Does Your Credit Card Cover Rental Car Insurance? Here's How to Find Out
by Kimberly Rotter | Updated Jan. 31, 2022 - First published on April 22, 2021
Find out if your credit card provides insurance that allows you to waive the coverage offered by the rental car agency.
A simple money-saving strategy can help you get more bang for your buck the next time you rent a car. By using the right credit card, you can safely decline the optional coverage offered by the rental car agency and save anywhere from $9 to $45 per day.
Keep reading to learn more about what credit card rental car insurance covers and how to make sure you're eligible.
What does credit card rental car insurance cover?
The most common type of optional insurance offered at the rental car counter is the collision damage waiver (CDW), also known as a loss damage waiver. You can purchase CDW coverage from the rental car agency for virtually any kind of rental vehicle. It's designed to lower your costs and hassle in the event the car is involved in an accident, damaged, or stolen.
CDW coverage only applies to the vehicle. It doesn't extend to expenses related to anyone else's property damage or any injury. For those expenses, the rental car agency might offer to sell you other add-on coverage, including:
- Liability (to cover expenses related to hurting someone or damaging their property)
- Personal accident (to cover your expenses if you are hurt)
- Personal effects (to cover your belongings if they are damaged or lost)
Credit card rental car insurance rarely offers these other types of coverage. Most often, these coverages are specifically excluded in your credit card's terms and conditions. However, if you have car insurance for your personal vehicle, you might already have these coverages when you rent a car.
Secondary versus primary coverage
Your credit card issuer will offer CDW coverage as either primary or secondary coverage. If it is primary, you don't need to do anything special before making a claim. Also, you won't have to pay a deductible.
If the coverage is secondary, it will only apply to expenses not covered after you file a claim with your primary insurer. You'll have to file two claims -- one with your primary insurer and one with the credit card company's partner insurer. If you have to pay a deductible, your credit card's collision damage waiver might reimburse you.
How to find out if your credit card offers rental car insurance
The best way to find out about your credit card's rental car insurance benefits is to log in to your account online and look for a "Benefits" link on the menu. You can also call the number on the back of your card to ask.
Credit card benefits change now and then. So before you rely on your credit card for coverage, be sure to confirm that the benefit is still being offered.
Many of the best credit cards offer car rental insurance. These are just a few issuers that provide this coverage:
- Chase Freedom Flex℠: The primary cardholder is eligible for coverage, as is any authorized user whose name is embossed on the card. In your country of residence, this CDW coverage is secondary, but you will be reimbursed for your primary car insurance deductible if you have one. The collision damage waiver is available for rental periods up to 31 days and covers damages to the rental car, up to its actual cash value, caused by theft or collision. Also covered are related expenses like towing and loss of use.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Coverage is similar to the Chase Freedom Flex. For more information, check out our guide to Chase Freedom Rental Car Insurance.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Coverage is similar to the Chase cards above, but with this credit card, the collision damage waiver is primary.
- : Loss and damage insurance is offered to the card member, their spouse or domestic partner, and authorized drivers on the rental*. Coverage is secondary to your own car insurance policy if you have one, and applies to rental periods of up to 30 days. The benefit limit is $50,000 per rental agreement. Terms apply.
Three things to remember before you rent
- How to get credit card rental car insurance. To be eligible for the free CDW coverage, you'll need to reserve and pay for the car rental with the credit card that offers the coverage.
- Credit card coverage is limited. The free collision damage waiver or loss damage waiver offered by your credit card likely won't cover antique cars, recreational vehicles, large passenger vans, limos, trucks, or any kind of motorcycle or moped.
- Your car insurance may cover you. If you have an auto insurance policy, you might be covered in a rental car at the same level that you are covered in your personal vehicle. Some policies include free collision damage waiver coverage. Check with your insurer to find out what you have and what the limitations might be.
You might already look for rental car specials and deals, or maybe you strategize the points and miles you earn with your credit cards. Either way, add rental car coverage to your travel hacking arsenal. It's a valuable credit card benefit that can save you money while providing a layer of financial protection.
Lastly, check out our guide if you're wondering "Do I need rental car insurance?"
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*Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance can provide coverage up to $50,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible Card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the Commercial Car Rental Company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. Geographic restrictions apply. Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.