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Renting a car, whether you’re traveling across the state, continent or world, is often an essential part of the travel experience. But procuring insurance for that rental car (and knowing what that insurance covers) can be a bit hazy. Should you opt in to the rental company’s coverage at the counter? Does your personal car insurance cover rentals?
Fortunately, many travel credit cards offer rental car coverage of one sort or another. If you’re wondering, “Does my American Airlines credit card have car insurance?” the unfortunate answer is no. American Airlines credit cards don’t provide this benefit. However, there are other credit card options that provide both rental car insurance and a way to use rewards points to book American Airlines flights.
How it works
First, how your credit card’s rental car coverage works depends on whether you maintain auto insurance for your vehicles at home. If you do, coverage provided by your travel credit card can be secondary to your primary insurance. That means that any credit card coverage will likely supplement your personal auto insurance, covering things like your deductible or towing charges that result from rental car theft and damage.
If you don’t have regular auto insurance or you have a card that offers primary coverage, it will take care of those theft, damage or towing costs (without involving personal insurance).
Coverage may be limited, however, depending on the type of vehicle and the length of time you are renting. For example, Visa cards limit coverage to rentals that don’t exceed 15 days in your country of residence or 31 days abroad and exclude coverage for exotic vehicles and some vans.
In most cases, you have to pay for the entire rental with your covered credit card to enjoy these benefits.
» Learn more: Does your credit card cover car-sharing insurance?
Available credit cards and their terms
That said, none of the 11 credit cards from American Airlines include rental car coverage — not even trip cancellation insurance. But just because American Airlines car rental insurance isn’t available through your preferred airline credit card doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other credit cards with rental car insurance at your disposal, some of which you can still use to book award travel on American.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers primary coverage for car rentals, meaning there’s no need to have personal auto insurance or involve your insurance company if you do. Coverage provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the rental vehicle in the case of theft or collision damage.
Any points earned on this card can be transferred to a British Airways Executive Club account (an American Airlines Oneworld partner) at a 1:1 ratio or can be used to book travel directly on American through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Another card with primary coverage, the auto rental damage waiver available with the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card reimburses you for damages caused by theft or collision up to the cash value (maximum $75,000) of the rental car. (Benefits may change over time.)
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
This card offers primary coverage when renting a car for business travel. Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle in the case of theft and collision damage.
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® points earned on the card to your British Airways Executive Club account, then use those miles to book award flights on American. You can also book travel on the airline via Chase’s travel portal.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
How to make a claim
If you have to make a claim on a rental car paid for with your travel credit card, make sure you know your credit card’s protocol and file a claim as soon as possible after the incident. Filing may include calling the number on the back of the card to report the incident immediately. You’ll also need to collect documents like incident reports, rental agreements, repair estimates, photos and police reports and submit them to the card issuer along with anything else requested.
When to consider adding additional insurance to your rental
Even when using a travel credit card with rental car insurance, you may want to consider adding extra coverage in some circumstances. Your credit card insurance may not provide coverage for certain rentals, including:
Exotic or luxury cars.
Vehicles used for towing.
Vehicles used for off-road adventures.
Check the details and benefits of coverage offered by your card to see what vehicles may be excluded from coverage before you decline the rental company insurance at the counter.
» Learn more: The cheapest way to rent a car
If you're considering booking a rental car with your American Airlines card
Since American Airlines credit cards don’t offer rental car insurance, you may want to consider opting in to the extra coverage from the rental car company if you are planning to pay with your AAdvantage card. Especially if your primary auto insurance doesn’t cover rentals, you’ll want to look into other coverage options. Fortunately, there are plenty of other cards that offer rental car protections that also provide a way to fly with American Airlines.
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