16 Best Credit Cards for Car Rental Insurance Coverage & Rewards

Best Credit Cards for Car Rental

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Posted: April 10, 2018
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

Much like staying in a hotel, the rental car experience is mostly about the quality of the car you rent; splurging on something a little nicer than is really necessary can make for a much better experience. But how do you justify the added expense?

With the right credit card, of course. While most of us know you need a credit or debit card to rent a car in most cases, fewer of us give much consideration to which credit card we should use — which can leave a lot of savings on the tarmac. Indeed, not only can you save on your next rental car with purchase rewards, but you may also be able to find additional discounts for your drive and leave that costly rental car insurance in the dust.

Primary Insurance | Bonus Rewards | Online Discounts

Best Credit Cards for Primary Rental Car Insurance

The car insurance offered by rental car agencies is one of those things that you don’t really need — until you do. And it can often seem that the one time you fail to get the insurance will be the one time you really should have gotten it. Well, depending on the credit card you use to reserve and pay for your rental, you may already have rental car coverage through your issuer.

The type of credit card car insurance you need will depend on whether you have personal auto insurance already. The secondary car rental insurance offered by most credit cards will only augment any personal auto insurance you carry, while primary car rental insurance will typically allow you to leave your personal insurance out of the equation.

Both insurance types may have country or vehicle restrictions, so do your research ahead of time. Additionally, few (if any) credit card car insurance programs provide liability coverage, which means you may not be covered if you are at fault for damage to a vehicle, building, or person. If your personal insurance policy doesn’t have liability coverage, you may need to look into third-party coverage.

Consumer | Business

Consumer Credit Cards with Primary Insurance

Some consumer cards that offer secondary car rental insurance will act as a primary insurance coverage when you don’t have personal car insurance, as well as in some foreign countries. The bulk of the cards offering primary rental car insurance in the US are offered by Chase, included a handful of co-branded cards as well as the hugely popular Chase Sapphire cards.

  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Named a ‘Best Travel Credit Card for 2017’ by MONEY® Magazine
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, no foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.24% Variable
$450
Excellent Credit
EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.24% Variable
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Excellent Credit

Choosing between the two Chase Sapphire cards will likely come down to how much you actually travel. Those who can take advantage of the annual travel credit, Priority Pass™ Select membership, and Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee credit may find the higher annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® worthwhile. Others may want to go for the less costly Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Business Credit Cards with Primary Insurance

Even more than their consumer counterparts, business owners can likely save a pretty penny each year by turning down the pricy car rental agency insurance. The caveat with insurance coverage from business credit cards is that you must be renting and driving the car for business purposes. As with consumer credit cards, the majority of business rewards cards with primary rental car insurance in the States are Chase branded or co-branded.

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in select categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more – your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 22.24% Variable
$95
Excellent Credit
EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Named "Best Rewards Card for Small Business Owners" by Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2017
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 12 months
14.49% - 20.49% Variable
$0
Excellent Credit

Although both Chase Ink Business cards offer primary insurance coverage, only the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card offers bonus rewards for travel-related purchases. Of course, if you spend more each year on office supplies than travel expenses, the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card’s bonus categories may end up being the more lucrative option.

Best Credit Cards for Bonus Rewards on Rental Cars

As cost-saving as extra rental car insurance can be, you — hopefully — won’t need that benefit for every trip (or, ideally, any trip). Extra purchase rewards, on the other hand, can be lucrative every time you rent a car.

Finding a rewards card for car rentals will usually mean a card that offers bonus rewards for travel-related purchases in general. Be sure to double-check your cardholder agreement’s fine print to ensure car rentals are qualifying purchases for bonus rewards.

Consumer | Business

Best Consumer Cards for Car Rental Bonus Rewards

As valuable as car rental purchase rewards can be on the occasions you need them, few consumers rent cars year-round. Not only can these top travel rewards cards earn you double or triple points or miles on car rental purchases, they’ll also provide bonus rewards for other useful travel-related purchases, including things like restaurants, gas stations, or airfare.

POINTS & GIFTS RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Named a ‘Best Travel Credit Card for 2017’ by MONEY® Magazine
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, no foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.24% Variable
$450
Excellent Credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives a healthy bonus of 3X points per dollar on travel purchases, a wide-ranging category that includes car rental agencies as well as things like gas, tolls, parking lots, and parking garages.

6. Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 3X points per $1 on a wide range of travel-related expenses, including almost everything you’ll need for a road trip: car rental agencies, gas stations, tolls, and parking. You’ll also earn bonus points when you use your card to pay for the food and entertainment along the way.

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 spent on eligible travel purchases, including gas stations
  • Earn 2X points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment
  • Pay no annual fee the first year, then $95

ThankYou Points can be redeemed for a variety of things, but generally offer the best value when redeemed for free flights through the ThankYou® Travel Center or when transferred to a partner airline.

7. Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is one of the few branded hotel cards with non-branded bonus categories, giving cardholders 2X points per $1 spent at car rental agencies, as well as restaurants and airline tickets purchased directly with the airline.

