The 9 Best Credit Cards for Car Rental Insurance Coverage [2019]

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When renting a vehicle you’re faced with several decisions. Should I get that GPS, prepay for gas, or take that automatic toll-paying sensor? Should I spend a few extra dollars and get the full-size car?

The decisions are many…and the salesperson is a professional at the up-sell. Stress starts to set in, but some of the most expensive decisions are yet to be made.

One of the most expensive decisions to make is whether to opt for the rental car company’s collision/loss damage waiver coverage.

This coverage can cost as much as $30 per rental day, and you may have a difficult time opting out of it.

In the worst case scenario, you might opt out and have something happen to your rental. You could be out thousands of dollars until you resolve the issue between the rental car company and your insurance company.

Even then, you could be left with a high deductible to pay.

However, there is some available relief to this madness — and you may already have access to the solution! By knowing the extent of any car rental coverage you have on your credit cards, you can save yourself stress and a lot of money.

While the collision damage waiver (CDW) (or loss damage waiver/LDW, as it is sometimes called) is not technically insurance, it functions similarly. And it can also be just as confusing!

But not to worry — as usual, we’ve done the work for you and put together a collection of some of the best credit card rental car coverage out there.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • What is collision damage waiver coverage
  • Which credit cards offer the best protection
  • What you need to know to file a claim

Let’s get started with our overview of credit card rental car coverage and take a look at some of the best credit cards to use when renting a vehicle.

What Is the Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver?

Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver

The Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) is coverage that reimburses you for damage to your rental car or theft of the car while the vehicle is in your custody.

It can also cover “loss of use” of the rental car, which car rental agencies can charge you if the vehicle is damaged or stolen. (Since the vehicle wouldn’t be available to rent out, the agency could be losing revenue and pass this loss on to you.)

Car rental companies require you to purchase CDW/LDW coverage before you take possession of the rental car, unless you have the coverage elsewhere.

Several credit cards provide CDW coverage at no extra charge, and if you have this coverage you can decline the expensive car rental company option.

Primary vs. Secondary Coverage

While many credit cards offer CDW coverage, there can be a significant difference in how the coverage functions.

  • Secondary CDW Coverage: If your credit card offers secondary CDW coverage, you will need to first file a claim with any other available insurance before the secondary coverage kicks in.
  • Primary CDW Coverage: Provides coverage without the need to file a claim with other insurance. If an incident happens, the primary coverage applies.

Hot Tip: Note that coverage on the same credit card can be secondary in certain countries and circumstances while primary in others. Check with your card’s benefits administrator for specific questions.

Requirements to Ensure Coverage

For the CDW coverage that is offered on credit cards to be valid, most credit card coverage requires the following:

  • Reserve and pay for your rental car with the qualifying credit card
  • Decline the rental car company’s CDW/LDW coverage
  • List all drivers on the rental agreement

Make sure you know the requirements before you rent a vehicle, and call the benefits administrator if you have questions.

You can even ask for a letter showing your CDW coverage to show when renting a vehicle.

Bottom Line: Your credit card guide to benefits will be very specific in explaining the definition of the card’s particular CDW coverage. It will also provide clear information on where and when coverage is secondary or primary. 

Towing
Enjoy primary car rental coverage worldwide with Chase credit cards. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Best Personal Chase Credit Cards for Car Rental Insurance Coverage

Chase excels in offering car rental coverage by providing worldwide primary CDW coverage complimentary with its credit cards.

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

One of the best overall credit cards for car rental coverage is the Sapphire Preferred.

Not only will you be earning 2 Ultimate Rewards Points per dollar spent on your car rental (and all other travel), but you’ll have peace of mind knowing you have primary CDW coverage worldwide.

What’s Covered

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and any Chase credit cards offering CDW coverage come with primary coverage. This means you won’t have to worry about filing a claim with your auto insurance company if something should happen to the rental vehicle.

