Credit card coverages can save you some money!
After checking to see what, if any coverages you have from your personal car insurance, check to see if any of your credit cards offer credit card car rental insurance.
Some credit cards will cover damage or theft to your rental car. The car rental insurance
coverage type and amounts will vary depending on the credit card issuer, so you should check carefully to see if you would be covered adequately for the rental that you are looking to take.
Who Offers Credit Card Car Rental Insurance?
There are five credit cards that come with a rental car loss and damage insurance plan. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover and Diners Club.
It's important to know that with regards to rental insurance coverage, credit card companies' policies can be very different in regards to who's covered, at what level, in which vehicles and where.
Note:You do not have car rental insurance coverage just by being a cardholder; you must use the credit card to rent and pay for the vehicle and decline any coverage offered by the car rental companies.
Some credit card car rental insurance plans cover accidents only if the cardholder is driving, not the cardholder's spouse!
Credit Cards.com has a great basic overview of credit card car rental insurance coverage.
You can also check Wikipedia's article on Damage Waivers and CC Coverages for more info.
But remember that before you rent a car, it is best that you call your issuing bank to get information on the specific details of your particular credit card's individual policy plan.
While car rental insurance coverage from your credit card may replace the need to purchase CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) and LDW (Loss Damage Waiver) offered at the car rental counter, check with your card issuer to see what kind of vehicles are covered. Credit card coverages can vary from card to card, and it can also vary based on the issuing bank or credit company that issues the card as well.
Make sure to check to see if coverage on tires (think flat tires, or a blown tire) would be included.
Check to see if the credit card car rental insurance would be considered primary or secondary. For some companies, its’ coverage becomes primary only if you don’t have any personal collision insurance of your own, or would only kick in after you had exhausted the limits of your personal coverage.
For example, let's say your personal auto insurance covered you for damages to a rental car up to $5000. If the damages were more and your credit card provided coverage as well, it would only cover the amount NOT covered under your personal coverage.
Most issuers do not provide credit card coverages for more expensive rentals, or specialty vehicles. It is necessary to call them, or check your credit card benefits package, to see which rental vehicles they cover. Usually they provide coverage for cars and exclude more expensive rentals such as sport utility vehicles (SUV's), luxury cars, exotic cars and vans. Also, keep this restriction in mind if you are offered a free upgrade to a specialty vehicle if your preferred car group is sold out... keep your credit card coverage and it's restrictions in mind before you accept... if your card will not cover you for that type of vehicle, you may wish to look at another option, such as purchasing CDW from the rental company.
Coverages may also not extend to long-term rentals (rentals of more than 30 days) or rentals in a country other than the one in which you live. This restriction is especially important to determine if you are renting while on vacation in another country. You certainly don't want any surprises! Keep in mind also, that most credit card coverages have a stipulation that you must refuse coverage from the rental company... but many international rentals have bundled rates which may "include" insurance. Know your particular credit cards policies with regards to rates which already include coverage.
One other thing to check for, or to keep in mind, is that credit card car rental insurance coverage may be a reimbursement type coverage. This meaning that any expenses you incur, due to loss or damage of the rental car, will have to be paid by you up front. This includes the deductible, if your own personal automobile insurance is used for primary coverage. Only after all expenses are paid, will you then be able to submit a claim for reimbursement from your credit card. You should make sure to check this policy.
Some card issuers specify that you must rent from certain rental companies. Make sure to check this requirement before you reserve your car.
Do your research about credit card coverages before you get to the rental counter!