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This article was last updated Apr 03, 2018, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
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Renting a car? Better have a credit card handy.
Credit cards for car rentals are almost always necessary. You may never find a car rental agency that allows you to pay in cash for a vehicle. While there are some that will take debit cards, they require a $200 deposit on top of the expected charges to ensure they get all the money owed to them.
If you are trying to find the right credit card for renting a car, you might be surprised by just how many options there are on the market. Here is a look at which credit card is best for car rentals.
Why Do Rental Car Agencies Require Credit Cards?
If you don’t think you should have to use a credit card to rent a car, think about matters from the rental agency’s perspective. They are entrusting you with a piece of their property worth tens of thousands of dollars, depending on what you rent. The last thing they want is to take a cash payment and watch all that money drive away. You may not have plans to steal the car, but they don’t know that. Plus, they need a way to get money for any damage you may cause to the vehicle. With the unlimited charging potential on a credit card, they are safest when you use that for payment.
Rental Car Insurance Benefits
Many major credit cards offer insurance protection for car rentals at no additional cost. This may mean you don’t have to purchase additional coverage from the rental agency. Of course, to find this information you are going to have to read the terms of service of any credit card you have. Or, you could apply for a new credit card with car rental benefits.
Technically, any credit card can be among the best credit cards for rental cars, depending on what you need it for. If you want to get some money out of this, use your cashback card. If you want to pay low interest, use your low-interest credit card. Here is an overview of the insurance coverage you will get through different credit card companies:
- American Express: Amex credit cards offer basic insurance coverage, but you may need to upgrade for a fee to get enough full coverage on your rental car. This fee will allow for up to $50,000 in protection, though this depends on the type of credit card you have.
- Visa: Visa offers basic coverage for car rentals, up to the actual cash value of the vehicle. This is available on all Visa credit cards. However, coverage will vary based on location and the type of car you rent.
- MasterCard: MasterCard offers car rental protection benefits only to Gold, Platinum, World, and World Elite cardholders, worth up to the $50,000 in repairs.
If you prefer to have a credit card with car rental coverage, turn to one of these companies. It is one of the best ways to avoid additional fees.
Travel Rewards for Car Rentals
If you have a credit card with travel rewards, it may allow you to redeem rewards for a free car rental. Many credit cards that offer airline rewards will allow you to use those rewards toward car rental costs. Here are a few airline rewards credit cards from our partners that offer this feature.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card allows you to use your earned miles on car rentals, as well as other items.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can redeem rewards via the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal for 25% more value. Points can be redeemed for car rentals. Just note that there is an annual fee after of $0 intro for the first year, then $95.
Citi Premier℠ Card
The Citi Premier℠ Card allows you to both earn points on car rentals and use your points to redeem for car rentals. The annual fee for this card is $95, waived for first 12 months*.
Sometimes car rentals can be more affordable than you think. If you are like 60 percent of all consumers, you may already have a rewards credit card you can use. If that doesn’t describe you, get a good credit card before renting your next vehicle.
*Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.