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Credit Cards with Car Rental Insurance Benefit

Good Morning,

Over and over again when the topic of car rental insurance comes up, the advice is to "check your credit card" benefits. I have both Capital One and Citi credit cards, both which stopped offering car rental coverage at least four or five years ago. Aside from Amex (who's high fees I refuse to pay) what credit cards is everyone using that still offer car rental insurance coverage, as well as no foreign transaction fees and 2X points on all purchases?

Any direction would be appreciated as I am tired of paying $30/day for insurance. FWIW, my next two rentals are in the U.S. and our next international trip we won't be renting a car, but we do quite often so info on both US and European rental info is welcome.

Thank you!

Posted by
7186 posts

This may not feature everything you’re looking for, but for comparison, we use the Chase British Airways Visa. It costs $95 per year (how does that compare with AmEx?), and the rewards are Avios, frequent flyer points with the One World airline alliance. They give 3x Avios for flight purchases, and 1x for regular spending.

They provide rental car coverage, including in Ireland, which many other other cards that provide some insurance coverage don’t include. There’s currently a promotion that if you get a Chase BA Visa and then spend a certain amount, you’ll get a bonus of up to 125,000 Avios - more than they’ve ever offered, and valuable if you fly BA or a partner airline.

Posted by
1875 posts

We use our Amex Platinum card for domestic car rental insurance, but for international we take the insurance from the rental company. I do not want to deal with that from afar if anything happens.

I know you say no Amex, but take a look and the benefits if you have not already. Our Clear and Global Entry costs are covered, and we get a streaming discount, all of which we would be using/buying anyway. Plus the lounge access. Yes, the yearly fee appears steep at first, but for us it more than pays for itself.

Posted by
700 posts

This subject comes up a lot. Credit cards are so different even within the same family that it is hard to know what people are actually talking about.
Some people do it and some don’t. That is, use coverage by their credit card. However, the use of it to get your rental is not the same as the use of it if you have damage or an accident. Very very few times do we get some report regarding what happened after damage.
You think you may have coverage, but you will never know until such a thing happens to you.
There is all kinds of fine print.
So you come back to the counter with your rental car after you have run over a curb and sustained fender damage. Or swiped a wall or bushes and tore off a side mirror. Or the windshield is cracked from a rock. Then what? Your credit card may be on hold, charged for an amount that you have no idea what it is. For how long. When do you get the bill? Remember you will go home and everything that happens will come out of a foreign country.
Maybe you forgo the credit card coverage. You buy the coverage when you rent the car, online before you go. Well, that may be third party coverage also. Not affiliated in any way with the car company. How does that work out for you in event of damage?
It is the same with travel insurance. Bits and pieces. Information set forth from perusing the policy, if you are diligent.
No guarantees.
The upshot of this is that we rarely hear of a real experience from someone who used a credit card and then had to deal with the aftermath of an accident or damage to the rental car.

Posted by
7300 posts

To be honest any coverage you get as a free benefit can be worth exactly what you pay for it. If you are on the ball, know what paperwork is required, and know the claim process, it usually works out, but face it, the process is you pay the damages, then work with your credit card to reimburse.

If a credit card offers some premium coverage, meaning you pay for coverage, that is usually miles ahead of "standard" coverage.

That said, yeah that is probably going to be on a card with fees. I have a Delta Amex, yes I pay a fee, but I also reap enough rewards to cover those fees,

However, in some places, those I consider to have a bit more risk, I still will purchase a zero deductible policy from the rental company.

Posted by
8151 posts

Chase Sapphire Reserve. The coverage is good and while I haven’t personally made a claim, many have reported here on the forum their claims were paid quickly.

Let me break down key info on this card or you will look at the cost and dismiss it without knowing the actual costs. Annual fee: $550. Sign up bonus 60,000 reward points worth $600 in cash or can be used in a variety of ways including transfers to frequent flyer programs. You get a direct $300 travel credit every year. There is good car insurance and trip insurance included. You also get a priority pass membership which gets you and two guests into many airport lounges around the world. There are also other perks such as Door dash free delivery and $60 annual credit and discounted with Lyft.

In addition, you earn points with purchases. These can be turned into cash or used to book travel.

Posted by
4481 posts

Unfortunately some misdirected statements above.

we rarely hear of a real experience from someone who used a credit card and then had to deal with the aftermath of an accident or damage to the rental car.

