update: some offers mentioned below are no longer available. See current offers here.
If you’re looking to rent a car for a trip this summer or fall, you may be wondering how to get rental car insurance.
When you pick up a rental car, the rental agency may confront you with a confusing list of auto insurance protections and add-ons available for purchase. Although it may seem like a good idea to take out rental car insurance, it may not be necessary. After all, some of the best travel rewards cards provide car rental insurance that may allow you to bypass the rental company’s collision damage waiver.
In particular, some of the best rewards cards automatically offer a collision damage waiver when you pay for your car rental with your card. This waiver may cover the rental car if it is in an accident or if it is stolen or damaged. So today I’m going to talk about the best cards that provide car rental insurance and answer some common questions about this benefit.
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the best credit cards for car rental insurance
- pursuit sapphire reserve.
- chase sapphire preferred card.
- capital one venture x rewards credit card.
- preferential credit card for ink companies.
- ink cash business credit card.
- Ink unlimited business credit card.
- united explorer card.
- united mission card.
- united club infinite card.
- united business card.
- any american express card that is enrolled in the american express premium car rental protection program.
- sapphire reserve guide.
- sapphire preferred guide.
- united explorer card.
- united mission card.
- united club infinite card.
- attached business card (when rented for business purposes).
These cards offer primary car rental insurance on most rentals, which will be the focus of this guide. I’ll also discuss the difference between primary and secondary insurance, and even highlight some low or no annual fee cards that offer secondary rental car insurance near the end.
primary car rental insurance vs. secondary
Auto rental coverage available on select travel rewards cards will typically be a primary or secondary auto rental collision damage waiver. however, secondary insurance only kicks in after your car insurance and any other types of insurance, such as travel insurance.
So if you’re in an accident in a rental car and you paid for your rental with a card that provides secondary insurance, you’ll likely have to file claims with multiple insurance companies. On the other hand, primary insurance applies before any other type of insurance. therefore, with primary insurance, you only need to file one claim.
Both types of insurance generally have a posted maximum, so make sure it meets or exceeds the full value of the car you’re renting. Generally, primary insurance will reimburse you for the cash value of the rental car or the cost of repair, whichever is less. however, secondary insurance will only reimburse you for the amount not covered by any other insurance policy.
Most credit card secondary policies automatically convert to primary insurance in two common scenarios. First, if you are renting a car outside of the US. uu. and your personal auto insurance policy doesn’t cover you in that country, that card’s collision damage waiver may become primary. Second, if you don’t own a car and don’t have an auto insurance policy, most secondary insurance offered by credit cards will become primary.
Related: 11 Common Rental Car Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
what is covered (and what is not)
The Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver benefit provides reimbursement for damage due to collision or theft, up to the actual cash value of most vehicles. Generally, the collision damage waiver only covers physical damage or theft of the rental vehicle. some cards also cover loss-of-use charges assessed by the rental company and towing charges to take the vehicle to the nearest qualified repair facility.
To be covered by a credit card collision damage waiver, you must decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver or similar provision. You may also need to decline other types of insurance offered by the car rental company. and it is important to remember that some rental vehicles may not be eligible for insurance. In particular, it is essential to take into account the following provisions if you rely on these benefits:
civil liability insurance is not included
Although the collision damage waiver provided by your credit card may cover damage to your rental car, it will not cover damage you cause to other vehicles and personal property. and the credit card collision damage waiver generally does not cover injuries to you, your passengers, or pedestrians involved in the accident. Your auto insurance policy can be activated here, but it’s good to check your policy or call your provider to confirm.
If you don’t own a car, consider purchasing non-owner auto insurance if you want liability protection. Many insurance companies offer this type of protection, but they don’t always advertise it online. It pays to price policies with multiple companies, as prices tend to vary widely.
related: how to never pay full price for a rental car
not all types of cars are covered
If you stick to standard car rental categories such as compact, intermediate and full size, your credit card’s car rental policy should apply. however, most policies exclude special class vehicles, including large passenger vans, pickup trucks, vintage vehicles, and motorcycles.