You can expect the following coverage worldwide with your Chase credit card:

  • Reimbursement for damage or theft of the rental car up to the actual cash value of the vehicle
  • Valid loss of use charges assessed by the rental car company
  • Reasonable towing charges
  • Rentals are covered for 31 days or less

Who’s Covered

  • Primary cardholders and authorized users
  • Additional drivers listed on the rental agreement

Hot Tip: There is no charge for adding an authorized user to the Sapphire Preferred, and they receive the same primary CDW coverage when renting a vehicle with their card! Keep in mind that authorized users driving a vehicle rented by the primary cardholder do need to be listed as a driver to be covered. Read more about maximizing car rental insurance benefits with the Sapphire Preferred.

What’s Excluded

  • Certain luxury, antique, and exotic vehicles
  • Cargo vans, motorcycles, recreational vehicles
  • Certain countries may be excluded where prohibited by law
  • Liability coverage

2. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Sapphire Reserve comes with the same worldwide primary CDW coverage as the Sapphire Preferred, but with a maximum of $75,000 coverage for the rental vehicle.

The most compelling reason to use the Sapphire Reserve for your rental car is that you can pay for the rental with Ultimate Rewards Points and receive 50% more value for your points!

If you choose to charge the car rental to your Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 3 Ultimate Rewards Points per dollar spent.

You can also pay with points in advance or reserve with your card and use the Chase Sapphire Reserve® when you check-in at the rental counter — you’ll be covered for primary CDW coverage.

With this card, you also receive elite status with National Car Rental and Avis, plus a 30% discount on Silvercar rentals.

Hertz car rental
Receive complimentary Hertz elite status with the United MileagePlus® Club Card. Image courtesy of Hertz.

3. United MileagePlus® Club Card

For travelers who fly United Airlines and frequently rent cars with Hertz, the MileagePlus Card could offer great value.

The card offers priority check-in, security screening, boarding, and baggage handling privileges — plus it comes with complimentary Hertz President’s Circle elite status!

Here, you’ll receive the same primary CDW rental car coverage as the Sapphire Preferred Card, plus a myriad of premium travel benefits including United Club lounge membership.

Bottom Line: Chase credit cards are a great choice to use when renting a car because they offer complimentary worldwide primary CDW rental car coverage for rentals of 31 days or less. 

Best Personal Amex Credit Cards for Car Rental Insurance Coverage

Most American Express credit cards come with complimentary secondary CDW coverage and allow you to purchase optional Premium Car Rental Protection.

This means that American Express credit cards are basically created equal when it comes to CDW coverage.

As a result, it makes sense to use an American Express card that delivers premium travel benefits and earns flexible points or hotel rewards when renting a vehicle. Here’s what we suggest:

1. The Platinum Card® from American Express

For luxury travel benefits, it’s difficult to beat the Platinum Card.

Plus, you’ll receive special benefits, discounts, and elite status with Hertz, Avis, and National Car Rental.

Airline tickets and hotels earn 5 valuable Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent, and points can be transferred to travel partners.

Use the complimentary secondary CDW that comes with the card, or opt for Premium Car Rental Protection for primary coverage.

Hot Tip: Don’t miss our dedicated article for more information on the car rental and insurance benefits of the Platinum Card. 

2. Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card from American Express

When you book your car rental with the Hilton Honors Aspire Card, you’ll be earning 7 Hilton Honors Points per dollar spent.

You’ll also have the option to enroll the card and purchase Premium Car Rental Protection, or use the complimentary secondary CDW coverage that comes with the card.

The card offers premium travel benefits including lounge access, elite status, resort credits, airline credits, and an annual free night.

Rental Car View
Many business credit cards offer primary car rental coverage for personal rentals when out of the country. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

American Express Car Rental Coverage

American Express is unique in its offering of CDW coverage on its credit cards.  The card issuer offers both complimentary secondary CDW that comes with their credit cards, and primary Premium Car Rental Protection that can be purchased.

  • Standard complimentary secondary CDW coverage included with its credit cards
  • The option to enroll your credit card in advance for primary Premium Car Rental Protection that’s automatically applied when you use the card to rent a vehicle

American Express Complimentary Secondary CDW Coverage

Complimentary CDW is included on most American Express credit cards. But for the complimentary CDW coverage to be effective, the following must be done:

  • Reserve and pay for the entire car rental with the qualifying American Express card
  • Decline the car rental company’s CDW/LDW coverage

To find out if your American Express credit card has complimentary CDW coverage, review your benefits guide here.

