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Heads up when using AMEX for your car rental/damage payment

So I'm not sure how this is all going to work out. I was talking before about using our AMEX for our car rental in France because of the damage coverage they offer. We got some deep scratches on the car in a parking garage (groan) and obviously were charged for them.

So...just to give a heads up - when I rented the car (Europcar via AutoEurope) I used MY credit card as hubby and I are on the same account (different card #'s, but all come on the same bill). I generally book all the travel stuff - train/plane tickets, accoms, etc using my credit cards. When we did pick up the car, he used his card for the 1200euro hold they put on rentals when you pick them up, and he also used his card when we dropped it off for the extra daily fees and whatnot.

Anyhoo - I come to find out that because my husband was to be the only driver of the car, I should have used HIS credit card for the initial booking. I thought I was screwed, but they are working with me. Not sure how this will all work out. (I'll update, but it'll probably be Xmas before it gets settled). The lady on the phone is being very helpful, so I can only hope for the best.

So to save yourself a headache - if you are a wife (or husband) doing all the booking and are going to be booking a car using your AMEX, make sure you use the card of the primary driver. It may save you a headache down the road. I admit it's my fault for not reading the fine print (all 8 pages of it), but who would think that would be the case since we are on the same bill/account? Just hope to save someone else a potential headache - don't need to be beat up for my 'not reading the fine print' - trust me - I have beat myself up enough.

And make sure you save ALL the paperwork - I have everything except the invoice from when we picked up the car (I have the rental voucher from AutoEurope), but I have an email into Europcar to get that...I also have to get Europcar to give me a breakdown of the charges for the damage.

Posted by
6925 posts

Wow Nicole that is really shocking! That seems absolutely crazy that even though you are spouses and have the same account, they would somehow differentiate between cards and who was driving. I'm very sorry for your experience and hope that they will work things out for you. Thanks for signalling this for others. Really it just makes you think that EVERYTHING is nuts. I just wonder sometimes if these people in big corporations don't sit around thinking "how can we really make things difficult for the little guy" and then come up with schemes like this . . .

Posted by
8659 posts

Sorry you are having difficulties with this, but I have to say, I would not have thought about the credit card name. Yikes. I am glad they are working with you and hope you get a good resolution.

Posted by
3901 posts

I had called last week to start a claim, but when they said that because I hadn't used my husband's card, I thought we were out of luck. I told them I'd call back (I didn't have his card number on hand and I wasn't 100% sure whose card I used when booking - I had to find the cc bill from August)...and like anything, when you have something 'horrible' to do, you put it off.

So when I called back, I said the same thing where...I used my card for the initial reserving...and when she said that I should have used his card at the start, I replied...'well, I guess I'm out of luck, thanks anyway, bye'...she said...waitwaitwait...let's see what we can do. So she opened a claim - not promising anything.

So hopefully I can save another unsuspecting person a headache (better yet - don't scratch the car! Haha).

Posted by
9363 posts

As I have said ever since my own bad experience with credit card insurance, they will use any possible loophole to get out of paying, and I will never trust them again.

Posted by
3477 posts

It is not just AMEX, it is EVERY credit card that has this rule.

Basically, everything billed by the rental car company for each specific rental has to be charged to the same credit card used to make the reservation in order for the insurance coverage to be in effect. This is true even if you are renting the car for someone else who will be doing the driving. No reserving it with one card and then paying it off with another to get points or miles. No paying for extra days or fees with a different card for any reason.

Good luck on your claim.

Posted by
544 posts

Are both cards on the same account? If not, are they both AMEX cards at least?

Please let us know how this turns out! Now that Costco won't be taking AMEX next year, I'm considering closing my accounts and just using my Alaska Airlines Visa card instead.

It would be great if they make an exception and cover your claim. I totally see how easy it would be to scratch your rental in those parking garages. When I was returning a car at Gare du Nord a couple of weeks ago I made the comment to my buddy that I haven't had to use my mirrors so much to clear corners.

If one card is AMEX and another some other card, like a Visa, I still hope they do the right thing and take care of you! I say "do the right thing" because the reality is that it's not very often we actually need the services our cards provide, but they get fees from merchants on every penny we spend, plus that annual fee every year.

Good luck!

