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Summary of car insurance coverage per credit card

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What you need to be covered for when renting a car

There are a number of important considerations when renting a car in Canada, and whether or not to get rental insurance is one of those dilemmas that often stumps people. When renting a car you should consider the possibility of misfortune to your own vehicle/property, as well as the vehicles/property of others. These are the types of coverage you need to keep an eye out for:

  • Damage to the rental vehicle
  • Theft of the rental vehicle
  • Damage to another person’s vehicle
  • Injury to yourself or another person
  • Property damage or loss
  • Loss of use of the rental vehicle while it’s under repair

Generally speaking, as long as you charge the full amount of the rental to your credit card and decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver, your credit card car rental insurance will cover you for damage/theft to the rental vehicle, and the loss of use of the rental vehicle while it’s under repair. Some cards may also offer additional coverage beyond just the basics.

Two key things to understand are as follows: 1. Despite the fact that your policy may say it covers you for $65,000 or $85,000 in damages, that usually maxes out at the current value of the car. 2. Your credit card car rental insurance will not provide third-party liability, which covers damage to another person’s vehicle and injury to another person. Each province in Canada sets its own level of minimum third-party liability that must be provided by the rental company. The minimum amount of third-party liability insurance required by law in Canada is $200,000, but many car rental companies have policies that cover you up to $1,000,000. Within Canada, you needn’t purchase additional liability insurance since it’s legally required to come with the car.

If you’re renting a car in a country where there are no laws about liability insurance, you can likely purchase additional insurance directly from the car rental agency so that you’re covered there. If you own a vehicle and have car insurance at home, check your policy as it may already include third-party liability insurance that you can utilize abroad.

What to watch out for

If you want to take advantage of your credit card’s card rental insurance, there are several conditions and exclusions you should be aware of prior to renting a vehicle:

  • You must be a Canadian citizen with a valid driver’s license.
  • You must charge the full amount of the rental to your credit card.
  • Some types of vehicles are usually not covered, such as pick-up trucks, commercial vans, antique cars, motorcycles, and luxury cars (over $65K or $85K in value).
  • Travel in some countries may not be covered by your credit card’s car rental insurance, e.g. in countries for which the Canadian government has issued a formal travel advisory.
  • Your credit card account must be in good standing.
  • 31-48 days of rental is the maximum that your credit card will likely insure you for.
  • If you book your car rental as part of a travel package, you’re still required to charge the full amount of the rental to your travel credit card.
  • If your car rental is provided due to winning a contest, your car rental insurance would apply if you have a history of paying your car rentals with the credit card that includes car insurance.
  • In most cases, if you book your car rental with points, then your car rental insurance would apply assuming the points you use come from the credit card that offers credit card car insurance.

How you use the rental car may also affect your ability to make a claim. Most policies don’t allow you to use your rental car for commercial purposes, which includes moving your own stuff. Your policy would also be void if you get into an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Best credit cards for car rental insurance

Though many credit cards’ car rental insurance policies have overlapping features, there are some distinctions from card to card that are worth noting.

Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard®

Best credit card for car rentals in the United States

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If you travel regularly to the United States, you should probably look for a credit card that both provides car rental insurance and helps you defray foreign transaction fees. Enter the Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard®, which covers a car rental up to 31 days, and offers payouts of up to $65,000 in damages. The card has no annual fee and gives 3% cash back on USD purchases, enough to cover the 2.5% foreign transaction fee and add an extra 0.5% cash back on top. Those are some great features for a card with no annual fee, but keep in mind that the Rogers World Elite Mastercard does have a relatively high minimum annual income requirement of $80,000 for an individual or $150,000 for a household, which may exclude a number of potential applicants.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete Rogers™ World Elite® Mastercard® review.

BMO Ascend™ World Elite® Mastercard®**

Best credit card for additional coverage

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The BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* is one of the few credit cards that includes a car rental personal effects benefit as part of its car rental insurance policy. What this means is that any personal property stolen in your car rental is covered up to $1,000 per person with a maximum of $2,000 per vehicle*.

