The Top 6 Credit Cards to Use When Renting a Car

Paying for a rental car with the right kind of plastic can spare you insurance costs -- including future rate hikes.

The Top 6 Credit Cards to Use When Renting a Car Photo by pathdoc / Shutterstock.com

Be mindful of which piece of plastic you pull out when renting a car.

Should you get into a fender bender or worse, the right credit card can spare you costs associated with the accident. It can even keep you from having to file a claim with your insurance company, thereby avoiding potential future premium hikes.

Credit credits that offer rental-car insurance provide one of two types of coverage: primary insurance or secondary insurance.

CreditCards.com reports that it’s best to pay for a rental car with a credit card that offers primary coverage. Such coverage will serve as your primary insurance coverage if you get into an accident while driving the rental car.

By contrast, secondary coverage only pays for accident costs your own auto insurer doesn’t cover. So, if you use a card with secondary coverage, you still will have to file a claim with your auto insurer before the credit card’s secondary insurance covers anything. And filing a claim with your auto insurer may lead to an increase in your rates.

The best credit cards for rental insurance

More credit cards are offering primary insurance for rental cars. CreditCards.com reports that they include:

  1. Chase Sapphire Preferred
  2. Chase Sapphire Reserve
  3. United MileagePlus Explorer
  4. United MileagePlus Club
  5. Ritz-Carlton Visa Infinite
  6. J.P. Morgan Reserve

If you’re in the market for new plastic, check out Money Talks News’ free credit card search tool.

How to take advantage of a credit card’s rental insurance

Having a credit card that offers the perk of primary insurance coverage for rental cars is only the first of several steps necessary to take advantage of that perk.

CreditCards.com advises that you must also:

  • Decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver (CDW/LDW).
  • Be the primary renter of the car.
  • Pay for the car in full with the card that provides the protection.

To learn about similar perks, check out “15 Valuable Travel Credit Card Benefits You Might Be Ignoring.”

Have you ever used a credit card perk like insurance coverage? 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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