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How to choose the best* credit cards for car rental insurance

You can get peace of mind on the road when you rent a car on your credit card with comprehensive insurance coverage.

If you want to rent a car for your next work trip or vacation, chances are you’ll need some form of insurance coverage. While most rental agencies offer loss or damage protection for a fee, some credit cards give you full short-term coverage as part of your benefits. That’s why it pays to shop around to find the best deal on credit cards before you sign on to the costly rental agency option.

We’ll help you decide whether a credit card that offers car rental insurance is the right fit for you.

*How we chose the best credit cards for car rental insurance

We’ve chosen the cards on this page based on the providers available through Finder. These cards are not representative of the entire market. Our top credit cards for car rentals offer coverage for your car rental, a high value of rewards or cash back, exclusive perks such as travel insurance coverage and roadside assistance, and a signup bonus. We’ve also considered annual fees and balance transfer fees.

No single credit card will be the best choice for everyone, so compare your options before picking your new card.

Best for international car rentals: Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

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With a fresh new look, the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is a powerful everyday credit card as well as a strong travel companion. 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. Enjoy peace of mind with a broad array of travel insurance options including Emergency Medical (up to $1,000,000), Travel Accident, Trip Cancellation and Interruption, Flight Delay, Delayed or Lost Baggage and Rental Car Collision Loss/Damage.

Best for additional car rental insurance: BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard

BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard

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Designed with the frequent traveller in mind, the BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard lets you earn rewards points that can be redeemed free merchandise or to help pay for your next trip. Get 5 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible travel purchases, 3 points per $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

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 90,000 points and get the $150 annual fee waived by your first anniversary.

Best for no annual fee: Scotiabank American Express Card

Scotiabank American Express Card

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 Scotia Rewards Program. Earn 3 Scene+ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland and more, 2 Scene+ points for every $1 you spend on eligible grocery, dining, entertainment, gas, daily transit and select streaming services purchases Plus, earn 1 Scene+ point for every $1 spent on on all other eligible everyday 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.

What is car rental insurance?

Car rental insurance is coverage offered by both a rental car and credit card provider that covers the cost of damages if something happens to the rented vehicle. It’s typically called collision or loss damage waiver insurance and will help you foot the bill for damages as well as costs incurred from roadside assistance, theft and loss.

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.

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. Oftentimes, 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 collision or loss damage waiver 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 card rental coverage will only cover the primary credit card holder – so be careful who you let behind the wheel of your rental.

How to choose the best credit card for car rental insurance

  • 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 cash back. 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 cash back 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 cash back 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.

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.

Compare credit cards for car rental insurance

Compare the features and earn rates of credit cards for car rental insurance below.Back to top

Bottom line

If you want to get no-fuss coverage for car rentals, then a credit card designed with insurance in mind could be the right fit for you.

Make sure that you look for a card that offers additional benefits like travel insurance, roadside assistance and gas and car rental discounts if you want to maximize your savings. There are some fee-free cards that provide this type of insurance, but it’s found more commonly on premium, travel and business cards, which are a bit more expensive.

Frequently asked questions

Emma Balmforth's headshot
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Emma Balmforth is a producer at Finder. She is passionate about helping people make financial decisions that will benefit them now and in the future. She has written for a variety of publications including World Nomads, Trek Effect and Uncharted. Emma has a degree in Business and Psychology from the University of Waterloo. She enjoys backpacking, reading and taking long hikes and road trips with her adventurous dog. See full bio

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Associate editor

Claire Horwood was a writer at Finder, specializing in credit cards, loans and other financial products. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies from the University of Victoria, and an Associate’s Degree in Science from Camosun College. Much of Claire’s coursework has focused on writing and statistics, with a healthy dose of social and cultural analysis mixed in for good measure. In her spare time, Claire enjoys rock climbing, travelling and drinking inordinate amounts of coffee. See full bio

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