ADVERTISER DISCLOSURE

Which Credit Card Offers Good Rental Car Insurance?

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here's how we make money.
Which Credit Card Offers Good Rental Car Insurance?

Let’s face it: Traveling involves a lot of expense. But the good news is that, with the right credit card offer, some of those costs can be minimized.

For example, there are major credit cards out there that provide excellent rental car insurance coverage. This means you don’t have to worry about buying the supplemental policy offered by the rental car agency.

Take a look at the details below for important information about credit card rental car insurance, including the best credit cards to apply for.

Primary vs. secondary rental car insurance

One important distinction to make when you’re thinking about renting a car is primary vs. secondary coverage. Remember, your normal auto insurance will usually cover you on rented vehicles, but a supplemental secondary policy will help fill in some gaps. Most credit cards automatically provide secondary coverage when you rent a vehicle with your plastic; between your regular policy and the secondary policy, your out-of-pocket costs could be minimized in the event of a crash.

On the other hand, primary rental car insurance can effectively take the place of your regular auto insurance policy. For some people, this is preferable because it may prevent rates from going up if you’re in an accident while you’re driving a borrowed car.

Before you move forward with renting a car, it’s important to fully understand what your usual car insurance covers and what your credit card covers. And no matter which type of rental insurance your card offers, it’s important to decline the coverage offered by the rental car agency. Otherwise, your card’s policy might not kick in.

Nerd note: Remember, it’s likely that not all types of vehicles will be covered under your credit card’s policy; one common, notable exclusion is multi-passenger vans. For more details about getting rental car insurance with your credit card – including additional exclusions, coverage types and other stuff you probably want to know – check out this NerdWallet resource. Or contact your issuer directly.

Credit cards that offer free primary insurance

If the idea of getting primary rental car insurance with your credit card is appealing, here are two great cards that offer it for free:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Apply Now

on Chase's
secure website

If you consider yourself a globetrotter, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card might just be the card for you. With it, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel and travel and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Usually, points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are worth $.01 each, but if you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, their value goes up by 25%.

You’ll also have the option to transfer your points to participating frequent traveler programs at a 1:1 ratio. This provides a lot of flexibility for folks who don’t want to be stuck with just one frequent flyer program.

In terms of the rental car insurance, all you have to do is decline the coverage offered by the rental car agency and book the borrowed vehicle with your card. You’ll then automatically have primary rental car insurance that will cover the cash value of the car if you experience a collision or theft.

If your travels take you overseas, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a good choice. It charges no foreign transaction fees and comes chip enabled.

Also, the card comes with a stellar signup bonus: earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening It charges an Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95, but most travel buffs will get enough value out of the card’s perks to justify this expense.

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card
Apply Now

on Chase's
secure website

Loyal United flyers should all think about keeping the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card close at hand. With it, you’ll earn 2 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent on United tickets and 1 MileagePlus mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. You’ll also get a bevy of other perks, including a free checked bag for you and a travel companion on every United flight, priority boarding, and access to the United Club.

As with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the rental car insurance provided with the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card is contingent on you declining the insurance offered by the rental car agency. You’ll also have to book the rental car with the card; when you do these two things, you’ll be covered for the cash value of your rental car if you end up in a collision or the victim of theft.

The United MileagePlus® Explorer Card also provides a signup bonus: Start with 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. In terms of fees, it charges no foreign transaction fee and an $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

A good choice for secondary insurance

Barclays Arrival Plus Credit Card
Apply Now

on Barclays's
secure website

Free primary rental car insurance is ideal, but it’s hard to come by. If neither of the cards above sound ideal and you think secondary rental car insurance will be sufficient, consider the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. With it, you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend. Miles are worth $.01 each, but since you’ll get 10% of them back when you redeem for travel, you’re getting an effective rewards rate of 2.2%.

Speaking of redeeming rewards, it couldn’t be easier with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. You’ll simply book your travel as you normally would, then go online and pay yourself back with your miles in the form of a statement credit. This provides a lot of flexibility because you’re not wedded to one airline or hotel chain.

Because most Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® cards are World or World Elite MasterCards, you’ll automatically get secondary rental car insurance with it. Again, be sure to decline the insurance offered by the rental car agency and book the car with your card to be eligible for this coverage.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is also a good choice for international travel. It comes chip-enabled with PIN capability and charges no foreign transaction fees.

Also, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® comes with a signup bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. Its annual fee is $89 - Waived first year. Enjoy the open road!

Image via iStock.

 

We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines, and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet's official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.