Credit Cards That Offer Primary Car Rental Insurance

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One of the most valuable benefits of the credit cards we carry is rental car coverage. First let’s take a step back and go over what this thing called Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is. Why do rental agencies keep trying to get us to pay for? Simply put, it’s extra insurance that will cover damages should you get into an accident. The best part…the cards in your wallet may already cover this.

Orlando International Airport – Photo: Atomic Taco via Flickr, used under Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

You also want to make sure that your card provides primary rental coverage so that you don’t have to use your own auto insurance policy to make a claim first.

Primary coverage is just one of the reasons why we love these cards:

  • Chase Sapphire cards (Both the Preferred and Reserve)
  • United Explorer Card
  • AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
  • Discover Escape
  • Fairmont Visa Signature Credit Card
  • Ink Plus Business Credit Card
  • Citi Thank you Premier (primary coverage only on rentals abroad)
  • American Express cards (you can purchase primary coverage for a fee)

Some exclusions to the coverage your card may provide include the rental of luxury autos (don’t expect the coverage to apply to the Ferrari you’re eyeing) and the country of rental (Ireland and Italy appear on many excluded lists).

Don’t expect these cars to be covered:

Orlando International Airport – Photo: Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos via Flickr, used under Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

Even if your card does provide CDW, it may be a good idea to go ahead and pay for the rental agency’s CDW. When we were in Italy we wanted to avoid ANY issues with the rental car so we opted in. We heard plenty of horror stories about being charged for the smallest of issues so we figured that we avoid this headache altogether. Good thing too, since we did scrape up the car a bit trying to navigate the smallest of streets in Tuscany. When we returned the car, the attendant saw the damage and noticed that we had CDW; he just waived us through as it nothing happened. All sorts of delays and paperwork, not to mention stress, were avoided.

To use your card for CDW coverage, decline the rental agency’s CDW and use your card to pay for the rental (you’ll need to be the primary renter). Check with your card to see if it’ll cover additional drivers as well.



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Comments (7)

  • HeavenlyJane 7 years ago Reply

    Be warned. With the Ink Plus Business Credit Card, you only get primary car rental insurance, if the rental was part of a business trip.

  • Jesse 7 years ago Reply

    You should also fully understand the difference between CDW / LDW and Liability. Most major credit cards will take the risk on a $20,000 car. They will not cover hospital bills and lawsuits. Your own liability may transfer but if you do not own a car, you should get the liability at the rental desk. It’s usually $10-14 per day and cannot be purchased online.

    Alexis Soule 7 years ago Reply

    My experience has been that most countries I have rented in have mandatory liability which is included in the cost of the rental. However, finding out how much liability is another story. Also, my insurance would not cover liability abroad. It is not clear to me if you can buy liability without the CDW.

  • Alan 7 years ago Reply

    So here is a question for you. I don’t own a car; therefore I do not have any auto insurance. It sounds like what you are saying is that if I use one of the listed Credit Cards, I don’t have to pay for ANY of the insurance offered? Or am I wrong in that understanding?

    Alan 7 years ago Reply

    Jesse’s comment (above) may provide the answer I was looking for. Thanks Jesse.

  • JL 7 years ago Reply

    For AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard, coverage is secondary in U.S., just like TY Premier.

  • SCOTT SMITH 5 years ago Reply

    You forgot Diner’s Card

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