What’s Covered

  • Damage or theft of a rental vehicle up to a maximum of $50,000
  • Loss of use, appraisal fees, towing
  • Rentals of 30 days or less

Who’s Covered

Drivers covered for CDW under the complimentary coverage on your credit card include:

  • Primary cardholders and additional drivers listed on the rental agreement
  • Authorized users and additional drivers listed on the rental agreement

For CDW coverage to apply, the car rental must be reserved and paid for with the American Express card.

Exclusions

  • Cars rented in Australia, Italy, New Zealand, or any OFAC listed country (due to economic or trade sanctions)

American Express Optional Primary Premium Car Rental Protection

To purchase Premium Car Rental Protection, you will need to enroll your American Express credit card in advance of your car rental.

Once you use your card to reserve and pay for the car rental after enrollment, the coverage is charged to your card and becomes effective for that rental term.

This coverage is primary when purchased, meaning you do not need to submit a claim with another insurance company first.

There are 2 levels of Premium Car Rental Protection available, and they range in price from $12.25 to $24.95 depending on the state you reside in and the limits of coverage you select.

The price you pay is for the entire rental period (up to 42 days), not a per day charge!

What’s Covered

  • Damage or theft of your rental car for up to $100,000
  • Secondary medical coverage and accidental death benefit for driver/passengers
  • Personal property coverage

Who’s Covered

  • The primary cardholder and drivers listed on the rental agreement
  • Authorized users and accompanying drivers listed on the rental agreement

What’s Not Covered

To access the terms/conditions of the basic CDW coverage that comes with your American Express credit card, view the guide to benefits for all 58 cards here. To register your American Express card for Premium Car Rental Protection, visit the registration page.

Hot Tip: If you’re renting a vehicle for more than 30 days, the Premium Car Rental Protection for purchase with your American Express credit card is a great value. You receive primary CDW coverage for pennies per rental day and are covered for up to 42 days. 

 

Amex car rental insurance
American Express offers both complimentary CDW coverage with their credit cards and premium coverage you can purchase. Image courtesy of American Express.

Best Business Credit Cards for Car Rental Insurance Coverage

1. Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Enjoy primary worldwide CDW car rental coverage worldwide with the Ink Business Preferred Card when renting a car for business use.

Coverage becomes secondary when you rent a vehicle for personal use in the United States.

2. Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

The no-annual fee Ink Business Cash card also comes with primary worldwide car rental coverage and secondary coverage when you rent a vehicle for personal use in the United States.

3. American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

Select rental car purchases from “specific major car rental companies” as your custom cash-back bonus category, and you’ll be earning 3% cash-back on every car rental!

Use the complimentary secondary CDW coverage that comes with the card, or register your card and purchase primary Premium Car Rental Coverage.

General Tips for Filing a CDW Coverage Claim

The first step when your rental car is in an accident or stolen is to call the benefits administrator.

You’ll be asked some questions and sent a claim form to complete.

Be aware that when submitting a CDW claim, you’ll have deadlines to meet, documentation to gather, and a responsibility to follow up.

Hot Tip: Since most claims will be processed on a reimbursement basis, you’ll likely have plenty of incentive to get your claim processed quickly!

Know the Deadlines

There will be specific deadlines at each step of the process, which you should familiarize yourself with. Here are a few to look out for:

  • Reporting the claim
  • Submitting the completed claim form
  • Submitting all required documents

Gather All Relevant Information

Don’t forget to gather information when the accident/theft happens — some items may be difficult to obtain later. Here’s what you might need:

  • Copy of the entire rental agreement
  • Copy of the accident report from the car rental company showing the amount you owe
  • Police report
  • Photos of the damage

Follow up With Additional Needed Documents

If the claim administrator asks for anything else, make sure to provide it right away. For example, they might request:

  • Copy of your credit card statement showing that the rental was paid for with your qualifying credit card
  • Repair estimates

Ask for Assistance

If you have trouble getting the required documents, ask the claim administrator for help.

Final Follow Up

It’s your responsibility to make sure all of the required documentation is received by the claim administrator on time and is complete to their satisfaction.

