Rental Car Insurance: 2017’s Best Credit Card Coverage
When most people think of credit-card perks, their minds turn to rewards, low interest rates and convenience. But credit cards have a number of other basic benefits that help cardholders save money and avoid hassle. Rental car insurance is a great example.
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.
Credit card rental car insurance policies are mostly driven by the card networks: Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. But individual credit card companies determine the specifics of the coverage that customers receive.
So to help you maximize your savings and security, WalletHub compared each major credit card company’s rental car insurance policy. Based on this analysis, we then selected the best credit cards for rental car insurance, out of 52 total offers. You can find the results below.
Business credit cards seem to offer similar benefits. However, business cards seem to have policy details slightly enhanced (e.g. covering 31 days instead of 15 days rentals) and a few cards even offer the policy as primary coverage instead of secondary.
We recommend taking the following steps to minimize the cost and liability associated with renting a car. Be safe out there!
Call your insurance company to see if rentals are covered under your standard policy. Older policies may not offer this coverage.
Call your credit card company to ask if any limitations apply to your card’s coverage, relative to your rental plans.
Double-check with long-term rentals. They might not be covered by your auto insurance policy, due to time limits.
Decide whether to mix business with pleasure. Your personal auto policy – if it even covers rentals – only applies when the vehicle is used for personal use. So if you’re traveling for business check what other options are available for you.
Get a rental like your everyday ride. Your personal auto insurance is more likely to cover your rental if you get a vehicle of similar value to your own car.
Ask about adding an insurance rider (for a small fee) if your policy doesn’t cover a certain type of rental car.
Consider a non-owner auto insurance policy if you don’t have a car but drive from time to time.
Make a plan before you hit the rental counter. You may want to accept a rental company’s liability insurance and collision damage waiver if you don’t have personal auto insurance and your credit card won’t give you enough coverage. In any case, you want to make an informed decision, not one based on panic at check-out.
Credit-card rental car insurance policies were previously evaluated at the network level, but we decided to examine coverage at the card level in 2016 after discovering discrepancies among offers on the same network and/or issued by the same company. Where no policy differences existed, cards were grouped by issuer or network for the sake of simplicity.
WalletHub reviewed the publicly available online car rental policies of all the credit cards currently being offered by the 10 largest issuers, excluding student and co-branded offers, and collected the information needed to answer the following questions: 1) What vehicles are excluded?; 2) What other exclusions do the policies have?; 3) What is the quality of the coverage?; 4) How does one activate the benefit?; 5) How should claims be filed?; and 6) How easy it is to obtain complete policy information?
Where policies were unclear, we contacted the issuers directly and requested clarification. All issuers responded to our questions and confirmed the accuracy of our data.
Each card’s policy was scored using the following criteria:
1) What vehicles are excluded? – Worth 25% total A. Vehicles excluded – Worth 20%
If no exclusions apply - 20%
If regular exclusions apply (i.e. exotic, expensive, or antique cars; trucks; vehicles with open beds; and large vans) - 15%
If SUVs are not covered - 10%
If there is a large number of exclusions - No points
B. Clarity on exclusions – Worth 5%
If a full definition of excluded cars is provided (i.e. value and characteristics) - 5%
If a partial definitions of excluded cars is provided (i.e. just value or just characteristics) - 2.5%
If no description of excluded cars is provided - No points
2) What exclusions do the policies have? – Worth 25% Total A. Coverage Duration – Worth 15%
If the coverage duration is for 30 days and above - 15%
If the coverage duration is between 20 - 29 days - 12%
If the coverage duration is between 19 - 10 days - 9%
If the coverage duration is between 10 - 5 days - 3%
If the coverage duration is under 5 days - No points
*If a card provides 2 types of coverage, we averaged the 2
B. Road Type Exclusions – Worth 5%
If Dirt and gravel roads are covered - 5%
If Dirt and gravel roads are partially covered - 3%
If Dirt and Gravel roads are not covered - No points
C. Country Exclusions – Worth 5%
No country excluded - 5%
Up to 2 countries excluded - 4%
Up to 4 countries excluded - 3%
Up to 6 countries excluded - 2%
Up to 8 countries excluded - 1%
Over 8 countries excluded - No points
3) What is the quality of the coverage? – Worth 30% Total A. Loss Of Use and Deductible on Your Auto Insurance – Worth 20%
If loss of use is covered - 20%
If the deductible portion on your auto insurance policy is covered - 12%
If the deductible from your auto insurance and loss of use not covered - No points
B. Towing Expenses – Worth 5%
If towing is covered - 5%
If towing is not covered - No points
C. Damage to tires and rims – Worth 5%
If damage to tires and rims is always covered - 5%
If damage to tires and rims is covered only when the result of theft, vandalism or vehicle collision - 2.5%
If damage to tires and rims is not covered - No points
4) How does one activate the benefit? – Worth 5%
If activation is standard (cardholders charge the entire rental car purchase on their credit card and decline supplemental insurance/Collision Damage Waivers (CDW) offered by the rental company) - 5%
If activation is more complex than the standard - No points
5) How should claims be filed? – Worth 5%
If filing a claim requires standard documentation ( i.e. a copy of the accident, a signed claim form, a rental agreement, an itemized bill and a receipt or statement showing to which card the rental was charged to) - 5%
If claims require up to 2 documents on top of the standard documentation - 3%
If claims require 3 or more documents on top of on top of the additional documentation - No points
6) How easy it is to obtain complete information about the policy? – Worth 10% A. How easily can one find the info? - Worth 3%
Information is prominent within card landing page - 3%
Information is not prominent within card landing page; or it is prominent but users need to log in to see the full disclosure - 1.5%
Information cannot be easily found on website - No points
B. How easy it is to read the info? - Worth 1%
Information is presented in normal size font - 1%
Information is in small size font - No points
C. How complete are the policies provided? - Worth 4%
Full policy provided - 4%
Part of policy provided - 2%
Benefits briefly described - 0.5%
No key details provided - No points
D. How open and transparent are issuers about the policies? - Worth 2%
Transparent about policies - 2%
Not transparent about policies - No points
The card with the most accumulated points received the highest score. The maximum number of points is 100%.