Car rental credit cards: Credit cards with car rental perks

Credit cards can cater to those who rent cars in a range of ways including big discounts, bonus points and the convenience of paying for a rental with your rewards points.

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Young woman smiling while sitting in her new car

Rewards credit cards offer rewards applicable to the vast majority of spenders out there — there’s usually something for everyone. When it comes to renting cards, specific credit card providers usually have one or two car hire companies that they work with, providing substantial discounts or the convenience of covering some – or all – of your car rental costs with your credit card rewards points.

A rewards credit card can benefit those who regularly rent vehicles in the following ways:

Read on to learn more about how each of these benefits work and how you can compare the cards which offer them.

Compare credit cards that offer car rental perks

From discounts to car rental insurance coverage, the credit cards in the table below offer a range of perks.

Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Car Rental Perks
American Express Cobalt Card
19.99%
22.99%
$120
Get complimentary Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance (MSRP of up to $85,000). Terms apply.
Earn up to 40,000 Membership Rewards points. In the first year, earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each billing period when you charge at least $500 in eligible purchases to your card (for a total earn of up to 30,000 Membership Rewards). Plus, earn up to 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend a total of $3,000 in purchases in your first three months
BMO World Elite Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
Get complimentary Collision Damage Waiver benefits (MSRP of up to $65,000).
Earn a bonus of up to 35,000 BMO Rewards points with a minimum spend of $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership ($250 travel value to be used towards a flight booked through bmorewards.com). Plus, get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
Scotiabank Passport  Visa Infinite Card
19.99%
22.99%
$139
Get up to 25% car rental discount + complimentary upgrades for Avis Preferred Plus members at participating Avis locations in Canada and the US. Plus get Rental Car Collision/Loss Damage Insurance coverage (up to $65,000).
Earn up to a total bonus of 40,000 Scotia Rewards points (up to a $400 travel value) in your first year. Earn 30,000 Bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $1,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months. Apply by July 1, 2020. Plus, earn 10,000 Bonus Scotia Rewards points each year when you spend at least $40,000 annually on eligible purchases (and earn 2,000 Bonus Scotia Rewards points for every additional $10,000 in purchases thereafter).
Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
$0
Get up to a 25% discount at participating Budget and AVIS car rental locations in Canada and the US.
Get a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all eligible purchases for the first 6 months. Apply by July 1, 2020.
The Platinum Card from American Express
N/A
N/A
$699
Complimentary Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance (MSRP of up to $85,000)
As a new Platinum Cardmember, earn up to 60,000 Membership Rewards points in the fist six months. Earn a Welcome Bonus of 50,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend at least $3,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months. Receive an additional 10,000 Membership Rewards points after six months of cardmembership
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Compare up to 4 providers

Discounts for renting from a specific car hire company

Some credit card providers offer big discounts if you rent a car from one of their partner car hire companies. Many credit card providers will offer discounts of around 25%, which can save you a substantial amount of money on your rental.

Rewards programCar hire partner & discount amount
BMO RewardsDiscounts at Alamo, usually up to 25% off.
CIBC RewardsDiscounts at Budget & Avis, usually up to 25% off.
RBC RewardsDiscount at Alamo, usually up to 25% off.
Scotia RewardsDiscount at Avis, usually up to 20% off.
TD RewardsDiscount at Budget, typically between 5-25%.

Using rewards points to pay for a car rental

Most of the rewards programs in the market today allow you to use your rewards points to pay for car rental services. Unlike using points to claim with hotels and some flights, most programs have only one car hire partner.

Rewards programCar hire partners
BMO RewardsAlamo
CIBC RewardsBudget & Avis
RBC RewardsAlamo
Scotia RewardsAvis
TD RewardsBudget

Information about earning bonus points and redeeming points with car hire partners can be found easily on the providers credit card page. You will need to delve into the terms and conditions of the card to learn about any restrictions.

Earn bonus rewards points or cash back when you pay for a rental car

Some credit card providers offer up to 25% more rewards points when you rent a car with one of their car hire partners. This means you can typically redeem your rewards points to rent a car or pay for your rental with your card, while also earning up to 25% more bonus points on the total cost of the rental.

In addition, some providers will offer higher rates of cash back when you charge your rental car to your credit card.

Complimentary car rental insurance

As part of the benefits of many gold and platinum credit cards, card providers will give cardholders free car rental insurance policies.

These policies can include complimentary travel insurance and car rental insurance, in the event you have an accident in your rental vehicle and it suffers damage.

If you want to compare car rental insurance, you can read about the limits and exclusions in the terms and conditions on the card provider’s website. If you already have a credit card, check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to learn about any existing car rental coverage you may have.

Complimentary roadside assistance services

Some card providers will offer complimentary roadside assistance.

For Visa Classic, Visa Infinite and Visa Infinite Privilege cards, you’ll typically get the following roadside services:

  • Towing
  • Tire change
  • Jump start
  • Lockout service
  • Fuel delivery
  • Winching (which extracts your vehicle if it’s stuck)

You’ll pay a flat fee of $69.95 per service call — and there are no usage limits.

With some Standard, World and World Elite Mastercards, you will get access to the following:

Services include:

  • Towing
  • Tire change
  • Jump start
  • Fuel delivery

You’ll pay any fees directly to the roadside assistance service.

Other factors to consider when comparing credit cards

There are quite a few credit cards out there which offer car rental benefits and complimentary insurance coverage, so you’ll want to compare a range of rewards cards to find the right one for your spending habits and financial needs.

Aside from comparing car rental insurance coverage and available car hire partners, you’ll also want to consider the following factors between credit cards:

  • Interest rates. You’ll want to consider how much the purchase and cash advance interest rates are. If you tend to carry a balance from month to month, this factor will be essential in your decision. Standard APRs sit around 19.99% for purchases, while low purchase interest rates are usually around 8.99-15.99%.
  • Annual fees. There are plenty of no annual fee credit cards, however these cards will likely not come with complimentary car rental insurance or roadside assistance. Higher fee cards will typically come with the best insurance coverage and accelerated earn rates on rewards points.
  • Promotional offers. Are there any optional balance transfer offers? Can you earn any introductory bonus points by meeting a spend requirement? If you can use rewards points for a car rental, earning bonus points could be a great way to get a head start.
  • Foreign transaction fees. If you’re a frequent traveller and you plan to use your credit card to hire cars overseas, you’ll want to be aware of any foreign transaction fees. One way to avoid this fee, which is usually 2.5% of the transaction cost, is to apply for a card that charges no foreign transaction fees.
  • Other insurance coverage. Does the card come with other types of complimentary travel insurance, such as emergency medical, lost or stolen baggage and trip cancellation insurance?
  • Additional rewards program benefits. What else can you redeem rewards points for? Card providers typically allow points to be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, gift cards, merchandise and more.
  • Interest-free days. Consider how many interest-free days the card offers. You’ll usually get anywhere from 21-55 days.

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