Using Your Credit Card for Free Rental Car Insurance

According to CardHub [], you can save some serious money by using your credit card’s built-in insurance plan, instead of paying for separate insurance at the car rental company.

But before you rent another car, you may want to take a look at the current rules for this. Cardhub’s “2015 Credit Card Rental Car Insurance Study” provides some simple facts to help you decide and lower your risks.

Although you can often finds deals on rental cars for below $25 a day, that can easily double with supplimental insurance at the car company. On the other hand, many people wonder if that “free” car insurance that comes with a major credit card is really going to protect you, should you get in an accident.

Here the facts: it’s true you can get coverage through your credit card when you use it on a rental car. But you need to pay attention here.

Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express all provide some type of complimentary rental-car insurance. MasterCard is the only network that does not offer car-rental insurance coverage on all of its cards. (See below)

All of the above mentioned Credit Cards have some general eligibility rules.

  • It is required that you charge the entire rental on the credit card.
  • You must decline the rental-car company’s supplemental liability insurance and collision damage waivers.
  • Only the cardholder is covered to drive the car. There can be no other drivers in order to have coverage.
  • None of the four will provide coverage on the rental of exotic, expensive or antique cars; vans; trucks; pickups; motorcycles; or recreational and off-road vehicles.
  • Country limitations are common, so double check with your card provider before renting a car internationally.

American Express

AmEx got the highest score (90%) in the CardHub study, but there are still a few caveats. American Express is the only card not providing coverage for the rental of some SUVs including Chevrolet’s Suburban and Tahoe, GMC’s Yukon, the Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, Toyota Land Cruiser, Lexus LX450, Range Rover and the full-sized Ford Bronco. Coverage lasts up to 30 days. File a claim by calling 1-800-338-1670 or filling out a form online.

Coverage lasts up to 31 days. There are country exclusions for Escape cards but no country exclusions for the rest of Discover’s cards. It is the only one of the four credit cards that does not cover loss of use (fees a rental-car company can charge you if a car you’ve rented is out of commission while it’s being repaired). File a claim by calling 1-800-347-2683

Coverage lasts up to 15 days for rentals in your country of residence and up to 31 days outside your country of residence (except where country exclusions apply). Visa does not cover accidents on dirt and gravel roads. Damage to tires and rims are not covered. File a claim by calling 1-800-847-2911 or online.

Only MasterCard “World Cards” are eligible for coverage. Coverage lasts up to 15 days for World Cards and up to 31 days for World Elite cards. MasterCard will only cover accidents on dirt and gravel roads if they are regularly maintained. Call 1-800-622-7747 to file a claim.

It would be wise to call your insurance company and ask if you are covered. CardHub suggests renting a car of similar value to your own car, if you have one, to improve the odds that your existing coverage will suffice. Then call your credit-card network and ask what limitations may apply to your particular rental.
Always check the terms and conditions and read that fine print.

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