Credit Cards with Primary Car Rental Insurance Coverage
Avatar_160_hilary
Hilary Stockton
Google+

My Award Booking Service helps travelers book first class and business class with miles and points. As an independent affiliate of Cadence, I also have access to Virtuoso, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, Peninsula Hotels PenClub, Dorchester Diamond Club, Ritz-Carlton STARS, Starwood Luxury Privileges, Rocco Forte and other 5-star hotel partners, so I can book, for no extra cost, your perfect luxury hotel or luxury cruise with VIP amenities not available anywhere else. Become a client and upgrade your stay!

GOT A BLOG POST IDEA?
Have a travel question we haven't covered yet? Want to share your secrets for traveling well for less?

Credit Cards with Primary Car Rental Insurance Coverage

 

Does your credit card offer primary car rental insurance coverage? And how about for foreign travel abroad? Most credit cards offer some amount of rental car insurance, but it's typically secondary to your existing auto insurance coverage.

Keep in mind that for U.S. drivers, when you're traveling overseas, even secondary coverage is effectively primary because your U.S. auto insurance policy doesn't cover you when renting abroad. Also, for folks like me that don't have a car and therefore no auto insurance, secondary coverage is effectively primary coverage even for U.S. rentals, because there they don't have any other auto insurance policy.

First, let's be clear on the coverage we're talking about for primary car rental insurance: Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance.

CDW covers (up to the policy coverage limit):

  • Damage to the rental car
  • Theft of the car
  • Loss of use (loss to the rental car company for not being able to rent the car, while it is being repaired)
  • Towing

But, there are other liabilities that CDW does NOT cover:

  • Damage to any other car
  • Damage to any property
  • Injuries to people (whether in the other car, pedestrians, you, or your passengers)

 

Only a few credit cards offer primary car rental insurance coverage--here are my picks:

1. United MileagePlus Explorer

  • "Your MileagePlus Explorer Card provides you with primary coverage for physical damage and theft of most rented vehicles"
  • Coverage for rentals up to 15 consecutive days in your country of residence and 31 days outside your country of residence
  • Must decline rental car company's CDW coverage

 

2. Fairmont Visa

  • Primary coverage for physical damage and theft of most rented vehicles
  • Coverage for rentals up to 15 consecutive days in your country of residence and 31 days outside your country of residence
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Must decline rental car company's CDW coverage


3. United Club Card

  • Primary coverage for physical damage and theft of most rented vehicles
  • Coverage for rentals up to 15 consecutive days in your country of residence and 31 days outside your country of residence
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Must decline rental car company's CDW coverage
 

4. AMEX Premium Car Rental Protection

  • Primary coverage
  • Free to enroll
  • Flat rate of $24.95 ($17.95 for California residents) for up to 42 consecutive days (up to 30 consecutive days for WA Cardmembers) of coverage
  • Up to $100,000 in CDW primary coverage (against damage or theft of the rental car)
  • No deductibles
  • Coverage worldwide excluding Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand
  • Must decline rental car company's CDW coverage
  • Covers most vehicles, including convertibles, exotic cars, minivans, pickup trucks and full sized SUVs
 

5. Discover Escape Card

  • Primary coverage for physical damage and theft of most rented vehicles
  • Coverage up to $50,000 per incident for rentals up to 31 consecutive days
  • Excluded countries: Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand
  • Must decline rental car company's CDW coverage
  • Con: Discover not accepted as widely

 

6. Sapphire Preferred Visa and  MasterCard

  • CDW coverage worldwide (including Israel, which is typically excluded) via MasterRental
  • While not primary in the U.S. if you have auto insurance, it's effectively primary if you don't, or if you're renting abroad
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Must decline rental car company's CDW coverage

7. Citi ThankYou Cards
  • CDW coverage up to $50,000 worldwide for rentals up to 31 consecutive days
  • While not primary in the U.S. if you have auto insurance, it's effectively primary if you don't, or if you're renting abroad
  • Must decline rental car company's CDW coverage
 

Other Tips:
  • Get the Terms in Writing to Bring With You: Get a copy of your credit card's car rental insurance coverage policy well before you need it. Typically it will only be provided by snail mail, and it may take a couple weeks to receive it
  • Watch Those Excluded Countries: Commonly excluded countries are Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica and New Zealand. For these, consider getting a World Elite MasterCard, such as the Sapphire Preferred MasterCard
  • Careful About Type of Car: Apart from the AMEX Premium Car Rental Insurance, most credit card insurance coverage excludes non-standard car rentals, such as convertibles, luxury vehicles, SUVs, etc.
  • Careful About Using Coupons: Some policies, notably AMEX, as these may nullify your insurance coverage. See Flyertalk discussion. And don't try using points for the rental: you need to pay with card you want to receive insurance coverage from, taxes don't count.
  • Know Your Car Insurance Policy: Review your own car insurance policy, if you have one, for rental car coverage and liability coverage. U.S. policies in general exclude all rentals outside the U.S. 
  • Check What the Rental Car Company Coverages Are: Is Liability coverage included, and if so, what are the limits? It's obviously crucial to have adequate coverage for anyone who might be injured--other drivers, pedestrians, and your passengers.
  • Ensure All Drivers are Authorized: If your spouse or other travel companion may be driving, make sure s/he is an authorized driver on the rental agreement
  • If Relying on Credit Card CDW, Decline Rental Car CDW: You'll nullify the credit card insurance coverage if you don't decline the rental car company's CDW.
 
