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Credit card car rental insurance: Explained

Strongly consider credit cards with primary coverage.

With the right credit card, you can say “No, thanks” when the car rental company offers you insurance. Consider a card that offers primary coverage, which can be more convenient because you won’t have to file a claim with your personal insurer first.

What is car rental insurance?

Car rental insurance covers the costs of certain incidents that may occur while you’re renting a vehicle. For example, it may cover costs for vehicle repair or medical treatment.

There are different types of rental car insurance. The main ones are:

  • Collision damage waiver.
  • Personal accident insurance.
  • Personal effects coverage.
  • Supplemental liability insurance.

What does credit card car rental insurance cover?

A credit card with rental car insurance will typically offer a CDW. Though this isn’t technically insurance, it’s an agreement with your rental car provider that you won’t be financially liable if the vehicle is damaged or stolen on your watch.

What types of credit cards offer car rental insurance?

Many premium, travel and business cards offer car rental insurance as an added feature. This typically covers you for damage and theft to your rental vehicle as well as loss of use if it needs to be repaired. Often, credit cards designed for drivers will also offer car rental insurance, in addition to roadside assistance and discounts on fuel and car rentals.

Most credit card companies will need you to turn down the rental company’s CDW or loss damage waiver (LDW) coverage to qualify for their insurance. You’ll also have to charge the full amount of the car rental to your credit card and you’ll need to borrow it using your full legal name. In addition, most credit card car rental coverage will only cover the primary credit card holder – so be careful who you let behind the wheel of your rental.

Best credit card for car rental insurance Canada

Best for international car rentals:
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card logo
Credit recommended (700-)
Apply now
on Scotiabank's secure site
700
Min. credit score
$120 ongoing
Annual fee
Up to 5x
Points
40,000
Points welcome offer
The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is a powerful everyday credit card as well as a strong travel companion. Earn 5 Scene+ points per $1 spent on eligible grocery, dining and entertainment purchases, 3 Scene+points per $1 spent on eligible gas, transportation and select streaming services, and 1 Scene+ point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere. Book and redeem any flight for any time through Scotia Rewards Travel Service, a full-service travel agency. Plus, take advantage of the Best Price Guarantee on airfare. Plus, enjoy peace of mind with a broad array of travel insurance options.
  • Bonus rewards. Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that's up to $400 towards travel) and no annual fee in the first year, including supplementary cards. Plus, get a 0.00% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (A 1% balance transfer fee applies). Apply by January 1, 2022.
  • Earn rewards. Earn 5 Scene+ points per $1 spent on eligible grocery, dining and entertainment purchases, 3 Scene+points per $1 spent on eligible gas, transportation and select streaming services, and 1 Scene+ point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.
  • Currency conversion. This card comes with a 0% foreign transaction fee.
  • Travel coverage. Enjoy peace of mind with a broad array of travel insurance options including Emergency Medical, Travel Accident, Trip Cancellation and Interruption, Flight Delay, Delayed or Lost Baggage and Rental Car Collision Loss/Damage.
  • Travel perks. Book and redeem any flight for any time through Scotia Rewards Travel Service, a full-service travel agency. Plus, take advantage of the Best Price Guarantee on airfare.
  • Other perks. American Express rewards including early ticket access, discounts and invites to exclusive events.
  • Annual fee. This card has an annual fee of $120.
  • Minimum income requirement. You'll need to earn a minimum income of $12,000 a year to be eligible for this card.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Purchase APR 19.99% fixed
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 6 months (then 22.99% fixed)
Welcome offer Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that's up to $400 towards travel) and no annual fee in the first year, including supplementary cards. Plus, get a 0.00% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (A 1% balance transfer fee applies). Apply by January 1, 2022.
Rewards Earn 5 Scene+ points per $1 spent on eligible grocery, dining and entertainment purchases, 3 Scene+points per $1 spent on eligible gas, transportation and select streaming services, and 1 Scene+ point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.