Many times people have posted of satisfactory resolutions using free credit card insurance

any coverage you get as a free benefit can be worth exactly what you pay for it

This is misleading. I remember reading a travel columnist who reported from Hawaii about a rental car and learned the hard way insurance doesn't buy peace of mind. He had a flat tire in a remote area, and the CDW insurance bought from the dealer did not cover tires, so the guy was out about $500 in tow and tire replacement costs (his personal insurance didn't cover this, either, of course). Some credit card insurance (Chase Sapphire for sure) covers tires and glass for free.

I am puzzled about the Amex comment, because some Amex cards (Hilton) don't charge a fee, and a person can buy the $25 premium policy using it. It may not be on your radar, but keeping several cards open for different purposes is the way to go: there's no one-card-fits all.

Remembering from Andrew's experience: Do not authorize repair charges for a damaged car, then you have voided your insurance.

Posted by
357 posts

Thank you for all the input. Clearly I need to do more of a deep dive into the options as well as do some math on the high fee CCs. My Capitol One is only $39/yr and Citi $50. Citi basically has no travel related benefits anymore. I only keep that one as a backup and because I have points, valid on American and Partners, that I have not been able to use. I find it very difficult to use their points for actual flights, which is why I like Capital One, as I can use them on any travel purchase. The only other benefits CO still has is reimbursement of the GE fee every 4 years and access to Capital One lounges which are not located anywhere I have ever flown. But with double points on all purchases and the ability to use them with any airline, I find that very valuable. My daughters both went away to college and I was able to fly them both back and forth three or four times a year and only had to pay for two sets of flights the entire fours years!

I do always purchase the no deductible when renting in Europe. That's worth the peace mind (which we did use once in Italy), I guess it is paying here in the U.S. that just irks me. And yes, I've checked with my insurance agent, and because we both have old cars (so we can feed the travel addiction instead) our insurance would not be sufficient to cover damage to the newer rental cars :P)

Thank you all again. I'll will definitely do more research and a cost/benefit analysis.

Posted by
3136 posts

I have an Amex no annual fee credit card (among others) that gives me 1 mile for every dollar spent and on which I have included Amex’s Premium Car Rental Insurace. If your rental is charged to your Amex card, it is automatically added. Coverage is worldwide, except for vehicles rented in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand. There is a one-time charge from $12.25 - $24.95 (depending on state of residence and coverage) for up to 42 days of rental. The only drawback on my Amex card is that there is a 2.7% foregn transaction fee - so on a $500 rental, you’ll pay $13.50.

Unless I am purchasing $0 deductible on a rental where Amex would not cover me, I use my no fee CO card.

Posted by
6596 posts

Speaking as someone who has a lot of credit cards, I think you have unrealistic expectations. Specifically this:

what credit cards is everyone using that still offer car rental
insurance coverage, as well as no foreign transaction fees and 2X
points on all purchases?

I think you also have an additional implied/unstated condition in there: no big annual fee (apologies if that's not really true, but you are balking at high Amex fees, and when you cite examples of the cards you do have, they have very low annual fees).

It's the expectation that you're going to "get all the goodies" and not pay even a modest (mid-level) annual fee that I think is unrealistic. These folks are in business, they're not supported by government subsidies (well, some actually are, but that's not the point...). None that I know of are giving away all the top benefits for free or nearly free.

There are many, many cards that provide valuable auto insurance benefits, a very common feature. I think I have about 4 or 5 of them, I've lost track of the cards I have that offer this benefit because I always use the same card for car rentals - that's the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Annual fee is $95, a bargain (and a no-brainer for me); this is what I'd call a typical low-to-mid range annual fee for any card that provides a generous set of benefits. (Cheap cards = few benefits. You get more/better benefits with cards that cost more. Not surprising.)

In 2024 I'll be renting cars for a total of 4-5 weeks on multiple foreign trips, and the insurance benefit on this card will save me many hundreds of dollars easily. This card earns 2X on "travel" and 3X on "restaurants." Not 2X on everything, (which you state as a primary criteria). You might consider it as an option that gets very close to what you're looking for. I've had this card for over 10 years and am a very satisfied customer; it has saved me many thousands of dollars on car rental insurance alone (plus it provides other benefits I use which are valuable to me). I pay the $95 annual fee on this card happily. For me, a smokin' good deal. But it's not for everyone, YMMV.

There are simply not that many cards that earn 2X on everything, so that greatly limits your options right there (an understatement).

