bit longer due to the weather conditions, and they provided a link for me to track the progress of the repair.

Wait for assistance

I was at a friend’s house at the time so I was able to wait inside. When the repair person showed up after about 40 minutes, I met him beside my vehicle. He fixed the tire, and I was able to continue on my way.

The cost

It cost me about $79 total to use this service. It was charged directly to my card, and I was able to pay it off right away. While I understand that $79 may sound pretty expensive, it was worth it to me at the time due to the weather. I also tipped the repair technician, which added a bit to the cost.

The bottom line

Credit cards offer a lot of extra perks, even ones you might not be aware of. While it cost me more than it would’ve to change the tire myself, it kept me out of rough weather and made an inconvenient situation a bit easier to manage.


To see all of the perks offered by your credit card, check your online account or the physical Guide to Benefits that was included with your card when it was first mailed to you. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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Evan Zimmer has been writing about finance for years. After graduating with a journalism degree from SUNY Oswego, he wrote credit card content for Credit Card Insider (now Money Tips) before moving to ZDNET Finance to cover credit card, banking and blockchain news. He currently works with CNET Money to bring readers the most accurate and up-to-date financial information. Otherwise, you can find him reading, rock climbing, snowboarding and enjoying the outdoors.
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