How to Get Proof of CDW/LDW Insurance From Your Credit Card Provider How to Get Proof of CDW/LDW Insurance From Your Credit Card Provider

How to Get Proof of CDW/LDW Insurance From Your Credit Card Provider

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If you've ever rented a car, you've probably received the hard sell on purchasing insurance as part of the rental agreement. The fee can range anywhere from $10 to $50 per day, depending on the provider, your age, the country where you're renting, the coverage offered, and the type of car you'll be driving. The good news? You might not need to pay to get Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance on your rental car.

Many travelers may not realize that they already carry a credit card that provides an Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver. Several credit cards cover cardholders against damage caused due to theft or accidents. Coverage usually comes in the form of reimbursement after you pay for any losses.

A question we get regularly, both in blog comments and AwardWallet’s Facebook community Award Travel 101, is: “How do I obtain proof of the CDW offered by my credit card company?” The answer is as simple as making a phone call. But before we jump into the details, let's review some of the basics of Auto Rental CDW policies offered by major card providers.

What Is an Auto Rental CDW and How Does It Work?

The auto rental coverage offered by your credit card takes the place of the traditional Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), sometimes called Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), provided by the rental company. Getting this insurance through your card can save you hundreds of dollars in additional fees.

a person driving a car

How do you get this coverage when renting a car? Just use the card offering the highest level of coverage to pay for your rental car. Damage to the vehicle is automatically covered in the event of an accident or if the car is stolen. You will need to follow a few rules.

To take advantage of the CDW policy provided by your credit card, you must:

  • First, decline the CDW offered by the rental company.
  • Second, be registered as the primary renter of the vehicle.
  • Third, pay for the rental in full with the card providing coverage.

You will need to check your specific card’s guide to benefits to determine what coverage is offered. Only a select group of credit cards offer primary rental coverage. Additionally, each credit card issuer has its own rules about what types of cars or countries are excluded from the policy.

Which Credit Cards Offer a Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)?

Some of our favorite cards providing primary rental CDW include:

You'll notice that there are no Citi cards on this list. In 2019, Citi cut back many of its card benefits. Car rental coverage was one of the casualties.

Related: How to Get Coverage via Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Additionally, some cards offer a CDW but are no longer available to new cardholders:

  • United MileagePlus® Club Card
  • The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card
  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (secondary coverage in the U.S., unless you have no insurance, then it's primary; primary coverage internationally)

Limitations on Credit Card Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) Coverage

It's important to note that the CDW policy provided through credit cards does not cover you for liability insurance if another person or their property is damaged in a crash. You’ll need to confirm that this is covered by your car insurance for your personal vehicle or your travel insurance. Alternatively, you can purchase supplemental liability insurance from the rental company.

We also want to note that there are business credit cards like the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card and the Capital One Spark Miles for Business that offer rental car coverage. However, the primary coverage is intended for rentals on business trips. If you rent a car for personal use and have an accident, you could get stuck with the bill. It's important to confirm the details with your specific cardholder so you're clear on what's covered.

Lastly, there are some common exclusions when it comes to CDW coverage:

  • Reckless driving
  • Luxury hehicles
  • Long-term rentals (most policies cover a maximum of 30 or 31 days)
  • Certain countries (check your cardholder benefits for details as this varies by bank)

American Express Cardholders

Most American Express cards offer car rental insurance coverage; however, it is secondary coverage, not primary. The Amex website has a full list of car rental insurance policies for each card. Luckily, Amex cardmembers can purchase Premium Car Rental Protection. For a modest fee of $19.95 to $24.95 per rental period (not per day), you'll get primary damage coverage. Also, this coverage includes accidental death and dismemberment, secondary medical expense coverage, and secondary personal property coverage.

a woman sits at a laptop while holding a credit card
Credit: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Do I Need to Provide Proof of CDW Insurance to the Rental Agency?

In most cases, you aren’t required to show proof of the CDW offered with your card. However, many rental agencies, particularly those in other countries, have little (or no) knowledge of the benefits of U.S.-issued credit cards. We frequently hear stories of travelers being forced to take out additional coverage when they can’t present proof of the policy and what it covers.

If the rental company is not happy with the evidence supplied, you can find yourself paying unwanted fees for insurance you don’t need. Even worse, they may place a significant hold on your credit card until you return the vehicle. This ties up money on your card and throws your credit utilization rate under the bus.

Related: How your credit utilization affects your credit score

Call the Benefits Administrator and Request a Letter of Coverage

What should you do to prevent that mess? Get a letter of coverage as a precaution. The easiest and fastest way to obtain proof of coverage from your credit card provider is to call the Benefits Administrator and request it. You will call and ask for a proof-of-coverage letter stating which countries the policy covers and what types of damage/loss it covers. Print the letter, and take it with you to the rental agency when you pick up the vehicle.

Here are the numbers you may need:

  • American Express
    • Calling in the U.S.: 1-800-338-1670
    • Calling from another country: 1-216-617-2500
    • you're calling from the U.S.
    • If you're calling collect from outside the U.S. 1-303-273-6497
  • Barclays
    • Calling in the U.S.: 1-800-627-8372
    • Calling from another country: 1-636-722-7111
  • Capital One
    • Calling in the U.S.: 1-800-825-4062
    • Calling from another country:
      • If you're calling collect outside the U.S. 1-804-965-8071
  • Chase
    • Calling in the U.S.: 1-888-320-9961
    • Calling from another country: 1-804-673-1691

Final Thoughts

Requesting a letter of coverage from your credit card provider takes five minutes and gives you proof of rental car insurance. Doing so can save massive headaches and hundreds of dollars when renting vehicles, both domestically and abroad. Just be sure to read the policy offered on the card and check all the fine print, so you aren't left to foot the bill in case of an accident or theft.