Also, many policies exclude leases and microleases, and most exclude rentals through person-to-person car-sharing companies, such as turo.
related: are tour car rentals covered by credit card insurance?
there is a limit on the number of days
Many readers are likely to stick to short-term car rentals for travel. but if you need to rent a car for several months, your credit card insurance will usually not apply.
related: can’t find a rental car? here are 7 secrets that can help
some countries are excluded
While the exact list of excluded countries varies from card to card and issuer to issuer, the most common exceptions I’ve noticed are Australia, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Jamaica, Northern Ireland, and New Zealand. Regardless of where you’re traveling, it’s best to call the customer service number on your card to make sure your destination is covered when you rent a car outside of the United States.
make sure your rental is eligible
You should read your card policy carefully to understand what is not covered. If you have questions about your insurance, you can call the customer service telephone number that appears on your card. doing so will allow you to obtain more information and confirm that your policy covers your type of rental vehicle in the country you will be visiting.
Related: How I Saved Nearly $250 on a One-Day Car Rental by Taking a $110 Uber Ride
top cards with primary car rental insurance
This section will look at some of the best credit cards that offer primary car rental insurance when you use your card to pay your full rental. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, so you may find other cards that also offer primary insurance. In particular, I excluded cards that offer primary auto rental insurance to current cardholders, but are not currently accepting applications.
chase sapphire reserve and chase sapphire preferred card
chase sapphire reserve and chase sapphire preferred provide primary car rental insurance for rentals in most countries, and this covers rentals of up to 31 consecutive days. In particular, this policy covers losses, including physical damage and theft of the rental vehicle, valid loss-of-use charges assessed by the rental company, and reasonable and customary towing charges related to a covered loss.
However, policy details vary slightly between the two cards. so be sure to read the benefits guide for full details at the links below:
Related: Sapphire Showdown: Preferred Sapphire Chase Vs. reserve sapphire chase
chase sapphire reserve has an annual fee of $550, but currently offers an 80,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. In addition, the Chase Sapphire reservation gives you access to great benefits like a $300 annual travel credit, priority pass selection membership, travel protections, and an application fee credit of up to $100 for global entry, TSA pre-checking or nexus every four years.
Meanwhile, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is easily one of the best travel rewards cards with an annual fee of less than $100. chase sapphire preferred currently offers a 60,000 point sign-up bonus when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. It also comes with some nice perks, like a 10% bonus in points on your cardmember’s anniversary and a $50 annual hotel credit for stays booked through chase travel.
See the full Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve reviews for more information on each card.
Official app links: chase sapphire preferred and chase sapphire reserve.
capital a company x
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers a car rental collision damage waiver that can reimburse you for damage caused by theft or collision up to the actual cash value of your rental vehicle. your vehicle must have had an original manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $75,000 or less when new. and you can only get insurance when you rent for up to 15 consecutive days in your country of residence or up to 31 consecutive days in other countries.
plus, you can even rack up car rental benefits with hertz when you rent through capital one’s travel portal.
new applicants approved for capital one venture x can currently earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. The card has an annual fee of $395, but offers several benefits, including up to $300 back as statement credits each year for bookings through Capital One Travel and at least 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases.
app official link: capital one venture x rewards credit card
ink business cards
Chase Ink Business Cards (Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, Ink Business Cash Credit Card, and Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card) offer primary insurance for most vehicles . insurance provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for charges related to physical damage or theft of the rental vehicle, valid loss of use charges assessed by the rental company, and reasonable and customary towing charges.
You will only be covered by primary insurance if you rent primarily for business purposes, rent outside your country of residence for personal reasons, or if you do not have auto insurance. on the contrary, if you rent for personal reasons in your country of residence and you have car insurance, you will only get secondary insurance.
Related: Your Guide to Chase Ink Business Credit Cards
Ink Business Preferred Card offers a sign-up bonus of 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. With this card, you’ll earn 3 points for every dollar you spend on travel, shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone services, and advertising purchases made on social media sites and search engines (up to $150,000 in combined purchases each anniversary year of account) and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else. this card has an annual fee of $95.
However, there are two cards in the ink line that do not charge an annual fee.
Ink Business Card currently offers $750 cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. You’ll earn 5% cash back for every dollar you spend at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services (up to $25,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year). you’ll also earn 2% cash back for every dollar spent at gas stations and restaurants (again capped at $25,000 a year) and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
The Ink Business Unlimited Card currently offers $750 cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. And winning is easy: you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases. As with ink business cash, you can convert these earnings into max rewards points if you have a card that earns max rewards. in addition, there is a 3% fee for foreign transactions, but there is no annual fee.
with both cards, you can combine your earnings with other eligible chase cards to convert them into full max rewards points. unfortunately, both charge a 3% foreign transaction fee.
