Does My Credit Card Offer Rental Car Insurance?

Filed Under: Credit Cards, Rental Cars
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Whether we’re seeking lounge access, generous welcome bonuses, or a shortcut to the next level of airline status (my personal favorite), most of us probably have a credit card strategy that is based on some perks that we are really excited to use.

But there’s a whole other side to the equation – a side that doesn’t get the same level of attention, but can end up being the biggest money-saver – and those are the perks that you don’t want to ever have to use. One of the best examples of this is rental car collision insurance.

And in case you’re wondering if I have any experience with this, why yes, yes I do. And don’t worry, you’ll hear all about it very soon.

Not my fault, but definitely my car.

But to start, I wanted to cast a wider net and look at some of the perks that are available to all of us through the various cards that are out there. It’s never easy with insurance – each card has its own unique terms and conditions, the rental car companies want to sell you on their policies, and there’s the small issue of your primary car insurance for your personal vehicle. Even different cars may be subject to different rules.

So pour yourself a drink, kick up your feet, and buckle up (okay, maybe not in that order) as we dive into the exciting world of rental car insurance.

The terminology

Before we get too far, there are a couple of terms that we should go over. These are extremely important in determining what’s covered and what’s not covered: 

Liability coverage is what covers you for the damage that you do to anything or anyone else. This is the coverage that you are you legally obligated to have if you own a car, and is not covered under your card’s policy.

Collision coverage is for any damage specifically inflicted on your car – bumper damage, tree branch through the window, etc. (flat tires are typically excluded from this, however). This is primarily what we will be looking at here.

Before we go any further, I want to make one thing very clear: Credit card collision insurance is a not substitute for liability coverage. What that means is that if you damage anything other than your car in any kind of accident, you are still on the hook. So please make sure you are covered there – you can even buy a liability insurance policy if you don’t own a car.

Okay, off my soapbox.

The other important distinction to make is between primary and secondary coverage, which we will be looking at more closely here. In a nutshell:

Primary coverage is when you are covered regardless of your existing insurance situation. In other words, you get into a fender bender, you contact your credit card company directly, they send you to their insurance provider, and you file directly with them and carry on with your life. No harm, no foul, no raised premiums on your personal insurance.

Secondary coverage kicks in after your existing insurance has been maxed out. While you should be able to get your deductible covered, sadly, your monthly premium won’t be immune. If you don’t carry collision insurance, then this becomes your coverage automatically because, well, there is no other primary.

So which of our tried and true credit card friends offer the best coverage?

Rental car coverage through Chase

Chase is currently the only credit card carrier that I know of offering primary coverage as the default option on some of its cards. The following cards currently include primary coverage:

Primary coverage should include international travel, but there are some country exceptions, so you’ll probably want to check your card’s specific guide to benefits before committing to this option.

Unfortunately, there’s no great one-stop shop that lays out the guide to benefits for each of Chase’s cards, but here is a sample guide to benefits for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and here is one for the United MileagePlus Club Card.

Chase contracts with Card Benefit Services, also known as Eclaims Line, to process all of their claims, so you can check them out to learn more about what you’re in for if you ever do need to file.

Rental car coverage through American Express 

This is where things start to get hairy. While American Express touts “Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance” as one of the major benefits for many of its travel cards, all of the cards currently listed in the American Express portal only offer secondary coverage.

One nice thing about American Express is that they readily post their benefit guides online (although reading through them is another story). All 53 existing cards currently have published benefit guides for their secondary rental car coverage. I’m not going to break each one down here because I can already hear some of you starting to doze off, but if you want to find yours and go through the fine print, have at it.

Spoiler alert: the very last rider on the very last pages includes coverage for lost and stolen items in the vehicle.

If you do want primary coverage through your AMEX card, you can purchase primary rental car coverage through American Express directly for a flat rate of either $19.95 or $24.95 per rental car period, depending on how paranoid cautious you are.

The higher end service offers up to $100,000 for damage or theft of the vehicle, as well as a slew of other services including Death or Dismemberment coverage and up to $15,000 for secondary medical expenses per person.

Again, this is not the same as liability coverage, and you would probably have to do some pretty serious damage to tap into some of these benefits.

It should also be noted that this coverage is not available in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, or New Zealand.

