The 7 Best Credit Cards for Rental Car Insurance

INSURANCE - TRAVEL INSURANCE
The right credit card rental car insurance coverage can save you big time if something goes wrong on a trip.
Updated May 13, 2024
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A row of rental cars

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Our top picks for credit cards with rental car insurance include the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which provides secondary coverage and is a $0-annual-fee credit card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which has a $95 annual fee and primary rental car coverage, and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, which has a $395 annual fee, primary coverage, and travel perks like airport lounge access.1

We also have two business credit cards on our list — the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.

Regardless of which card you choose, there are some limitations to be aware of. Here’s everything you need to know about credit card car rental coverage.

In this article

Key Takeaways

  • Primary car rental insurance coverage pays instead of your insurance for the areas it covers. It typically doesn’t cover liability.
  • Many travel rewards credit cards with car rental coverage also have other travel perks.
  • Carefully review the details of your coverage before you rent a vehicle.

The 7 best credit cards for car rental insurance

  1. Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  2. Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
  3. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  4. Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
  5. Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
  6. Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  7. The Platinum Card® from American Express

Compare the best credit cards with car rental insurance

Credit card Annual fee Rental car policy

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

4.7

$0 Secondary coverage

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

4.8

$0 Secondary coverage

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

4.9

$95 Primary coverage

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

4.8

$95 Secondary coverage

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

4.9

$395 Primary coverage

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

5.0

$550 Primary coverage

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

5.0

$695 (Terms apply) Secondary coverage

Primary vs. secondary rental car coverage

Some credit cards offer primary rental car coverage, while others offer secondary rental car coverage. If you value robust auto rental insurance, opt for a credit card offering primary coverage. This means it becomes your main coverage if a claim is filed without involving your personal auto insurance.

Secondary coverage requires you to first file a claim with your primary insurer, and then the card’s protection covers your deductible and any uncovered costs.

But whichever card you choose, remember that you’ll need to decline the coverage offered by the car rental company and typically charge the entire rental cost to your card.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Rental car coverage: Secondary

Annual fee: $0

Other travel perks:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Travel and emergency assistance

While the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers secondary coverage, it does have a $0 annual fee. It also has great benefits, including 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Apply now for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® | Read our Chase Freedom Unlimited review

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Rental car coverage: Primary for business purposes, secondary for personal rentals

Annual fee: $0

Other travel perks:

  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • Roadside dispatch

The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card provides primary coverage up to the actual cash value of the vehicle, as long as you’re using the rental car for business purposes or you’re traveling internationally. If you’re traveling for pleasure within the U.S., coverage is secondary.

It also has a simple rewards rate — unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. It does have foreign transaction fees, however, so it may not be the best choice for car rentals overseas.

Apply now for the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card | Go to our Ink Business Unlimited review

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Rental car coverage: Primary

Annual fee: $95

Other travel perks:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Travel and emergency assistance

The Chase Sapphire Preferred’s primary coverage offers up to the actual cash value of the rental vehicle, which is the fair market value of the car according to sources like the Kelley Blue Book and National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Guides.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases. Your points are worth 25% more if you redeem them through the Chase travel portal.

You can also earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Apply now for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card | Learn more at our Chase Sapphire Preferred review.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Rental car coverage: Primary for business use, secondary for personal use

Annual fee: $95

Other travel perks:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Roadside dispatch

The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card offers primary coverage up to the actual cash value of the vehicle — but only if you’re using the rental for business purposes or you’re traveling abroad. Personal use within the U.S. gets secondary coverage.

With the Ink Business Preferred card, you earn 3X points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year; and 1X points per $1 on all other purchases.

You also earn 100k bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Apply now for the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card | Take a look at our Ink Business Preferred review

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Rental car coverage: Primary

Annual fee: $395

Other travel perks:

  • Hertz President’s Circle status2
  • Capital One Lounge access
  • Priority Pass and Plaza Premium Group lounge access
  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

The Capital One Venture X Visa Infinite card is a luxury travel card with travel benefits to match. In addition to having primary rental car coverage, it also offers Hertz President’s Circle status2, which includes guaranteed upgrades and a free additional driver.

The also has a high earnings rate — 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel, and 5 miles per dollar on Capital One Entertainment purchases through 12/31/25.

Learn more in our Capital One Venture X review

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Rental car coverage: Primary

Annual fee: $550

Other travel perks:

  • Status with National and Avis
  • $300 in statement credits for travel purchases
  • Priority Pass Select for airport lounge access
  • Statement credit of up to $100 every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Emergency evacuation and transportation coverage

Another luxury travel card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve also has a host of benefits. It also has an impressive earnings rate of 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases. Your points are worth 50% more if you redeem them through the Chase travel portal.

Apply now for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® | Check out our Chase Sapphire Reserve review.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Rental car coverage: Secondary3

Annual fee: $695 (Terms apply)

Other travel perks:

  • Status with Hertz, National, and Avis
  • Global Lounge Collection airport lounge access
  • $200 airline fee credit
  • Statement credit of up to $100 every 4.5 years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (five year plan only)
  • Global Assist hotline4
  • Trip delay insurance5
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance6
  • Certain benefits require enrollment

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers up to $75,000 in secondary coverage to its cardholders, which is higher than the $50,000 limit you’d get with many other Amex cards. If your rental car is damaged or stolen, this can cover the actual cost to repair the vehicle, loss of use charges, appraisal fees, and towing and storage costs. Coverage is not available for vehicles rented in Autstralia, Italy, and New Zealand.

