Renting A Car With A Credit Card? Here’s What You Need To Know About Insurance.

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Car rental companies love to upsell insurance options when you rent a car.

Most are bogus. but 2 are legitimate. There’s liability insurance and there’s the collision damage waiver insurance or CDW.

No credit card covers liability insurance.
When you drive in the USA you need to have liability coverage which covers damage to other people and their property. If you own a car and are insured you’ll be covered when you rent a car in the US, so there’s no need to take out liability insurance. If you don’t own a car you can rely on the state minimum liability that the car rental agencies are required to provide free of charge. However you can be on the hook if you cause damage in excess of the minimum requirement, so you may want to take out that coverage if you don’t have a personal car insurance policy. Note that in California and Texas there is no state minimum liability, so any damage you cause will be your responsibility.

In some countries, like Israel and Mexico, you are always required to pay for liability insurance.

Many credit cards provide CDW insurance. That covers damage that occurs to your rental car. However most cards only provide secondary coverage in your home country, which means that if you have your own car insurance you would have to file a claim with them and only if they deny it will the credit card cover the damage.

AMEX cards have the option to add a premium car rental insurance option that changes coverage from secondary to primary, but that will set you back about $20 per rental.

2 popular Chase cards provide free primary CDW coverage even in your home country, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase United Explorer. If you damage your rental car then those cards will cover the damage without having to file a claim with your personal auto insurance policy.

Both cards have no foreign transaction fees.
The Sapphire Preferred also gives double points on car rentals, making it the best card to use when renting a car anywhere in the world.

Most cards exclude CDW coverage in select countries such as Israel and Jamaica.  All Chase cards provide coverage worldwide, including Israel.  Just call the number on the back of your card to be connected with the CDW insurance department who can provide you with a letter of coverage to provide the car rental agency in any country that you specify.

In a country like Israel you’ll still need to purchase liability insurance, but you won’t have to pay the CDW insurance.  Which is a good thing as the basic CDW insurance in Israel comes with a high deductible, so even if you pay the daily CDW fee you may still wind up paying for the small scratches that car rental companies in Israel love to charge to everyone without ever repainting their cars.

With CDW coverage insurance from your credit card there is no deductible as long as you decline to take out the CDW coverage from the car rental agency.  You won’t be responsible for a thing as long as you use the right card.

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188 Comments on "Renting A Car With A Credit Card? Here’s What You Need To Know About Insurance."

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Fay

What about chase sapphire not preferred

Samijr

@dansdeals so dan I have spg amex and united mialege explorer I’m going to Israel end of this month which card should should I use for the car ?

PNG

Any special considerations to take into account when renting a car in Puerto Rico? I have Delta Amex, Fidelity Amex and AAdvantage Visa and Mastercard. Any benefits to using one over the other?

qqqqq

Dan ,
would you mind posting a short list of popular cities and the amount of the minimum liability coverage for each one please

Anonymous

So which is better off renting with chase Cc or amex Cc?

Anonymous

Thanks for the informative post.

What if your under an insurance policy but not the primary–will you have liability coverage?

Jack

Only these 2 Chase provide primary CDW insurance? I thought all of them do

david

you should point out that there’s no state minimum liability given in California (at least from Hertz, not 100% sure about other companies) you’re completely on your own there! legally, it’s no issue since Hertz self-insure their cars, but if you cause damage, it’ll be between you and Hertz, doesn’t sound too promising for you!

aa gold

does it work on the ink cards

GTR

As a non car owner I used to only rely on the state minimum liability. However, now that I’m older and have some assets accumulated that I’d like to protect I begrudgingly purchase SLI/SLP from the rental car company.

Dan

@Fay:
Only secondary coverage when renting in your home country.

@Samijr:
AMEX does not provide any coverage in Israel.
Chase does.

@PNG:
Get a Sapphire Preferred card?

@qqqqq:
I’ll see if I can dig that up.

@Anonymous:
Generally speaking the Sapphire Preferred will always be the way to go.

@Anonymous:
Yes.

@Jack:
Definitely not.