Rental car coverage through Citi

Citi’s approach is different in a couple of respects. They actually don’t advertise their secondary coverage in their portal, but their coverage does offer a few random benefits of note:

  • While coverage is secondary in the United States, it automatically kicks up to primary coverage when traveling outside of the country — most other cards only offer primary coverage abroad if your personal auto insurance doesn’t cover this
  • There are no excluded countries
  • Their guide to benefits reads more like an owner’s manual and less like a legal document, and is really easy to access

To view your card’s benefits, simply log onto your Citi account and select “Card Benefits” from the “Rewards and Benefits” option:

Then select the “Travel Protection Benefits” tab:

And finally, select “Worldwide Car Rental Insurance:”

And voila! You should have complete access to your benefits, right at your fingertips.

If you’re not currently a Citi cardholder you can view a sample guide to benefits here. Just note that it’s from 2016 (although I don’t think much has changed based on my current guide).

Rental car coverage through Capital One

Their rules are a little different, depending on whether you have a Visa or a Mastercard. High level: you’re mostly getting secondary insurance. There are a few exceptions:

  • Visa Business cards provide primary insurance when the vehicle is rented for business purposesOtherwise, the insurance is secondary.
  • Mastercards all provide secondary insurance, with the possible exception of the World Elite Business Mastercard. There’s some language indicating that the insurance is primary, but frankly, it’s pretty nebulous.

When in doubt, I would read through the individual benefit guide. Some of these cards have 14-day rental car periods and $50,000 caps, so it’s worth checking and calling your benefits administrator if you are not sure.

Credit card rental car insurance exclusions

Speaking of limits, it wouldn’t be insurance if there weren’t some exclusions involved (those times when you are NOT covered). While each policy is different, here are some of the common ones that you’re likely to see:

Specific types of vehicles

While the standard fare of rental cars are typically covered, if you’re renting a Porsche or a 15-passenger van, you’re probably out of luck.

Typically, luxury vehicles, vehicles designed to transport more than eight people, and antique cars are excluded. So don’t cave on the upsell to that ’72 Camaro.

Foreign countries

Again, each policy is different, but with the exception of Citi, most cards come with some country exclusions (I’m looking at you, Amex!) Even if your policy is all-inclusive, you’ll want to print out a copy of your benefits guide for the…well…benefit of the foreign rental car company.

Chances are, the employees at the counter won’t be familiar with your credit card policies, and they may or may not accept your coverage. This is particularly prevalent in more remote locations or at off-airport rental car centers, but it’s probably best to have your policy printed either way, for everyone’s sanity.

Long rentals

Most of these policies will only cover you for the first 30-31 days of a rental. If you plan on traveling for longer, you may want to look at other options or consider swapping out your rental car, if possible.

Car for hire

Don’t pretend that your rental car is an Uber.

The car is used in a way that goes against your rental car agreement

Don’t drag race. Don’t drink and drive.

Other criteria

These are true of just about every policy, but check yours for specifics:

  1. You must pay for the rental car with the credit card in question (this may sound obvious until you land at 1 AM and just can’t wait to get to the hotel…)
  2. You must decline the rental car company’s collision coverage
  3. You must be listed as the primary driver on the vehicle 

Bottom line

Whether you’re a notorious car crasher or you just want to save money by declining that last insurance upsell, these benefits can provide huge savings.

Each program offers some different perks, so be sure to read your cardholder’s policy to make sure you know what is and isn’t covered.

How have you used credit card rental car coverage? What was your experience?

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  1. Hey Lucky, the Altitude Reserve also offers primary coverage that’s basically on par with the CSR.

  2. This is very timely as there are a large number of folks with damaged or missing rental cars due to the recent flooding on Kauai. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Also the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card has primary coverage, as Greg correctly indicates.

  4. Hi there! I’m actually signed up for the premium rental protection thing with Amex. I think in California the more expensive option is actually cheaper by law or some BS. Whatever–I pay for it. That being said, a friend of mine who also has that premium coverage happened to drag his trash cans along the side of the Escalade he had rented while his car was in the shop for 3 months (I don’t know how he didn’t notice, but he didn’t), and Amex wouldn’t cover it and Enterprise sent him a bill for $1200. They said something about it excluding [can’t remember the term] but I went through the packet they sent me when I signed up and found no such exclusion. Not all roses just FYI…

  5. @Greg – Thanks for the tip, looking into it now, will update shortly
    @Garrett – I’m wondering if the issue was with the three month rental? Or the fact that the car was an Escalade? In any event, bummer for your friend!