The card also provides car rental accidental death and dismemberment benefits*. Obviously it’s a claim that you’ll hopefully never have to make, but the card entitles you (or your beneficiary) to lump sum payouts depending on your loss as a result of an accidental bodily injury while occupying an eligible rental car. For example, you’d be paid $50,000 if you lose a thumb or $200,000 if you suffer a loss of life.

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®* review.

  • Terms and conditions apply

CIBC Dividend Platinum® Visa

Best credit card for lower-income applicants

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The CIBC Dividend Platinum® Visa’s car rental insurance is competitive with other credit cards featured on this page, providing coverage on rental vehicles with an MSRP up to $65K for up to a 48-day rental period†. But what makes it stand out from other cards providing similar rental car insurance levels is its accessibility: It’s available to those with an annual income of $15,000 or more†, whereas most cards providing strong rental car insurance require a minimum annual income of $80K or so. Its annual fee is also on the comparatively low side, at $99 per year with a fee rebate for the first year†, and interest rates are: 20.99%† Purchase Annual Interest Rate, 22.99%† (for non-Quebec residents only) Cash Advance Annual Interest Rate, and 22.99%† (for non-Quebec residents only) Balance Transfer Annual Interest Rate. Just check your credit score before applying to make sure it’s in the good/excellent range, between around 740-850.

Welcome Offer: Get a first-year annual fee rebate for you and up to three Authorized Users† and earn 10% cash back welcome bonus for the first 4 statements of up to $200!†

Another thing that makes the CIBC Dividend Platinum® Visa stand out is that it’s a cash back card, whereas most credit cards that provide strong rental car insurance are oriented toward travel rewards. If you prefer the seamlessness of earning cash back, you might gravitate toward the CIBC Dividend Platinum® Visa’s high 3% cash back earn rate on eligible gas, EV charging, and grocery purchases after the Welcome Offer ends†, 2% cash back on eligible transportation, dining purchases and recurring payments†, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.†

Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete CIBC Dividend Platinum® Visa review.

This is a digital-exclusive offer.† To be eligible for this offer:

  1. this offer must have been directly communicated to you from CIBC or from a partner/affiliate; and

  2. you must apply for the eligible card through the link provided in the CIBC or partner/affiliate communication to you. †

This offer is reserved for you. Please do not forward it to anyone else. If you have opened, transferred or cancelled another eligible card within the last 12 months, we may approve your application, but you may not receive this offer.†

†Conditions apply

Quebec Residents: Learn More about this CIBC product here

Résidents du Québec : Pour en savoir plus sur ce produit CIBC, suivez ce lien

The Platinum Card®

Best premium automotive benefits credit card

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A premium rewards card with a premium price tag of $699, The Platinum Card® comes with many benefits that cardholders enjoy when driving or parking. Its Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance can cover you for theft, loss, and damage of your rental car with an MSRP of up to $85,000 for rentals of 48 days or less when you fully charge your rental to The Platinum Card®. To take advantage of this protection, simply decline the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), or similar option offered by the car rental agency*. When driving into or parking at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, cardholders will appreciate complimentary valet service at Express and Daily Parking, plus a discount off there as well.

Other exclusive benefits of The Platinum Card® are its $200 CAD annual travel credit, status at global hotel brands, a Welcome Bonus of 80,000 Membership Rewards® points (conditions apply), unlimited and free access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide in the The American Express Global Lounge CollectionTM , and an extensive suite of travel insurance.

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points – that’s $800 towards a weekend away. New Platinum® Cardmembers, earn 80,000 Welcome Bonus points after you charge $7,500 in net purchases to your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership. Conditions apply.

About the Author

Barry Choi

Barry Choi

Moneywise Contributor

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who makes frequent media appearances. When he's not educating people on how to be smarter with money, he's earning and burning miles and points for luxury travel.

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