Generally, if you have primary CDW coverage or secondary CDW coverage with no current auto insurance, the claim process will be straightforward.

But if you have secondary CDW coverage that applies to the rental car incident and you have auto insurance as well, you will need to report the claim to that company first.

Hot Tip: Be aware in advance of what you’ll need to do in case of a rental car incident, so you’ll be prepared to gather as much documentation as possible when the incident happens. Photos, police reports, and documentation from the rental car company can be impossible or difficult to obtain later on.  

Final Thoughts

If you have your own car insurance, the best CDW coverage for domestic car rentals is primary credit card CDW coverage.

This is because it’s best to avoid filing a claim with your own insurance company, which could mean potentially having to pay a high deductible and having your rates increased.

Generally, those who carry auto insurance can get by with secondary CDW coverage when renting a car out of the country — chances are your U.S. policy will not cover you there.

The secondary CDW coverage on your credit card would then become primary.

If you do not carry auto insurance, you can get by with secondary CDW coverage, since it will act as your primary insurance in nearly all rental car situations (foreign or domestic).

You may, however, be responsible for a deductible on the car rental company’s coverage.

Call your benefits administrator for clarification of coverage before renting any vehicle.

In all cases, you should purchase liability insurance from the rental car company or be sure it is included in your rental agreement, as it is not included in CDW coverage that comes with your credit card.

If you frequently rent a car, you can save time, frustration, and money knowing the type of coverage you have with your credit cards!


FAQ

Which is the best credit card to use for car rentals?

Having a credit card such as those issued by Chase that offer primary CDW insurance is ideal.

However, if you are renting a vehicle for more than 30 days, purchasing Premium Car Rental Insurance as a cardholder of an American Express card can be a wise choice.

The Premium Car Rental Protection covers you for pennies per day and can be valid for up to 42 days.

What does primary and secondary coverage mean?

Primary CDW coverage covers you without having to file a claim with another insurance company first.

Secondary CDW coverage requires that you file a claim with your own auto insurance company (or other insurance company that applies) and exhaust any coverage there before the secondary coverage kicks in.

CDW coverage that comes with your credit card is frequently secondary, but some credit cards (such as those issued by Chase) offer primary coverage.

Additionally, some business credit cards offer secondary coverage for personal car rentals in the U.S. but primary coverage internationally.

Which credit card has the best car rental coverage if I don't have auto insurance?

If you do not have current auto insurance, ideally you should secure a credit card that provides primary car rental coverage.

With this said, many credit cards with secondary CDW coverage allow the coverage to become primary when you do not have current auto insurance.

However, when renting a vehicle, if you want to decline the rental company’s CDW/LDW coverage, you may have to show proof that you have other coverage.

You will want to contact the benefits administrator in advance to confirm that you would indeed be covered and that the coverage would default to primary.

Can I pay for the car rental with points and still have rental car coverage?

Yes. If you use points to pay for all or part of your car rental, use your qualifying credit card to pay the remainder, and then present your card at the rental car agency, you will be covered.

Keep in mind that you need to use points from the qualifying credit card to reserve and/or pay for the car rental.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

47 comments

  1. Francisco Pham · April 9, 2019 · Reply

    You stated “In all cases, you should purchase liability insurance from the rental car company or be sure it is included in your rental agreement, as it is not included in CDW coverage that comes with your credit card.” Is that the same coverage we buy from the car rental place? If so, what is the point of this article on having cdw on our credit cards if you want us to still buy the car rental agency’s insurance?

    • Christine Krzyszton · April 9, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Francisco. The Auto Rental CDW benefit that comes with your credit card provides reimbursement for damage due to collision or theft of the rental vehicle. For this reason you should refuse the rental car company’s CDW (collision damage waiver) coverage. You will save the cost of the rental agency’s coverage by doing so when you have CDW coverage with your credit card. You should, however, not decline the rental car company’s liability coverage. Liability coverage can cover any damage you might do to people’s vehicles or medical costs for other people’s injuries if you cause an accident and are held liable. CDW coverage normally excludes liability so you need to have it. The good news is that liability coverage is included automatically in most rental car agreements or for minimal additional cost.