  6. There is also a time limit for filing claims. VISA, for example, is 45 days. You have much longer to submit all the required documentation but if the initial claim is not submitted within whatever deadline is specified by the card company, then you’re on your own. Even when the other party is at fault and accepts responsibility, initiating a credit card claim ensures you are covered in the likelihood (extreme likelihood, that is) the rental car company drags its heels. Never assume that the incident report you fill out when you return a damaged rental will ever make it to their claims department without some kind of follow up.

  7. Just had the joyous experience of making a claim for coverage on the Citi Prestige for a car rental in Sicily. Hertz claimed the car was brand new and the tires had some wear. Charge was 270EUR. The process could not have been smoother — had to call then send in the paperwork. Took about a week for them to approve once we sent the paperwork. One thing — we made sure we had an itemized copy of the charges from Hertz before we left the premises.

  8. @Steph – Great information, thanks! I just enrolled in the Amex. plan to make their coverage the primary for when I do put it on Amex. – for the most part I put personal car rentals on the Chase Sapphire or the Citi Prestige.

    @Nat – Assuming you see this note here, what kind of paperwork did you have to send in? Just the contract and the Hertz damage report? In the past when I (or colleagues) had damage to rental cars, the Amex. corporate card made everything seemingly disappear as if by magic. However for personal rentals, while I’ve never had to make a claim, I’m just trying to get a feel for what I’ll want to gather if I have to file a claim through one of the cards.

  9. @chancer – Great point. Chase cards typically give 60 days but some cards are as low as 45. Once you file the claim, you have some leeway to get them the paperwork, but I would recommend at least opening the claim ASAP.
    @TravelinWilly – Make sure you sign up for AMEX’s primary rental car coverage if that’s what you plan to use! (or stick with CSP which offers primary coverage). Once you file your claim, the insurance company sends you a list of what you need to provide, and a lot of that can be obtained from the rental car company or their third-party billing provider (at least in the U.S.)

  10. Hi Steph! I believe they said the vehicle was excluded from coverage. At the end of the day it all worked out. They went back and forth and ultimately my friend didn’t have to end up paying, but that outcome was provided by dealing directly with Enterprise.

    Thanks again for the article. I’m considering a Sapphire Reserve for a number of reasons, primary rental coverage being one of them.

  11. Hi Steph, great article.

    I recently had a flat tire in a Budget rental that I charged to my CSR. I believe it was a slow leak rather than running over a nail, but not sure that mattered at all in the end. I wanted to point out that the CSR did cover it. Additionally, when it went flat, I called Budget, left the car at the airport lot (at their instruction) and then Ubered to their airport location to pick up another car. The tow, tire, and admin fees totaled $150.

    This may not be a surprise, but Eclaims Line seems very slow. I posted all the information I got from Budget. Every call, upload, or change to the claim resulted in a 5-7 business day wait until the next review. I had a ton of these, and sometimes they asked for the same thing multiple times. Each time I called with my explanation that Budget culdn’t provide it (e.g. an “incident report,” which Budget doesn’t do for tires). They kept wanting printed documentation, from Budget, on Budget letterhead, saying they did NOT have evidence A or B. That took a long time to resolve. I started the claim in early February and just got the check today. If I valued my time more, it would not have been worth it.

  12. Check the AAA Member Rewards Card though BoA as another option for primary coverage.

  13. This is excellent information, and these type of articles are the exact reason I read this blog. More, please! Thanks Steph!

  14. I am going to Australia & New Zenland soon. That mean I can’t use any Chase cards since the policy indicate that those countries are in the exclusive list.

  15. One sneaky trick that rental car companies sometimes pull is to try charging you for the lost revenue due to the car damage. I’ve heard that the way to get around this is to take a screen shot of rental availability that shows that the company had the same level of car available while the rental was in the shop.
    Any idea why Australia, Israel, etc. are not covered by the American Express purchased policy? Do the drivers in these countries just drive super badly? If so, I can suggest some other places to add to the list.

