Does the Chase Ink Bold Really Offer Primary Rental Car Insurance in the US?

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A reader recently asked me whether the Chase Ink Bold (a business charge card) offers primary rental car insurance for personal car rentals in the US.

It doesn’t.

And outside the US, it doesn’t matter because almost all credit card car rental insurance is effectively primary coverage, not secondary coverage.

Primary Car Rental Coverage

A few US credit cards offer primary car rental insurance in the US.

If you decline the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) offered by the car rental agency, but charge the rental to a credit card offering primary car rental coverage, the credit card insurance will usually pick up the bill for physical damage/theft, loss-of-use charges, and towing for the rental car if you get into an accident  (up to the coverage limit) without requiring you to file a claim with your personal car insurance company.

Note that primary car rental insurance will NOT cover damage to the other car, any property damaged, and injuries to you or others.  You are still liable for those damages and your personal car insurance policy may cover those claims.

Many folks think that having primary car rental insurance via a credit card means that the credit card insurance pays the bill for ALL damages.  That is NOT true!  It only pays the bill for damages to your rental car!

Secondary Car Rental Coverage

Most credit cards offer Secondary rental car insurance in the US, but which is effectively primary car rental insurance outside the US.

Suppose you decline the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) offered by the car rental agency, and charge the car rental to a credit card offering secondary car rental insurance.

If you were to get in an accident in the US, the secondary car rental credit card insurance would require you to file a claim with your personal auto insurance provider, and would then pay you only the deductible on your personal car insurance policy.

And just like primary car rental insurance, it would NOT cover damage to the other car, any property damaged, and injuries to you or others.

However, if you don’t have a car insurance policy in the US, secondary rental car insurance on a credit card will work as primary rental car insurance and will usually pay for physical damage/theft, loss-of-use charges, and towing charges for the rental car.  Note that you are still liable for damages to other property and persons.

Similarly outside the US, most secondary credit card rental car insurance will actually be primary rental car insurance and will pay for physical damage/theft, loss-of-use charges, and towing charges for the rental car.  You will still be liable for damages to other property and persons.

What about the Chase Ink Bold car rental insurance?

Well, the terms and conditions of the Chase Ink Bold say that the car insurance is PRIMARY when you rent the car “primarily for business purposes” and SECONDARY when you rent a car for personal use.

So be careful to not use the Chase Ink Bold for a personal car rental if you’re expecting primary rental car coverage in the US.

Insurance companies don’t like paying claims, and I’m fairly sure that you will be asked the purpose of your trip if you were to file a claim.

This is particularly important for folks who have an e-bay business or another small business which qualifies them for a business credit card.

Here’s the fine print from the terms and conditions of the Chase Ink Bold as pertains to rental car insurance.

What type of coverage is this?

Auto Rental CDW is primary coverage. In other words, when your rental is primarily for business purposes, you do not have to claim payment from any source of insurance before receiving coverage under the benefit.

However, if you are on a personal trip and you use your Business card to rent a covered vehicle, Business Auto Rental CDW supplements, and applies excess of, any valid and collectible insurance or reimbursement benefits from any source.

It does not duplicate insurance provided by or purchased through the auto rental company; it will not pay for losses reimbursed by your own insurer, employer, employer’s insurance, or any other valid and collectible insurance. Auto Rental CDW will reimburse you for the deductible portion of your personal automobile insurance, valid administrative and loss-of-use charges imposed by the rental car company, as well as reasonable towing charges resulting from covered damage or theft of a rental vehicle while it is your responsibility.

 Bottom Line:  I personally don’t value primary rental car insurance, because I’m comfortable filing a claim with my personal car insurance company for damage to a rental car in the US.  Primary rental car insurance doesn’t cover damage to other persons or property or the rental car occupants, and that’s what I want to most protect myself against.

And outside the US, most credit card car rental insurance is effectivly primary car rental insurance!

But, some folks like car rental primary insurance coverage in the US.  Just be careful to not expect primary car rental insurance coverage when you use a business credit card which offers primary insurance for a personal car rental.

And don’t forget to read the fine print because not all car rental insurance is the same!

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41 responses to “Does the Chase Ink Bold Really Offer Primary Rental Car Insurance in the US?

  1. United Explorer is primary CDW, of course. I still carry my Diners Club card, which is primary.

  2. Nice post! I agree that my normal insurance is still 100% necessary, since liability coverage would likely be the most important part of my needs in an accident *knock on wood*. However, since I have the MileagePlus Explorer anyway (at least for this year!), I figure I may as well use it to take advantage of primary CDW. Saving that deductible is better than saving nothing…and worth it to me in the opportunity cost of “only” earning 1 mile per dollar using that card vs. 2 miles on a different card.

  3. Other than the United Explorer card (and the Diners card than only Gary has) what other credit cards offer primary coverage? I read a post about this somewhere but can’t locate it now! Thanks.

