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While rental car companies are notorious for attempting to sell clients insurance coverage, there may be a better option. There are certain credit cards that cover car rental protection. Join us as we answer common questions about how such coverage works and break down the best credit cards that cover rental car insurance.
How does rental car insurance work on a credit card?
Some credit card companies offer cards that come with complimentary perks, such as an Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver. These waivers offer automatic collision and theft insurance coverage for rentals that you book using your credit card.
All you have to do is refuse the optional insurance offered by the car rental company and pay for your rental exclusively with your credit card.
How can I find out if my credit card offers rental car insurance?
How do you know which credit cards offer rental car insurance? If your card offers an auto rental collision waiver or rental car insurance, it should be highlighted in the terms and conditions.
Many credit card companies also advertise these perks on their websites. When in doubt, you can always reach out to your card provider via phone or chat to ask whether your card includes this type of coverage.
What are the pros and cons of credit card rental car insurance?
The benefits of complimentary car rental insurance are hard to beat, as long as you’re familiar with exactly what they are. Be sure to go over your card’s policy in order to get the full details. Some common pros and cons include:
- Saving money by opting out of the insurance that the rental car company offers
- Some cards offer primary insurance, which can be an excellent benefit if your regular auto insurance doesn’t cover rentals
- Rental car insurance is offered by business and personal credit cards alike
- Rental car insurance can vary greatly from card to card, so be sure you understand the maximum benefits and rental times covered by your card’s policy
- Not all credit cards offer rental car insurance
How to Pick a Credit Card with Auto Rental Coverage
While auto rental coverage is a great perk, be sure it isn’t your only consideration when selecting the right credit card. You’ll also want to take a look at factors such as:
- Annual fees and APY
- Other travel benefits the card may offer
- The card’s rewards programs: Cashback vs. points, spending categories vs. flat-rate rewards, etc.
- Whether the card’s benefits make sense for your regular spending habits
Can I Pay for the Car Rental with Points and Still Have Rental Car Coverage?
This is a question it’s always best to verify with your specific card provider. While some credit card companies do offer coverage for cars you rent with your rewards, others do not. It’s always better to give your provider a call than to confirm rather than risk an unfortunate surprise.
Types of Rental Car Insurance That Credit Cards Offer
Credit cards offer two major types of car rental insurance: primary and secondary.
Primary insurance provides coverage that you can enjoy without having to go through your regular insurance.
- Using your credit card’s primary car rental insurance coverage can help you avoid having to file a claim with your regular insurance company
- It’s often a free perk offered to customers who use their cards to book and purchase car rentals
- Coverage may be limited to a certain coverage amount or a number of days
- Coverage generally only includes collision and theft insurance
Secondary coverage kicks in to pay for collision or theft costs not covered by your regular insurance provider.
- A complimentary way to enjoy additional coverage at no extra cost
- Some providers offer primary insurance if you don’t have regular car insurance
- You’ll have to file two separate claims with your regular insurance provider and credit card
- Usually requires you to book and completely pay for the rental using your card
Below, we’ll break down the best credit cards that offer primary rental insurance as well as secondary coverage.
Which Credit Cards are Best for Rental Car Insurance?
Here are our picks for some of the best credit cards that offer either primary or secondary rental car insurance coverage. Some companies, such as AMEX, offer secondary coverage by default, with the option to upgrade to primary coverage.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase’s Sapphire Preferred Card is an excellent all-around travel card with a generous welcome bonus and points rewards system. It also offers top-tier travel perks, including an Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver for rental cars when you use your card to cover the entire rental cost.
This type of coverage offers collision and theft protection up to the total cash value for most rental cars. Because it’s primary protection, you won’t have to worry about filing a claim through any other insurance source.
- Primary rental car insurance covers most rentals both in the U.S. and abroad
- Rental car coverage for up to 31 consecutive days
- Covers up to the total cash value of the rental
- $95 annual fee
- Requires good to excellent credit
Chase Freedom Flex℠
The Chase Freedom Flex card offers plenty of great rewards perks with no annual fee. You can also enjoy a 0% APR for up to the first 15 months (then 17.99% – 26.74% variable) as well as coverage on several types of purchases you make with your card, including everything from your cellphone to trip cancelation coverage.
When you use your Freedom Flex card to cover the full cost of a rental car in the U.S., you’ll enjoy secondary collision damage or theft coverage. It’s worth noting that any cars you use it to rent while traveling abroad will enjoy primary coverage.
- Secondary collision and theft coverage for rental cars in the U.S. Primary collision and theft coverage for rental cars aboard
- Trip cancellation coverage/ travel and emergency assistance services are also available
- No annual fee
- 3% foreign transaction fee for rental purchases outside the U.S.
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
When it comes to business cards, Chase’s Ink Business Unlimited is about as generous as it gets. Enjoy up to a $900 cashback intro bonus (when spending $6,000 in the first 3 months), a 0% APR for the first 12 months (then 16.24% – 22.24% Variable), and no annual fee. You’ll also earn unlimited 1.5% cash-back rewards on all business purchases.
The Ink Business Unlimited is a great card to consider if you travel a great deal for business, as it offers perks like roadside assistance and travel & emergency assistance services. You’ll also enjoy primary theft and collision damage on cars you rent for business purposes in the U.S. or abroad.