Posted by
6772 posts

Mark is right. The first post is comical - no, they are not out to get you with arbitrary rules and not everything is "nuts" and unfair. Insurance is intentionally person-specific and so are credit cards. All CC agreements say something to the effect of...."As the cardholder, you must book the rental car with your credit card under your name to receive coverage." When booking via the web, I always have to attest that I will be the primary driver and that the credit card given to secure the reservation is in fact mine. And on the same screen, I have to agree willingly to forego auto collision and other insurance offered by the rental car company (no one else can swear this on my behalf).

On a somewhat related note, I've been tempted (many times) to let a friend drive a rental I've booked so I can take a break, but then I snap out of it when I consider how screwed I would be if anything happened. As far as insurance is concerned, my friend doesn't exist and it's my sole responsibility. If it was a relative or a spouse, the same would be true.

Best of luck, Nicole, although I think they'll get you with the small print details because the contract terms (i.e. leverage) is on their side. I hope the damage wasn't too expensive.

Posted by
3901 posts

Nordheim...they are both amex cards I used.

Agnes...the charges for the damage is about $600-650. (420€, but our candian dollar is weak right now). The final charge wasn't broken down on the cc bill but was just one all encompassing charge including the final drop off fees. So it's not a small amount. The lady on the phone really seems like she wants to help. So I'm hoping for the best.

Posted by
577 posts

It is not just when using a credit card for rental insurance that it is important that the driver uses his or her own credit card to make all payments.

I remember being behind a German couple at the Europcar desk at Toulouse airport who had a similar problem. It think it was that he was the driver and didn't have a credit card, while she had the card in her name but didn't have a licence and didn't want to drive. The other problem was that they were expecting a Mercedes and were offered a Renault.

You need to make sure all the details are correct before renting a car.

Posted by
7863 posts

To clarify with American Express the two cards issued to the same account have not only two different names on them but also two unique numbers. Some people may be confused because Visa and MasterCard issue one number on the two cards.
Thanks for the heads up Nicole. Good luck.

Posted by
7205 posts

Sorry for all of your problems - but this is yet 1 more reason (of many) to take public transportation when at all possible. You might "think" a rental car gives you freedom, but that freedom can cost you dearly in the long run.

Hope you get it resolved satisfactorily.

Posted by
5464 posts

One more question...Amex has a standard coverage, like most credit cards, then they have a premium coverage for which you pay a flat fee for the rental period. I assume you rented using the standard coverage?

Posted by
168 posts

Nicole - I went through this exact scenario a few years ago when renting a car in England. When we found out we weren't covered (just by belatedly reading the "fine print" on our contract) we went back to AutoEurope, explained the problem and (we thought) got things straightened out. Fortunately nothing happened to the car, so I never found out if we would have been covered or not had there been damage. But I can tell you that last time I rented a car (in Ireland) I went ahead and paid for the "Super CDW" coverage for peace of mind...no more fooling around with credit card coverage.

Posted by
6925 posts

Silly comical me to think that two people using the same AMEX account would be covered the same despite the fact that AMEX gives them two separate cards. Do they receive two separate bills? I doubt it, I imagine they receive ONE bill for their expenditures on their JOINT account.

Posted by
2639 posts

A few years ago, I rented through AutoEurope, picking up the car at CDG in Paris. When booking, I used one of my two separate accounts at Capital One. When I picked up the car, I had to use the other card for the deposit hold required. In Arles, a very ancient building suddenly came alive and jumped out at the left rear quarter panel inflicting about 500€ in damage. When I got home, I called customer service at Capital One and they could have not been nicer or more helpful. With the exception of about $30 in miscellaneous charges, I was completely covered for the charges.

Though an avid AMEX fan (thanks to reward miles, I've only had to purchase 2 air tickets on 17 trips to Europe since 2001.) , at the time they were charging almost 3% in foreign transaction fees which is why I used Capital One. Since AMEX is not as universally accepted and even though AMEX has dropped the fee on my card (not all AMEX cards) I almost excursively use my Cap One Venture card that also has reward points that allowed me to pay for all my hotels on a two+ week trip around France last autumn.

Posted by
3901 posts

Yes - I did just use the standard coverage.

