Discharged: Be Careful Which Credit Card You Use When Renting a Tesla Discharged: Be Careful Which Credit Card You Use When Renting a Tesla

Discharged: Be Careful Which Credit Card You Use When Renting a Tesla

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I'm renting a rental car in South Africa this week. So, naturally, I read through the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Guide to Benefits for details of the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver. You know… as one does. One exclusion caught my eye during this readthrough: The Sapphire Preferred credit card coverage doesn't cover Tesla car rentals.

That's not an exclusion that mattered much a few years ago. Back then, the only way you could rent a Tesla was through a carsharing service like Turo. And those types of rentals aren't covered by Chase's rental car protections.

However, Hertz is adding a whopping 100,000 Tesla vehicles to its rental fleet. So, the fact that these vehicles aren't covered by the car rental protections on one of our favorite travel cards is much more relevant now.

And no, Chase doesn't have it out for Tesla in particular. Instead, Tesla is just one brand in a long list of “high value motor vehicles or exotic car brands not covered” by the Sapphire Preferred‘s car rental coverage.

Let's review the restrictions on the Sapphire Preferred rental car coverage. Then let's look at which credit card you should use if you do rent a Tesla.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Rental Car Insurance Exclusions

The Sapphire Preferred is our favorite beginner's travel rewards card. In addition to solid point earnings and flexible Ultimate Rewards, the card offers a wide range of travel and purchase protections. This coverage lands it near the top of our list of the best credit cards for rental car insurance.

However, this rental car coverage doesn't cover all car rentals. First, you'll need to rent through a traditional car rental company. Carsharing services like Turo and hourly car rentals from services like Zipcar aren't covered by the Sapphire Preferred protections. Then there are the other exclusions.

Vehicle exclusions

Not all cars rented from traditional car rental companies are covered either. Chase excludes a long list of vehicle types from the auto rental collision damage waiver coverage, including:

  • Antique cars — cars over 20 years old or that have not been manufactured for 10+ years
  • Cargo vans
  • Vehicles with open cargo beds
  • Trucks (other than pickups)
  • Motorcycles, mopeds, motorbikes
  • Limousines
  • Recreational vehicles
  • Passenger vans with seating for more than nine people
Picture of the front bumper of a row of rental cars, on which you could earn American Airlines Loyalty Points
It's not just Tesla rentals that are excluded from credit card rental car coverage.

High-Value and Exotic Car Exclusion

Chase also excludes so-called “high value motor vehicles” and exotic cars. That's where the Tesla exclusion is found. The car brands explicitly excluded from Sapphire Preferred car rental coverage are:

“Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Bentley, Corvette, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Lotus, Maserati, Maybach, McLaren, Porsche, Rolls Royce, and Tesla”

You'll be hard-pressed to find some of these brands in a rental car parking lot. However, some rental car companies do offer these luxury brands as part of their “exotic” or “adrenaline” collections. If you plan to splurge on one of these rentals, you'll want to charge the rental to a card other than the Sapphire Preferred.

In addition, Chase notes that “select models of Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Infiniti, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, and Range Rover are covered” (emphasis mine) through the Sapphire Preferred‘s auto collision damage waiver. That leads one to conclude that some models of these brands are not covered.

The only way to know for sure is to contact the benefits administrator at 1-888-320-9961. As I learned from calling, you'll need to have your Sapphire Preferred card handy. And you'll need a lot of patience as the phone prompts seem determined to keep you from getting to a human.

Other Chase Cards That Exclude Tesla Rentals

After seeing this Tesla exclusion on the Sapphire Preferred, I dug into the Guide to Benefits for other Chase cards with an auto rental collision damage waiver policy. I was able to confirm that the following Chase cards also explicitly exclude Tesla rentals from rental car coverage:

Don't see your Chase card on the list? Don't do a victory lap in your Tesla quite yet. These were only the cards where we could confirm that the current Guide to Benefits excludes Tesla rentals. Unfortunately, Chase hides the Guide to Benefits from non-cardholders.

I recommend logging into your Chase account and browsing to Chase's Card Benefits page to check the benefits on your card. And it would really help fellow readers if you could drop a comment below with what you find.

Which Credit Card Rental Car Coverage Covers Tesla Rentals

If you're looking to rent a Tesla, you can still get rental car protection through credit card benefits — just not through the Sapphire Preferred.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® could be an option though. The auto rental collision damage waiver on the Sapphire Reserve doesn't exclude specific brands or have abstract “high value motor vehicle” exclusions. Instead, the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver benefit simply caps damages caused by theft or collision at $75,000.

Other credit cards completely exclude coverage on “expensive” cars. For this purpose, “expensive” cars are defined as vehicles with an MSRP of $75k or more:

“An expensive automobile is defined as any vehicle with an original manufacturer’s suggested retail price of more than seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000.00) when new.”

Currently, both Tesla Model 3 and Model Y units have a sub-$75k MSRP. So, you could potentially get rental car protections when renting one of these vehicles when using the following cards:

For more expensive models, you may want to purchase American Express Premium Car Rental Protection. This paid coverage is available to certain American Express card members for a reasonable cost of between $15.25 and $24.95 per rental. For this price, you'll get primary rental car coverage for up to $100,000 in theft or damages. Plus, you'll get accidental death and dismemberment coverage, secondary medical coverage, and secondary personal property coverage.

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  • In all seriousness when the policies were written the only Teslas were the Model S and Model C which are definitely over the $75K threshold of most credit card car rental coverages. But you would think that they would update this to distinguish between the lower priced Model 3 and Model C.

  • How about capital one venture x?

    • JT Genter says:

      It’s included in the article! The Cap One Venture X provides primary insurance on rental cars – with exclusions for cars that cost more than $75k when new.