See our ink business preferred, ink business cash, and ink business unlimited reviews for more details on these three cards.
Official App Links: Preferred Business Ink, Cash Business Ink, and Unlimited Business Ink.
united airline cards
The following four currently available united credit cards offer major car rental insurance when you decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the full cost of the rental to your card. This insurance provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the US. uu. and abroad.
Related: 4 reasons someone in your family needs a united credit card
Here’s a little more about each of these cards.
the united explorer card currently offers to earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. You’ll earn 2 United miles for every dollar spent on United shopping, dining and hotel stays when you book directly with the hotel. this card has an annual fee of $95 that is waived the first year.
See the full united explorer credit card review for more details.
The United Quest Card currently offers 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. You’ll earn 3 miles for every dollar you spend on united purchases (immediately after earning your $125 annual united shopping credit) and 2 miles for every dollar you spend on select other travel, dining and streaming services. the card has an annual fee of $250.
see our post on who should get the united quest card for more details.
The United Club Infinity Card currently offered earns 80,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. you’ll earn 4 miles per dollar spent on united purchases and 2 miles per dollar spent on dining and all other travel. the card has an annual fee of $525.
See the full united club infinite credit card review for more details.
the united business card currently offers up to 150,000 bonus miles. earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. plus, earn an additional 75,000 miles after you spend a total of $20,000 on purchases in the first six months your account is open. You’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend shopping together, at gas stations, restaurants, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting. the card has an annual fee of $99.
See the full united business credit card review for more details.
Official App Links: united explorer card, united quest card, united club infinite card and united business card
top cards with secondary car rental insurance
If you don’t have a card that offers primary auto rental insurance, your next best option is a card that offers secondary insurance. Many credit cards offer secondary car rental insurance. therefore, I have only highlighted a few of my favorite options below.
american express cards
Most american express cards offer auto rental secondary insurance.* You can view the full list of cards that offer auto rental secondary protection on the american express website. If you don’t need primary insurance, you can use one of these cards and decline the rental company’s insurance.
But, if you’re looking for primary insurance, all american express cards offer an optional premium car rental protection policy that can be added (for a small fee) to your rental using the card. enrollment required for select benefits.
*eligibility and level of benefits vary by card. terms, conditions and limitations apply. visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. underwritten by the amex insurance company. coverage for loss or damage to rental vehicles is offered through american express travel related services company, inc.
Related: 9 Car Rental Rewards Programs You Should Know About
capital one venture rewards credit card and capital one ventureone rewards credit card
The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card offer car rental collision damage waiver insurance. insurance is secondary when you rent within your country of residence and primary when you rent outside your country of residence. however, benefits are only available for accounts approved for the visa signature card. terms apply.
related: capital one venture card vs. capital one ventureone card: which one is right for you?
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card currently offers 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. you’ll earn at least 2 capital miles for every dollar spent on each purchase and the card has an annual fee of $95. See the full Capital One Venture Credit Card review for more details.
The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card currently offers 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. you’ll earn at least 1.25 miles per dollar spent on each purchase. The card has no annual fee. Check out the full capital one ventureone credit card review for more information.
app official link: capital one venture rewards and capital one ventureone rewards
pursue flexible freedom and pursue unlimited freedom
If you’re looking for a card with no annual fee that offers secondary car rental insurance, Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited may be a good option. These cards provide theft and collision damage insurance for most automobiles in the US. uu. and abroad. insurance within your country of residence is secondary, but insurance outside your country of residence is primary.
Although neither card has an annual fee, both cards charge a 3% foreign transaction fee. See Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card Review and Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card Review for more information.
Related: Credit Card Showdown: Chase Freedom Flex Vs. chase freedom unlimited
Many consumers focus on the number of points they can earn and then redeem when choosing a new travel rewards card. But, credit card travel protections can come in handy down the road. in particular, credit card rental car insurance can provide significant value.
However, it is essential to review the details of your card policy to understand what is (and is not) covered. For example, don’t assume you’re covered for every possible mishap when paying for a car rental with a card that offers car rental insurance, as many exceptions and exclusions apply. And keep in mind that credit cards rarely offer liability insurance or peer-to-peer rental insurance.