  2. Angela M. · April 19, 2019 · Reply

    I have USAA liability coverage, not full coverage on my own vehicle. Does that liability transfer over to the rental car automatically if I’m the driver?

    • Katie Seemann · April 20, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Angela,

      I would suggest checking your specific policy to see whether it covers rental cars too. Without knowing the specifics of your policy I can’t say whether or not you would need additional coverage.

  3. Wish you had compared the USBank Altitude Reserve (I know nothing about the other USBank cards). Possibly in a future comparison? I am loving so much about this card. Knowing which card best suits my needs when renting a car makes for a really useful article. Thank you.

    • Christine Krzyszton · April 22, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Terry and thanks for your comment. I think it’s an excellent suggestion to include the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve in future articles. Glad you found some of the information useful.

  4. Jerry Mandel · April 22, 2019 · Reply

    When flying on AA, you can save a lot of money by buying from AA.

  5. This is probably the best article on car rental insurance coverage I’ve read. In particular, your answer to the question about third party liability coverage was spot on. Many people do not understand the different types of coverage and simply overspend at the car rental counter since they don’t take the time to ask questions or research their options. There’s a lot of misinformation on social media especially Facebook as a result. Thanks for taking the time to explore this important topic for everyone.

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Steve! Feel free to share with family and friends that you think may benefit from the info! 🙂

    • Christine Krzyszton · April 23, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Steve. Glad you appreciated the article. Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback and for reading.

  6. Alafia · May 9, 2019 · Reply

    I don’t believe you addressed coverage of depreciation of the rental car if it’s in an accident. Thank you.

    • Christine Krzyszton · May 9, 2019 · Reply

      Hello Alafia. Car rental coverage that comes with your credit card normally covers repairing or replacing the rental car up to the actual cash value of the car at the time of the loss. Depreciation only comes in to play if a rental car company decided they wanted more than actual cash value, i.e. enough to purchase the same vehicle new, which is unlikely, but the request would be handled by the claim administrator during the claim. Most coverage also comes with a specific limit such as $50,000, $75,000, etc. As mentioned, you should contact your the benefits administrator and find out what coverage you have before renting a vehicle in order to make an educated decision at the time of rental . For example, some card coverages exclude loss-of-use charges, do not pay for towing, do not cover sport cars, or exclude certain countries.

  7. Eric R Gilbert · May 25, 2019 · Reply

    So by reviewing this article, I need to get a Chase card so I can have primary car rental insurance with no additional fees? Does the Marriott card from Chase also offer primary car rental insurance? American Express is a ripoff including their Platinum card. $550.00 per year, the worst point reward system, and secondary car rental insurance unless you want to pay extra money. In addition, their Centurion lounges now have a new policy that you can only use the lounge at departure and not arrival. So in the past, even though I barely travel, I would take home the night flight from Vegas to Miami and would be in Miami at 6 AM. I would use the lounge at my arrival in Miami, shower and go to work. That is no longer the case unless you have the black card. American Express Platinum card has zero value with the highest fee and worst benefits.

    • Hi Eric,

      Chase Marriott credit cards offer secondary insurance, not primary. Sorry to hear that the Amex Platinum doesn’t work for you. That card definitely doesn’t make sense for everyone, but for many the benefits are significant. Most people use a lounge before they fly and the Amex Centurion lounges permit entry up to 3 hours before a departure, which is valuable. There are a ton of other benefits such as Uber credits, elite status with hotels/car rental companies, Priority Pass, Global entry/TSA pre-check credits etc etc. But, if you don’t use those benefits then it doesn’t make sense!

  8. Pauline · July 2, 2019 · Reply

    Update needed!!!
    Watch the travel Benefits elimination taking place with Citibank a Mastercard. Absolutely no good anymore for travel protection and rental car insurance coverage. Starts September 22 2019.

    • Christine Krzyszton · July 2, 2019 · Reply

      Thank you, Pauline. We are well aware of the pending changes and have updates scheduled for all of our Citi articles. We want to make sure we incorporate any new card benefits they’re announcing.