- No annual fee and 0% intro APR*
- Primary coverage of rentals for business purposes
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on business purchases
- You may earn more with a tiered rewards card if you tend to use your card for regular purchases in certain categories
*0% Intro APR for the first 12 Months, 16.24% – 22.24% thereafter.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
If you’re looking for a card with a great travel miles rewards program, then Capital One’s Venture X Rewards card is hard to beat. It comes with a 75,000-mile introductory bonus offer¹, a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus², and annual travel and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® credits.
¹ Earn 75,000 bonus miles (equal to $750 in travel) when spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening
² Earn 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 in travel) each year, starting on your 1st anniversary
When it comes to rental cars, you can earn 10x miles when you book through Capital One Travel. You’ll also enjoy primary theft and collision coverage on rentals, as well as free access to the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle® status.
- One of the few cards that offer complimentary Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle® Status
- Primary coverage on all rental cars booked with your card
- Excellent travel miles rewards program
- $395 annual fee
- Excellent credit required
Capital One Spark Cash Plus
The Capital One Spark Cash Plus card is a business card that offers unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase. You can also earn an unlimited 5% cash back when you use your card to book hotels or rental cards with Capital One Travel.
Not only will you enjoy primary rental coverage, but also lost or delayed luggage reimbursement. Capital One’s Spark Business cards also come with Travel Accident Insurance, Ride Share Protection, Travel, and Emergency Assistance Services, and more.
- No APR because the balance is due in full at the end of each month
- Generous travel insurance and protection features
- Unlimited cash-back bonuses
- $150 annual fee
- 2.99% late fee for balances not paid in full at the end of each month
The Platinum Card® from American Express
While AMEX’s Platinum card comes with a hefty annual fee, its generous perks may be worth it for the right customer. This is particularly true for frequent travelers, who will enjoy 5x the rewards points on flights and eligible hotels booked through American Express Travel.
The AMEX Platinum card also offers default secondary car rental insurance that covers everything from collision or theft to injuries or personal property damage. Cardholders also have the option to upgrade to primary insurance through the AMEX Premium Car Rental Protection program.
- Earn up to $1,500 annually in credits and rewards
- Default secondary rental car coverage with the option to upgrade to primary
- No blackout dates
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
AMEX’s Blue Cash Everyday Card is a solid option when it comes to earning cash back with no annual fee. Customers earn 3% cash back, up to $6,000 a year on purchases in categories such as U.S. supermarkets, online retail, and U.S. gas stations.
All other purchases earn 1% cash back. You’ll also enjoy automatic secondary collision or theft insurance for vehicle rentals you use your card to book and pay for.
- No annual fee
- Great for earning cashback on everyday purchases
- Secondary car rental insurance provided
- 3% cashback only applies up to rewards of $6,000 annually and drops to 1% rewards after that
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
If you’re looking for a straightforward travel rewards credit card, then Bank of America’s Travel Rewards card is worth looking into. Rather than dealing with categories, you’ll earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend across the board.
It also comes with the added benefits of no annual fees or foreign transaction fees. While Bank of America doesn’t get into the specifics of rental coverage on their site, you can find more information in their Visa Signature travel insurance benefits breakdown.
- No annual fee
- No earning categories for the points reward system
- 0% introductory APR*
- Modest travel perks available
*0% intro APR for 18 months, then 16.99% – 26.99% variable APR
United℠ Explorer Card
The United Explorer card offers a generous intro bonus opportunity of 50,000 Bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Customers also have the opportunity to earn 2x the miles on dining, hotel stays, eligible delivery services, and United purchases (per dollar spent).
You’ll also earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other purchases. The card comes with built-in primary rental car insurance, as well as purchase protection and trip cancelation insurance.
- No annual fee for the first year
- 2x miles on dining in addition to travel-related purchases
- Generous sign-up bonus offer
- $95 annual fee after the first year
Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card
If Delta is your preferred airline for business travel, then it’s worth looking into the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business card. Complete with a generous introductory bonus miles offer, the card offers customers the chance to earn 2x the miles on purchases made through Delta, at restaurants worldwide, and in U.S. supermarkets.
You’ll also earn a mile for every dollar you spend on other eligible purchases. Customers also enjoy secondary rental coverage with the option to upgrade to primary through the AMEX Premium Car Rental Protection program.
- $0 annual fee for the first year
- Miles never expire
- No blackout dates
- $99 annual fee after the first year
Which credit card has the best car rental coverage if I don’t have auto insurance?
Chase tends to offer the most generous car rental coverage, so it’s hard to beat an option like the Sapphire Preferred® Card. It will cover damage or theft to most vehicles you rent in the U.S. or abroad, up to the actual cash value of the car. Coverage lasts for 31 consecutive days and even covers towing charges to the nearest qualified repair facility.
If you’re looking for a business option, then be sure to check out the Chase Ink Business Unlimited card. Not only does it offer rental coverage, but also perks like roadside dispatch and Travel & Emergency Assistance Services.
Is it better to pay a rental car with a credit card?
In general, yes. Even if your card doesn’t offer car rental insurance protection, it may offer perks like fraud liability or other protections. Paying with a card that does include an Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver is a great way to avoid the daily insurance coverage charges offered by many rental companies.
Additionally, many credit cards offer bonus rewards for car rentals and some can even help you score discounts with partner rental companies.
As you can see, it can pay to look into all the benefits that your credit card has to offer. Just be sure that you take the time to thoroughly understand the unique policies behind any benefits that your card offers.
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