There may be others, but the only 2X-on-everything, no-FTF card that I know of that also does provide car insurance coverage has a fairly-high fee of $195 (that's Chase Ink Premier, a business card; I do not have this card so no personal experience with it).

There are just not any cards I know of that meet your stated criteria (maybe others have a better suggestions). Based on my experience, I think you need to re-calibrate your expectations.

Hope this helps a bit and good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Posted by
1875 posts

We use the premium car rental insurance through Amex for domestic rentals. Our card does not have any foreign transaction fees and we get 5x point for food and travel.

Posted by
4481 posts

Adding that I have some basic cards that I keep long term for specific purposes:

The Hilton Amex is free and if I use it to rent a car the $25 premium policy kicks in. I also get Silver status at Hampton Inns so a small points bonus with each stay, about 15%. I'll get free waters at Homewood if I stay there.

The IHG Mastercard, $49 annual fee, gets me one free stay at an IHG hotel per year, I usually get a $200 value from this, always use it. I also get Platinum status so a 60% bonus on stay points, and a 500 point bonus per stay. I had a very busy fall travel season for work and earned 24,000 bonus points just from the Platinum status provided from this card, easily another $200 value. I'll get free waters if lodging at a Staybridge. The best $49 I spend every year.

I am always churning other cards for the sign up bonus, and this makes sure that I have a Visa to use at Costco.

My main point is that there's no ONE card solution, so have several. Your credit rating will also skyrocket with all the unused credit line available.

Posted by
4223 posts

Has anyone checked with their existing auto insurer? You might be able to buy a rider or add on a limited time coverage policy.

There also used to be third party companies that sold rental car insurance. COVID might have done them in.

My rule has become, make the rental company the insurer because then you can just yell at them and say You handle it, it's not only our car but that's what I paid you for. It's become known that companies now have a policy of looking for every single little mark and ding and scratch and whatnot so they can bill you, it's a source of found revenue.

Posted by
5445 posts

Another option for towing and related, we decided to give AAA a try when we learned they will take pictures for passports and do the International Driver's Permit for "Free". They will also do the NZeTA photo for people going to New Zealand, and there is towing coverage in New Zealand (and many countries in Europe)

Unfortunately, we got to test the towing coverage shortly after paying the membership. We were on a camping trip in a remote area of Oregon and the car wouldn't start. We had to be towed almost 30 miles to a repair shop. The tow truck got to the campsite within an hour. There was no paperwork, it was just taken care of for us. Also, we got a AAA discount for the repair.

We just acquired the no AAA credit card to give it a try. It does have some travel insurance and is cash back. It is a VISA and we wanted another option with travel insurance besides the Delta AMEX since AMEX is not accepted everywhere.

Posted by
5921 posts

I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which offers car rental coverage and a lot of other travel benefits. It costs $95 a year and is well worth it, in my opinion. In fact, I probably have at least 6-7 cards, if not more, that offer car rental coverage, so there are lots out there.

Posted by
357 posts

Wow, thank you for all the replies! Reading through the recommendations, I think I will take a look at the Chase Sapphire family options and maybe the low fee ($95) Amex and AAA MC since I'm already a member. I have made a list of all the recommended cards for research. Aside from the $400 to $600 fees I erroneously thought all Amex cards had, I have also steered away from them as Jules M noted, that they are not accepted everywhere, even here at home.

@David - Yes I may have unrealistic expectation in today's climate, but it was, in fact, the CC companies that set those expectations years ago. I have had these cards for years, and both did offer car insurance up to five or six years ago. Citi also once offered AA lounge access once you reached a certain point level, but no more. I guess it's time to stop longing for the good ol' days.

@Tom_MN - "your credit rating will also skyrocket..." Ha ha, maybe I can finally reach that elusive perfect score if I open a few more cards? 😊

@phred - "companies now have a policy of looking for every single little mark and ding and scratch and whatnot...." Sad but so true! which is why I now walk around the card and take a picture of every single little imperfection before I drive off.

Thanks again to all of you. I have a lot to follow up on.

Joann

Posted by
1 posts

I have Bank of America Visa Travel Rewards card. It has car rental insurance included. There is no annual fee. Also it does not charge any foreign transaction fee.

Posted by
1109 posts

Joann

Rather than joining a new financial institution or changing credit card companies, can you not contact capital one or citi and see if they have another credit card with different options? I do not use either one and I am in Canada, but when I did a search of capital one, I see that they have a credit card which provides the collision damage waiver. Good luck.