Best Credit Cards for Car Rental Insurance Coverage
If you frequently rent cars, you can avoid the expensive car rental insurance that comes with it by using credit cards that feature primary coverage.
One of the most expensive decisions that comes with renting a car is deciding on whether or not to opt in for the rental car company's collision/loss damage waiver coverage (CDW/LDW). When going through the rental company, their coverage which can be as high as $30 to $40 per day. This makes some of the cheapest rentals a lot more expensive.
Luckily, there are several credit cards that provides car rental insurance when you use the card to pay for the rental. This saves you a great deal of money while still making sure that you're protected in the chance of the rental being damaged or stolen.
Types of Car Rental Coverage
When looking for a card that offers CDW/LDW coverage, there's two types of coverage to notice: primary coverage and secondary coverage.
Primary CDW Coverage is the best of the two. For this coverage, you will not need to file a claim with any other insurance. The primary insurance will apply if an incident happens.
Secondary CDW Coverage requires you to first file a claim with other insurance. After this is done, the secondary coverage will kick in.
How To Use Credit Card Rental Coverage
There are several steps that you'll need to take in order to make sure that the CDW coverage your credit card provides is valid. This includes:
- Reserve/Pay for the entire car rental with the credit card featuring the coverage
- Decline the car rental company's CDW/LDW coverage when reserving or asked at pick-up
- Make sure to include all drivers on the rental agreement
Following these steps will make sure that you're covered in the case of an incident.
What Type of Rentals Are Covered?
Not all rental vehicle types are covered. If you're renting standard vehicle classes, then you won't have an issue with CDW coverage. Vehicles that aren't covered will depend on the card, but this will usually apply to luxury/exotic rentals, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and more. You'll want to double check your card's benefits on the exact coverage it provides.
Best Credit Cards
Now that you're aware of the types of coverage and how to make sure that the coverage is valid, lets dive into the best credit cards for CDW coverage. The cards listed are only from American Express and Chase since Citi slashed their benefits September 2019. You can click on any of the cards to learn more about the rewards and benefits. You will also be able to calculate how many points/miles you can earn based on your monthly/yearly spend and compare those results against hundreds of other cards.
Best Chase Credit Cards For Car Rental Coverage
Chase offers the best car rental coverage of any bank due to the complimentary primary CDW coverage that covers rentals worldwide. Benefits vary by Chase credit card, but you'll usually receive other great coverage and protection such as:
- Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance
- Roadside Dispatch
- Cell Phone Protection
- Purchase Protection
- Extended Warranty Protection
Do note that while coverage is worldwide, there are a few exceptions. You will not be covered in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand. You will also not be covered in OFAC sanctioned countries. CDW coverage provided by Chase applies to rentals that are 31 days or less.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns 2 Ultimate Rewards Points per $1 spent on travel and dining. This means you'll be earning 2 points on your rental while covering your car with primary CDW coverage.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the top travel cards in the United States. It earns 3 Ultimate Rewards Points per $1 spent on travel and dining as well as provides a long list of elite travel perks and benefits. Along with the primary CDW coverage you'll receive worldwide, you will also earn National Car Rental & Avis and a discount on Silvercar rentals.
Ink Business Preferred
The Chase Ink Business Preferred is another top U.S. credit card offered by Chase. This business card earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising. You will earn primary CDW coverage when using the car for business purposes and secondary CDW coverage when using it for personal purposes.
Ink Business Cash
The Chase Ink Business Cash Card offers primary CDW coverage on business rentals and secondary CDW coverage on personal rentals. In terms of rewards, this no-annual fee offers 5% cash back on office supply stores, cable, internet, and phone services. You'll also earn 2% back on both gas station and restaurant purchases.
United Club Card
The United Club Card is United's premium card. It earns 2x miles on United and 1.5x miles on all other purchases. Along with primary CDW coverage, you will also receive United Club Membership, Hyatt Discoverist Status, and Hertz President Circle Elite Status. Primarily, those who book at Hertz that also frequently fly United will heavily benefit from this card in terms of miles, coverage, and benefits.
Best American Express Credit Cards For Car Rental Coverage
American Express offers secondary CDW coverage on most of their credit cards with the ability upgrade to Primary Premium Car Rental Protection for a cost. CDW coverage is worldwide with the exception of cars rented in Australia, Italy, and New Zealand. Coverage will also not apply to OFAC sanctioned countries.
You will need to enroll your American Express Card before your rental. Once enrolled, the primary coverage will kick in every time you use that enrolled card to pay for the vehicle. You will also be charged between $12 and $25 each time depending on the coverage you select and the state you live in.
Even through it's not complimentary like Chase's coverage, this is still significantly cheaper than purchasing through the car rental company. This is because the price you pay with AMEX for your rental is for the entire rental period (max of 42 days) rather than the per-day cost that rental companies charge. So you can still save a good amount of money paying for AMEX's insurance.
Since most of their cards are capable of obtaining Primary Premium Car Rental Protection, it really doesn't matter which AMEX credit card you use. So I've listed the top American Express credit cards for those that love to travel.
American Express Platinum Card
The AMEX Platinum Card is a premium luxury card. Amongst many other perks, it offers the best lounge access of any card on the market and elite status with Hertz, Avis, and National Car Rental. In terms of rewards, you will earn 5 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent on airline tickets booked directly with the airline as well as 5 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent on airline and hotel booking through the American Express Travel Portal. Along with redeeming these points with AMEX for great value, points can also be transferred to airline and hotel partners.
American Express Gold Card
The AMEX Gold Card earns 4x Membership Rewards Points on U.S. supermarkets and dining (worldwide). It also earns 3x points on airfare purchased either directly with the airline or through the American Express Travel Portal. It offers $120 in annual dining credits along with an annual $100 Airline Incidental credit.
American Express Green Card
The AMEX Green Card earns 3x Membership Rewards Points on travel and restaurant purchases. It also comes with an annual $100 credit for CLEAR and an annual $100 in LoungeBuddy credits. It's a great travel card for those looking to really build up there Membership Rewards Points.
American Express Blue Business Plus
The American Express Blue Business Plus Card earns 2x Membership Rewards Points on the first $50,000 in purchases made during the calendar year. It's a great card for those looking to earn points on miscellaneous purchases that other AMEX credit cards would only earn a single point for.
American Express Blue Business Cash
The American Express Blue Business Cash Card is the cash back version of the Blue Business Plus. It earns 2% cash back on the first $50,000 in purchases made during the calendar year. It pairs well with the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred or AMEX Blue Cash Everyday for those looking to earn serious cash back with American Express.
Hilton Aspire Card
The Hilton Aspire Card offers primary CDW coverage while also earning a high return on Hilton spend. With this card you will earn a total of 34 Hilton Honors Points per $1 spent at Hilton thanks to the base points you'll earn at Hilton, the complimentary Hilton Diamond elite status it offers, and the 14x the card itself offers on Hilton purchases. You'll also receive $500 in annual credits and many other perks.
Using rewards credit cards from Chase and American Express can be very beneficial for those looking to avoid the costs that comes with opting in for car rental coverage. Along with the piece of mind of being protected, you can also earn rewards points/miles, complimentary elite status, and other protections such as trip delay insurance, travel protection, and purchase protection. If you're a frequent renter and you're fed up with the high costs of the car rental company's insurance, I recommend looking into the primary and secondary CDW coverage offered by these banks.