  4. My reference to Gary’s United card included a smiley which the website ate…for the record!

  5. Is there a specific (VI, MC, AMEX) that provides better coverage outside the USA? Interested in Belgium and Germany for some upcoming travel. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the Sapphire MasterCard version had coverage that others didn’t provide-although that might have been specific to a country (Israel?)

  6. what about the amex insurance – when you pay 24.95 for the entire rental once the card is enrolled.
    what kind of insurance is that?

  7. I was going to throw in Diners but chief Diners Club Evangelist @GaryLeff beat me to it…lol! I didnt realize the United Explorer was primary…good to know! Thanks Daraius, this is a good reference for people!

  8. Does the same apply to Amex Gold Business Card? That is, unless one is traveling on business, the coverage switches from primary to secondary coverage?

  9. IH – Call AMEX and get your car rental insurance reduced to $19,99 per rental. That was the old price and they still honor it if you know to ask.

  10. CanadianMillionMiler

    The United Club credit card also offers primary car rental insurance. Unlike the Explorer, it also has no foreign transaction fees.

  11. TK007 – I think AMEX automatically charges you whenever you use the card to pay for the rental. So calling them to reduce to $19.99 each time before you rent or call once and good for future?

  12. I have the Chase Ink, Sapphire, Chase United Mileage Plu, Delta Amex. I am in the US. Do any of these provide liability and CDW? I usually use my Delta Amex but was told that it does not cover liability. I am confused. Sorry and thanks for clarifying.

  13. Does it matter how you purchase your rental? Like do I have the same coverage from my CC if I book through priceline (name own price) vs at the counter of the agency?

  14. So just to be clear, if I have a U.S. insurance policy (full coverage) for the cars I own, it is never necessary to add any insurance from the car rental company whatsoever right? Or what is the benefit of adding the car rental agency’s insurance? They always make a blurb about how your own insurance doesn’t cover something, but I don’t think I full understand that.

    Also what if you rent a car with miles/points instead of your credit card?

  15. Credit card companies when providing secondary coverage WILL NOT require you to file with your personal auto carrier before they pay on a property damage claim. The will want a copy of your declarations page to see the coverage you carry and to verify what your deductible is and that is it. If you then want to pay the difference or file with your insurance then that is your choice.

    Take note: NY, and MN residents. If you carry auto insurance in these 2 states and even if it’s just liability that you carry, your insurance company will still be in the primary position to cover the property damage to the rental vehicle unless you purchased primary coverage from the credit card company. When you rent a vehicle coverage will be applied under the liability portion of the policy. The majority of TX auto policies are still this way, but the policy language in some of the newer written policies have changed to apply coverage under collision.

  16. Ivan – If you carry collision on your personal auto policy it is not necessary to purchase coverage, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. It boils down to personal preference. Figure out what will best benefit you. Do you want the hassle of filing a claim with your carrier for damages, paying a deductible + fees charged on a rental car companies claim, and possibly having your insurance rates rise as a result of the claim?? I’ve seen it go both ways. It’s a great thing to have and your thankful you had it when you needed it, but then if nothing happens then you think why did I purchase coverage when I have insurance.

  17. Last thing. Take note

    AZ, ME, MD, MA, MI, MS, NE, NH, NY, PR, SC, VA(unless a temp sub veh), WV(unless a temp sub veh). These are states in which the rental car company serves as primary for liability by default.

    CO and NJ rental car company is Co-Primary.

    Hope this info helps everyone.

  18. Amex offers 2 options 19.99 for 75k coverage and 25 for 100k coverage (it’s two different policies) both primary and they mail you a fancy package of the terms after you enroll

  19. Thanks for the response Josh. Well then if have your own US auto insurance policy and then use a credit card that provides coverage, what coverage does the credit card provide? – I’m not sure I understand all that.

  20. Thanks for this, and all your other great posts. I read three miles-oriented blogs regularly, and yours is one of them, so thanks for all the great info.

    As a personal injury lawyer who knows way more about insurance than I ever wanted to, I just want to emphasize two points.

    1 – If you do not have collision coverage on your personal policy, then you should either pay for it with the rental, or use a card that provides it. Because if you don’t have collision coverage, and you back into a pole, it’s going to cost you more than you think. Many people do not have collision coverage, because it’s not required in most states, and most people buy the cheapest insurance they can find.

    2 – If you do have collision coverage on your own policy, and you back into a pole, your regular insurance will cover it. Buy your rates may go up! That’s the main reason to use a credit card that will provide “primary” coverage, without making you talk to your insurance company first.

  21. The personal insurance coverage applicable to damage to your rental car is Collision Coverage. I don’t carry Collision Coverage on my personal car. When I dented my Avis rental, Visa covered all the costs without too much hassle, except this: I had to prove that I had no Collision Coverage, which I did by signing an affidavit. I figured that if Visa had any contact with my insurance carrier, it might raise my premium, so the affidavit didn’t even give the carrier’s name.

  22. Ivan – The credit card secondary coverage would cover your deductible that you carry with your personal auto insurance. If it’s a Visa – they will cover a portion and sometimes in full the loss of use and administrative fees in addition to your deductible if those items aren’t covered under your personal auto policy.

