I’ve previously mentioned this in passing, but a forum member was asking for details so I thought it would be a good idea to write a review…
What is it?
All American Express cards (and most major credit cards) include car rental loss and damage insurance free of charge. This coverage is usually secondary, which means it is only paid out if you don’t have regular car insurance that will foot the bill.
Since most car insurance plans cover you while driving rentals too, the likelihood of actually using credit card insurance benefits is slim. However, travelling internationally is a different story, since regular auto insurance typically will only cover you within the United States.
The American Express Premium Car Rental Protection is an optional upgrade that will give you primary coverage, additional benefits, and higher caps on coverage amounts.
Premium Car Rental Protection vs. Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance
How does the pricing work?
Compared to the cost of buying insurance from the car rental company, the AmEx Premium Car Rental Protection is probably cheaper if you will be renting for at least one or two days.
At the time of this review, the fee is a flat $24.95 per rental, up to a maximum of 42 days (30 for Washington state cardmembers). Think about it – if you’re renting a full week, that works out to be only $3.57 per day. For 3 weeks, it’s barely more than a buck a day. This is much cheaper than paying the $10 to $35 per day for coverage from the rent-a-car company.
And for California residents, the price is even cheaper at $17.95 per rental. Imagine that… California being cheaper for something? That has got to be a first!
How do you sign up?
You can enroll your American Express card in the Premium Car Rental Protection program. From that point forward, you will be charged each time you rent.
American Express Premium Rental Car Protection — the 3 biggest advantages
- 1. Helps to avoid claims on your personal insurance: With the basic secondary coverage your American Express already includes, you risk having your personal auto insurance premiums hiked if you get in an accident, since that is who will be paying first. However with American Express Premium Car Rental Protection, you won’t have to file a claim with your personal insurance company (assuming to cost of your claim doesn’t exceed AmEx’s coverage limits). That means you won’t have to worry about your premiums going up for having a claim.
- 2. Saves you paying for a deductible: You won’t have to worry about paying a deductible if a claim is made. If you’re like me and most Americans, you probably have a deductible of $500, maybe even $1,000!
- 3. Might cover vehicles your basic card coverage won’t: The secondary car rental loss and damage insurance that is offered for free on most credit cards excludes a number of vehicles, including SUVs, pickup trucks, luxury cars and others. As you can see from the chart above, the Premium car rental insurance claims to cover a broader array of vehicles, but definitely check with AmEx before renting to confirm the make/model you’re renting is covered.
- As with any type of insurance, there are always rules, exclusions and limitations. Consult American Express for all details regarding their Premium Car Rental Protection program. This article is only a summary, last updated Jan 2013, and it may be outdated/incorrect now and/or in the future. Accuracy of this article is not guaranteed!
- Vehicles rented in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand don’t qualify for coverage.
The American Express Premium Car Rental Protection offers you a lot for very little money.
Best AmEx credit cards in 2015 for benefits + rewards?
For 2015 here are my top recommendations. Please click the links to see the applicable Terms and Restrictions associated with each card.
Gold Delta SkyMiles: If you are partial to Delta Airlines, then this is the card you want to go with. The main reason is because of the benefits, such as free first checked bag, priority boarding, and more.
Starwood Preferred Guest: Don’t think of this as just a hotel card. Why? Because it’s actually the most versatile card for frequent flyer miles in my opinion. This is the only card which let’s you convert points to nearly 30 frequent flyer programs on a 1 for 1 conversion. Go here to see my review.
Blue Cash Preferred: This doesn’t offer travel rewards, but it does dole out some serious cash back. You get Get 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $6,000 spent per year, 1% thereafter), 3% cash back on gas at U.S. gas stations and select department stores, and 1% cash back on other purchases. For more details, go here to see my review.
Written or last updated September 1, 2015