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Best credit cards for renting a car

If your credit card has car rental insurance, often you can save hundreds of dollars and be covered under a wide set of circumstances

Summary

Most renters don’t know what benefits their credit card’s car rental insurance plan offers or even if their card comes with a plan in the first place. Below you’ll find a rundown of the best credit cards for car rental insurance, so you’ll never be caught unaware again.

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If your credit card has car rental insurance, often you can save hundreds of dollars and be covered under wider circumstances than typical car rental company insurance plans can offer.

But most renters don’t even know what benefits their credit cards’ car rental insurance plans offer or even if their cards come with a plan in the first place. They take what the rental company offers because it’s convenient and right in front of them when they could’ve had better coverage all along through what was in their wallet.

Denying the insurance waivers offered by the car rental company (as all credit card car rental insurance plans require for plan activation) can open you up to a plethora of benefits, perks and higher coverage amounts than most rental car companies will ever match. The best part is the plan on your credit card comes at no extra cost – you just have to know about it.

Below you’ll find a rundown of the best credit cards for car rental insurance, so you’ll never be caught unaware again and you’ll be able to bypass yet another cost from the car rental company without a second thought.

See related: Best credit cards for travel insurance

Issuers’ car rental perks

American Express

  • Amex provides coverage up to $50,000 on most cards and $75,000 for Platinum and Reserve cards for damage or theft (not valid in Australia, New Zealand and Italy).
  • Platinum and Reserve cards such as the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or the Platinum Card from American Express also offer rental car insurance coverage for accidental death and dismemberment ($200,000 per card member and $20,000 per passenger or authorized driver).
  • Platinum and Reserve cards carry accidental injury insurance in a rental car ($5,000 per claimant) to a maximum of $300,000.
  • Personal property rental car coverage is also included on Platinum and Reserve cards ($1,000 per claimant to a maximum of $2,000).
  • You are still covered when paying with Amex Membership Rewards or the rental is part of a travel package.
  • Amex rental car coverage is secondary, covering anything not covered by your separate primary insurance plan.
  • Amex’s Premium Car Rental Protection Plan (with subscription options ranging from $12.25 to $24.95 per rental period) makes all Amex rental car coverage primary coverage.

Chase

Capital One

  • Capital One rental car insurance provides protection for damage due to collision and theft up to the value of the vehicle in the U.S. and abroad except in Israel, Jamaica, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • Capital One car rental insurance also provides reimbursement for eligible loss-of-use and administrative charges imposed by the car rental company, as well as reasonable towing fees.
  • Capital One is secondary coverage in your country of residence and primary outside your country of residence (except in countries where ineligible).
  • Coverage is valid for all rentals that don’t exceed 15 days in your country and 31 days outside your country.

Bank of America

  • Car rental insurance is complimentary with all Bank of America credit cards.
  • Visa cards cover 31 consecutive rental days and Mastercards cover 15 consecutive rental days.
  • Covers theft and damage up to the cash value of most vehicles on Visa cards.
  • Covers theft and damage up to $50,000 or less on Mastercards.
  • Covers loss-of-use and towing fees.
  • Coverage is secondary on all cards.

Wells Fargo

  • Coverage is for loss and damage up to the cash value of the car to a maximum of $50,000.
  • Coverage is secondary for all states except New York.
  • In New York, coverage is primary when the car is rented outside the U.S. without a driver for no more than 31 consecutive days.

Note that both Discover and Citi have cut their former rental car insurance benefits and their cards no longer provide it.

See related: Trip canceled? Your credit card may reimburse you

Cards that offer primary rental insurance inside the U.S.

The best credit cards with car rental insurance are the ones that offer primary coverage. This means you need no other plan but the coverage on your credit card, which will save you a lot of inconvenience at the rental counter and a lot of money since the premiums won’t go up for making a car insurance claim or on any other primary insurance plan you may carry.

While many credit card plans become your primary insurer if you rent a car abroad, very few provide primary coverage for car rentals within the U.S.

“While many cards offer primary coverage for international rentals, fewer products offer it for rentals in the U.S. If you want primary coverage in almost all instances – for rentals inside and outside the U.S. – consider Chase,” said Kevin Chen, credit card writer for Finder.com.

Below are all the credit cards that offer primary coverage for car rental insurance within the U.S. and their annual fees.

CardAnnual fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve$550
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card$95
United Explorer Card$0 in the first year, $95 after that
United Club Infinite Card $525
Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card$0
Ink Business Cash Credit Card$0
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card$95
United Business Card*$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99

Best cards for renting a car

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the few credit cards offering primary car rental insurance coverage in the U.S. and abroad up to $75,000.

Many car rental companies offer discounts and upgrades exclusively to Reserve cardholders. Combine that with the $300 in annual statement credits for travel purchases and the high $550 annual fee works out to a more reasonable $250. New cardholders also earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months (a $750 value when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards).

This is the card if you want to get great car rental coverage but want to still get some of those rentals free with points (paying with points still entitles you to coverage).

“If you travel a lot like I do, do some quick math on the points you could potentially get each year with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal,” said Steph Young, founder of CampingCooks.com.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Amex Platinum matches the Sapphire Reserve’s $75,000 in collision and theft coverage but adds even more rental car coverage for accidental death and dismemberment, personal injury and personal property damage.

While the coverage is secondary worldwide (except when it comes to accidental death and dismemberment), a monthly subscription to Amex’s Premium Car Rental Protection Plan (starting at $12.25) can easily make it primary.

Just by being an Amex Platinum cardholder, you’ll also get membership in various premium car rental company programs, including Hertz Gold Rewards and National Emerald Club.

At $695 per year, the Platinum now has an annual fee higher than the Chase Sapphire Reserve but its travel benefits are extensive. It also has a higher 100,000 point welcome bonus, up from 75,000 points, when you spend $6,000 in the first six months.

If you’re renting a car with your Platinum card, you’ll earn 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel. Plus, you’ll get 10X points on eligible purchases at restaurants and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership.

Cardholders also get 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (per calendar year) and access to more than 1,300 airport lounges in over 140 countries through the American Express Global Lounge Collection.

Plus, you get an airline fee credit of up to $200, up to $15 in Uber Cash every month (plus an extra $20 in December) and a $100 annual credit at Saks Fifth Avenue or Saks.com purchases. You also get Gold status with Hilton Honors and Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy. If you want all the travel benefits and the most car rental coverage available, choose this card.

“My favorite credit card for renting a car is the Amex Platinum. Between the built-in insurance policy coverage and the complimentary roadside assistance, it’s helped me so much when I’ve needed it most,” said Christopher Grozdon of Dash-SEO.

Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card

If you rent a car for business often, this is the card to consider. Ink is the only business credit card suite that offers primary rental car coverage in the U.S. for the value of the car, and this particular one carries no annual fee.

Also, if you like cash back but don’t want to have to remember how many points you get for which purchase category, this is your “set it and forget it” cash back card because you’ll get 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limit on the amount. The intro bonus is also decent, at $750 cash back after spending $7,500 on purchases within the first three months.

See related: Roadside assistance, your credit card’s little-known benefit

Bottom line

A rental car mishap can put a damper on an otherwise enjoyable trip. There are still several great options available if you’re looking for a card that will cover you if your rental card gets damaged or stolen – and many of them have loads of other great perks and rewards.

*All information about the United Business Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. This offer is no longer available on our site.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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