Best for additional car rental insurance:
BMO World Elite Mastercard

BMO World Elite Mastercard logo
Credit recommended (760-)
Apply now
on BMO's secure site
760
Min. credit score
$150 ongoing
Annual fee
Up to 3x
Points
30,000
Points welcome offer
Designed with the frequent traveller in mind, the BMO World Elite Mastercard lets you earn reward points that can be redeemed for free merchandise or to help pay for your next trip.Get 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 spend annually), and 2 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases (and once you reach the $50,000 annual spend)..
The annual fee of $150 can be more than offset by travel benefits such as complimentary travel insurance, lounge access, 24/7 concierge services and an attractive signup bonus.Get up to 30,000 points – 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months and 5,000 points on your first anniversary. Plus, get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year..
  • Signup bonus. Get up to 30,000 points – 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months and 5,000 points on your first anniversary. Plus, get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
  • Rental car collision damage insurance. Get complimentary Collision Damage Waiver benefits (MSRP of up to $65,000).
  • Reward points. Get 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 spend annually), and 2 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases (and once you reach the $50,000 annual spend).
  • Travel insurance coverage. Cardholders under 65 years of age get up to $2 million Out-of-Province/Out-of-Country Emergency Medical benefits for unlimited trips per year up to 21 days per trip. Other trip assistance services include emergency cash transfers (subject to available credit up to a maximum of $5,000) as well as coverage for lost/stolen/damaged baggage, trip cancellations/delays/interruptions, flight delays and lost/stolen travel documents and tickets. Cardholders aged 65-74 years old are eligible for separate coverage at an additional cost.
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection. Get complimentary purchase protection and extended warranty insurance on many of your card purchases. This means that eligible items are automatically covered against theft or damage for 90 days from the date of purchase. Additionally, the original manufacturer's warranty for eligible items is extended for up to 1 additional year..
  • Annual fee. This card has an annual fee of $150.
  • Foreign transaction fee. This card has a foreign transaction fee of 2.5%This will apply on any overseas purchases or any purchases made online with an international retailer.
  • Eligibility requirements. You'll need to earn a personal income of at least $80,000 or a combined household income of at least $150,000 annually.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
Purchase APR 20.99% fixed
Balance transfer APR 22.99% fixed
Welcome offer Get up to 30,000 points – 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months and 5,000 points on your first anniversary. Plus, get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
Rewards Get 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 spend annually), and 2 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases (and once you reach the $50,000 annual spend).

Best for no annual fee:
Scotiabank American Express Card

Scotiabank American Express Card logo
Credit recommended (660-)
Apply now
on Scotiabank's secure site
660
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 1x
Points
5,000
Points welcome offer
For a card with a $0 annual fee, the Scotiabank American Express Card offers great value like the opportunity to earn points that can be redeemed for thousands of rewards through the Scene+ points program.Earn 1 Scene+ point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases. Most items purchased with this card are eligible for price protection as well as purchase security and extended warranty protection. Cardholders also get travel perks.
  • Signup bonus. Earn 5,000 bonus Scene+ points when you spend $500 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Apply by February 28, 2022.
  • No annual fee. This card comes with a $0 annual fee.
  • Reward points. Earn 1 Scene+ point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases.
  • Travel insurance coverage. Get up to $1,000,000 Travel Emergency Medical coverage for up to 8 consecutive days if you're under 65 years old or up to 3 consecutive days if you're 65+. Pus, enjoy coverage for Travel Accidents, Trip Interruptions and Rental Car Collision Loss/Damage.
  • Car rental perks. Get up to 25% discount at participating Budget and AVIS car rental locations in Canada and the US.
  • Foreign transaction fee. This card has a foreign transaction fee of 2.5%This will apply on any overseas purchases or any purchases made online with an international retailer.
  • Minimum credit limit. The credit limit for this card starts at $1,000, so it may not be suitable if you want a card with very restrictive spending.
  • Minimum income requirement.. You'll need to earn a personal income of at least $12,000 to be eligible for this card.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 19.99% fixed
Balance transfer APR 22.99% fixed
Welcome offer Earn 5,000 bonus Scene+ points when you spend $500 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Apply by February 28, 2022.
Rewards Earn 1 Scene+ point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases.

Credit card car rental insurance by bank

Below is a summary of credit card car rental insurance offered by major banks in Canada along with sample credit cards that offer this. Keep in mind that not all big bank credit cards come with credit card car rental insurance. Be sure to check the fine print before applying for a credit card.

Credit card car rental insurance by bank
BankWhat’s includedContact informationExample credit cards
RBC credit card car rental insuranceUp to $65,000 of coverage for 48 days1-800-533-2778RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card
TD credit card car rental insuranceUp to $65,000 of coverage for 48 days1-866-222-3456TD Cash Back Visa Infinite
Scotiabank credit card car rental insuranceUp to $65,000 of coverage for 48 days1-800-472-6842Scotiabank American Express
BMO credit card car rental insuranceUp to $65,000 of coverage for 48 days plus personal effects and accidental death and dismemberment1-800-263-2263BMO World Elite Mastercard
CIBC credit card car rental insuranceUp to $65,000 of coverage for 48 days1-800-465-2422CIBC Dividend Platinum Visa Card

Who gets to use credit card car rental insurance?

Car rental insurance covers you and authorized drivers. If you want additional drivers to qualify for coverage, they must be listed on your agreement with the rental car company.

How to get car rental insurance

Your rental car provider will sell insurance as you book your rental vehicle. You can also buy coverage through car insurance companies and even travel insurance providers.

How to qualify for credit card car rental insurance

If your credit card offers car rental insurance, check its guide to benefits to see how to qualify for coverage. Typically this involves:

  • Paying for your entire car rental with the credit card that offers the insurance.
    If you don’t pay for your reservation with this card, you won’t be covered.
  • Decline the collision damage waiver offered to you by the rental company.
    This might be abbreviated as CDW or called a loss-damage waiver (LDW) in the company’s contract. If you accept the rental company’s collision damage waiver, you won’t be eligible for your credit card’s car rental insurance.