As to the freedom for having a rental car...I still wouldn't trade it for anything. This is the 3rd time we've rented while travelling (once in Francein 2012 for a few days and once in California - where you really do need a car). Even with all the expenses of gas, tolls and maybe this damage, it was still nice to be able to travel at our own pace, not be chained down by bus and train schedules and lingering where we felt like it - would we have been able to visit Millau, Les Baux or Gourdon without a car? Maybe, but it wouldn't have been as easy. Would I have been able to do my factory tour in Manosque without having a car - highly doubtful without a huge rigamarole getting there.

In the long run, it still won't replace the love we (mostly) feel for the transportation system in Europe (which isn't without its pitfalls - our 'fast' TGV was delayed two hours when we were going to Avignon from Paris, so even that isn't infallible...also remembering our trip in 2012 when our train in Nice was delayed almost 2 hrs because of a huge thunderstorm. I have some other slow train horror stories as well from Italy...it's not all wine and roses). Car renting has it's place. If we were only doing major cities and not wanting to explore little hill towns and whatnot, then we would have just used the trains.

Posted by
7205 posts

I agree sometimes you have to have a car to go the places that aren't serviced by public transport. As far as delayed trains...yes there are delays, but you won't find yourself being charged thousands of Euros or arguing with credit cards over a delayed train :-)

Posted by
3901 posts

Just a quick update - after 4-5 emails over the last 6 weeks (with no replies) to Europcar trying to get a copy of the charges for the damage, I finally sent an email to AutoEurope last weekend. They promptly replied on Dec 14 and I got an email today from them with my damage charges! (They said it could take 30-45 days, so this was fast) So now I just have to send that all off to Amex and see if they will reimburse us or if I screwed it up by using MY CC instead of hubby's. I'll do a final update when it gets resolved (for better or worse).

Posted by
2639 posts

A few years back I rented from Europcar thru AutoEurope. For the initial charges, I gave AutoEurope one of my CapitalOne Visa cards (before Amex eliminated the fx fees). Upon arriving in Paris, I was asked for a credit card for a security deposit. I used a different CapitalOne Visa to avoid going over the limit on the original card. In Arles, a centuries old building suddenly leapt out at me and caused some damage. Europcar charged this as well as an additional full day's rental for returning the car 45 minutes late. (If you rent it at 10AM, it has to be returned by 10 AM or you get charged for an entire day. No grace period!)

When I became aware that all charges were to be on one card, I called customer service at CapitalOne and explained the situation. They immediately verified what happened and assured me there would be no problem with the insurance coverage. And there wasn't. The claim was paid and the only problem was getting the damage report from Europcar. Many emails to them as well as to customer service at AutoEurope. The customer service from CapitalOne exceeded my expectations and when going to Europe, I use their cards exclusively.

Posted by
3901 posts

Final update - the Amex insurance people emailed yesterday to let me know that they will be reimbursing us! 'Since it was our first claim'. No small change - almost $570 Canadian. Whew.

Anyway - lessons learned - use the card of the person who will be the primary driver (even if the cards are on the same account) and most likely next rental we will look at the additional coverage you can get thru Amex. I haven't looked too much into it, but will def be checking it out next time!

The only other thing I couldn't figure out was after adding up the totals of our final drop off fees and the taxes and the cost of the repairs, there was still a difference of $5 and change - maybe some sort of admin fee, using the exchange rate in the cc bill. That caused a bit of a headache with the insurance folks as the charge on our CC combined the final drop fees and the repair charges - no forms showing the breakdown of the final drop off fees vs the repair charges (there was an invoice from the car rental place showing the repair estimate, which is what they ultimately went with to determine what we were charged for the damages).

Posted by
1786 posts

Glad that it worked out, Nicole. Sometimes persistence does pay. And thanks for posting your experience. We have Capitol One Mastercards. Joint account, married, two names, two numbers. I have always been dubious and will check it out again and in more depth.

Posted by
8659 posts

Glad it was resolved in your favor Nicole. And yes, hopefully your experience will be a flag for other forum readers.

Posted by
2013 posts

I've always been told that even if you don't specifically name your spouse as an additional/authorized driver, since you've gone and done that marriage thing they are automatically covered. Seems logical, if one has to pay a bill it comes out of the family ktty.