Credit Card Rental Insurance
Each time you rent a car there are a couple of things guaranteed to happen. They are going to try and upgrade you to a bigger, more expensive car and they are going to offer you rental car insurance. When it comes to insurance, it’s best to understand what your needs are beforehand.
Many times the rental car company will offer to sell you a policy for up to $25 per day. This could give you extra peace of mind knowing that you are covered up to a certain amount. But did you know that the credit card you use could offer you just as much coverage without the added cost?
Each of the four major credit card networks offers rental car insurance. The amount of coverage all depends on the card you choose to use. Let’s take a look at the four networks and explore the options that they have.
American Express Car Rental Insurance
The majority of American Express cards will offer secondary coverage on cars that have an original MSRP of $50,000 or less. With secondary insurance, you will need to file a claim with your primary insurance company first. Then American Express will pay out on everything not covered. Both The Platinum Card from American Express and the Delta Reserve Credit Card are the exception. Both of these will offer primary coverage, up to $75,000. With primary coverage, you will not need to first file a claim with your insurance company. Instead American Express will cover the entire cost.
One of the big differences between American Express and others is that they offer premium coverage for a fee. You can pay a one-time fee of either $19.95 or $24.95 per rental and receive up to $100,000 worth of primary coverage. The premium coverage will also extend the benefit period from the standard 30 days to 42 days.
Visa Rental Car Insurance
Visa is the only card network that actually offers rental car insurance on each of their cards. Everything from the most basic card up to an elite rewards card will receive up to $50,000 worth of coverage. If you are traveling within the United States, your benefits period expires after 15 consecutive days. Your coverage will also be considered secondary. However, if you are planning to travel internationally then you will have a maximum benefits period of 30 consecutive days and the coverage will be primary. Keep in mind that there are a few countries excluded from coverage including Ireland, Israel, and Jamaica.
Mastercard Rental Car Insurance
Mastercard operates their rental car insurance program very similar to Visa. If you carry a Gold, Platinum, World, or World Elite card then you will receive up to $50,000 worth of coverage. However, no matter what type of Mastercard you have, there is a maximum of 15 consecutive benefit days. If you are renting a car domestically or internationally you will be receiving secondary insurance. Just be aware that if you are traveling internationally, Mastercard will not cover any rentals in Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand, and Italy.
Discover Rental Car Insurance
Select Discover cards will offer their cardholders secondary car rental insurance. There is a maximum benefit amount of $25,000, which is considerably less than what you will receive with any of the other card networks. Rentals must take place in 31 consecutive days or less. However, there are certain circumstances where it can be increased to 45 days or less.
Best Credit Cards for Car Rental Insurance
Just like car rental benefits can fluctuate between the different card networks, they can also differ based on the credit card issuer and the individual credit card. Here is a look at a few of the top travel credit cards for car rental insurance.
no annual fee
0% intro APR
5% cash back on quarterly categories
$100 intro bonus
Chase Freedom rental car insurance will be provided to all cardholders. This will be secondary coverage and will be for the value of the car. Chase will also limit the rental period to just 31 consecutive days or fewer.
Rental car insurance isn’t the only perk that you will find with the Chase Freedom card. When you sign up you will receive a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months. You will also have the opportunity to earn up to 5% cash back on up to $1,500 worth of purchases in rotating categories each quarter. One quarter it might be restaurants and movie theaters, and another it could be gas stations and public transportation. The Chase Freedom card will come with no annual fee.
- 3x points on purchases in travel and dining categories
- 1x regular rewards rate
- 100,000 points intro rewards for spending $4,000 in the first three months of the account. That's $1,500 to spend towards travel if you purchase through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- $300 annual travel credit
- $100 credit towards Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check purchase.
$450 annual fee
$300 annual travel credit
$100 credit on Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check
50,000 intro bonus for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
50% bonus on redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
If you don’t mind paying the steep $450 annual fee, you will be able to receive the Chase Sapphire Reserve rental card insurance as well as many other benefits. Unlike the Chase Freedom card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve will come with primary insurance and cover you up to $75,000. The maximum coverage period is 31 days or less.
When you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card you will receive 50,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases during the first three months. When you use your card for travel or at restaurants, you will receive 3x points. All other purchases will earn 1x points. While some people might be put off by the large annual fee, some of it is offset with a $300 annual travel credit. Plus, you will receive a $100 statement credit towards Global Entry or TSA Precheck. You will also receive access to over 1,000 airport lounges with Priority Pass.
no annual fee
1.5% rewards rate on all purchases
20,000 intro bonus
One of the benefits of the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is that it comes with secondary car rental insurance. As with any other card, you will need to pay for your rental with the credit card and decline any coverage from the car rental agency. The insurance that you will receive through your card is good for 15 consecutive days or less when traveling inside the United States. It will also be good for 31 days or less when traveling outside of the United States.
When you sign up for the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card you will receive 20,000 bonus points when you make $1,000 or more in purchases during the first 90 days. That’s good for a statement credit of $200 towards any travel expense. You will also have the ability to earn 1.5 points for every $1 you spend with your card. To top things off, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards card comes with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
no first-year annual fee, $59 after
40,000 miles welcome bonus
2x miles on everything
Visa Signature status
Another credit card that offers car rental insurance is the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card. Because this card is a Visa Signature it will also cover cardholders for up to 15 consecutive days inside the United States and up to 31 days outside of the United States. The coverage that you will receive is secondary and will pay out after your primary insurance company.
After signing up for the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card you will receive 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months. Then when you use your card any purchases, you will receive 1.25 miles for every dollar spent. Plus, there is no annual fee with this card.
Credit Card Car Insurance vs Other Types of Insurance
When you are heading out of town and need to rent a car, it’s best to do your research ahead of time so you know what to expect. Before you even leave, call your primary insurance company to find out if rental cars are covered under your policy. If they are, then you might be all set.
However, if your rental will not be covered, it’s time to look for other alternatives. When this is the case, call your credit card company and talk to them about rental car insurance coverage. Because credit card issuers have excluded certain countries and vehicle types, it’s best to make sure you are going to be covered before traveling.
If you find out the both your primary insurance and your credit card will not offer you the coverage you need, then you can explore the different options available through the car rental company.
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