@david:
If you cause damage to your rental car then your credit card will cover it.
If you cause damage to others then they will go after you if you don’t have an auto policy (assuming you have collectible assets).

@aa gold:
Ink cards give primary coverage in your home country only if the rental is for a bona fide business use.

@GTR:
Makes sense.

ISRAEL

Very usefully information. Thanks Dan you rock

Anonymous

Great post much needed

Danfan

Dan, My son who just turned 18 is an additional card holder on my Sapphire card. Does he have the same coverage?

Dan

@ISRAEL:
@Anonymous:
Thanks guys.

@Danfan:
As long as he’s listed as a driver on the rental car contract, sure.

Miami Guy

I didn’t know that ALL Chase cards cover CDW in Israel… A few ppl on the DDs FB group told me the INK cards will not cover the CDW in Israel. Oh well, live n learn

Dan

@Miami Guy:
Yup, they all do.
And it will be primary coverage on all Chase cards as long as you don’t live in Israel.

Eli

With AMEX, car value must be less than 50K (even plat. is 75K).
In the US, that would be a luxury car, but in Israel, a decent car could easily exceed that value. Do they even insure is Israel?

Anon

Related but off-topic: If you borrow a friend’s car, whose policy would a claim be under, and would u need to have ur own policy?

Dan

@Eli:
Banks like AMEX, Barclays, and others do not provide any coverage in Israel.

@Anon:
My understanding is that a borrowing friend will be covered, but call the policy issuer to confirm.

Avi

Fairmont is another Chase card that provides primary CDW. Annual fee waived the first year.

So...

@ Dan, So Bottom line what provides better coverage in the US – AMEX Gold or Chase Ink – both business cards?

Dan

@Avi:
Yup, but the points earned on that card are pretty awful.

@So…:
If you don’t own a car then both will provide primary coverage.

If you do own a car then the AMEX will only cover if you pay an extra $20 per rental and the Ink will only cover you if the rental is for a bona fide business purpose.

Apply for a Sapphire Preferred or United card to have free full coverage in that case.

Eli

@Dan:
If I live in Israel Chase won’t cover me? What other options do I have?
Also, I though the Arrival plus does cover Israel.

Dan

@Eli:
Within your home country (and in every other country) the Sapphire Preferred and United cards will give primary coverage.

Most other Chase cards will only give coverage secondary to your personal auto insurance when you rent within your home country.

If you don’t own a car then all Chase cards will give you primary coverage everywhere.

My understanding is that no Barclay cards currently give any coverage in Israel, though that’s always subject to change.

me

So it makes sense to buy CDW from rental car company when not using above mentioned cards?

Ayman

What counts as renting w a cc? Need to have the entire rental paid w cc? Or even if only part of the cost (taxes and fees) are on the cc, you are covered?

Shragie

What about car exclusions and only covering cars upto 50k, which cc offers the best coverage?

Ed Travel

Dan, a question about rental in Israel. I notice that all the rentals have a limit in the number of kilometers that can be driven is there any way of pre extending that? Any idea which is the best company to do that with?

Dani

I read somewhere that INK cards cover this as well. If not, what do they cover?

Samijr

@dansdeals thanks you rock!!

Yehuda25

@Dan: Dan, don’t forget the amex premium coverage, which is primary coverage as well and also covers certain classes of cars that chase does not cover.

aa gold

does it only acct for the primary car holder

asf

“2 popular Chase cards provide free primary CDW coverage even in your home country, the Chase …..”
did you mean to say even NOT in your home country? or do these only provide primary in USA for US residents?
Also can someone be added to either cards and a secondary and get the same car rental benefits?

Shie

Thanks dan im in a constant rental from National they provide every 30 days a new contract whats the best card to use for rental coverage??

dbel23

Caveat:
I used my sapphire preferred this past summer to rent a car at hertz in Israel and relied on the card’s CDW. Dan had sent instructions on how to get a letter from Visa stating that Israel was a covered country.

Of course I got into a very bad accident in the highway, bh we were fine, but the car got destroyed. Hertz came to the highway to pick us up, which was nice.

