Credit card car rental insurance: Card provider policies explained

Strongly consider credit cards with primary coverage.

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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.

Below, you’ll find a table of some of the top cards with some form of primary car rental insurance. This type of coverage applies before your personal car insurance, which can save you a lot of time and hassle. If you want a quick rundown of how car rental insurance works, read the section below.

Citi discontinued rental car insurance on September 22, 2019.

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 MileagePlus® 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

Credit card car rental insurance by provider

Not all card providers are the same when it comes to car rental insurance. Some providers offer better insurance. For example, some cards may offer primary versus secondary coverage, or more coverage. Certain providers may offer more cards with car rental insurance than other providers.

Here’s a rundown of car rental insurance policies from some of the largest card companies.

Chase car rental insurance

Chase is one of the best providers for car rental insurance because it offers primary coverage with several of its annual-fee cards. These include products such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and United℠ Explorer Card. You’re covered up to the actual cash value of your rental vehicle.

If you don’t want to pay an annual fee, consider the Chase Freedom® or Chase Freedom Unlimited®. These products offer secondary coverage.

Capital One car rental insurance

Every Capital One card offers car rental insurance. Coverage is usually secondary, so it applies after your personal car insurance. Depending on whether your card is a Visa or Mastercard, coverage may be primary in international destinations or if you don’t have personal auto insurance.

If your card is a Visa, you’ll receive coverage up to the actual cash value of most vehicles. If it’s a Mastercard, you’ll receive coverage on vehicles with MSRPs up to $50,000.

American Express car rental insurance

Most Amex credit cards have secondary car rental insurance. These include products such as the American Express® Gold Card and Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. The maximum benefit is typically $50,000, but it can be as high as $75,000 with premium cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Do Discover and Citi offer car rental insurance?

Neither Discover nor Citi offer car rental insurance. Discover discontinued the benefit in 2018, citing a lack of use by cardholders. Citi also discontinued car rental insurance — among other features — on September 22, 2019, due to a lack of customer interest.

Bank of America car rental insurance

The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card offers secondary car rental insurance, which applies after your primary auto insurance. Check the guide to see the benefits and coverage amounts that come with your card.

Wells Fargo car rental insurance

All Wells Fargo credit cards offer car rental insurance.

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card offers secondary car rental insurance that applies after your personal auto insurance. Maximum reimbursement is $50,000 per rental.

Wells Fargo’s other cards, which are Visa products, offer insurance with coverage up to the actual cash value of your rental vehicle.

  • If you have personal auto insurance, your card’s coverage will reimburse you for your deductible and other eligible expenses.
  • If you don’t have personal insurance, your card’s insurance covers you for theft, damage and other eligible expenses charged to you by the rental company. You’ll also be reimbursed for reasonable towing charges.
  • Coverage is primary if you’re renting outside your country of residence.

Visa car rental insurance

Car rental insurance comes standard with all Visa credit cards, though specific policies may vary by card issuer. You’re covered up to the actual cash value of your rental vehicle.

With most Visa cards, coverage is secondary in the US and primary internationally. Visa Infinite cards offer primary coverage.

Mastercard car rental insurance

Most Mastercard products offer car rental insurance that covers you for rental vehicles up to $50,000 MSRP. Coverage is secondary unless you don’t have personal insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover you in international destinations.

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.

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 get credit card car rental insurance

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

Compare the best products for credit card car rental insurance

Name Product Foreign transaction fee Welcome offer Rewards Filter values
None
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
None
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
None
40,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1x miles on all other purchases
40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
None
100,000 points after spending $5,000 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 $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
3% of the transaction value
$500 cash back after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
5% at office supply stores, on Internet, cable and phone up to $25,000 combined annually (then 1%), 2% on gas and dining up to $25,000 combined annually then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.

Compare up to 4 providers

How we selected our best credit cards for car rental insurance

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is our top pick because of its high maximum reimbursement and primary coverage. As of this writing, Chase has not announced plans to discontinue its credit card car insurance, unlike Citi.

Most credit cards offer only secondary car rental coverage. For our list, we assembled cards that offered some form of primary coverage. This type of insurance is often more convenient; in the event of an accident, a consumer doesn’t have to contact their primary insurer first.

What’s changed in 2019

Unfortunately, we still can’t list Discover as a network that offers car rental insurance, unlike with the US’s other top networks. And there’s more bad news: Citi discontinued rental car insurance on September 22, 2019.

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.

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.

Bottom line

Many credit cards offer car rental insurance. 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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