The Best Credit Cards with Car Rental Insurance

Sandra MacGregor
Jan 23, 2023
6 min read
Sandra MacGregor
January 23, 2023
6 min read

Road trips can be a big part of the travel experience so it’s no surprise that many credit cards (especially travel rewards cards) offer rental car insurance. With the right card, you could save hundreds of dollars and enjoy a stress-free rental process.

What’s typically covered

Sometimes referred to as collision damage waivers (CDW) and/or loss damage waivers (LDW), these policies generally cover damage and theft of any rental car you charge to the card, up to the value of the vehicle. The cardholder will usually be required to be the primary renter, and denerally, secondary drivers will only be covered if they are listed as drivers on the rental contract. 

Limits + exceptions to credit card car rental insurance

For your credit card insurance protection to be valid, you’ll have to pay for the rental with the card offering the insurance. You’ll also normally have to decline the rental agency’s collision damage waiver for your credit card insurance to kick in. 

Furthermore, most credit card providers put a cap on the value of the car they will cover (for example, a car with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price up to a max of $75,000). Some credit cards may also put limits on the type of vehicles you can rent, and may exclude specialty vehicles, like vans, vintage cars, exotic or luxury cars like Lexus, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari and motorcycles. There is also a limit on the amount of days coverage is valid; so, for example, you might be covered for a rental for up to 20 consecutive days in your home country or up to 30 consecutive days in foreign countries. 

Personal belongings (such as a purse or wallet stolen from a car) are often excluded from coverage. Additionally, liability insurance is typically not included so you wouldn’t be protected from costs in the event you damage or injure passengers in another vehicle. For this reason, it’s vital to purchase liability insurance. Note, however, that some countries like Europe include liability in the cost of the rental, so be sure to ask if you’re not certain what’s covered. 

Some credit card companies also require that you make your claim within a set period of time, such as 45 days after the incident. Yet other policies may exclude coverage from specified countries. Be sure not to make assumptions about what countries would be excluded because you might be surprised. Some policies, like American Express’ Premium Car Rental Protection coverage, excludes Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Australia, Italy, and New Zealand.

Above all, when it comes to what is and is not covered by your credit card’s rental benefit, the most crucial point is that it’s imperative to read the fine print of the rental car insurance that comes with your card. While it’s possible to make general statements about what’s typically included or not, each credit card provider could have slightly different rules and the only way to be sure you are covered is to read the details of your policy and follow-up with questions with your credit card provider if you’re uncertain about anything.

Best credit cards for rental car insurance

Chase Sapphire Reserve 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card stands out because it not only offers primary rental car insurance, but it also has an array of truly top-notch travel perks. Solidifying this card’s ranking as one of the best credit cards with rental car insurance is the fact that it awards 10x points on car rentals (and hotels and select dining experiences) as long as you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. You also earn 5x points on flights if booked through Chase’s travel portal, as well as 3x on other travel and dining experiences and 1x for all other spending.  

Insurance coverage: 

  • Primary coverage for US and abroad
  • The auto rental collision damage waiver benefit provides reimbursement for damages caused by theft or collision up to the a car’s value of $75,000 
  • You (and secondary drivers listed on the rental contract) are covered for up to 31 consecutive 

Other travel perks:

  • $300 travel credit for travel purchases charged to your card 
  • Priority Pass Select membership for free airport lounges visits for you and two guests 
  • Up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS or TSA PreCheck
  • Perks like free room upgrade and breakfast at over 1,000 properties when you book with The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
  • Rental car privileges like upgrades and car rental discounts with Avis, National and Silvercar
  • Take advantage of trip cancellation/interruption, trip delay and lost luggage insurance 
  • Transfer points to numerous frequent travel programs at a 1 to 1 value
  • No foreign transaction fees

Yearly cost: $550

Major bonuses: The Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a welcome bonus offer of 80,000 points after you charge $4,000 to the card in the first 3 months after account opening. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers many of the same benefits as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, it’s worth a special mention because it has one of the lowest annual fees for a card with lots of travel benefits and primary rental car coverage, making it ideal for someone looking for great rental coverage at an affordable price. Despite its low $95 yearly fee, the card also offers some good travel benefits. You’ll also earn 5x points on travel purchased through the Chase travel portal and 2x on other travel purchases. Get 3x points on dining, streaming services and online grocery purchases, and 1x points on other purchases.

Insurance coverage: 

  • Primary coverage for US and abroad
  • The auto rental collision damage waiver benefit provides reimbursement for damages caused by theft or collision 
  • You (and secondary drivers listed on the rental contract) are covered for up to 31 consecutive days

Other travel perks:

  • Up to $50 in statement credits toward hotel stays booked through Chase’s travel portal.
  • You can transfer your points to numerous frequent travel programs at a 1 to 1 value
  • Free trip cancellation/interruption, trip delay and lost luggage insurance 
  • No foreign transaction fees

Yearly cost: $95

Major bonuses: The Chase Sapphire Preferred card gives you 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is another well-rounded rental car credit card because, not only does it provide primary protection, it also offers big rewards for cardholders who rent vehicles, though it’s one drawback is that you’re only covered for 15 days domestically. You’ll earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars as long as you book through the Capital One Travel portal. Get rewarded 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel and 2 miles per dollar on all other spending.

Insurance coverage: 

  • Primary coverage for US and abroad
  • The auto rental collision damage waiver benefit provides reimbursement for damages caused by theft or collision up to the a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $75,000 
  • The policy covers you and authorized drivers listed on the rental agreement for up to 15 consecutive days in your country of residence and 31 consecutive days when abroad.