  9. Melton D · July 12, 2019 · Reply

    Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited CC carry CDW/LDW in Jamaica? I’ve always use my Discover Card, however, on my last trip this month, I was informed that they have discontinued providing CDW/LDW coverage in Jamaica.
    Did not think to check if my Chase Freedom offer that coverage; it cost me an additional $200 for the coverage, more than the cost of rental.

  10. Linda Keen · July 30, 2019 · Reply

    I have a Citi Costco card and haven’t been able to find out whether it offers any car rental insurance. Neither the Citi page, Costco page or phone works. I will be renting a car in France in late Sept and need to know whether I need LDW and/or CDW insurance. I have car insurance on my own car.
    Thanks.

    • Christine Krzyszton · July 30, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Linda. You currently have car rental insurance on your Citi Costco card. Here is a list of benefits showing the coverage. However, Citi is eliminating this coverage plus several others on September 22, 2019. https://www.citi.com/credit-cards/creditcards/citi.action?ID=citi-costco-credit-card-conversion

      • Linda Keen · July 30, 2019 · Reply

        Thank you. This is very helpful. The Bank of America visa site is also too opaque to give this information.
        I’ll go with my vanilla American Express card that does cover it.

        • Christine Krzyszton · July 30, 2019 · Reply

          You are welcome, Linda. The Guide to Benefits is really the best source for determining the benefits for each card. Sign in to your online account and you should be able to access it or request a copy. You can also Google the card’s guide and frequently download a PDF copy.

        • Paul Schmied · October 7, 2019 · Reply

          It’s not a bank-provided benefit like points. The CDW coverage is provided by VISA. According to VISA’s site, ALL their cards provide it.

  11. Jay Kay · August 25, 2019 · Reply

    I was just reading through the Chase benefit guide, and in section 2 What is Covered, it states the following:

    “Auto Rental CDW is secondary coverage and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle as it was originally manufactured.”

    Does that mean it isn’t actually primary or is this referring to a different benefit?

    • Christine Krzyszton · August 25, 2019 · Reply

      Hello Jay. You do not mention which Chase credit card benefits guide you are referring to. There are Chase credit cards that do have secondary coverage. The Chase credit cards we have mentioned in the article offer primary car rental coverage. For example, here is the benefits guide for the Chase Sapphire Preferred: https://bit.ly/2ZrZBcq

      • Hello,

        Just wanted to know if Cash Rewards Visa credit card issued by Bank of America has this feature, i.e CDW.

        • Christine Krzyszton · August 27, 2019 · Reply

          Hello Arun. Yes, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card has secondary car rental coverage. If you log in to your online account, you can access the guide to benefits (or call the number on the back of your card) for full terms and conditions. Thanks for reading.

        • Paul Schmied · October 7, 2019 · Reply

          It’s not a bank-provided benefit like points. The CDW coverage is provided by VISA. According to VISA’s site, ALL their cards provide it.

  12. Barbara Goldman · August 29, 2019 · Reply

    Does anybody know where you can purchase a policy for liability insurance that would apply to car rentals, if you don’t own a car? I know I am covered CDW with my credit cards, but am concerned about liability coverage. I also have the American Express Premium Rental insurance which I realized doesn’t cover liability either. I have the same concern with Zip Car. As someone said earlier, the Amex Premium Service was great when I did have my own car. I was in a rental car for about 10 minutes when someone rear ended my car and totaled it. I was lucky to be OK, and all I had to do was call Amex and they took care of everything. I went back to the rental company and just rented another car. They eventually notified me that they settled with the rental company and all was taken care of.

    • Christine Krzyszton · August 30, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Barbara. Most rental car companies include liability coverage in their rates or charge a small fee. I am not sure if coverage is available with Zip Car but if it is a concern to you, some insurance companies, depending on your state, sell non-owned auto insurance coverage.

  13. You stated Citi credit cards CDW coverage is primary when outside of the country. Does this apply to car rented in US, but damage or theft occurred in Canada?

    • Christine Krzyszton · September 28, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Alice. This statement was taken from the Citi car rental coverage terms and conditions. We are not in a position to determine which coverage (primary or secondary) applies to the situation you’re referring to. The claims administrator for Citi car rental coverage would be the only source for helping with a specific claim. Please call the number on the back of your card for further assistance. Additionally, Citi removed the coverage from its cards effective September 22, 2019.

