Home > Credit Cards > What You Need to Know Before Renting a Car With a Credit Card

Comments 2 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


What You Need to Know Before Renting a Car With a Credit Card

[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners here — Capital One Secured Mastercard.]

Renting a car is clearly one of those times when you need a credit card. Most credit cards provide a form of insurance called a collision damage waiver that can save you the expense of purchasing insurance from the rental car agency.

As easy as it is to pay for a rental car with a credit card, these policies are full of exceptions and exclusions. So before relying on your credit card’s insurance, watch out for the following loopholes:

1. Your credit card might not include rental car insurance. Almost all credit cards include some form of rental car insurance, but not all. Popular products that don’t include it are the Slate card from Chase and the Capital One Secured Mastercard.

2. Territorial exclusions. Credit cards cover rental cars in nearly every country, but there are some notable exceptions. Most Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards exclude cars rented in popular tourist destinations such as Italy, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica and New Zealand.

[Free Resource: Check your credit score and report card for free before applying for a credit card]

Check Your Credit For Free3. Limitations on certain types of roads. While the rental car insurance itself does not specify that accidents on certain types of roads are excluded from coverage, it does specify that all driving must be done within the terms of the rental car agreement. And most major rental car agencies make drivers agree not to drive on an unpaved road. This is not much of a problem in major cities, but it can be an issue when renting in rural areas or visiting some national parks.

4. You must pay for the rental with your credit card. It sounds obvious, but you must use your credit card to pay for your rental car in order to be covered by its insurance. When you use points or miles to pre-pay a rental car, you are not covered by your credit card’s policy, even if you use it to guarantee your rental or to pay taxes and fees. You must pay the base rate with your credit card and decline the rental car agency’s optional coverage. On the other hand, it is OK if your credit card’s rewards program reimburses you for travel expenses after the fact.

[Credit Cards: Research and compare credit cards at Credit.com]

5. Rent the right kind of car. Your credit card’s rental car policy excludes many types of vehicles including antique, classic, luxury and exotic cars. And while you might not be renting a ’57 Chevy on your next business trip, pickup trucks and full size vans are common rental cars but excluded by most policies.

By understanding when your credit card will provide insurance for your car rental, and when it won’t, you can make the best decision the next time you need to rent a car.

Image: Andres Rueda, via Flickr

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them. Compensation is not a factor in the substantive evaluation of any product.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team