  16. Hmmm. As far as I know, renting a car automatically comes with liability coverage (at least in the U.S.). So you don’t necessarily have to buy a separate policy for that. The post isn’t clear about that. Also, as far as using not using the car against the rental agreement, perhaps you should’ve mentioned driving on dirt or gravel (unpaved) roads, that would seem to trip more people up than drag racing. Otherwise, good article and would like to see more like this. Thanks, Steph!

  17. If you want to avoid paying for CDW in Ireland/Northern Ireland, you will definitely need the letter from your credit card company indicating coverage in those countries. With CSR, at least, it is a 2 minute phone call and then they email the letter a few minutes later. PRINT IT! If you do not have it when you get the car they will make you take CDW. And Hertz (and I think most other companies) will charge you a 30 euro “administrative fee” for the hard work of not charging you the CDW. Frustrating but you will still save money on any rental more than 2 days.

  18. @ Robert D – It would take a whole other post and more to cover all the information about rental car liability responsibility and coverage levels within the U.S. But what renters absolutely need to know the article makes it perfectly clear, that liability is not covered by any credit card. As for included coverages, your advice that all domestic rentals come with liability insurance included in the cost of the rental is incorrect. California is the notable exception in that liability is entirely the renter’s responsibility. For some other states such as Lousiana it can be confusing trying to deduce who is responsible for coverage, you or the rental car company. In any case, renters without their own insurance policies should consider getting SLI with their rentals as any coverage provided automatically may only be up to the state minimums.

  19. What about when the driver during the accident isn’t the primary card holder who paid for the rental?

  20. For the roughly 8 people in the universe that still carry a Diners Club (cough…me…cough cough), it provides worldwide primary CDW coverage. There are no excepted countries, but there is a benefit cap of (I think) $75,000. I’ve had to use the coverage once. Budget at LHR charged me something like $127 for a tire with a bubble in it. Bogus charge, but I just decided to let Diners pay for it rather than waste time arguing. It was a really simple process – just had to submit a copy of the rental agreement and itemized charges for the damage. They sent a check in about 2 weeks. The insurance coverage is exactly why I’ve hung on to the card all these years, even though I don’t actually use it much anymore.

  21. Great article, Steph. Hertz rental car was broken into in San Francisco (my former hometown) in January. Turns out there is also “Loss and Damage Insurance”, in addition to Liability and Collision. It covers bad stuff that happens to your rental car when you are not driving it. On your US auto policy, this is “Comprehensive” insurance and most insurers extend it to rental cars…with caveats.

    Sidebar for travelers: “SF car break-in epidemic”, SF Chronicle, March 2018…historic high of 31,000 last year:

    Amex and Hertz were actually really easy to work with. Terrific customer service from both teams. That said, Amex’s secondary coverage isn’t so great: It only pays *up to the amount of your US auto policy’s deductible*. So if you have a low deductible, Amex uses that in its favor. You can of course file with your US insurer, but that will potentially spike your rates up. In my case, the damage (smashed rear passenger window) was only slightly higher than my deductible. So it didn’t make sense to impact my US auto policy rating for the extra few bucks. Downside: Those extra few bucks came out of my pocket.

    Lesson learned. Naively, I used to think credit cards would somehow cover car rentals overseas. I know better now. When I’m renting a car in Europe later this year (twice), I’m loading up on Hertz’s CDW and LDW insurance, if only for peace of mind.

    Hope this is helpful to fellow travelers.

  22. @Nat, can you tell us more about the “tire wear” charge. That sounds like a scam. Maybe that is why Italy gets excluded from some cards.

    @Steph, probably a topic for another post, but what happens if you use points to book the reservation. I have an upcoming reservation where I expect to use 1100 hertz points and put the $30ish fees on my CSP. Does that cover me if something happens?

  23. @MeanMeosh – Good to know another use on the Diners front, since I’m another of the 8. I use the Diners at grocery stores for 1.5-2k a month when there’s nothing better on the table. At 3 points per dollar, and the points transfer equally to Aeroplan and almost equally to Alaska, I find it worthwhile. Also, the 3 points works at grocery stores worldwide.

  24. @TravelinWilly: the receipt showing the damage charges, rental agreement, credit card statement. They didn’t ask for but we sent in photos anyway.

    @Tom: it was nitpicky put technically true. Not on the tread but rather on the side of the tire where we rubbed up against a curb negotiating traffic or parking.