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  • Jette Fries says:

    Thank you very much for the information.

    I am a resident of Denmark and my Mastercard doesn’t have this coverage.

    Do you know if it’s possible for me to have another card with CDW coverages? Or is it only possible for US citizens?

    It’s important for me to find out because I am going to rent a car in Costa Rica for more than 1 month and the insurance by the car company is very expensive.

  • This was valuable information! I am traveling to Jamaica tomorrow and saw that the Avis car rental T&C insist on a letter without which they will make you buy insurance. I called Chase at the Benefits number above (1-888-675-1461), and got the letter by email within an hour on a Sunday!

  • Thank you for the info. But since the pandemic rise in rental car rates, I have re-arranged how I travel to avoid rental cars as much as possible (replacing some flying with driving, making greater use of public transit, ride sharing, taxis, walking, bicycling). So when I do rent a vehicle, just as well to avoid all the possible hassles, based on past experience – accept the CDW/LDW. Yes, costs more, but car rental already expensive and dont rent vehicles very often, and it is nice when even after a significant damage issue, rental counter says they see that I had purchased CDW/LDW so I am free to go, do not owe ANYTHING further!

  • says:

    It’s a 50-50 toss up. None of these documents are valid in Mexico per most car rental requirements. You can usually get lucky, but many rental car companies demand a Spanish language copy, for example. I have been refused a rental many times due to CDW/LDW not being in Spanish.

  • Thank you so much. We had no luck calling numbers on the back of card, so went to Visa Signature’s website and found Benefits Administrator # 1-800-348-8472.

  • David Addison says:

    I rent cars in the UK (from the US) all the time using a consolidator (Autoeurope in my case) and have never had a problem until now (including renting from Europcar). My wife had to go at short notice for a family emergency and the Europcar representative wouldn’t give her the car until she took the cover. Her father was in hospital so she didn’t have time to argue. Enterprise is a bit more expensive but the service is so much better. A lesson learned.

  • Excellent article. But I wish they would allow you to make the request online.

  • Does anyone have knowledge of a card that offers CDW coverage when the car is rented through a agency such as Turo for a US rental.

  • Very helpful, thanks! Chase was a breeze, Citi was a pain (probably just the agent I spoke to). I’ll be using my Reserve for car rentals then.

  • If you’re relying on your credit card’s insurance to pay for any damage to the rental car, it’s smart to get the letter first as limits to coverage may vary from card to card. With issues involving insurance, it’s usually better to have coverage that you won’t need to use rather than need it and not have it.

  • I haven’t encountered this before but good to know.

  • Logan Fisher says:

    Even with proof, some rental car counters will still give you a hard time and refuse to rent unless you take out their insurance. I’ve had a few battles over this but have won each time. Just be persistent.

  • I’m an expat living in Asia, no car or car insurance in USA anymore but I do rent there quite often. No liability insurance is a big issue for anyone not a resident in the US or those that do but don’t own cars and rely on uber/public transportation and car rentals when they need to drive.

  • I also heard some countries such as Ireland may require a recent letter

    • Not the case for a rental I booked at the end of last year.

    • We’ve needed a letter every time we go home. In the past we have always used US based Mastercard WorldCard but were told they no longer allow for CDW coverage declining in Ireland. Going to try new AmEx card this time (Sun!).

  • Useful info, especially when renting cars on vacation!

  • Some rental agencies want a current letter, a few months old is too old for them. I try to get a letter in advance, for every trip, and it comes very quickly, even while am speaking with them. In the past it could take a day!

  • Very helpful advice. I’ve made note of these numbers to call for when I rent vehicles.

  • Wow, I never knew it was that easy. Proof of insurance has never presented any difficulty for me when renting cars abroad, but I prefer to be prepared. I’ll be making some copies of these docs, for sure.

  • Good tip.

    Also, if you say you are resident in the UK or some other European country, you generally have the standard LDW insurance package included for close to free. (with a relatively high deductible)

    This is why many overseas rental companies are perplexed by Americans booking car rentals without insurance and then claiming that they have their own insurance…

  • Great coverage, I only used my free cover a few months ago and saved me a fair bit of money. It’s an added perk a lot of people do not know about.

  • Jacqueline says:

    Thanks, I have a hire car rental coming up soon and forgot about this cover.

  • Didn’t know that cards don’t provide liability insurance. That is a big gap in coverage as medical expenses can easily be more than the cost of the car. I don’t and I’m sure many others don’t own a car and so don’t have my car insurance that would cover injury to others in case its my fault. I’ve never seen just liability insurance offered by car rental companies either, its usually one “all in” insurance option. Have you?

  • Is this something I can get once and then just make copies of it as needed, or is this something I would need to get for each trip for which I planned to rent a car?

    Also, about how long does it take to arrive, i.e. how far in advance should I reach out to procure it?

  • Count this as one of the perks I love on my CSR card.

  • When Chase started covering all those countries that were banned before, I needed proof from chase, no problem at all email sent.
    By now the rental companies in Israel know that chase covers CDW. So despite different devaluations and rumors about no point combining, Chase still rocks!!!

  • Good advice. I use amex platinum and have saved a great deal of money over the years

  • Good recommendation and it only took five minutes to get the Ltr of Coverage.