You should be aware that the benefit is provided by Visa, not chase and they do not communicate with each other. Therefore, once the bill for the accident is available (in my case way above $10k), they will charge your card regardless of your credit limit and you will be liable to pay or face interest charges and potential fees. Considering that Visa took about 3 months to pay me back for the charges this would amount to some serious fees. After huca’ing a few times with chase, I was able to get someone who helped me put in a dispute for the charge so that they put the interest on hold until the dispute was resolved.

Needless to say, the process was very stressful and I had to be on top of visa as well as Hertz for the claim could be resolved. Ultimately, I wish I had just taken Hertz’s insurance. Especially because in the itemized bill of the damages, Hertz added a bogus charge for “Depreciation” (about $500) and Visa said they did not cover depreciation charges, so I was left paying that anyway.

Hope this is helpful to others. I wish I had known this in advance.

Dan

@me:
Depends on where you are renting and whether you own a card.

@Ayman:
The entire rental.

@Shragie:
Chase cards don’t have a dollar limit, though exotic cars are excluded.

@Ed Travel:
I’ve rented in Israel with unlimited kilometers.

@Dani:
See previous comments.

@Yehuda25:
Which class of car will that cover that Chase does not?

@aa gold:
Works for secondary as well.

@asf:
You’re misreading that statement.
Most cards don’t give primary coverage when you rent in your home country. Those 2 do.

Secondary cardholders are covered when listed on the rental contract.

@Shie:
As the post says, Sapphire Preferred.

@dbel23:
Disputing isn’t a bad way to go, especially in Israel where the process can be opaque.

Why didn’t you dispute the $500 charge?

Even if you had taken CDW coverage from Hertz you still would have been on the hook for the deductible. That amount varies by company but you would have paid the daily CDW rate and a deductible of $500-$1,000 anyway.

Anonymous

I had 2 minor accidents in Israel and one was not my fault but one was. I used the sapphire and honestly it was basically hassle free. A couple weeks after filing a claim online and sending them a few documents I received a check covering every penny.

Eli

@Dan:
Thanks

Yehuda57

Thanks for this informative post. Answered a bunch of questions I was furiously Googling yesterday!

I have a rental quote (Dollar, in South Africa) that includes “mandatory CDW” and other charges. Would I be allowed to refuse them at the counter and put it on my Saphire?

Dan

@Anonymous:
Nice!

@Yehuda57:
I’ve never heard of mandatory CDW. Are you sure the CDW is mandatory and not the liability?

Maybe look into another agency…

Shragie

@dan thanks

dbel23

@Dan

I guess I was so done with fighting back and forth that i let the $500 go… do you think I should dispute the charge with Chase directly?

MDrills

I actually just dealt with this, this morning because I just got a car rental. Sapphire Preferred will only cover you if you put the entire cost of the rental on the credit card if not they will not cover you. The AMEX coverage will not require you to put the entire rental on your card so in my case where I was in an accident where the other party’s insurance is paying for my rental and they are only putting a 250 hold on my card for incidentals I will be doing the AMEX insurance.
FYI the AMEX insurance requires you to have enrolled in their program, which doesnt cost anything until you have a rental, before you pick up your car.

Ari

can i do the $20 amex option in israel?
if i rent with a chase card, and i return an israeli rental with scratches, will they first try to claim on my NY insurance or does the chase card act as primary CDW?
Also, do you have to use the “pay in advance” option to get cc rental benefits? they only charge you when you return so maybe you wouldnt get the benefits if something big happens during the rental….

Knowitall

@anonymous no only the primary insured will be covered under his liability.

jack

@Shie:

if you rent for a longer period you are not covered with your credit card, they all have limits like 15 to 31 days max rental, even on a new contract

Dan

@dbel23:
Sure.

@MDrills:
In which scenario are you not putting the entire charge on your card?

@Ari:
-AMEX will never cover Israel.
-All Chase cards are primary outside of your home country.
-Pay in advance and Priceline rentals have the same CDW coverage as when you pay after.

@jack:
Why would a new contract not reset the 31 days?

ari

i dont have a sapphire card but my father (same last name, separate address) has one. can i be added as a secondary user and get primary CDW in israel?
TIA

Eddlest

WOW. This is hugely helpful – thank you.