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

  • Earn 5X Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent on eligible Marriott or SPG purchases
  • Earn 2X Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants, car rental agencies, and airlines
  • Earn 1X Marriott Rewards points on all other purchases

As a fringe benefit, the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card also grants cardholders guaranteed elite status and a free night’s stay at select hotels every year after your account anniversary.

Best Business Cards for Car Rental Bonus Rewards

If anyone needs bonus rewards for car rental purchases, it’s likely the small business owner who’s always on-the-go. And the additional bonus rewards for useful travel-related and business expenses, from airfare to office supplies, can make these cards even more valuable additions to your business purchasing.

POINTS & GIFTS RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in select categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more – your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 22.24% Variable
$95
Excellent Credit

In addition to 3X points per $1 on travel purchases, including car rentals, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card also offers extra rewards for popular business categories like shipping, phone services, and qualifying online advertising purchases.

9. Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Like its consumer cousin, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card offers bonus rewards of 2X points per $1 on car rental agency purchases, as well as airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, restaurants, office supply stores, and for internet, cable and phone services purchases.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Business credit card

  • Earn 5X points per $1 on purchases at eligible Marriott and Starwood properties
  • Earn 2X per $1 spent in select travel and business categories
  • Receive one free night annually on your anniversary

While the Marriott Rewards® Premier Business credit card charges a $99 annual fee, its killer signup bonus more than covers the cost if you can meet the spending requirement without paying interest fees.

10. CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

In addition to bonus rewards for American Airlines purchases, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® also gives double miles for car rental purchases. Plus, earn double miles on gas station fill-ups and telecommunications purchases.

 CitiBusiness American Airlines

  • Earn 2X miles per $1 spent in select business categories that include gas stations & car rental agencies
  • Earn 2X miles per $1 spent on American Airlines purchases
  • Pay no annual fee the first year, then $95

Using your CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® for American Airlines purchases is the best way to get the most out of the card, with perks like a free checked bag, preferred boarding, and the ability to earn a Companion Certificate each year.

Best Credit Cards for Discounts on Rental Cars

For the frequent traveler, a credit card with primary car rental insurance and bonus category rewards can mean tons of savings during the year. For the typical consumer who travels once or twice a year, however, the annual fees charged by most travel cards may not be worth the occasional savings. Thankfully, you may be able to save on your next car rental simply by using the savings portal for your favorite everyday card.

Discover | Citi

Use the Discover Deals Portal

Available to all Discover credit cardholders, the Discover Deals shopping portal is home to hundreds of coupon codes, online discounts, and cash back rewards bonuses for popular merchants. Online and in-store coupon codes can be used at checkout for many retailers, while the exclusive discounts and bonuses will require you to log into your Discover account before you shop.

The Discover Deals car rental partners include a number of national chains, including Alamo, Avis, and Enterprise, as well as discount third-party sites like Hotwire. Discounts up to 25% off your rental are common, with free upgrades also available from some partners.

Discover it® - Cashback Match™ Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
  • Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day, with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Discover Match® details & other information.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+See More Discover Cards

Use the Citi Bonus Cash Center®

Similar to the Discover Deals, the Citi Bonus Cash Center® is available to all Citi cardholders and can provide extra savings with a large number of merchants and retailers. Unlike Discover, the Citi program doesn’t offer coupons or discounts, but instead provides additional cash back rewards on purchases made through the shopping portal by cardholders logged into their online accounts.

The Citi rental car offers come from a number of partners, including third-party sites, such as Expedia and Priceline, as well as national chains like Enterprise and Hertz. Typical rental car deals in the Bonus Cash Center® offer 1% to 4% additional cash back on your purchase.

CITI® RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
0.0/5.0
  • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases.
  • Earn $100 bonus cash back when you make $500 in card purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • No categories to track and no caps on cash back.
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
CITI® RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
0.0/5.0
  • The ONLY card with No late fees, No penalty rate, and No annual fee... EVER.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 18 months.
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period.
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day - just say "representative"
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 18 months
0% for 18 months
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
CITI® RATING
★★★★★
4.6
OVERALL RATING
0.0/5.0
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR on purchases for 15 months from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer*
  • Points are redeemable for gift cards to popular retailers, restaurants and department and home stores. 2,500 ThankYou® Points can be redeemed for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com
  • Earn 2X Points on dining out and entertainment
  • Earn 1X Points on all other purchases
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No annual fee*
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent

+See More Citi Cards

A Better Car Rental Experience with the Right Card

While expensive luxury products aren’t always better than their cheaper counterparts, sometimes you really do get what you pay for in the quality of your experience. Rental cars are a perfect example. The price jump from an economy-level car to a luxury one may be steep, but the heated leather seats and top-down experience may be worth the splurge once in a while.

And that’s where the right credit card can come in remarkably handy. Between the purchase rewards, potential discounts and upgrades, and built-in insurance possibilities, you may be able to turn a special-occasion splurge into a regular treat without breaking the bank.