Updated February 13, 2013

How Does Credit Card Car Rental Insurance Work

How to choose the best credit card for car rental insurance

Whether traveling for business or for pleasure, having the right credit card in your wallet can make your travels much easier – especially if you plan on renting a car. Many credit cards these days come armed with rental car insurance plans. But before you shoot down the coverage offered by the rental car agency, you'll want to ensure your credit card offers you the protection that you're after.

Car Rental
Car Rental © CreditDonkey

Here is some information to help you educate yourself about car rental insurance, as well as a breakdown of the coverage to look for when evaluating credit cards. This information will help you identify a credit card that not only meets your purchasing needs but also provides reliable car rental insurance.

Know the Facts

Here are some basic facts that typically apply to most rental insurance coverage offered through credit cards. You’ll want to keep them in mind the next time you seek out a rental vehicle:

  • Decline the coverage offered by the car rental company. Most credit card policies will require that you have declined the car rental company’s protection in order for your cardholder protection to kick in.

  • Pay for the rental car in full with your credit card. If you pay with a different card or with cash, then you won’t be covered.

  • List all drivers in your group as authorized drivers. If an accident occurs when someone other than an authorized driver is behind the wheel, you probably won’t be covered.

  • Credit card car rental insurance is typically considered secondary coverage. This means that the plan will help cover expenses that aren’t fully covered by your primary auto insurance, such as the deductible. As a secondary coverage, it also doesn’t offer the same protections that a primary policy often does.

Questions to Ask

Many consumers assume that their credit card car rental insurance is going to kick in with any vehicle rental. But this typically isn’t the case. Before you book your vehicle, you’ll want to brush up on the details of your credit card’s insurance plan so you know the answer to the following questions:

  • What types of cars are covered? (Some plans exclude pick-up trucks, antiques, exotic cars and even some SUVs and vans.)

  • If traveling internationally, does my coverage include the country that I’m visiting?

  • What expenses are covered? (Many policies exclude property damage, injury and administrative fees.)

  • What is the maximum dollar amount of coverage?

  • Is there a limit to the covered car rental period? (Most plans have a maximum number of car rental days that they will cover.)

When to Opt for Additional Coverage

Some credit cards not only offer the typical secondary coverage, but also have optional primary policies that can be purchased for the duration of your upcoming trip. If you don’t have personal auto insurance or if your plan is bare-bones, you may want to keep this benefit in mind when selecting a credit card with car rental insurance. This isn’t a widely offered perk, so you will have to research a bit to find a card with optional primary coverage. But you’ll be thankful for the coverage should you fall victim to an unfortunate travel event.

The additional coverage is typically offered for the fraction of the price charged by rental companies. And, it will provide more than just the collision coverage offered through the complimentary secondary car rental insurance. This means that if you are in an accident with bodily injury, or if there is non-collision damage (like someone keying the car), you’ll be covered.

Searching For a Card

Keep in mind that this benefit isn’t just tied to credit cards that are labeled as “travel cards.” Many other traditional, platinum, rewards and cash-back cards also provide this benefit, so you can still get the other perks that you prefer in your credit card.

Once you have located a card that fits your needs, you can contact the credit card issuer (American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa) to get the rundown on the car rental insurance coverage.

Coverage not only changes from network to network but also may be tied to individual cards, so you’ll want to make sure you get the full details on each individual card. Many of the networks provide information directly on their website, but they also provide a phone number to call so you can get answers to your specific questions. For your convenience:

Editor's Note: be careful, a lot of blog post, summaries and tables you find online might be out of date. Actual policies are typically loaded with exclusions. It's best to contact the issuer to get a copy of the benefit policy/agreement to verify who is eligible, what is covered, how to activate the benefit, and what is not covered. Plus, in the event you need to file a claim, it's good to have a copy of the benefit policy/agreement on hand.

Leave a comment about How Does Credit Card Car Rental Insurance Work?

Email (won't be published)

Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits

Maximize the benefits of Chase Sapphire Preferred. Read on to learn about 20+ valuable perks that you may not know about.

About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.

About Us | Reviews | Deals | Tips | Privacy | Terms | Contact Us
© 2020 CreditDonkey