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Have you ever rented a car? No doubt you’ve been given 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 factors such as the provider, your age, the country you rent in, the cover offered, and the type of car you'll be driving. What many people don’t know, is they may already carry a credit card providing an Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), which provides cardholders coverage for damage caused due to theft or collision. Coverage may come in the form of reimbursement after you pay for any losses.

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Some rewards credit cards offer Primary Auto Rental CDW/LDW coverage

A question we field on a regular basis, both on the blog 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, we’ll run over 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) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) provided by the rental company, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars per rental in additional fees. What qualifies you for this coverage when renting a car? Just swipe the card offering the highest level of coverage when you pay for your rental car, and damage to the vehicle is covered in the event of an accident or the if car is stolen.

To take advantage of the CDW policy provided by your credit card, you must decline the CDW offered by the rental company, be registered as the primary renter of the vehicle, and pay for the rental in full with the card providing coverage. You need to check your card’s guide to benefits to determine what coverage is offered, as only a select group of credit cards offer primary rental coverage and each provider stipulates country and vehicle exclusions.

Some of our favorite cards providing primary rental CDW include:

An important aspect to note is the CDW policy provided by your card doesn’t cover you for liability insurance if another person or their property is damaged in a crash. You’ll need to check that your personal or travel insurance covers you, or purchase supplemental liability insurance from the rental company.

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. In practice, many rental agencies, particularly those abroad, have little to no knowledge of the benefits provided by U.S. issued credit cards, and we hear stories on a weekly basis of cardholders forced to take out additional coverage as 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 slapped with unwanted fees for insurance you don’t need, or they may place a significant hold on your credit card until you return the vehicle, tying up money on your card and throwing your credit utilization rate under the bus.

Call the Benefits Administrator and Request a Letter of Coverage

The easiest and fastest way of obtaining proof of coverage from your credit card provider is to call the Benefits Administrator and request it. You can call the number on the back of your card or supplied in your guide to benefits, and ask for a proof-of-coverage letter stating which countries the policy covers, what damage it covers. Get a hard copy, and take it with you to the rental agency when you pick up the vehicle.

  • Chase – Call the Benefits Administrator on 1-888-675-1461 to request a letter-of-coverage
  • Citi –Call 1-866-506-5222 for instructions on how to request a letter-of-coverage
  • Barclaycard – Call 1-800-Mastercard to request a letter of coverage
  • American Express – Call 1-866-518-0259 to request a letter-of-coverage

Final Thoughts

It takes five minutes to request a letter of coverage from your credit card provider, and it 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’re not left to foot the bill in the case of an accident or theft.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (See Terms)

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

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

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

  • 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!!!

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

  • 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?

  • 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?

  • Jacqueline says:

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

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.

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

  • 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!

  • Useful info, especially when renting cars on vacation!

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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