When it comes to paying for your rental car, not all credit cards are created equal. Choosing the right credit card is an important decision, since coverage can vary widely. A premium credit card with built-in benefits specific to car rentals will offer an extra layer of protections and some nice money-saving perks.
Few credit cards have generated buzz among travelers like the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, which many experts say is the one they'd most like to have in their own wallet. Here's why.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Benefits for Car Rentals
Primary coverage for rental cars. The single most valuable benefit a credit card can bring is primary coverage for car rental insurance. Most credit cards offer secondary coverage, meaning that it kicks in only after your personal auto insurance coverage has been depleted. The beauty of primary coverage is that if you damage your rental car, you won't have to file a claim with your auto insurance. That means your auto insurance company never gets involved and there's zero chance that your premium will go up.
Chase Sapphire Reserve offers primary coverage for damages of up to $75,000, while most credit card coverage limits coverage to vehicles with a retail value under $50,000. Chase Sapphire Reserve Cards cover passenger vans (eight or fewer people) as well as "selected models" of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac and Lincoln cars. Reimbursement applies to "most rental vehicles" under contracts that do not exceed 31 days.
To take advantage of this benefit, you must:
- Decline the rental company's collision damage waiver (CDW/LDW).
- Be the primary renter of the car.
- Pay for the car in full with your Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
Rental privileges at car rental companies. The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card offers special perks, including discounts and promotions, when you rent with certain companies, including National Car Rental, Avis and Silvercar.
Lots of ways to earn points fast. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, you earn three points for every dollar you spend on travel and dining and one point for every dollar you spend on everything else. The signup bonus is 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months—that's worth up to $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Other travel perks. Other perks of significant value include $300 annual travel statement credit, which means you'll get reimbursed for travel-related purchases at the end of the year. In effect, you'll be able to earn back most of that annual transaction fee after taking one vacation. In addition, you get a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card also unlocks a host of hotel upgrades, free airport lounge access through Priority Pass and lost-luggage reimbursement—all cushy perks that make you feel like a VIP when you travel.
How to Apply for a Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is a premium card with a fairly high barrier to entry. The annual fee is $450 and the APR is 17.99 to 24.99 percent, depending on your credit history. The cash advance APR is 26.99 percent. There is no foreign transaction fee, which also boosts the value of travel-related points you redeem by 50 percent.
The personal finance site Nerdwallet has a handy checklist to figure out whether the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card makes sense for you.
How to File a Rental Car Claim with Chase Sapphire Reserve
If your rental car gets damaged or stolen, filing a claim is pretty straightforward. It's key to keep in mind a few deadlines. You can get the process started by calling the number on the back of your card.
- Within 60 days: Chase suggests notifying the benefit administrator immediately about any incidents, and that this should be done no more than 60 days after the issue arises.
- Within 100 days: Chase will then send a claim form that needs to be returned within 100 days of the accident or theft.
- Within a year: Any additional documentation must be sent to Chase within 365 days.
- Why It's Easier to Rent a Car with a Credit Card Than a Debit Card
- Premium Credit Cards That Offer Premium Car Rental Benefits