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Are Rental Car Insurance Charges a Rip Off? Find out.

Updated on October 12, 2011

Do you really need to pay 30 bucks a day for insurance on your car rental?

After having rented cars for the past several years and now doing some research, here is what I found:

In California where I am, your liability coverage automatically transfers to any car you drive. Whether a friends car or a rental car. If you check with your insurance agent in California, he will tell you this and I believe this is actually the same in most states. So, if you have a car that has liability, I can all but assure that you do not need to pay the 8.99 per day for the Liability coverage.

Now, in most states, for example my home state of Missouri, your comp and collision and theft ALSO transfers to rental cars. Again, check with your agent as it may be different in your state. I checked thoroughly with my agent on the above and found it on my insurance companies guidelines.

Even if you don't have car insurance, chances are your credit card will almost always provide comprehensive and collision coverage. Almost all credit cards give this service!

I have only just discovered this because a credit card I just got said that it gave me rental car insurance. I was excited about this and called the card since the website didn't have any specifics.

After calling the company and waiting on hold, the rep said, Oh... well any card with a Visa logo gives you full comprehensive coverage for rental cars. Even if I use my debit card as a credit card if has a visa logo? The rep directed me to the Visa site.

Low and behold, I discovered that any Visa card does in fact cover rental cars with a $500 deductible. Not only that, but if you already have comp and collision that covers your car, visa pays your deductible.

This would have been great to know.... 10 years ago for me.

Now, in 20 rentals, I have never been in an accident (KNOCKS LOUDLY ON WOOD) however, it seems like the rental car insurance is just an all around bad deal.

I would say that if you are going to get a car through your business, get the coverage so that you don't have it land on your personal record and cost. I guess it is not your money so by getting the rental coverage, if something happens, nothing whatsoever goes on your record. If using it for business use, might as well take advantage.

But for personal use, it is my personal opinion that, unless you get in accidents a lot, it is both better and more cost efficient to use your  own insurance combined with the comp and collision of a credit card.

As with anything, you will want to use your own judgment and always talk to a professional if you have questions.

Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express almost all have a coverage for this

The website is really clear about exactly what they offer. Mastercard is also about the fact that they provide it, but the claims process is not as clear as on the visa website. I know that Discover does on theirs too so check it out.

American Express offers it on most cards, but not all, so you will definitely want to check with them.


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    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      David, the only way to really know for sure would be to call Visa and Mastercard themselves and ask. If their policies change, etc. When I was doing research I called their number and it was pretty painless and they answered my questions. I would always call for your own peace of mind. Especially after what Igor said above.

    • profile image

      davidwilliam1234 5 years ago

      Old article but I'm trying to verify if it's still the case with Visa debit cards. Looking here it doesn't look to me like they would come with damage waivers, as opposed to the credit cards...?

    • profile image

      jessicajohn 5 years ago

      I saw a friend of mine rent a car using a debit and it turned out a be not that much of a hassle except for some sort of security deposit. Thank you very much for this information.

    • profile image

      Igor 6 years ago

      My girlfriend totaled a Hertz car in Arizona and she made a mistake of reserving the car with MasterCard debit card, and now she faces a payment of 12K for the car to Hertz. Her bank told her her debit card doesn't cover it.

    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hmmmm. I have a BofA logo on my debit card and VISA said it is the same if I use my debit card as a VISA CREDIT CARD, not using it as a debit card. Check and I believe there is a number there to call. Visa provides the coverage, not any Bank you are using. Same actually for Mastercard and American Express.

    • profile image

      Christopher P. 7 years ago

      Using your debit card with a credit card logo does not mean you are covered when you rent. I just got off the phone with Visa and I have a Visa Debit card with Bank of America. They say there is no such Collision Damage Waiver benefit associated with that debit card. Call your issuing bank and Visa to see if there is coverage before you dont accept the rental cars CDW.

    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Sure Mark. I am glad. I had this past weekend the lady was very pushy with me also and she admitted my credit card was fine, but she was quick to point out the Southern California rain and that I should pay the $50 bucks for 2 days so i wouldn't have to pay $500 deductible if something happened. I have rented 50 times (knock on wood) without a problem so that didn't make any sense. Needless to say, no accidents, but they do have a sales pitch on it because it seems to be a high profit item for them.

    • profile image

      Mark Patton 8 years ago

      This is always a confusing moment for me---the moment the car rental company asks me if I want to purchase their insurance. Thank you for making me feel a little better about saying "No Thank you" to their sometimes pushy question.

    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Glad you found it useful entertainment. :)

    • entertianmentplus profile image

      entertianmentplus 8 years ago from United States

      great info thanks

    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      You're so welcome. :) My lease ended at the end of last month so I am renting cars a lot. One other interesting thing is Visa will only cover you for up to 14 days of rental. So this won't work on a monthly rental. You would need to rent it for 14 days and then take the car back and get a new one.

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 8 years ago

      I'm traveling down south to pick up one of my sons next week, and I promise when I get to the rental agency, there's no way I'm buying that crazy insurance this time! I owe you buddy! And thanks for the tip on the website!

    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I am so glad I could help. You should read the website about this too. I called and they said my Visa debit card would work if I used it as a charge card. I was pretty stoked since, like you, I am always renting cars.

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 8 years ago

      Wow! Thanks for the great information. I rent cars when I travel, since I drive an ol' pick-up or a scooter around where I live. And yes I always get the insurance with the rental company. Never again, because my debit card has the visa logo too. I feel soooo ripped off! Thanks again. Great job!


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