Other travel perks: 

  • Up to $300 per year in statement credits when made via Capital One Travel bookings
  • 10,000-mile bonus every year on your account anniversary 
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit of up to $100
  • Travel accident insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Free upgrade to Hertz President’s Circle status

Yearly cost: $395

Major bonuses: Cardholders will get 75,000 bonus miles when they spend $4,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

United Club Infinite Card

The United Club Infinite Card has a solid selection of perks when it comes to renting vehicles. Cardholders can also take advantage of a wide range of travel benefits. You’ll earn 4 miles per $1 on United-related purchases and 2 miles per $1 on other travel spending. You’ll also get 2 miles per $1 on dining and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

Insurance coverage: 

  • Primary coverage for US and abroad
  • The auto rental collision damage waiver benefit provides reimbursement for damages caused by theft or collision up to the cost of the car (amount maximum not specified)
  • The policy covers you and authorized drivers listed on the rental agreement for up to 31 consecutive days 

Other travel perks:

  • Complimentary United Club membership
  • Cardholders get complimentary and unlimited access to all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance affiliated lounges
  • Up to $100 fee credit for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS 
  • The primary Cardmember and one traveling companion get their first and second checked bags free
  • 25% back as a statement credit for purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on United-operated flights 
  • IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status 
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Strong insurance offerings: Trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement and baggage delay insurance

Yearly cost: $525

Major bonuses: Earn 80,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 

Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Business owners can often have need of a rental car and what makes the Ink Business Cash Credit Card shine is that it’s a no-annual fee card that offers primary coverage. That being said, the card has very few other travel perks. Also, take note that the insurance coverage distinguishes between business and non-business related use. Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores, as well as on internet, cable and phone services.Get 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in gas stations and restaurant purchases. Cardholders receive 1% cash back on all other purchases. 

Insurance coverage: 

  • Primary coverage if your rental is for business purposes in your country of residence and internationally.
  • Secondary if you are renting the car for non-business (aka personal) purposes in your country of residence
  • The auto rental collision damage waiver benefit provides reimbursement for damages caused by theft or collision up to the cost of the car (amount maximum not specified)
  • The policy covers you and authorized drivers listed on the rental agreement for up to 31 consecutive days 

Other travel perks:

  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: A benefit administrator will provide legal or medical referrals, as well as other travel and emergency assistance
  • Roadside Dispatch: If you have a roadside emergency, such as needing a tow or a tire change, your Ink Business Cash Credit will assist you in finding the service you need (though you will have to cover the cost). 

Yearly cost: $0

Major bonuses: Earn $900 bonus cash back after spending $6,000 in the first 3 months.

The Platinum Card from American Express

It may come as a surprise to find the legendary traveler-friendly Amex Platinum Card at the bottom of the list of best credit cards with rental insurance. That’s because most American Express cards don’t offer primary insurance (though some offer secondary coverage) — and the ultra premium Platinum card only comes with secondary coverage (though there is the option to upgrade). You’ll also earn 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, as well as on prepaid hotels booked on AmexTravel.com. Get 1x on all other purchases.

Insurance coverage: 

  • Secondary coverage for US and abroad (aside from a few excluded countries)
  • The auto rental collision damage waiver benefit provides reimbursement for damages caused by theft or collision up to the a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $50,000 
  • The policy covers you and authorized drivers listed on the rental agreement for up to 30 consecutive days when abroad
  • You do have the option of paying an extra flat rate fee, ranging from $19.95 to $24.95 (note that the fee is for the entire rental period, not per day) to upgrade to Amex’s Premium Car Rental Protection insurance. This insurance functions as primary coverage for up to 42 consecutive days and with up to $100,000 in coverage against damage or theft.

Other travel perks: 

  • Up to $200 in airline statement credits to cover things like baggage fees
  • $200 statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry or $85 for TSA PreCheck
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status
  • Complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive. Cardholders can also enjoy rental car benefits like discounts, grace period on returns and upgrades
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Travel insurance: Rental car, baggage loss, trip delay and trip cancellation insurance 

Yearly cost: $695

Major bonuses: 100,000 Membership Rewards once you spend a minimum of $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first 6 months.

How to decline normal rental car insurance

Each insurer may have different actions you must do to decline a rental car agency’s car insurance. In general, the process is quite simple. You would just reserve a rental car and charge the full amount to your credit card. 

It’s also wise to review the coverage that comes with the car as some countries typically include some coverage in the price of the rental. Also be sure to check what exactly your card covers in terms of vehicle type, cost and length of days, as well as whether you have primary or secondary coverage. Then just decline the rental agency’s collision damage waiver. If the rental car company tries to force you to buy their specific collisions insurance, call your credit card company.

Primary vs. secondary car insurance

Many people don’t realize that rental car insurance comes in two forms: primary and secondary. Secondary car insurance means that if you are in an accident, you will have to first file a claim through your own car insurance provider (which could mean paying a deductible and a future hike in your premiums), and then possibly through your travel insurance provider before your secondary coverage kicks in. 

Essentially, secondary insurance only reimburse you for costs not covered by other insurance policies. Primary car insurance is the best and the one you want to look for when choosing a card. It kicks in first and often covers the entire claim so you don’t need to worry about being covered through your own auto or travel insurer. 

Read about the best credit cards for lounge access or check out more tips for saving on car rentals.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Last Updated 
January 23, 2023
Sandra MacGregor

Sandra MacGregor has been writing about personal finance, credit cards and travel for over a decade. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the UK Telegraph, the Washington Post, and the Toronto Star. She spends her free time traveling (which is how she learned the importance of using the right rewards credit cards while globetrotting), and has lived around the globe.

character throwing a paper airplane
Treat your travel to cheap flights

Sign up for free to start getting flight alerts. Or upgrade to get 4x the deals, rare destinations, peak season tickets, and Mistake Fares. Either way, you’ll never overpay on flights again.

Sign up