AwardWallet receives compensation from advertising partners for links on the blog. Terms Apply to the offers listed on this page. The opinions expressed here are our own and have not been reviewed, provided, or approved by any bank advertiser. Here's our complete list of Advertisers.
Offers for the United MileagePlus® Club Card, The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card and Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® are not available through this site. All information has been independently collected by AwardWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. Some offers may have expired. Please see our card marketplace for available offers.
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.
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:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- United℠ Explorer Card
- United Club℠ Infinite Card
- United Quest℠ Card
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- Calling in the U.S.: 1-888-320-9961
- Calling from another country: 1-804-673-1691
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.
The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.