  25. @Steph – There are no longer any country exceptions on the Chase primary coverage as of last year.

    The coverage letter they send you on request states that :

    “This letter is to verify that XXX and any drivers authorized on the car rental agreement, when using Chase Bank card number ending in xxxx, are eligible for worldwide coverage under the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver benefit. This includes the previously excluded countries of the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Israel, and Jamaica.”

  26. I’ve had to make multiple claims on credit card insurance over the years for minor damages – for rentals in Canada, UK and South Africa.

    The best experiences by far were with Royal Bank of Canada on my Visa Avion Infinite card (back before every third card issued was an Infinite, that actually counted for something). It couldn’t have been easier.

    The first time, once I received an invoice from the rental company, I call RBC and asked about the next steps. They just sent me an authorization form to sign that allowed their insurance to negotiate with the rental company directly and that was all I had to do. I got an email 3 weeks later to advise the case had been resolved and I had nothing further to worry about. I was very pleased with this one as I didn’t notice any damage when I dropped the car off.

    The second time was even easier – the car had a scratch/dent that I knew of when I dropped it off at Johannesburg airport, so I called RBC when I got home the next day. I didn’t even have to deal with Avis at all – RBC’s insurance team contacted Avis on my behalf and sorted out any potential damage claim. I still don’t even know how much they paid to settle, just that I got an email again saying it was done.

    In contrast, as @Carl notes, Chase can be a bit of a production with the online claims form and often going around in circles waiting for documents to be reviewed and provided multiple times. You need to deal with the rental company yourself and Chase will then reimburse you, rather than deal with them on your behalf.

  27. @Sean M – I believe Italy is still excluded from declining CDW – at least it was three days ago when I rented a car at the Venice Airport. Perhaps because I made the reservation a few months ago maybe the old rules still applied? That would be excellent news if Italy was off the list.

  28. Thanks for the input, all! As @chancer pointed out, it’s a reeeaallly broad topic, so the experiences are much appreciated.

    @Tom I know there are some policies out there that count the $30 fee as enough proof of payment to keep you covered, but I would call Chase to double-check.

  29. @Donna – Whether you can decline CDW or not has nothing to do with the insurance coverage provided by the card. Any vendor can make it mandatory for you to purchase their insurance if they want to, regardless of how many other policies you may hold. The “insurance” provided by the card is not a traditional insurance “policy”, but rather an indemnification of the driver against costs resulting from covered risks.

    The card provides this indemnity worldwide. Whether the rental agency chooses to accept it however is entirely their prerogative.

  30. As Christian pointed out, the rental car companies can still get you for 1) loss of revenue due to the car being in the shop and 2) depreciated value of the rental car after the accident/incident. Most credit cards and even auto insurances don’t cover this. How do I know? Simple, I got screwed by Hertz for those exact two items when my rental car went over a huge pothole in New Orleans. Some damage to the underside of the front bumper and undercarriage which was mostly covered by insurance, but I had to pay out of pocket for the remainder since my auto insurance refused to cover the two items.

  31. Can you tell me how the “exchange insurance information with the other driver” step of the post-accident process occurs when I am counting on my credit card’s coverage for primary insurance?

  32. One big perk for Florida residents- AmEx purchased insurance is only 12.95 for the length of the rental as primary insurance.

    Not quite sure why. I don’t think Florida drivers are any better. But either there is a legal cap or the actuarial science is different down there.

  33. One thing I found out that CC rental insurance does _not_ cover is moving trucks. That cost me a thousand dollars. 🙁

  34. Note that some rental companies refuse to tell whether or not their fleet was fully booked while a damaged car is being repaired. Since there can’t be a loss of use if the company still has unrented cars on the lot without this information it’s impossible to know if they are entitled to loss of use reimbursement. For this reason most credit card issues will refuse to pay lose of use if this information isn’t provided. The credit car company then bills you. At that point your only recourse is to small them in small claims court at which point they either provide the information in response to you subpoena or they drop the charge.

    Refusing to provide the information and having the credit card company refusing to take care of the charge happens a lot more than you would think and the bill can easily exceed the cost to repair the car. In addition they the aren’t fully rented there is no incentive for the car company to rush the repair, so they don’t.

