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Don’t Pay Extra: Best Credit Cards for Car Rental Benefits in 2024
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Published in Car Rentals Category.

Car rental benefits from credit cards have become increasingly popular among frequent travelers. Many credit cards, especially those geared towards frequent travelers, include rental car benefits such as collision damage waivers, elite status, and elevated earning rates. These benefits can save you money at the rental counter and protect against damages if your car is lost or stolen.

Here's a Detailed Overview of the Car Rental Benefits Offered by Credit Cards

Collision Damage Waivers (CDW)

Some credit cards offer a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) when renting a car. These waivers can help cover the cost if the rental car gets damaged or stolen. But there are a few things you need to know:

The waiver usually comes into play after your regular car insurance pays its share.

It helps pay for damages to the rental car, but there are limits. For example, it might not cover certain types of vehicles, such as trucks or moving vans.

Some situations might not be covered, like if you're driving off-road or if you're under the influence of alcohol.

If you rent a car for a weekend trip, and unfortunately, you accidentally scrape it against a wall. The repair costs $1,500. Your regular car insurance covers $1,000, and then the CDW from your credit card kicks in to cover the remaining $500. Always check your credit card's CDW coverage before relying on it.

Elite Status and Elevated Earning Rates

Some special credit cards give you a VIP status in rental car loyalty programs. This means you get treated extra nicely, like skipping the line at the rental counter or getting a fancier car.

Also, these cards let you earn more rewards when you rent cars. For example, you might get two or three points instead of one point per dollar. This helps you rack up points or miles faster.

You rent a car for a business trip. With a regular card, you'd earn one point per dollar spent. But with a special card, you might earn three points per dollar. So if your rental costs $100, you'd earn 300 points instead of just 100. It's like getting a little bonus every time you rent a car!

Primary and Secondary Coverage

Secondary Coverage

Most credit cards provide secondary coverage for rental cars. This means that if you're in an accident with a rental car, your personal auto insurance needs to pay first. After your insurance is exhausted, the credit card covers any remaining costs.

Let's say you have an accident with a rental car, and the repair costs are $2,000. Your auto insurance covers $1,500 of it, leaving a remaining $500. The credit card's secondary coverage would cover the remaining $500 in this case.

Primary Coverage

Some credit cards offer primary coverage for rental cars. With primary coverage, the credit card's insurance pays first, so you don't have to involve your auto insurance.

For example, If you have an accident with a rental car and have a credit card with primary coverage, the credit card's insurance would cover the entire repair cost up to the policy limit. You wouldn't need to file a claim with your auto insurance.

Primary coverage can be advantageous because it spares you from potential rate hikes or deductibles on your personal auto insurance policy. However, not all credit cards offer primary coverage, and those may have specific terms and conditions.

Understanding whether your credit card offers primary or secondary coverage for rental cars is crucial before renting a car. It can save you money and hassle in case of an accident. Always check your credit card's terms and conditions or contact the issuer to know your coverage details.

Exclusions and Limitations of Credit Card Car Rental Insurance

Person-to-Person "Car-Sharing" Services: Many credit cards exclude coverage for person-to-person "car-sharing" services like Turo from their rental car insurance benefits. If you rent a car through such a service, you may not be covered by your credit card's insurance.

For example, you can rent a car through Turo for a weekend getaway. Unfortunately, you get into an accident. If your credit card excludes coverage for Turo, you might have to bear the repair costs yourself.

Lack of Liability and Medical Coverage: Credit cards typically do not provide liability or medical coverage as part of their car rental insurance benefits. They mainly offer coverage for loss or damage to the rented vehicle itself.

Suppose you cause an accident while driving a rental car, and the other party sues you for damages. Your credit card's insurance likely won't cover the liability expenses. Similarly, your credit card's insurance may not cover medical expenses if you or your passengers get injured in an accident.

Understanding these exclusions and limitations helps you make informed decisions when renting a car and relying on your credit card's insurance benefits. It prevents unpleasant surprises and ensures adequate coverage in case of an accident.

