Does credit card car rental “collision” insurance work for Silvercar (which is an all Audi rental car company) and other sports cars? The short answer is “depends on the card for Silvercar/Audis”. And for other sports cars it depends on the car and credit card.
It’s a funny hobby, isn’t it? Today we picked up our Audi for two days and it was half the price of all the other cars at the airport (which I’ll explain in a minute). The deal-killer was about to be whether or not I had to buy insurance. The deal was sealed when I realized my credit card would totally cover primary insurance on the Audi.
Let me break it down (click to skip ahead):
- How I got the Audi deal?
- What is primary/collision insurance?
- What credit cards have rental car insurance? And for what cars?
- What you need to know
- Liability is not covered!
- Conclusion: what this means for Silvercar
1) How I got the Audi deal?
Silvercar is an awesome car rental company that works via an app and all the cars are Audis. Not only is the car fast and handles well (I did have some fun today), but it is decked out. Bluetooth to connect your phone, navigation system, satellite radio, and a wifi hotspot. The car comes with wifi – how cool is that?
Off and on Silvercar has referral bonuses. Right now it’s $25 cash (via paypal?) when you sign up via a referral link, and refer someone.
Sign up free here, and use referral code “DMACOMBER1” to get $25 cash (for each of us).
So right off the bat that’s at least $25 off.
Then I realized that the FTU code works elsewhere… at least right now.
It’s $50 off a 2+ day rental, for new customers.
Code is: FTU50
Warning, this code is for the DFW FTU which is this weekend, but it worked for my rental today. I’m not sure how much longer it will last, but I hope it keeps on.
That brought the price down to $89 after taxes for two days, before the referral bonus (as that kicks in after the rental). By far the cheapest car was $84 with other programs, and that was an economy car. So my deal was about $20 cheaper.
2) What is collision insurance?
Collision mean that if you wreck your car, the repairs that have to happen to the vehicle will be covered by credit card. What we want is a credit card that covers the cars value in full – in case of a worse case scenario where it is totaled.
Here’s a quote from Visa Signature about collision insurance:
The benefit covers: Physical damage and/or theft of the covered rental vehicle. Valid loss-of-use charges imposed and substantiated by the auto rental company through a fleet utilization log. Reasonable and customary towing charges, due to covered theft or damage, to the nearest qualified repair facility.
Update: It is important to understand the difference between Primary and Secondary insurance.
Most all credit cards have secondary insurance. Meaning that if your rental car is damaged, your personal car insurance will take care of it, and what costs are left is covered by the credit card. They’ll pay the deductible.
Cards with secondary insurance seem to say that they will cover everything not covered by your personal insurance. My assumption is that if I don’t have insurance at all, they’d cover the entire thing. World Elite MasterCards seem to say:
If you have no other insurance or your insurance does not cover you in territories or countries outside of the United States, coverage is considered primary coverage.
I take that to mean that the insurance on the card will act as primary.
“Primary” insurance means that the card will just pick up the tab on the car without your personal insurance.
3) Which cards have it?
Most all good rewards cards have it to some degree. “Visa Signature“, “World Elite MasterCards”, and Amex cards pretty much cover the big airline/hotel rewards cards. Chances are you have a good card.
However, Primary insurance is only with certain cards.
Some Visa Signature Business cards
Warning: Commenters mentioned terms & conditions stating that a Business Card must only insure car rental that would be for business use only, as the purpose for renting the car.
“This benefit is available on all Visa Signature Business and Visa Business cards”
I’ll talk about the typical Visa Signature benefits that cover all cards, being up to $100,000 of damage and what not. But some offer primary insurance.
This would include:
- Ink Plus
- Ink Bold
- and other Business versions of the personal Visa Signature cards, like I assume the United business card.
Some Visa Signature Personal cards
My guess is that all visa signature personal cards have the same set up, but I couldn’t find that in print anywhere. It just says “see your membership guide”, which would be fine if the banks posted the full terms and conditions and benefits… but they don’t.