  35. @Chuck – exchanging insurance information applies to the liability part of the process. If you hit someone with your rental and damage their car, the credit card won’t cover the damage to the other vehicle (the liability piece). That’s filed through your insurance, hence why you still have to exchange the information. For the damage to the rental car itself, you file a claim with the credit card.

    If the roles are reversed, i.e. someone hits you in a rental car and is at fault, I guess it’s up to you whether you want to ask for their insurance information to pursue the claim against them, or whether you just want to have your CC take care of it. Assuming the CC provides primary coverage that is.

  36. Hey you know how it always says you have to decline coverage from the car rental company? Does this include purchasing liability coverage though?

    I like in NYC and don’t have a car or a liability coverage plan. So I’ll typically use my CSR and decline collision or LDW, but purchase the ~$9 liability in case something happens to someone else. If I do this and then end up needing to utilize the CSR benefit, will I have problems because technically, I didn’t decline all coverage from Hertz, or whomever?

  37. Thanks for the write-up. Any idea if Turo or other car-sharing services qualify for these “rental” coverages?

  38. Re Amex you wrote: “It should also be noted that this coverage is not available in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, or New Zealand.”

    This is incorrect as of a while back, this is what the current policy reads:

    Coverage is worldwide except for vehicles rented in Australia, Italy, New Zealand and any country on the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) sanctioned country list. Coverage will be voided if a Rental Vehicle is rented in any country on the OFAC sanctioned country list.

  39. AMEX Premium Coverage / Hertz – got hit while parked in Honolulu. Filed a report with AMEX and their insurance took over. Didn’t have to pay a penny.

    JP Morgan Reserve (Formally Palladium) – AUTO RENTAL COLLISION DAMAGE WAIVER
    Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary and provides reimbursement up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage for rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.2

  40. You give pics of Citibank, the same printed doc that I carried with me to Ireland last fall. Citibank clearly states that international coverage is PRIMARY; in the U.S. it is SECONDARY. Showed it to the agent and had no issues declining CDW.

  41. I have enrolled in primary rental car coverage through American Express directly for a flat rate of either $19.95 that is charged for every rental. This insurance gives piece of mind when you are involved in an accident. The service is pretty prompt and they work with the rental company. You just have to realize that there are going to be expenses from your pocket that Amex will not cover.

    a) Actual Cash Value
    There is going to be a difference between what The Rental Company says and what Amex says. You can negotiate but most likely would have to pay the difference. The fine print of your
    rental agreement talks about this.

    b) Towing & Storage
    There is going to be a difference between what The Rental Company says and what Amex says. You can negotiate but most likely would have to pay the difference.

    c) Independent Appraisal Fees/Teardown
    There is going to be a difference between what The Rental Company says and what Amex says. You can negotiate but most likely would have to pay the difference.

    d) Salvage & Admin Fees
    Most likely you would pay out of your pocket

    d) Loss of Use :
    Most of the time the rental car would be charging you for 15 days at the same rate as per rental agreement. Amex will not pay this and will come out of your pocket.

    I would still highly recommend this insurance incase you are Amex member since it only comes into play when you rent a car. Yes, there are exceptions which need to be taken into account.

  42. Good post but some misinformation on Chase card policies. On the United MileagePlus Explorer card coverage is primary(I just checked my old guide to benefits and the new one that starts in June. Also checked my Ink Plus and hubby’s Ink Business Preferred and both state “….while renting primarily for business purposes, renting outside your country of residence for personal reasons or if you do not have automobile insurance.” Important distinction.
    We rented several cars in New Zealand last fall. Called Sapphire and we were covered there. Also no issues with Ireland.

  43. There is some confusion in the postings – I believe that casualty insurance refers to physical (property) damage 1. the first component is damage to that car you are driving and 2. damage to other cars and other types of property while liability insurance relates to being sued for such costs as medical and etc.

    Now the question – you rent a car in Spain through Hertz (paying through AMEX) – you decline Hertz’s insurance (note your US car insurance will probably not cover you outside of the US) – you cause an accident and do damage to your and other cars — your only insurance is AMEX – now it sounds like you are not very well protected as you can have damage to your car and other cars (property) and no doubt will be sued for medical costs to others (liability).

    Suggestions please

  44. Why not just add rental cars to your main car insurance? In my case, there is no additional cost and it covers me just like I was driving my own car.