Do you hold any other credit cards that provide primary car rental insurance coverage or have tips to share?

Related Posts





Need Award Booking Help? Our fee is as low as $75 per ticket if you book your hotel through us.

If you enjoyed this, join 100,000+ readers: please follow TravelSort on Twitter or  like us on Facebook to be alerted to new posts. 

Become a TravelSort Client and Book Your Hotel with Virtuoso or Four Seasons Preferred VIP Amenities! 

  • |
  • Print
    print |
Related Articles
Square_review-etihad_business_class_lounge_abu_dhabi-lounge_seating
3/30/2015
This Review of Etihad's Business Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi, Terminal 1 is part of a trip report including Etihad First Class and luxury resorts in the Maldives and Southeast Asia. For the prior posts, please see: Review of Etihad's Lounge at...
Square_50k_us_airways_mastercard_link_still_alive
3/29/2015
  50K US Airways MasterCard Links are still alive, thanks to referral links (although the precededing link is not a referral) per this Flyertalk thread. This is great news for those who were planning to apply, only to find the...
Comments
User_avatar_default Gary R. commented 15 May 2013
I'm pretty sure that the Chase Ink cards also offer primary protection.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 15 May 2013
Gary, true, although you do need to be careful that you're using it for business travel, as it specifically states that for any personal leisure travel, coverage is secondary.
Picture?type=large Xiangyi L. commented 15 May 2013
I didn't know the Fairmont Visa is among the pack. Checked the terms - indeed it says Primary. Nice! Thanks for sharing.
User_avatar_default Dave G. commented 18 May 2013
Great post, I had no idea that using a coupon could cause the credit card insurance to be void.
User_avatar_default Allen H. commented 03 Aug 2013
Hilary - since you don't own a car and therefore don't have auto insurance, do you buy supplemental liability insurance whenever you rent a car? It sounds like primary car rental insurance only covers CDW, not liability (which is required in most states, such as California).
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 03 Aug 2013
Allen, yes, absolutely--liability coverage is critical since should an accident happen that could easily be the most expensive aspect. I only decline CDW.
User_avatar_default Allen H. commented 03 Aug 2013
That is quite interesting. You and I may be in the minority for not having auto insurance, but the car rental companies and credit card companies don't do a great job of advertising that CDW is not enough. In fact "primary car rental insurance" almost seems to imply that it is comprehensive.
Leave a Comment
Comment
Facebook-logo
Get Free Email Blog Updates
Popular Articles
Square_50k_united_mileageplus_explorer_business_card_bonus
2/3/2015
  There's a 50K United MileagePlus Explorer Business Credit Card offer targeted to most United MileagePlus members. While United MileagePlus miles aren't as valuable as they were over a year ago, before the United Award Chart Devaluation that increased awards...
Square_travel_credit_cards-_whats_in_my_wallet_now
1/2/2015
  How We Earned 1 Million Miles and Points This Year prompted some readers to ask which travel credit cards I have in my wallet now, which I plan to cancel, and strategy for new cards in 2015. It's been over...
Square_50k_amex_premier_rewards_gold_bonus_offer-new
1/30/2015
  A 50,000 American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card offer is available to new AMEX card holders. Here are the details: Earn 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after $1000 in eligible purchases on the Premier Rewards Gold Card within 3...
Square_100k_amex_business_platinum_bonus_offer
3/2/2015
  A 100K AMEX Business Platinum signup bonus offer just arrived in the mail, so I applied and was approved. I'd been hoping for such an offer, since in my view the 40K public offer is too low given the...
Square_up_to_50_percent_bonus_when_you_buy_american_or_us_airways_miles
1/8/2015
Get up to a 50% bonus when you buy AAdvantage Miles or Dividend Miles through January 30, 2015. Here are the links and details, along with a FAQ and other ideas for earning the miles more cheaply. Buy AAdvantage Miles...
Square_new_british_airways_avios_devaluation
1/28/2015
  Another British Airways Avios Devaluation--already. I thought it might be towards the end of this year, given the major British Airways devaluation in late 2011, but it's again time to burn Avios, at least if you're planning on British...
Square_discounted_united_partner_business_class_awards_bookable_for_all_of_2015-asiana_business_class
2/1/2015
  Discounted United Partner Business Class Awards are Bookable for All of 2015 Starting Feb. 10 if you ticket by February 28 (see United announcement) via Dan--good news if you have tons of United miles you didn't manage to redeem before...
Square_75k_amex_business_gold_rewards_bonus_offer_2015
3/9/2015
  A 75K AMEX Business Gold Rewards card bonus offer is available online, although unlike some previous offers, it has a minimum spend of $10,000 during the first 3 months. Update: some have written to say they can't get the...
Square_75k_and_50k_amex_business_gold_card_bonus_offers-50k
2/11/2015
  There are 75K and 50K American Express Business Gold Card signup bonus offers which you may be targeted for or be able to get. Here are the details: 75K AMEX Business Gold Card Bonus Offer Via teddy25 at Flyertalk,...
Square_emirates_first_class_award_booked
1/17/2015
  Well, Emirates First Class on the A380 is booked as an award with Alaska miles, thanks to Hang Up Call Again (HUCA) and luck. As I wrote in Emirates Devaluation: Retroactive No Chauffeur for Partners, No First Class Awards via...