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Imagine driving down a South African freeway, seeing grilled corn sold by local women on the side of the road and deciding to stop to get some because it looks delicious. You make a U-turn, and suddenly BAM! Another car full of family members slams into yours because the driver didn’t notice your turn signal.
While you make sure everyone is all right and wait for the police, you think to yourself, “Oh my goodness! It’s a good thing I have collision damage insurance on my credit card.”
Accidents can happen anywhere — and that was a true story, by the way. Luckily, everyone was fine and both cars were in drivable condition … just seriously damaged.
To avoid being on the hook for thousands of dollars in rental car repair costs, make sure to use a credit card that offers insurance to pay for your rental. Whether it’s just a fender bender or a total loss, you may be covered. Here, we’ll look at Delta credit card rental car insurance coverage in particular.
» Learn more: The best credit cards for travel insurance benefits
How it works
American Express car rental loss and damage insurance is available on all co-branded Delta SkyMiles credit cards. Terms apply.
To be eligible for coverage, simply use your card to pay the full cost of the rental and decline the full collision damage waiver at pickup. Additionally, the cardholder must be the primary driver on the contract.
Coverage includes vehicles across the world, except those rented in:
Any other country on the list of sanctions imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The following drivers are covered by the American Express car rental loss and damage insurance:
Their spouse or domestic partner.
Keep in mind that the car rental loss and damage insurance that comes with Delta SkyMiles cards provides secondary coverage. This means that if you hold a personal auto insurance policy, it’s going to be on the hook for a resolution first in the event of theft or damage to your rental vehicle.
You might be wondering what exactly is covered by a Delta credit card rental car insurance in case of an accident. Coverage is limited to the following:
Rental vehicle damage.
Theft / loss of rental vehicle use.
Rental company administrative fees.
Another important piece of information is that the AmEx rental car insurance doesn’t apply to any other vehicle except the rental vehicle. This is likely one of those times when your personal insurance will come into play in case of an accident.
Available Delta credit cards and their terms
So, if you’re holding your breath dying to know which Delta cards come with rental car coverage, you can exhale. All co-branded Delta cards offer car rental loss and damage insurance. Terms apply.
Delta credit cards with car rental insurance
» Learn more: The best credit cards for travel insurance benefits
The car rental loss and damage insurance that comes with the Delta SkyMiles cards covers a rental period of 30 consecutive days with the same car rental company. If the contract is extended or a new contract is made for a different vehicle, then coverage doesn’t apply.
Depending on the AmEx Delta card you hold, you’re covered for up to $50,000 to $75,000 per rental agreement.
It’s important to know that not all rental vehicles are eligible for coverage. You can’t just take a Porsche 911 Carrera for a joyride, scratch it or wreck it, and hope that it’s covered under the plan. Vehicles that aren’t covered include:
Cargo vans or vans with capacity for more than eight passengers.
Motorcycles or mopeds.
Camper vans and trailers.
In addition to damage to another vehicle, which we’ve already discussed, the following events aren’t covered by the AmEx car rental loss and damage plan:
Acts of war.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Off-road vehicle operation.
Personal liability or personal injury.
Mechanical or electrical breakdown.
Theft of vehicles that are unlocked.
Theft or damage to tires.
For a complete list of uncovered events, consult the car rental loss and damage insurance plan documents.
» Learn more: The majority of Americans plan to travel in 2022
How to make a claim
To file a claim, call American Express at 800-338-1670 (from the United States) or 303-273-6497 (a collect call from abroad). You can also visit americanexpress.com/protectionbenefits within 30 days of theft or damage to a rental vehicle.
Within 60 days, make sure to submit proof of loss documents, such as:
An itemized repair bill.
Copy of the rental agreement.
Copy of the receipt.
Copy of the personal auto policy.
Copy of the driver’s license.
Police report (when applicable).
If your claim is accepted, you’ll be reimbursed within 30 days.
Time is of the essence when submitting a claim for loss or damage to a rental car, so make sure you don’t procrastinate.
Credit cards to use for primary coverage
If secondary coverage isn’t enough and you don’t want to shell out money for the rental company’s own collision damage insurance, consider using a different credit card that has primary coverage built into its benefits package.
For example, some general travel rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, both offer primary coverage and work in a similar way. Simply decline the auto rental company’s insurance and pay for a rental with one of these cards. This way you don’t have to file a claim with your personal insurance, which can affect your rates.
Other credit cards that offer primary rental car collision damage insurance for free are:
When to consider adding insurance to your rental
From time to time, the secondary insurance available with your Delta card may not be enough. For example, you may want additional coverage if you're renting an antique or ultra luxury vehicle like a Ferrari, or if you're planning off-road adventures in four-wheel-drive vehicles.
If you’re unsure if the Delta coverage will be enough for your rental, contact your rental car agency to clarify what's covered and what isn't.
» Learn more: Rental car insurance explained
If you’re considering booking a rental car with your Delta SkyMiles credit card
If you rent cars frequently, having collision damage insurance can spare you the unexpected expenses in case of an accident. Having coverage provided by a Delta credit card rental car insurance allows you to say “no” to a pushy agent at the rental desk trying to rope you into unnecessary charges.
Having said that, holding a credit card that provides primary car rental insurance is even better as you get to save money and keep your personal insurance out of it.
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 2022, 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