While the card doesn’t offer primary coverage, Amex cardholders can purchase primary insurance from Amex for up to 42 consecutive days for $19.95 or $24.95 per rental period. Compare that with an average of $20 to $30 per day that you’d pay the rental car company.

In addition to rental car insurance, the Platinum Card from American Express also offers complimentary premium membership with Avis, Hertz, and National, which includes special upgrades and discounts.

Apply now for The Platinum Card® from American Express | Check out The Platinum Card from American Express review

What to look for in your credit card’s rental car insurance

The first thing to know about credit card rental car coverage is that it typically only provides a collision damage waiver (CDW), sometimes also called a loss damage waiver (LDW). This coverage can protect you if the car gets damaged, vandalized, or stolen during the rental period.

It doesn’t, however, provide liability insurance, which would protect you if you cause an accident and damage the other vehicle or injure other people in the process. As a result, adding that coverage may be worth considering for peace of mind.

As you consider the best cards, here are some other features to look for and compare:

  • Coverage limits: Each rental auto insurance policy has a limit for how much it will cover, and some cards offer a higher dollar amount than others.
  • Exclusions: Most credit card benefits exclude certain types of vehicles from coverage, such as exotic cars, motorcycles, and large vans. You may also find that your card won’t cover you in certain countries. For example, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, New Zealand, and Australia are often excluded.
  • Length of coverage: Your credit card won’t cover a rental indefinitely, so it’s important to know just how long you’ll be covered, which can vary depending on if you’re traveling in the U.S. or overseas.

Which credit card has the best car rental insurance?

Rental car insurance is a benefit you can get with plenty of credit cards, so it’s easy to overlook just how valuable this perk can be. While cards that offer primary coverage are the gold standard, you can still save money on your trip by using a card with secondary coverage.

Whatever you do, make sure to read your benefits guide before you book your rental car to understand what’s covered and what isn’t. And if you have an American Express card, consider taking advantage of the credit card company's affordable premium rental car protection. It’s not free, but it will save you a lot compared with what car rental companies charge and may come in handy for longer rentals.

But as you’re searching for the right card, avoid basing your decision on one feature alone. Compare each credit card based on its full rewards and benefits package.

Compare Travel Credit Cards

The right travel card for you is the one that matches your interests and spending habits, allowing you to earn valuable rewards and travel the way you like — for less. Learn more about these top cards and choose what's best for you.

»Compare Travel Credit Cards

Car rental and credit cards FAQ

Do all credit cards cover car rental insurance?

Not all credit cards cover car rental insurance, so don’t assume you’re covered just because you paid with a credit card. However, there are plenty of cards that do indeed provide rental insurance benefits. Generally, you'll find that the best travel credit cards have the most robust policies, but many cashback credit cards will cover rental insurance as well.

Do I need to buy additional insurance when renting a car?

If you have a credit card that provides a collision and loss damage waiver and you pay for the rental with that card, you may be able to skip purchasing additional insurance at the rental counter. That’s because your regular car insurance will typically provide you with liability coverage for rental cars.

If you don’t have car insurance or have low coverage limits and you’re not using a credit card with rental insurance benefits, it’s a good idea to buy insurance at the rental counter.

Can I pay for a car rental with points and still have rental coverage?

The answer to this question depends on which credit card you use. Some credit cards only provide rental coverage when you use your credit card to pay for the transaction, while others provide coverage even when you pay with points.

For example, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, you’ll be covered as long as you book your rental car with your card or with points through the Chase Travel℠ portal.

How much available credit do I need to rent a car?

To rent a car, you’ll need to use a credit card with enough available credit to cover the rental car company’s authorization charge in addition to the total cost of your rental car. Typically, rental car companies will place a hold on your credit card to cover any additional charges that might come up with your rental.

These funds become unavailable to you during your rental and are released when you return the car. The charge varies by rental company: Hertz charges $200 on your card, while Enterprise charges a deposit that varies by location.

How can I save money on a rental car?

Start by finding the best rate for your car rental by using a comparison site such as Autoslash which distinguishes itself from typical travel sites such as Expedia by its focus on the various ways you might qualify for discounts.

Rental agency loyalty programs are also a great way to earn points and save money on car rentals. For example, the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program lets you earn and redeem points for free rental days and also provides additional perks.

Additionally, you can use a travel rewards card that earns points on car rentals, so you’ll be able to get cash back or even pay for a future rental with points. Some cards even offer complimentary premium memberships at certain car rental companies. For example, the Amex Platinum gets you free access to premium loyalty programs at Hertz, Avis, and National (enrollment is required for these benefits.)

Best credit cards for rental cars: bottom line

A credit card’s rental car insurance can save you a significant amount of money. That’s just one feature to consider, however. Be sure to consider other features like rewards points or bonus miles, travel insurance, and the annual fee to decide whether a card is a good fit for you.

Methodology

To determine the best credit cards for car rental insurance, we looked at several key features. First, we checked the amount of rental car coverage you receive with each card. Then, we looked at what the coverage doesn’t cover. We also considered how long the insurance lasts.

We also considered whether the rental car coverage you receive is primary or secondary. Lastly, we looked at card features, including annual fees and other travel benefits. We didn’t look at every card available. Instead, we focused on a select group of cards that we deemed most relevant and beneficial for car rental insurance.

Great for Flexible Travel Rewards

4.9

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Current Offer

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Rewards Rate

5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Ben Luthi Ben is a personal finance and travel writer who loves helping people achieve their money goals. Along with FinanceBuzz, his writing has also been featured on U.S. News, NerdWallet, Experian, Credit Karma, and more.

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