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Car rental coverage has become a wildly popular perk of travel rewards credit cards in recent years. But if you open your wallet with a “pick a card, any card” strategy at the car rental counter, you’re doing it wrong. Not all rental car coverage benefits are created equal. In fact, when you read the fine print, one card in particular stands out.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides primary auto rental collision damage waiver coverage. Use this card to pay for your rental car, and you’ll be reimbursed up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage in the U.S. and abroad.
It reimburses for more than the Sapphire Preferred
In comparison, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s coverage is secondary and limited to the “actual cash value” of the car. So if the car is worth $20,000 but the rental company says the damage is $22,000 (including its loss-of-use, towing and administrative fees), you could be on the hook for the difference.
It has primary coverage
The Chase Sapphire Reserve®'s coverage is primary, not secondary. That means it kicks in before your own personal auto insurance policy. Secondary coverage, which is common among many other cards, kicks in after your own insurance.
Drivers other than the cardholder are also covered, as long as they’re permitted by your car rental agency agreement.
But not everything is covered
Chase’s coverage does not include personal injury (you generally won't find a credit card that does), and there are terms you’ll want to be aware of before you rent. For example, you have to decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver. Failure to do so cancels this Chase card benefit.
Also, coverage doesn’t apply to vehicles rented for longer than 31 days. And damage or theft must be reported to the benefit administrator within 60 days of the incident.
It offers other perks
Chase Sapphire Reserve® holders also enjoy some elite car rental benefits.
For example, you have a chance to get discounts on cars rented from Avis, National or Silvercar if you take advantage of partner perks for members, which you can learn about under the “Special Car Rental Privileges” section of the Travel Benefits page after logging in to your Chase account.
A few other perks provide some peace of mind for cardmembers on the go. You'll get up to $1 million in accidental death and dismemberment coverage for air, bus, train or cruise travel.
You also get up to $3,000 per passenger worth of lost luggage protection. The travel and emergency assistance can come in handy if you’re out of town and encounter a major or minor catastrophe.
The bottom line
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is famous for a lot more than insurance coverage. This card earns 3 points per $1 on travel and dining purchases worldwide and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.
There’s a $300 annual travel credit that can offset part of the $550 annual fee. You can redeem your points for travel directly with Chase, where you’ll get a 50% boost in the value of those points. Or you can transfer your Chase points to airlines and hotel rewards programs, like United MileagePlus or World of Hyatt.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best travel credit card for you Do rental car companies charge you to earn partner airline bonus points? 6 things to do when you get a Chase Sapphire Reserve card