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Credit card car rental insurance: Card provider policies explained

Strongly consider credit cards with primary coverage.

Updated

Fact checked
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 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

BankCar insurance included with credit cards?Coverage amountFinder guide
Capital OneYesVisa: Up to actual cash value
Mastercard: Up to $50,000
Full guide
BarclaycardYes (just the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®)Visa: Up to actual cash value
Mastercard: Up to $50,000
Full guide
American ExpressYes (on most cards)Up to $75,000Full guide
Bank of AmericaYes (on Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card. Other cardsUp to actual cash valueFull guide
USAAYesUp to $50,000Full guide
Wells FargoYesUp to $50,000
VisaYesUp to actual cash valueFull guide
MastercardYesUp to $50,000Full guide
DiscoverNoFull guide
CitiNoFull guide
ChaseYes, on certain cardsActual cash valueFull 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.
Name Product Foreign transaction fee Welcome offer Rewards Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
None
80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $1,000 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
Earn a huge signup bonus worth $$1,000 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
None
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
Get a generous $300 in annual travel credits, 3x points on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus on point redemptions with Chase's premier card.
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
See terms
See terms
Use the CardMatch tool to find cards you're likely to qualify for with your credit score, without a hard pull on your credit.
United℠ Explorer Card
None
60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1x miles on all other purchases
60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
None
100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on the first $150,000 on travel and select business categories annually, then 1x after and on all other purchases
100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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Compare up to 4 providers

Below, you’ll find a table of some of the top cards with some form of primary car rental insurance.

CardMaximum reimbursementWhere you’re coveredPrimary or secondary
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardActual cash value of vehicleUS, most foreign countriesPrimary
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Actual cash value of vehicleUS, most foreign countriesPrimary
Ink Business Preferred® Credit CardActual cash value of vehicleUS, most foreign countriesPrimary 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 CardActual cash value of vehicleUS, most foreign countriesPrimary 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 CardActual cash value of vehicleUS, most foreign countriesPrimary 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 CardActual cash value of vehicleUS, most foreign countriesPrimary
United℠ Explorer Business CardActual cash value of vehicleUS, most foreign countriesPrimary 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 MileagePlus® Club cardActual cash value of vehicleUS, most foreign countriesPrimary
United Club℠ Business CardActual cash value of vehicleUS, most foreign countriesPrimary 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

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.

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.

Bottom line

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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