  14. I have the UAL card. The numbers are printed, not embossed. I’m finding it difficult to book a car rental in Majorca as they require the cc to be embossed (raised).

  15. Richard Lyon · September 30, 2019 · Reply

    I find your explanation and advice helpful. For years, I have declined CDW, and relied instead on my personal auto insurance policy (and a personal umbrella policy behind it) as my primary coverage, and my credit card as secondary coverage. I also even have a supplemental UNOC – Use of Non-Owned Car endorsement on my personal auto policy to cover against a claim for loss rental income by the rental company and/or a claim for diminution in resale value, per recommendation in WSJ article last year. But due to a series of mishaps with my most recent rental (i.e., two flat tires/blowout where I had to replace the tires at my expense – $600), plus getting a chip/small crack in the windshield from highway debris, plus a hit-and-run in a parking lot resulting in broken tail light and small dent), I am re-thinking this approach and considering just paying for CDW instead (to be able just to walk away and hand them the keys). Still waiting for a final tally from the car rental company, but probably looking at a couple thousand or more, depending on whether they also try to charge me for their loss of rental income for one or two days of repairs. Problem is that to save premiums, I carry a high collision deductible on my personal auto policy, and although my credit card company will provide first dollar coverage for my deductible amount, they state, correctly, that I would first have to submit a claim to my personal auto insurance carrier. But I am hesitant to do this, because of stories I’ve hear of how even notifying your auto insurance carrier of any accident less than your deductible, or for which you’re not filing a claim or seeking reimbursement from them, will still adversely impact your rates. So I’m curious what you think, about my change of thought on maybe just purchasing the rental company’s CDW? I really don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of getting one of the higher level credit cards that afford primary rather than secondary coverage. Thanks.

    • Christine Krzyszton · September 30, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Richard, sorry for your recent experience with your rental car. My first thought is that many insurance companies have a dollar amount threshold before a claim counts against you. For example, if they pay out no money (or less than a stated dollar amount such as $500-$1000,etc.) the claim is not held against you. Also, none of the damage was your fault so that is a factor as well. If you have an insurance agent, you may be able to discuss this with them as coverages vary substantially by state. Another option, if you have an Amex credit card is to purchase the premium coverage before you rent. It is very affordable and covers the entire rental period for one flat low fee.Thank you for reading and I hope this all works out satisfactorily.

  16. barbara jaffe · October 23, 2019 · Reply

    Both my Citi Mastercards have dropped the rental coverage. The car rental companies must be delirious with joy.

    • Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for your feedback. Ultimately, it’s a matter of economics and usage for the credit card companies. It’s pointless from the banks to offer a benefit that nobody uses and still have to pay for it. There’s a few people that are concerned with the dropping of rental car coverage, but there are still options out there.

  17. Beth L. Passwaters · November 2, 2019 · Reply

    I am looking for primary insurance when I rent a car. I have regular auto insurance coverage but want to make sure I am covered for as much as possible when I rent. I’m especially interested in being covered for things such as hail damage, as an incident this summer with my son’s rental brought this to my attention. His primary coverage with the rental (through his business) covered everything. I would like to use my Southwest Visa card but I also have American Express. Any thoughts? Thank you!

    • Christine Krzyszton · November 2, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Beth. Unfortunately the Southwest Visa cards do not have primary car rental insurance. You can call the number on the back of your card or access your guide to benefits online to learn more about the coverage that comes with the card. You do not say which American Express card you have but you may have the option to purchase primary coverage called Premium Car Rental Protection. It is an excellent value for no greater than $24.95 for the entire rental period and you can sign up before you leave on your trip. It stays valid until you cancel it. American Express cards normally have secondary car rental coverage but once again, you should call the number on the back of your card for the coverage on your specific card.

      • Thank you very much for this information. I will call both credit card companies and check to see what is offered. Basically I’m looking for Liability Damage Waiver and Collision Damage Waiver – I think! I’m new to this.

        • Christine Krzyszton · November 3, 2019 · Reply

          Beth, credit cards do not provide car rental liability coverage. It is usually included in your car rental rate or available for a minimal fee. Best regards.

