Renting a car should be simple. That is, until the agent asks, “Do you want to include car rental insurance?” You probably thought you were getting a great deal until the company pops the question, and it often comes as a shock. The good news is, there are a number of credit cards with car rental insurance already included. It’s true! Lots of credit cards come with different forms of rental coverage, but some are better than others. We’re here to explain what that actually means and tell you about the credit cards with the best rental car benefits.
Collision Damage Waiver or Loss Damage Waiver
When a rental company offers you car rental insurance, they’re usually talking about a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or a Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), as it’s sometimes called. CDW covers the rented vehicle if it’s damaged or stolen while in your use. It’s usually quite costly and can even double your daily rental price, which is why it’s good to look for an alternative form of coverage.
The difference between primary and secondary coverage
You may see the terms “primary coverage” and “secondary coverage” thrown around when searching for a rental car. Secondary coverage kicks in after your own auto insurance and supplements it. If something does happen to the rental car, you first have to file a claim with your own insurance company.
Other credit cards come with primary rental car coverage, which means they kick in before your personal car insurance. With primary coverage, you don’t have to worry about filing a separate claim with your own insurance.
Each credit card with car rental insurance comes with different forms of coverage. Make sure you know what you need and what each credit card company offers.
The best cards to use for car rental insurance
Lots of credit cards offer rental coverage. But not every credit card rental insurance is created equal—there are some differences to take into account. Read up on some of the best credit cards to use for a rental car:
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is considered the best credit card to use for a rental car. It offers primary coverage in the U.S. and most foreign countries, and also has great travel insurance. Additionally, you can earn two points per dollar spent on car rental and other travel. All Chase credit cards cover up to 31 days of rental.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers the same benefits as the Preferred, but covers up to $75,000 in damages. You can also pay for the rental car using Ultimate Reward Points.
American Express is another credit card with car rental insurance that offers special benefits and discounts. Unlike Chase, however, these cards only come with a secondary coverage that covers up to $50,000. Instead, American Express offers the option to purchase Optimal Premium Car Rental Protection. This flat fee usually costs anywhere between $20-25 and covers your for up to 42 days and up to $100,000 in damages.
Some American Express credit cards with rental insurance include the Platinum Card and the Wells Fargo Propel Card.
United credit cards
Many United Visa credit cards offer rental car benefits. The United Explorer card, United Club Infinite Card, and United MilagePlus Club Card come with primary coverage in the U.S. and most foreign countries.
How to book it
For these credit card rental benefits to take effect, you do have to book your rental with the actual credit card. And when you go to pick it up, you also need to decline the rental company’s insurance. Regardless, it’s a good idea to call both your insurance company and your credit card company to get the exact details on what they cover
Don’t forget about liability insurance
Rental car coverage includes any damage and theft incurred on the vehicle while in your possession. But what happens if you hit another car while driving the rental car? This is called liability insurance, and most credit cards will not cover this type of insurance. Make sure you know what your insurance covers and whether or not you need to purchase liability insurance.
Car sharing with Avail
Figuring out car rental insurance can be complicated. Credit cards can help lower the cost, but sometimes it’s just not enough and requires some research.
That’s where Avail comes in. Avail car sharing offers coverage on every single vehicle. Even though car sharing isn’t covered by credit cards you’re covered through Allstate with Avail.