    Amex – Same as above, but will only cover admin fees charged on rentals that originate in California. Loss of use, Amex requires that the rental car companies fleet utilization be greater than 85% during time of repair before they will consider paying any loss of use.

    MasterCard – Same as above and seems to cover some loss of use if rental car company provides a fleet log.

    Diners Club – Property damage only and no fees.

  23. Does it get a bit trickier when one doesn’t charge the whole rental to the credit card? Say, one rents by redeeming FF points (Delta, Avios, ThankYou points, etc…) Aren’t there specific terms of service excluding coverage for rentals not “paid in full” with their cards? Got a couple rentals upcoming, BOS and overseas at USM… Any pointers will be appreciated!

  24. do credit card companies put your accidents on the CLUE report? or do they usually not? does it matter if the accident is domestic or international? can international accidents be reported to CLUE?
    THANKS

  25. You can still get the same coverage even if purchasing with credit card points. You just have to send in the required paperwork showing you paid with points.

  26. but not a gift card from the rental car agency, this is how they make money on those groupon/offers where they sell you a discount gift card but that invalidates the CC insurance, at least it does for AMEX.

    IF an accident is not reported by the CC or agency with your DL to your CLUE report then that is another advantage.

  27. Hey Ivan – I know Josh already answered (and knows W A Y more about this than I do) but I was wondering the same thing before my trip to Puerto Rico a few weeks ago. I rented a car with my Sapphire VISA which provides CDW (according to its documents) and my personal insurance policy (and this could be different from yours) covered liability on any rental in the US, including Puerto Rico.

    I declined all rental car insurance cause I figured between the CDW and liability I was set. My insurance agent recommended I get the get the rental companies insurance because – just like all insurance policies, all companies can run their insurance differently, so her take was better safe than sorry.

    Josh brings up a good point I didn’t even think about which is the deductible, but it sounds like mine would’ve been covered in my particular situation. I think the bottom line is the rules have many caveats (just look at all the exceptions listed by Josh depending on state), and between differences in personal insurance policies, rental car companies, and which state/country you’re renting in (and driving to if you cross any borders) you’ll always have to check for your particular situation.

  28. seems like the best thing is just cancel collision/comprehensive for a month before and after while renting a car then the Credit Card will be on the hook

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  30. Quick question. Will be renting a car next month in Italy for 3 days(Rome to Venice). T&C of Amex Rewards card and I assume all cards have a list of countries excluded and Italy is one of them.

    Any suggestions on insurance for this situation? I can only assume Hertz is going to rip me off when I go and pick up the car when it comes to insurance.

    I’m looking for an alternative.

  31. Any thoughts between using the United Visa that includes primary coverage vs. using an AMEX with the additional $20-25/rental plan? I do already have separate primary auto insurance. I’m confused if either plan will realistically cover loss-of-use fees.

    • @Dave G – I’d use the United Visa to save on the $20 fee for the AMEX. Note that neither cover liability insurance – just damage to the rental car. The terms of the United card says that it will cover loss of use charges substantiated by a fleet log, but I don’t know if the rental car company will provide that to you.

  32. I was just approved for the Chase Ink Bold and as you know I will have to meet the 5k dollar threshold in 3 months – which is going to be quite hard. I opened the card with the premise of selling clothes online; mostly designer clothes that I would rather sell than just discard and also hard to get pieces that I can sell at a profit due to demand. I’m just starting out and this is a very small side venture in addition to my primary full-time job. Q: are there things I shouldn’t purchase with this card? I’m going to be leasing a new car later this week and I’m pondering paying my security deposit with my new card. I’m also going to be traveling to France this summer and I also wanted to pay for my airline tickets, maybe even my hotel expenses using this card. I always pay my cards in full, but I don’t want to have my account closed or what not. Do you think using my card for these purchases to meet my threshold in addition to cable, internet and cell phone expenses will be considered against Chase rules for this card? Will I be OK?

  33. Late to the game here but what a great posting Daraius. Finally clarity when it comes to the Ink Business vs Personal question.

    Regarding points for a rental:
    If you use the UR portal (for example) to rent a car and you strictly use UR points to “pay” for the rental, no credit card charge, I assume there would be no secondary coverage, which is not a good thing of course.

    Since Chase allows you to use cash and points for a rental, would you be covered by secondary coverage if you choose a combo of say, for example, $5 and 19,000 points. That way there is some type of rental card charge to the Ink or Sapphire card. Or am I wrong and maybe the entire rental must be paid via the card, whereby any points used would invalidate secondary coverage. Anybody have any knowledge? Thanks!

  34. Are there ANY credit cards that offer an insurance which will cover EVERYTHING (my car, myself and other cards and other people in an accident?)

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  38. Hello
    “personal car insurance company” WHAT do you mean by this exactly? If I don’t have a car and any car insurance BUT Car rental company (ZIPCAR) provide Liability Car insurance with $1,000 deductible does it consider as “personal car insurance company” ?? Or not? Thanks