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As car manufacturers ramp up production of electric vehicles, rental car companies like Hertz are joining the revolution. In 2021, the car rental company ordered 100,000 Tesla Model 3 vehicles for travelers who want to rent an electric car.
Now that EV car rentals are a thing, it raises a question many haven't considered before: Does my credit card cover rental car insurance for EVs? Unfortunately, some credit card rental car insurance policies explicitly exclude Tesla rentals. However, the answer is a bit more complicated for other types of EV car rentals.
Here's what you need to know about credit card insurance coverage on EV rentals.
Accessing credit card rental car insurance
Travel credit cards can be a great way of getting rental car insurance for no extra cost. Several premium travel credit cards automatically cover car rental damage and theft for cardholders.
Generally, all you need to do to get this insurance is use the card to pay for the rental and decline the rental car company's paid collision damage waiver (or CDW) offers.
Examples of travel card rental car insurance
Depending on the card, you may be covered for up to a certain amount in losses and damages to your rental car. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides primary coverage of up to $75,000 in theft and damages.
The Platinum Card® from American Express also covers up to $75,000 in damages. However, this coverage is secondary. So, you'll need to file with your car insurance company first before filing with AmEx to recover any additional losses. Ditto with the American Express® Gold Card, but the coverage cap is $50,000 on this card. Terms apply.
» Learn more: The guide to AmEx Platinum rental car benefits
Other credit card car insurance policies don't have a monetary cap on damages. Instead, these policies exclude what it considers "high-value" vehicles.
That's the case with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which will reimburse for damages up to the actual cash value of rental cars. However, the policy won't cover "high-value motor vehicles" — citing brands such as Corvette, Jaguar and Porsche.
» Learn more: The guide to Chase Sapphire rental car insurance
The limitations on the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card rental car insurance are less vague. This policy explicitly excludes cars that cost more than $75,000 when new.
Common restrictions on credit card rental car insurance
In almost all cases, credit card rental car insurance policies won't cover specialty vehicles such as motorbikes, high-capacity vans, cargo vans and recreational vehicles. Similarly, most policies don't cover peer-to-peer car rentals — such as those through Turo.
Also, keep in mind that credit card rental car insurance coverage only covers damage to your rental car. You'll be on the hook for any injuries and damage to other vehicles. So, it's important to check your car insurance policy to see if you're covered when renting a car. If not, we strongly recommend purchasing coverage to protect you from this liability.
And be careful to check for any country exclusions in your credit card's policy before renting overseas. For example, many AmEx credit card rental car insurance policies don't cover rentals in Australia, Italy or New Zealand. Terms apply.
» Learn more: How to find hotels with EV charging stations
Credit cards that don’t cover some EV car rentals
The good news is that some credit card rental car insurance policies will cover EV car rentals. However, there are many notable exclusions to beware of when you rent an electric car.
Here's an overview of some popular travel rewards credit cards that may exclude coverage when you rent an electric car.
The credit card rental car insurance policy for several Chase-issued cards includes Tesla in its list of "high-value motor vehicles" that are excluded from coverage. For example, this exclusion is found on the:
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card excludes coverage on rental cars that cost more than $75,000 when new. That's currently a high enough limit to cover the Tesla Model 3. However, if you’re renting an electric car with a higher price, you wouldn't be covered.
U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
The U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card also excludes vehicles with an original manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $75,000 or more.
Keep in mind that this isn't a comprehensive list of all cards that exclude coverage. It's still important to check the coverage on your credit card before you rent an electric car. Chase cardholders can log into their account and browse to this page to start their search.
» Learn more: Want a gas-free road trip? Consider renting an EV
Other limitations on EV car rental insurance coverage
Even credit cards that don't exclude coverage for electric vehicle car rentals or high-value vehicles will generally have a maximum benefit on the coverage. Although Tesla Model 3 rentals from Hertz will likely be fully covered, this limit may become a factor as car rental companies grow their electric vehicle fleets.
Also, beware of some car rental insurance coverage exclusions that might affect electric vehicles differently. For instance, AmEx credit card rental car insurance policies generally exclude coverage for "electrical breakdown or failure unless such Damage results from a Theft Covered Event." Terms apply.
» Learn more: Rental car insurance explained
If you're considering renting an electric car
As electric vehicles continue to go mainstream, EV car rentals are likely to become even more common. However, from planning your battery charging to adapting your driving behavior, there's plenty to keep in mind when you rent an electric car. And credit card rental car insurance is just one of those complications.
Not all credit card rental car insurance will cover you when you rent an electric car. If this coverage is essential to you, consider getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Platinum Card® from American Express. Both cards offer up to $75,000 in theft and damage coverage and neither explicitly excludes Tesla rentals. Terms apply. Alternatively, rent an electric car with the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card as long as you can confirm that the price of the vehicle was under $75,000 when new.
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 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card