Best Credit Cards for Car Rental Insurance

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Best Overall: The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers robust benefits for rental cars, including primary rental car insurance coverage. This means you don't have to involve your auto insurance if you have an accident with a rental car.

Additionally, cardholders earn 3x points on travel (including car rentals) and dining worldwide, making it rewarding for frequent travelers. It also provides complimentary access to premium car rental programs like Avis, National, and Silvercar.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Best Low-Annual-Fee: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is an excellent choice for those seeking solid car rental benefits without a high annual fee.

While it offers similar rental car insurance coverage as the Sapphire Reserve, it has a lower annual fee. Cardholders earn 2x points on travel and dining, making it rewarding for travelers who rent cars occasionally but still want valuable benefits.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Best for Rental Car Elite Status: The Platinum Card from American Express offers premium benefits, including elite status in rental car loyalty programs like Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, and National Emerald Club Executive.

Cardholders also receive complimentary benefits like room upgrades and late checkout at select hotels, making it ideal for travelers who prioritize luxury and convenience.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Best for Luxury Travel Lovers: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card provides excellent benefits for luxury travelers, including car rental insurance coverage and access to premium car rental programs. Cardholders earn unlimited 10x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, making it rewarding for those who frequently rent luxury vehicles or stay at upscale hotels.

United Club Infinite Card

Best for Frequent United Airlines Flyers: The United Club Infinite Card offers primary car rental insurance coverage and accelerated United MileagePlus miles earning on United purchases, including car rentals. Cardholders also enjoy United Club membership and Premier Access travel benefits, making it a valuable choice for United Airlines loyalists who rent cars frequently.

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Best for Renting a Car for Business Purposes: The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is tailored for business owners who frequently rent cars for business trips. It offers primary car rental insurance coverage and earns 3x points on the first $150,000 spent annually on travel, including car rentals. Cardholders also benefit from other business perks like cell phone protection and employee cards at no additional cost.

Additional Tips and Considerations

  • If you have primary coverage through your credit card, you won't need to involve your personal auto insurance policy, so decline the additional insurance offered by the rental car company.
  • Understand the exclusions and limitations of your credit card's car rental insurance coverage, including any specific timeframes and excluded countries.
  • Not all car rentals are covered by a collision damage waiver, so check your credit card's fine print to ensure the type of car you're renting is included.

When choosing a credit card for car rental insurance, consider the type of coverage you need, the exclusions and limitations, and the additional benefits and perks the card offers.

How Credit Card Rental Car Coverage Works?

When you rent a car, the rental agency already has insurance for their vehicles. But if something happens to the car, like it gets damaged or stolen, they might charge you for the costs.

Usually, the rental agency offers you something called a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), which acts like insurance. If you buy the CDW, you're not responsible for the damage or theft.

Now, credit cards offer their own version of this coverage. Instead of buying the CDW from the rental agency, you can use your credit card to pay for the rental and get coverage from them instead.

To use your credit card's coverage, just use that card to book and pay for the rental, and say no to the CDW when they offer it to you.

Most people can say no to the CDW even if they don't have coverage from their credit card. That's because their regular car insurance usually covers them when they're in a rented car. But if something happens, they might have to pay a deductible and their insurance rates could go up. That's why having a credit card with "primary" rental car coverage is so helpful.

For example, you rent a car for a weekend trip. You use your credit card to pay for it and decline the CDW. During the trip, you accidentally scratch the car. Since you used your credit card with rental car coverage, they might cover the damage costs for you. This saves you from paying out of pocket or dealing with your regular insurance.


Choosing the right credit card for car rental benefits can indeed enhance your travel experience and offer crucial protection in emergencies. Whether you prioritize primary insurance coverage, rewards accumulation, or luxury travel perks, there's a credit card option tailored to your needs in 2024. Take the time to assess your travel habits and preferences carefully to select the card that aligns best with your priorities. Start enjoying the benefits on your next adventure today!

If you need urgent assistance in selecting the best credit card for your car rental needs, don't hesitate to reach out to Finalrentals. Our dedicated team is always here to provide expert guidance and support to ensure you make the right choice for your travel plans.