Question around liability insurance since I live in NYC/don’t own a car and thus don’t have auto insurance. Are there any insurance companies (eg, Statefarm, etc.) that offer liability insurance for ALL (future) car rentals vs. having to purchase it from the rental company each time you rent? I rent a lot for pleasure.

FYI, I called Geico and they confirmed they do NOT do this, but curious if any others do

Bunim1

What I always do is have my Amex enrolled in Premium Car Insurance protection. At the counter I give the Amex card PRIOR to the rental and when returning I ask to put on my regular Visa card. The pending charges fall off and I do not use the Amex with the $20 fee. Unless Gd forbid I need it !

Steve

If Sapphire Preferred also offers CDW coverage, is there any reason/benefit to use my Amex Platinum instead for a rental in the US? TIA

MDrills

@dan In my scenario and I bought the vouchers from AMEX Daily Deals a few months back that dont require me to pay for my rentals on location.

Dan

@ari:
Yes.
But why not get your own and start earning your own miles?

@Eddlest:
My understanding is that Geico covers liability within US and Canada.
I don’t think they’ll cover outside of that.

@Bunim1:
Why not just use a Sapphire Preferred and avoid that hassle?

And what happens when they find a scratch after you return the car and you already switched it off your AMEX?

@Steve:
No.

@MDrills:
Should’ve said so. I have lots of experience with those.

You can call to make the reservation with those certs.
Don’t hand them in at pickup.

If you cause damage then don’t turn them in and the full rental will be charged to your card.
If you don’t cause damage just turn them in at return and you’ll get the rate as reserved over the phone.

INSURANCE AGENT

@dan I think that an accupant on a policy but not the primary insured will not be covered under that policy. PLEASE DOUBLE CHECK.

ari

one more question, i have about $300 orbitz bucks. the rental im looking at in israel is about 400-500. will i lose the benefits of a chase card if i dont pay the whole thing on it?

Dan

@INSURANCE AGENT:
Which scenario are you referring to?

@ari:
You will probably lose the CDW benefits if you use that. Call and ask to confirm.

elit

Would i need a letter from the credit card company when renting in Canada

CKay

The citi master world elite (AA)platinum select last time i used it also covers insurance in Israel

Expert

@Dan: 1. Although the rental agency is required to have the legal minimum of liability, they have wording in their contracts which in essence require the renter to forfeit that coverage when declining the optional supplemental liability insurance.
2. Although Amex Premium Protection automatically charges $20 when the initial authorization is placed, if indeed no damage is incurred to the rental, one can simply charge the rental to a different card and the amex fee will be reversed when the deposit is released. It is actually quite worth the $20 if damage IS incurred considering that Amex Premium Coveraget is infinitely more convenient than the the coverage provided by Chase.

nathan

There are only 2 states which are non-liability states.which are California and Texas. Which means you get zero liability when u rent a car unless you actually purchase it.yes the car rentals are self insured as they need to be. But that doesn’t carry over to us.

Fyi..I work for a car rental company

Priceline

(1) If one wants to rent a mid-size car in Miami, does not have his own insurance, and has Amex SPG and Chase BA Visa only, what card/coverage should be obtained?

(2) Priceline offers its own Collision Damage Insuranfe for $11/day. That is much cheaper than the car rental agencies themselves. Is it better to go with Priceline?

Thanks for all your good work.

MDrills

@Dan Ive tried many times to do that method but they insisted that I give in the vouchers at the beginning of my rental so I had Alstate, My primary insurance cover me

yoroch

I just booked a car with some extra aa miles so there is no charge for the rental is there still a option to be covered by my cc?

jack

@Dan:
Length of Coverage
Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance covers eligible Rental Autos when rented under a written rental agreement from
a Rental Company for no more than 30 consecutive days.
Note: In no event shall coverage be provided when the Cardmember rents a Rental Auto beyond 30 consecutive days
from the same Rental Company, regardless of whether the original agreement is extended, or a new written agreement is
entered into, or a new vehicle is rented.
Additionally, no coverage will be provided when the Primary Renter rents a Rental Auto for more than 30 consecutive
days out of a 45 day period within the same geographic market/location (75 mile radius).

see here
https://web.aexp-static.com/us/content/pdf/card-benefits/StarwoodPreferredGuestCreditCardfromAmericanExpres/CRLDI_DOC_CCSG.pdf

Ilovedansdeals

Da, n I am covered by someone’s insurance policy (I don’t own a vehicle) and I am an authorized user for citi cashreturns Mastercard. Will that be secondary, or primary?