Well they do, in that they say they provide collision, but then add at the bottom in small print that exclusions and details vary by products.
Still, the Visa Signature cards I have seem to offer the same benefits as the Business Visa Signature.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and say this on their websites:
Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.
And the thing to note here is that Visa will actually pay up to the actual cash value of the car for collision.
Citi ThankYou Premier is another Visa Signature that gets even more specific on their website:
Be more confident at the rental car counter — you may be covered against theft or damage up to $100,000 for any rental car in any country when you pay with your Citi card and decline the rental company’s collision loss/damage insurance.
This is interesting for two reasons. It doesn’t exclude Ferraris and what not, which is different than other cards. However, it’s practically the same as it is up to $100,000, which is about the price range where exclusions start. And it specifically says any country, instead of listing exclusions, like Ireland for example.
All that to say, the Visa Signature cards I did search for also had full coverage on the car, but terms seemed to vary in terms of specifically mentioning primary
Ones with “Primary” insurance.
You can specifically see that the following cards list “primary” coverage on their website:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- United Explorer
I’m sure there are others, but not all make it easy for me to verify.
American Express Cards offer secondary
American Express cards offer $50,000 of insurance.
Platinum Card & Delta Reserve Card provide up to $75,000 of insurance.
Exclusions fall according to the limits. For the Platinum card, the car’s market value is excluded if it retails over $75k. For other cards, the car is excluded if it retails over $50k.
For the record, Silvercar uses all Audi A4 cars, which “only” retails at ~$35,000, so it is definitely covered.
For OPEN Card Members,
vehicle exclusions include full sized sport utility vehicles, off-road vehicles, exotic cars, cargo vans, full-sized vans, customized vehicles, vehicles used for hire or commercial purposes, antique cars, limousines, , sport/utility vehicles when driven “off-road”, motorcycles, mopeds, recreational vehicles, golf or motorized carts, campers, trailers and any other vehicle which is not a Rental Vehicle.
There seem to be some small advantages to having a Platinum card. You can rent trucks, which you can’t do otherwise. You can rent cars up to $75,000 of market value.
However, all Amex cards specifically list in the exclusions lots of sports cars;
Chevrolet Corvette, Toyota Supra, Mazda RX-7, Dodge Viper and Stealth, Plymouth Prowler, Mitsubishi 3000 GT, Nissan 300 ZX, Jaguar XJS, X series and convertibles, Acura NSX and convertibles, Mercedes SL, SLK, CLK, S Coupe and E320, Coupe and Convertible, BMW M3, Cadillac Allante. All Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Aston Martin, Lotus, Bugatti, Vector, Shelby Cobra, Bentley, Rolls Royce.
If you’re into cars, you’ll know most of these are over $50k, or $75k. But many of the Asian cars are not. Like the Toyota Supra, any Mazda, Nissan 300ZX, etc… But they are “sports” cars, meaning they are two seaters made to go fast. So they are more of a liability.
Amex is the only one to offer some medical
In Amex card T&C they say this:
It can also provide secondary coverage for covered medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident while riding in or getting into or out of the Rental Vehicle by the Card Member or Passenger of up to a maximum of $5,000 per person. It also provides secondary personal property coverage within the Rental Vehicle of up to $1,000 for the Card Member and Passenger, while the total coverage for all occupants is $2,000. It also provides accidental death and dismemberment benefits of $200,000 for the Card Member, and $20,000 for each Passenger.
This is a serious step up.
But the problem is that all the Amex T&Cs I saw say “excess”, meaning secondary. The car should still be fully covered, but after your personal insurance does what they do.
Some World Elite MasterCards
Researching this was a little more complicated than I expected because I had problems with the MasterCard website. But in looking into specific cards that I have, I consistently saw a $50,000 coverage limit. On the Capital One’s World Elite MC site, it excludes all trucks and pickups. On the plus side it seems to be global.
My take is that $50k is enough, just don’t rent trucks – which is also true for Amex. Look into the specific card benefits.
