Best Credit Cards for Rental Car Coverage and Insurance

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Rental car coverage is one of the most valuable benefits of premium credit cards. In this post, I wanted to take a look at the basics of how that works, then cover some of the best credit cards to use when renting a car.

How does credit card car rental cover work?

Most of us rent a car every now and then, and when we do, it can be difficult to decide what level of coverage to get. Fortunately, many premium credit cards today offer a collision damage waiver (CDW) benefit, which will certainly come in handy if your rental car experience doesn’t go as planned.

Before sharing the best maps for rental car coverage, I wanted to discuss the basics of how this coverage works.

Primary Coverage vs. Secondary Coverage

You will find that some credit cards offer primary coverage for rental cars, while others offer secondary coverage. What is the difference?

  • Primary coverage is when the policy applies regardless of what your existing insurance situation is; in other words, if you have an accident, you can make a claim through your credit card benefit before you have to go through your personal insurance
  • Secondary coverage is when your policy is in addition to an existing insurance benefit you have; in other words, you have to go through your personal insurance first and that can cause your insurance premium to go up

Whenever possible, you want to use a card with primary rental car coverage. It’s also worth noting that some credit cards offer primary coverage for rental cars abroad, while they only offer secondary coverage in the United States. The logic is that many people have insurance in the United States that doesn’t cover them abroad.

Collision Coverage vs Liability Coverage

One very important thing to understand is that a credit card collision damage (CDW) payment is not the same as full liability coverage. These policies generally cover damage to your own rental car. However, they generally do not cover damage to other vehicles or personal property, or injuries.

So don’t expect that just because you paid your rent with a credit card you won’t get hooked if you cause an accident that damages another car and potentially injure yourself or someone else.

Be aware of coverage exclusions

There are potentially significant impacts to rental car coverage, so always make sure to read the benefits guide carefully and be aware of any exclusions:

  • In general, you have to pay your rent with your card to get coverage
  • Some plans exclude coverage in certain countries
  • Most plans exclude certain types of cars, either based on price or size
  • Most plans have limits on how long you can rent while covered
  • Always familiarize yourself with the claim making process, including documentation requirements (e.g. in some cases you may need a police report, have to file your claim within a certain time frame, etc.)

This post is intended to give you a general idea of ​​the best credit card policies available, but is not a substitute for reading the terms and conditions for your individual credit card policies.

Be sure to read the terms and conditions associated with the cover

Best Personal Cards for Rental Car Coverage January 2022

Now that the above is out of the way, let’s take a look at the best personal credit cards for rental car coverage. For me, the best coverage would be a policy that gives you a primary CDW benefit worldwide, and I will also note how many reward points you earn per dollar spent (and my valuation of those points) as that needs to be taken into account as well. After all, you want to maximize your return on spending while maximizing your coverage.

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

Reward for spending on rental cars: 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which I value at 5.1%)
Annual cost card: $550
Other things to watch out for: The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers worldwide rental car coverage with no foreign transaction fees and limited exclusions, while maximizing the points you earn

Read a review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, request the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Reward for spending on rental cars: 2x Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which I value at 3.4%)
Annual cost card: $95
Other things to watch out for: The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers worldwide rental car coverage with no foreign transaction fees and limited exclusions, while earning bonus points at the same time

Read a review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

3. Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Reward for spending on rental cars: 2x Capital One Venture miles (which I value at 3.4%)
Annual cost card: $395
Other things to watch out for: The Capital One Venture X provides worldwide rental car coverage with no foreign transaction fees and limited exclusions, while earning a solid return on your spend

Read a review of the Capital One Venture X, request the Capital One Venture X.

4. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Reward for spending on rental cars: 2x Capital One Venture miles (which I value at 3.4%)
Annual cost card: $95
Other things to watch out for: The Capital One Venture X provides global rental car coverage with no foreign transaction fees and limited exclusions, while delivering a solid return on spend

Read a review of the Capital One Venture, sign up for the Capital One Venture.

5. United Quest Card

Reward for spending on rental cars: 2x United MileagePlus miles (which I value at 2.8%)
Annual cost card: $250
Other things to watch out for: The United Quest Card offers worldwide rental car coverage with no foreign transaction fees and limited exclusions, making it one of the best airline cards for car rental

Read a review of the United Quest, sign up for the United Quest.

Credit card coverage of a rental car can be invaluable

Best Business Cards for Rental Car Coverage January 2022

Now let’s take a look at the best business credit cards for rental car coverage. Again, I’m focused on cards that provide the best coverage while offering the most rewards. I want to emphasize that for business cards, the primary coverage generally only applies to business rental (in some cases it is secondary to personal rental, while in others it is not).

1. Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Reward for spending on rental cars: Up to 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which I value at 5.1%)
Annual cost card: $95
Other things to watch out for: The Ink Business Preferred offers worldwide rental car coverage with no foreign transaction fees and limited exclusions, while maximizing the points you earn

Read a review of the Ink Business Preferred, sign up for the Ink Business Preferred.

2. Capital One Spark Miles for Business

Reward for spending on rental cars: 2x Capital One Spark miles (which I value at 3.4%)
Annual cost card: $95 excluding the first year
Other things to watch out for: The Capital One Spark Miles provides primary rental car coverage worldwide, all with no foreign transaction fees, plus a great return on spend

Read a review of the Capital One Spark Miles for Business, apply for the Capital One Spark Miles for Business.

3. Capital One Spark Cash Plus

Reward for spending on rental cars: 2% money back
Annual cost card: $150
Other things to watch out for: The Capital One Spark Cash Plus provides primary rental car coverage worldwide, all with no foreign transaction fees, plus a great return on spend

Read a review of the Capital One Spark Cash Plus, apply for the Capital One Spark Cash Plus.

4. Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Reward for spending on rental cars: 1.5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which I value at 2.55%)
Annual cost card: $0
Other things to watch out for: The Ink Business Unlimited offers primary rental car coverage worldwide, which is great for a card with no annual fee; however, the card does have foreign transaction fees

Read a review of the Ink Business Unlimited, request the Ink Business Unlimited.

5. Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Reward for spending on rental cars: 1x Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which I value at 1.7%)
Annual cost card: $0
Other things to watch out for: The Ink Business Cash offers primary rental car coverage worldwide, which is great for a card with no annual fee; however, the card does have foreign transaction fees and does not offer bonus points for these purchases

Read a review of the Ink Business Cash, request the Ink Business Cash.

Several business cards provide great coverage for rental cars

Amex’s premium car rental protection

As you can see above, Chase and Capital One have the best credit cards with rental car coverage. Unfortunately, Citi cards don’t offer this kind of coverage for the most part anymore.

However, what about American Express, especially considering how many premium cards the issuer has? While Amex cards don’t offer primary rental car coverage as a standard card benefit, Amex does have a premium rental car protection program, where you can pay a fixed amount per rental period to get coverage.

While I personally prefer using a Chase or Capital One card with included coverage, it’s worth knowing if you mainly have Amex cards and want to rent a car.

Amex has a paid car coverage program

What it comes down to:

Credit cards have all sorts of useful benefits and for those who travel frequently, rental car coverage is essential. As you can see above, Chase and Capital One are at the forefront when it comes to rental car coverage, while this is one area where Amex and Citi are lagging.

For personal rentals, it’s hard to beat the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Capital One Venture X, while for business rentals, it’s hard to beat the Ink Business Preferred or Capital One Spark Cash Plus.

What’s your go-to card for rental car coverage?

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