Danschosid

I just rented in England on Amex platinum and when got back was hit with $300 charge avis said the tire was damaged I made claim with Amex and they denied it saying they don’t cover wheels so even with credit card u still get charges Dan what do u say

Miz

Do rentals in NY, NJ, PA come with state minimum liability coverage?

Where can I find information about in which states rental agencies are required to provide state minimum liability coverage free of charge?

Expert

@Dan: Bunim1’s suggestion is actually an excellent idea because:
1. Amex Premium Coverabe is infinitely more convenient than Chase’s coverage.
2. Once the vehicle is “checked in” and your card has been charged, you cannot be held responsible for any damage.

Dpk

Do you NEED a letter of coverage?

Dan

@elit:
No.

@Expert:
What makes the AMEX coverage better than Chase?

@nathan:
Seems like that’s correct, thanks for chiming in!

@Priceline:
1. Either card will be primary in that case.
2. Why pay for CDW?

@MDrills:
Are you Avis Preferred?

I’ve probably done 50 rentals with DG certs and never once been asked for them at the beginning.

Either way if you made the rental over the phone with the cert number just say you have them packed away and will hand them in at the end.

@yoroch:
Nope, bad use of miles too.

@jack:
Chase does not have that language.

@Ilovedansdeals:
Would be secondary if you’re listed on a policy.

@Danschosid:
AMEX excludes tires when that’s the only damage reported.
I don’t see Chase language excluding tires.

@Miz:
Seems like CA and TX are the exceptions.

@Expert:
1. Infinitely? How so?
2. Is 100% patently false.

Yehuda57

@Dan:

Is Loss Damage Waiver the same as CDW?

Even with the mandatory LDW, it is the cheapest agency.

YL LTD

What about the chase presidential plus card? Is CDW covered through that as well?

Yehuda25

@Dan: First, amex covers 42 days as opposed to 31

amex- The Plan can cover most vehicles typically available from a Rental Company, from smaller economy sizes to large luxury sedans, convertibles, exotic cars (worth more than $50,000), minivans, vans, pickup trucks, and full-sized SUVs

Chase- Excluded worldwide are: expensive, exotic, and antique automobiles;
certain vans; vehicles that have an open cargo bed; trucks;
motorcycles, mopeds, and motorbikes; limousines; and recreational
vehicles.
• Examples of excluded expensive or exotic automobiles
are these brands: Aston Martin, Bentley, Bricklin, Daimler,
DeLorean, Excalibur, Ferrari, Jensen, Lamborghini, Lotus, Maserati,
Porsche, and Rolls Royce. However, selected models of BMW,
Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, and Lincoln are covered
• An antique automobile is defined as any vehicle over twenty (20)
years old or any vehicle that has not been manufactured for ten (10)
years or more.
• This benefit is provided only for those vans manufactured and
designed to transport a maximum of eight (8) people and which are
used exclusively to transport people.

Dan

@Yehuda57:
Should be the same.

@YL LTD:
Yes, primary.

@Yehuda25:
Still excludes Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand…

How often do you rent for more than 31 days but less than 42?

Newbie

Can someone advise on the cheapest way to rent a car for an upcoming trip to Los Angeles?

@Dan

Can you explain the idfference if its primary or secondary coverage? Also will United and Sapphire cover as primary with no deductible?

Avi

@Dan re: Fairmont, yes, agree about the points not being worth much, but the signup bonus has a killer value. Was worth about $1900 for me, and only a $1000 spend to reach it.

avraham s

As @Nathan said, I have been told that California has no minimum liability insurance requirement which means that ppl without a car policy need SLI to be covered for liability. @Dan, can you confirm?

