The Best Credit Cards for Insuring Your Rental Car

How you pay for a rental car directly affects whether you end up wasting or saving hundreds of dollars, if not more. So choose your plastic wisely.

The Best Credit Cards for Insuring Your Rental Car Photo by Bacho /

This is a savvy shopper’s refrain you’ll hear a lot around here: If you always pay off your credit card bill in full each month — thus avoiding interest charges — you should choose a card that offers the best rewards for you.

That often means cash back or perhaps frequent-flyer miles, but credit cards offer a host of benefits we tend to forget about.

Case in point: “15 Valuable Travel Credit Card Benefits You Might Be Ignoring.” One example from that article is rental car insurance — something plenty of travelers pay money for when they might already have it for free:

“[R]ental car coverage is one of the most common perks offered by credit cards. Many cards include collision coverage, theft coverage and even towing coverage if you pay for the rental with the card.”

The best credit cards for rental car insurance

So with summer travel season underway, which credit card is best to use when renting a vehicle? WalletHub recently set out to answer that question.

To do so, WalletHub analyzed 52 options based on various factors pertaining to insurance coverage for rental cars. For example, those factors include:

  • The amount of coverage. (The best cards offer as much as $100,000.)
  • Which types of vehicles are covered. (The best cards cover even off-road vehicles.)
  • How many days of coverage the cardholder gets. (The best cards cover you for as many as 31 days.)
  • In how many countries coverage is available. (The best cards cover you in all countries — a perk offered by Citi, Chase and Discover cards.)

Based on this analysis, the best personal credit cards for rental insurance coverage are all cards within the following categories:

  1. Citi cards: Earned a total score 95.5 percent
  2. Chase cards: 91 percent
  3. Barclaycard cards: 88.5 percent
  4. USAA cards: 88.5 percent
  5. Capital One World Elite MasterCard cards: 88.5 percent
  6. Wells Fargo Visa cards: 87.5 percent
  7. Capital One Visa cards: 87.5 percent
  8. American Express cards: 84.5 percent
  9. U.S. Bank American Express cards: 84 percent
  10. Discover cards: 83 percent

The best business credit cards for rental insurance coverage are all of those from Chase, which earned a total score of 91 percent.

Squeezing the most value out of credit card perks

When deciding how to pay for a rental car, your first move should be to determine whether your own auto insurance policy covers you when you drive a rental car. Also, learn the extent of coverage.

There is no point in choosing a credit card primarily because it provides great rental insurance coverage if your own policy already provides that.

If your car insurance policy excludes rentals, it’s time to look to your credit card. Find out exactly what it covers so you can determine whether to decline a rental car company’s supplemental insurance policy. WalletHub explains:

“Policies generally cover cardholders in the event of damage to or theft of a rental car. But you have to decline a rental company’s supplemental insurance policy for it to work. So you need to know that this perk exists, for starters, and what kind of coverage your credit card provides to take advantage of it.”

If your credit card doesn’t offer rental insurance coverage, consider other cards. You can compare credit cards based on their rewards, including cash back and travel rewards, in the Money Talks News Solutions Center.

To learn more about credit card perks for rentals, check out:

Have you ever taken advantage of insurance provided by a credit card? Tell us about your experience below or on our Facebook page.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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