How to choose the best credit card for car rental insurance Canada

  • Decide if you want to pay a fee. You might spend less upfront on a no-fee card, but it can offer less in the way of rewards or cashback. Be sure to weigh out which type of card has the most value for you.
  • Ensure ample coverage. You may not be eligible for coverage under your plan in particular countries or for certain types of vehicles. Make sure you check the fine print before you settle on a card – and don’t always assume you’re covered.
  • Search for extended protection. Most credit cards will offer coverage from 31–48 days, but not always, so search for a provider that will provide insurance for an adequate amount of time.
  • Stock up on driver benefits. Aim to lock in a card that offers additional benefits for drivers like more points or cashback on gas purchases, discounts on car rentals, roadside assistance plans, travel insurance and more.
  • Shoot for bonus rewards. Look for a card that offers a decent return on points or cashback as well as a signup bonus offer.
  • Find out if you’re eligible. Be sure to check that you meet income, residency and age requirements for the card you want before applying.

Secondary vs. primary coverage for credit card car rental insurance

To evaluate whether credit card car rental insurance works for you, it’s helpful to know the difference between secondary and primary coverage. You can see what type of coverage a card has in its guide to benefits.

  • Secondary coverage applies after your personal car insurance.
    This means after an incident, you must file a claim with your personal insurer and pay the required deductible. Most credit card car rental insurance policies offer secondary coverage. However, even if your card has secondary coverage, it might cover the deductible of your personal insurance.
  • Primary coverage applies before your personal car insurance.
    This is usually much more convenient, as it means you won’t have the hassle of filing a claim with your personal insurer. Several credit cards offer primary coverage, most of them issued by Chase.

What is car rental excess insurance?

Car rental excess is the deductible you’ll have to pay if you get into an accident. The amount of the excess or deductible can vary, but typically ranges between $500 and $2,000 depending on the age and model of the vehicle. You can protect yourself against having to pay this amount by purchasing car rental excess insurance.

Compare some of the best products for credit card car rental insurance

Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Car Rental Perks
BMO CashBack Mastercard
19.99%
22.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents)
$0
Get up to a 25% discount at participating National Car Rental® and Alamo Rent A Car® locations.
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
Tangerine World Mastercard
19.95%
19.95%
$0
Charge the full cost of a rental vehicle to your card, and get complimentary damage and theft protection for up to 31 consecutive days.
Earn an extra 15% cash back (up to $150) on up to $1,000 of everyday purchases in the first 2 months Until November 30, 2021. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
American Express Cobalt Card
20.99%
21.99%
$155.88
Get complimentary Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance (MSRP of up to $85,000). Terms apply.
Earn up to 50,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year. Earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your card (up to 30,000 points). Plus, earn a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend a total of $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.
BMO Rewards Mastercard
19.99%
22.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents)
$0
Get a discount of up to 25% off at National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations. Plus, earn 2 BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent at participating locations.
Get a bonus of 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
20.99%
22.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents)
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
Get complimentary Collision Damage Waiver benefits (MSRP of up to $65,000).
Get up to 30,000 points and the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
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How can I use credit card car rental insurance?

  1. Before driving your rental vehicle, look up your benefit administrator’s contact information.
    Your benefit administrator is the company that pays your claims in the event of an accident. Look for your administrator’s phone number in your card’s guide to benefits. If you don’t have the guide, call your card issuer for your administrator’s contact information.
  2. If there is an incident, call your benefit administrator.
    Do this immediately after the vehicle theft or damage. Your benefit administrator will give you next steps and relevant information — such as which supporting documents to prepare — and send you a claim form.
  3. Return the claim form by the deadline.
    Include additional documents and return the material to your benefit administrator. Typically, you’ll have 100 to 180 days from the incident to do so. If you don’t return the form in time, your claim may be denied.

Do you really need car rental and excess insurance?

Car insurance can save you a lot of money in the long run and can be required by law, although rental companies have to work some form of third party liability insurance into your initial costs. However, car rental excess insurance isn’t mandatory. You might decide not to get excess insurance at all, as long as you don’t mind potentially paying a sizeable deductible if you get into an accident.

How do I claim car insurance from my credit card provider?

For starters, most credit card companies will need you to decline the rental company’s insurance. You’ll then need to sign up as the primary driver and pay for the rental in full on your credit card. If you get into an accident, you should contact your rental company and credit card provider to work out how to file a claim.

Bottom line

Many credit cards offer car rental insurance. Choosing the best credit card for car rental insurance in Canada can take some time. Be sure to do your research. Consider looking for those that offer primary coverage. To find the insurance that works for you,compare travel credit cards and their benefits.

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