However, no “primary”?
I know they exist, but I found no examples of World Elite MasterCards that I have that have primary. Citi does not list the Citi Executive card as having primary insurance as I thought it would have. It mentioned nothing about “primary” at all.
4) What you need to know
How does it work?
While rules may be different by card, there are a few things that are standard.
You have to decline all insurance.
If you want your card to cover anything at all, most cards require you to decline coverage.
There needs to be a charge on the card. Even if you’re using points you have to have something to add for the card to cover it. After all the benefit is for people who use the card for car rentals, not people who have accidents and want insurance after the fact.
Here’s what the CSP says:
You are eligible only if you are a valid cardholder whose name is embossed on an eligible U.S.-issued Visa card. Only you as the primary renter of the vehicle and any additional drivers permitted by the auto rental agreement are covered.
Most cards, including Visa Signature Business‘ (and maybe personal) terms and conditions, say that “Israel, Jamaica, the Republic of Ireland, or Northern Ireland” are all excluded. However, the Citi TY Premier said “worldwide” on their website, however I didn’t look at their membership benefits guide (threw that junk away as soon as I got it).
American Express lists these exceptions; “Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand”.
I didn’t realize this when I went to Jamaica… glad everything was fine.
5) Liability is not covered!
Liability is the other person’s car and the really bad stuff that can happen to them. This is not the same as collision. Collision is for the car you are driving. Liability is for the car you hit. It’s probably less likely but covers the expensive “what ifs”.
You can still pay for liability and still decline collision, as the credit cards say that you need to decline the rental company’s collision to be covered.
I personally have always declined liability, regardless of how smart it is. But reading through Silvercars’ t&c, section 18 seems to imply that you may or may not have liability through Silvercar, as required by law (which, it is in most of the US?), which would only cover other drivers. It seems to say that you and your own family would be on your own, but that it would have some kind of medical insurance that covers medical needs of the other cars you cause harm to. But the entire thing is written without much definitive clarity.
In fact, I assume that even if you are paying on points, you can choose to pay for the liability and this will charge your card, causing the credit card to cover the collision. It’s often cheap too. Even with a “luxury car”, silver car only charges $12 – $14 for liability.
6) What this means for Silvercar Audi’s
Silvercar will only give you an Audi A4, which is listed on none of the exclusions. The fact that the car says “luxury” means nothing, as “luxury” isn’t excluded. Exotic cars are and sometimes there are price limits, but the lowest price limit by Amex is $50,000, more than enough for the Audi A4.
Charging to your card
Silver does charge at the end, after you return the car. But they did put an authorized hold, and they will end up charging the card after the return.
When you use points this is often a problem, because there is nothing to charge, which is the condition of the insurance. The problem with Silvercar is that an authorized hold isn’t the same as a charge. Even points rentals have a hold, but it isn’t the same as paying with your card. But I’m totally counting on the fact that I am paying with my Chase Visa Signature card.
Best Credit Cards for Insurance
Visa Signature cards, as listed above, repay up to $100,000.
World Elite MasterCards have similar terms and conditions but cover up to $50,000. Totally enough, but I don’t see how it’s better than Visa Signature cards.
American Express offers $50,000 back for most cards and $75,000 for the Platinum and Delta Reserve. The big benefit I see with Amex is that is has some medical insurance.
$50,000 limits don’t seem to matter at all given that collision only covers the car, and that you basically can’t find any cars over $50,000 that aren’t excluded. At least it’s not likely you’ll be renting one. If you are renting a BMW over $50,000 in value (that’s also not excluded), then maybe you need to use a card that has a higher limit.
There are many great cards that have collision car rental insurance, and a few that have great primary. Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Chase Sapphire Preferred, United Explorer, etc… are great examples of cards with Primary.
All in all, any of the credit cards I listed will totally cover an Audi rented out by Silver car, with the insurance built in with the credit card, as long as you pay for the car rental with that card.