Berel

If u use points to pay for the car rental and u use your cc to pay for the extra fees taxes etc.. Will u still he covered with insurance by your cc?

Dan

@Newbie:
Priceline/Hotwire.

@@Dan:
As the post says for primary coverage, “If you damage your rental car then those cards will cover the damage without having to file a claim with your personal auto insurance policy.”

And for secondary, “which means that if you have your own car insurance you would have to file a claim with them and only if they deny it will the credit card cover the damage.”

@Avi:
$1,900? Where?
Biggest issue is that they have very limited hotels and the most popular ones in London and NYC are nearly impossible to book within 8 months of the stay.

@avraham s:
Confirmed.

@Berel:
Nope.

AC

Dan, if I just opened a Chase BA card last night, should I wait before applying for another Chase card?

Anonymous

Sixt rents BMW, mercedes at pretty decent rates…
How do I know whether my Chase United card will cover?

Dan

@AC:
Why would you need to wait?

@Anonymous:
Chase covers “select BMW models”
Any BMW that Sixt would give you at a moderate rate will probably fall under that category.

Yatz72

If I only have liability insurance on my own car would any cc cover collision since my insurance doesn’t cover?

Expert

@Dan: When a claim is filed through amex premium insurance it involves ONE phone call. That’s it. Through Chase it’s a long and tedious process of forms and paperwork and mailings etc. I’ve done both several times.
I have also known several occasions in which people were hounded by rental agencies and collection agencies for liability charges. I have discussed this at length with representatives at ma job rental agencies and they have confirmed that they would collect from the renter for any damages to a third party, the agency’s self-insurance notwithstanding.

Avi

@Dan
Fairmont in Maui for 2 nights, including the suite upgrade and food and beverage credits.

Meir

Chase Ritz Carlton also has primary auto insurance….

Bochur

@Dan I’m a bochur and I do not own a car or have car insurance. Is there any advantage of using the Saffire Preferred then besides the double points? Would all other cc with cdw be primary for me as I do not have insurance?

Thanks

Dan

@Yatz72:
Interesting question.
I wonder if you might still have to file a claim and have it denied before your card would cover you.

@Expert:
Can’t say that I experienced that.

@Avi:
Good use, though I’m not sure how that equals $1,900.
Either way, not a good card for everyday spend.

@Meir:
Another card that’s not good for everyday spend.

@Bochur:
Correct, only advantage is double points and no Forex fees.

Anonymous

Do rentals through Priceline/Hotwire have the same coverage with the CC used (even though payment not made directly to rental company)?

Dan

@Anonymous:
Yes.

Clarification

Is it against the law to file a claim with secondary insurance, without specifying that you have insurance on the car you own. (Ive used Citi AA MC coverage to file a claim for scratches – before I owned a car- and I don’t recall them asking if I already had a personal policy…

Priceline

@Dan:

Just to make sure I follow:
(1) If I don’t have car insurance then amex spg and chase BA will essentially become “primary” cdw coverage because there is no insurance. Then why would anyone pay $20 to make amex go from secondary to primary?

(2) In such scenario, should I still purchase liability insurance (to be safer)?

Thanks again Dan!

Dan

@Clarification:
Cards that only gife secondary coverage do ask if you have other coverage and it would insurance fraud if you do and you say that you don’t.

@Priceline:
1. Only someone who has auto insurance will care about primary coverage.
2. In most states there is a minimum level of liability included, but if you cause more damage than that they can go after you.

Anonymous

@Dan: thanks, is there way to confirm that?

Dan

@Anonymous:
They have this new invention called the telephone. Pick it up and call. Ask for a letter of coverage if you want it.

Yehuda57

@Dan:

So I guess this is a first for you?

“Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) is mandatory. Cost is between R54.00 and R247.00 per day depending upon vehicle rented. Reduces renter’s financial responsibility for the vehicle to between R5000.00 and R15000.00 depending upon vehicle rented. Super Damage Waiver is available for purchase at the counter.”

Expert

@Bochur: That’s correct.

jack

speaking of rental cars,why was the national master thread deleted on ddf?

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