  45. @Steph – important to note that laws in some countries *require* a minimum CDW as part of the rental (Itay for example). This means there is no legal way to decline the CDW even if you want to. I did a bit of research on how this might affect the insurance benefit on Chase cards, and my understanding is that you must decline everything that you legally can decline but that Chase will still cover you if a CDW is legally required as part of the rental.

    However, it’s worth double checking with the card provider’s benefits team.

  46. @DCJoe – Irish resident here (and DC native!) – Europcar doesn’t charge you for declining the CDW, although they do require that the address on your letter of coverage matches the address on your Driver’s License. Most rental companies also require that the letter of coverage is dated within the last 2 weeks.

    Hertz also charges a ridiculous 5 euro fee for paying with a credit card. The only way out of that one is to tell them to rerun the charge on a debit card when you return the car (you need a credit card to actually make a rental).

  47. Until you’ve had a claim it’s hard to know how these coverages, both the ones purchased from the rental car companies and credit cards, will work out in foreign countries. Thirteen years ago, I had a rental car stolen (and not recovered, at least as I know) in Naples, Italy. Fortunately when I rented it, I upgraded to the “complete” CDW coverage (which has no “excess” which is like a $0 deductible on American Policies). Today, this complete coverage runs around €140/week on a compact car in Italy. I believe the basic CDW coverage is normally €1000 deductible but for the difference in cost, it’s not worth it IMO to take the risk of having to pay €1000 in the event of such a loss. In this instance I phoned the rental car company, informed them of the theft and they drove out a new car and I handed them the keys from the stolen car and the matter was finished and I was never charged anything for the loss.

    If Chase says they will pay the excess (your deductible) of the mandatory CDW coverage, then perhaps it’s a good deal. I, for one, am a bit skeptical of promises made by customer service representatives working for card companies regarding insurance coverages. I’m not an attorney and not comfortable with fine print legal mumbo jumbo so I just pay down the excess and write it off as a business expense. Your comfort level may vary.

    And a bit off topic, yesterday when I returned my recent rental in Venice, I overheard a young couple arguing with the rental company representative over body damage that the car company said was not there when the car was rented. I got the idea the renters were not going to win that battle and it’s anyone’s guess who was telling the truth. When renting, I always photograph existing body damage (or decline the car) at the rental agency, showing their representstive(s) in the photo before I exit the lot. You don’t want these hassles (and potential expenses) in any event, but worse when you’re trying to get to the airport and leave the country – there’s precious little time for arguing. Of course, if you buy the “complete” CDW coverage, you’re okay.

  48. Your link to the sample benefits guide for Chase Sapphire Preferred is dated 2014 and indicates coverage is secondary. I know it’s intended to be a sample but please confirm that the most current benefit is primary.


  49. BTW, I just chatted with AMEX, they said beginning March 30th 2017 – “There is no Fee for Premium Car Rental Program on your Platinum card as it is a part of card benefits”

    No wonder I haven’t been seeing those $17.95 charges.

    Good deal!

  50. Another aspect for serial renters is that some cards (maybe all?) only cover 1 accident per 12 month period.

  51. Just returned from a (almost) great trip to Italy- specifically the Amalfi Coast where there are no laws when it comes to driving, just suggestions? Horrid! AX does not offer coverage in Italy, Australia or New Zealand. Avis in Sorento required FULL coverage and thank God for that as we ended up choosing not to get creamed by a giant tourist bus and scrapped the side of a mountain instead. Also we opened our door only to have a speeding car go by and get its side view mirror knocked off as it hit our door! In this incident the insurance (which was about double the car rental) was worth every cent!

  52. As of July 29, 2018 – Citi Double Cash is dropping some parts of its Worldwide Car Rental Insurance: Program coverage won’t apply to charges or expenses for the loss of the rental car, rental agency fees, or taxes

  53. I always use Citi Prestige for overseas rentals as any vehicle with 4 wheels <75K in any country is covered even when there is CDW included in the rental agreement.
    Citi benefits guide clearly states "Outside the United States, the coverage provided by this benefit is primary even if You have another
    insurance policy".
    Unlike Amex, wheel/tire damage is also covered.
    It is funny to see Chase still excluding certain car rentals on their benefit page (e.g., all Porsche/ Jaguar/Alfa Romeo/ Corvette/ Tesla made the expensive/exotic car list!)

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