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Credit card car rental insurance: Card provider policies explained
Strongly consider credit cards with primary coverage.
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 protection.
What does credit card car rental insurance cover?
A credit card with rental car insurance will typically offer a collision damage waiver.
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.
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.
Credit card car rental insurance by provider
|Bank||Car insurance included with credit cards?||Coverage amount||Finder guide|
|Capital One||Yes||Visa: Up to actual cash value|
Mastercard: Up to $50,000
|Barclaycard||Yes (just the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®)||Visa: Up to actual cash value|
Mastercard: Up to $50,000
|American Express||Yes (on most cards)||Up to $75,000||Full guide|
|Bank of America||Yes (on Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card. Other cards||Up to actual cash value||Full guide|
|USAA||Yes||Up to $50,000||Full guide|
|Wells Fargo||Yes||Up to $50,000|
|Visa||Yes||Up to actual cash value||Full guide|
|Mastercard||Yes||Up to $50,000||Full guide|
|Chase||Yes, on certain cards||Actual cash value||Full guide|
Compare credit cards with car rental insurance benefits
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 insurance.
If you don’t pay for your reservation with this card, you won’t be covered.
- Decline the collision damage waiver offered 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.
Recommended credit cards for car rental insurance
Below, you’ll find a table of some of the top cards with some form of primary car rental insurance.
|Card||Maximum reimbursement||Where you’re covered||Primary or secondary|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Actual cash value of vehicle||US, most foreign countries||Primary|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Actual cash value of vehicle||US, most foreign countries||Primary|
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||Actual cash value of vehicle||US, most foreign countries||Primary when renting for business, outside the US for personal use or if you don’t have auto insurance; secondary when renting in the US for personal use|
|Ink Business Cash® Credit Card||Actual cash value of vehicle||US, most foreign countries||Primary when renting for business, outside the US for personal use or if you don’t have auto insurance; secondary when renting in the US for personal use|
|Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card||Actual cash value of vehicle||US, most foreign countries||Primary when renting for business, outside the US for personal use or if you don’t have auto insurance; secondary when renting in the US for personal use|
|United℠ Explorer Card||Actual cash value of vehicle||US, most foreign countries||Primary|
|United℠ Explorer Business Card||Actual cash value of vehicle||US, most foreign countries|
|United MileagePlus® Club card||Actual cash value of vehicle||US, most foreign countries||Primary|
|United Club℠ Business Card||Actual cash value of vehicle||US, most foreign countries|
How can I use credit card car rental insurance?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Below, you’ll find a table of some of the top cards with some form of primary rental car insurance.
How do I know if my card offers car rental insurance?
If you’re unsure whether your card has this perk, you can check your card Guide to Benefits to see all of your card’s features. These benefits are also typically listed on your main card account page online.
Who qualifies for the rental insurance coverage?
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.
Many credit cards offer car rental insurance. Consider looking for those that offer primary coverage. To find the right fit for you, compare travel credit cards with insurance.
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