  18. I am currently retired but still licensed in the state of California as an insurance broker having spent 45 years handling the commercial insurance needs of large farming operations. You have done an excellent job in explaining the difference between primary insurance and secondary insurance offered by most credit cards. I have read every word of this document and every question and comment from your readers and every response to those questions and comments. What is missing is a discussion about diminished value. The actual wording found in most car rental contracts, credit card contracts and auto insurance policies is “diminution of value”. My knowledge is limited to California contracts involving physical damage insurance provided by credit cards and auto insurance policies and the renter’s responsibility with respect to physical damage to a rental car while it is in the possession of the renter. Under every car rental contract the renter is responsible for diminution of value. Every auto insurance policy excludes coverage for diminution of value. Every credit card providing physical damage for rental cars has a list of what is not covered in their contract and they all state there is no coverage for diminution of value. This is a HUGE risk that the renter assumes if they rely on their auto insurance policy or the insurance coverage provided by a credit card that is not being addressed by you or your readers. Another thing that is starting to show up in car rental contracts is “Before and After”. Car rental companies are collecting thousands of dollars from customers who return a vehicle that has been damaged while in their possession. It does not matter who was at fault. Under the contract the renter is responsible. The car rental contract also gives the rental company the right to charge the amount they determine they are entitled to for diminution of value or Before and After to the renter’s credit card and the credit card company will not reverse the charge because it is a legal charge under the car rental contract. I have done quite a bit of research on the internet and one of the best articles I have found on this subject is at https://www.fhins.com/rental-car-insurance. The article gives examples and when you get to the end of it you might decide there really are not any good credit cards offering physical damage coverage on car rentals. I would encourage you and your readers to look up this article and then to include this information going forward. The physical damage waiver offered by the car rental companies, in my opinion, is a good buy.

    • Christine Krzyszton · November 8, 2019 · Reply

      Hello Tom. Thanks for commenting and for your kind words.
      I think most of us can agree that the best way to make sure that your rental car is covered completely is to accept the car rental agency’s expensive coverage.
      When we rent a vehicle we evaluate the risk we’re taking against the money we would save by declining this coverage and then take our chances. For example, if I am renting a car and it is going to cost $600 ($30/day x 20 days) for the car rental agency’s CDW coverage, whether it’s a good buy or not, I would decline it. And I have done it several times.
      In the vast majority of cases, primary car rental insurance that comes with your credit card is going to be a more than adequate solution. You bring up the useful point that there are cases where it will not be. I appreciate you taking the time to share your insights and the information.

  19. Marc Willner · November 21, 2019 · Reply

    Hi.Thanks for your article. If you can help me with the following situation:
    I plan on renting a car in Australia using a Chase Visa. Over there the price that one pays for a rental includes collision and theft though with a very high deductible. I was wondering – usually one has to decline the rental agency’s CDW coverage in order for Visa to be used as coverage, but in this case one cant refuse the CDW as it automatically comes with the price of the rental. I want to know if Visa can be used to cover the deductible? The deductible that is charged in Australia is over $4000. Would Visa act as coverage for that, and then I wouldn’t have to buy the ‘extra’ insurance to cover the deductible?
    Thank you for your help.

    • Christine Krzyszton · November 21, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Marc. There are several variables in your scenario. First, not all Chase Visas have primary car rental insurance. Second, it is very clear in the terms and conditions that you must refuse the car rental agency’s CDW coverage in order for the card’s coverage to be valid. The best thing to do would be to contact the benefit administrator by calling the number on the back of your card and confirm in advance any coverage you would have in Australia. Enjoy your trip and thank you for reading.

  20. Steven Jones · November 27, 2019 · Reply

    I can’t find one credit card that covers SLI or third party insurance when renting a car internationally. I am thinking that is where the companies make their money? What do you think? I live in Costa Rica half a month and rent cars all the time. The SLI is always something I have to pay for. My Alliant Rewards card covers the CDL and stuff but not SLI. Does any credit card company do this?

    • Christine Krzyszton · November 28, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Steven. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any credit cards that cover liability insurance for rental cars. But I do thank you for reading.

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