When to use American Express Premium Car Rental Protection – The Points Guy

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Some credit cards offer insurance when you rent a car using your card that covers the rental car if you're in an accident or if the rental car is stolen or damaged. A small number of premium travel rewards credit cards even offer primary coverage – which means you don't have to file with any other insurance first – but secondary coverage is much more common.
New to The Points Guy? Sign up for our daily newsletter and check out our beginner's guide.
While most American Express credit cards don't automatically offer primary car rental coverage (many offer secondary coverage, though), most will offer the option to purchase a Premium Car Rental Protection policy that provides primary coverage. The optional Premium Car Rental Protection policy can be added to rentals made using an eligible Amex card for a small fee.
This guide looks at this optional coverage and discusses when it makes sense to enroll.
The secondary car rental loss and damage insurance included with many American Express cards will cover you when an eligible rental car is damaged or stolen. However, since the insurance is secondary, if something does happen to your rental vehicle, you'll need to file with any other insurance you have (such as your personal car insurance or travel insurance) before attempting to submit a claim to Amex.
This is less than ideal as it can cause your insurance premiums to go up. It can also be a problem if you have a high deductible on any of the policies you carry since you could be out-of-pocket for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. That's why it's a good idea to try and get primary rental car insurance whenever possible.
If you carry an Amex card that is eligible for the issuer's secondary insurance, beware some types of vehicles are excluded from coverage. These include:
Additionally, any rental vehicle rented in Australia, Italy, New Zealand, or any country on the Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned country list is excluded.
If you want to know whether a particular American Express card provides secondary coverage, American Express's website shows policies for all 65 cards that include this coverage. Different cards provide different levels of coverage, so be sure to check the policy for your particular card.
Related: Choosing the best American Express credit card for you
Most American Express cards — even those that don't include secondary coverage on rental cars — offer the opportunity to purchase primary coverage at a reasonable flat cost per rental. Primary coverage means that you don't have to file with any other insurance before filing with American Express. Enrollment required for select benefits.
The following table compares the lower and higher levels of the optional Premium Car Rental Protection policies with a secondary policy included with The Platinum Card® from American Express. Remember, though, the included secondary car rental policies differ across American Express cards, so yours might not be exactly like the one outlined below.
Related: Can't find a car rental? Here are seven secrets that may help
Even with the Premium Car Rental Protection, rentals longer than 42 consecutive days (30 consecutive days for Washington State residents), as well as the following rental types, are excluded:
Additionally, you won't be covered for:
And, benefits will not be paid if the loss for which coverage is sought was contributed to or caused by any of the following:
Related: A $2,000 lesson in card benefits — Reader mistake story
Most American Express cards are eligible to be enrolled in the Premium Car Rental Protection program. However, corporate cards (which are different than business cards) and card accounts issued by a third-party bank partner of American Express are not eligible for enrollment.
Additionally, eligibility may vary by your state of residence and enrollment status of other card accounts you previously opened.
Related: The different flavors of American Express Platinum — which one is right for you?
To enroll, visit the American Express Premium Car Rental Protection page and click Enroll Now. You'll need to log into your American Express account, select the card you want to enroll, choose the plan you'd like and review the program's terms and conditions.
You can enroll cards for which you are the primary cardholder online but will need to call to enroll authorized user cards at 1-866-518-0259.
You won't be charged anything until you use an enrolled card to rent a car, at which point the premium will automatically post to your account. You'll remain enrolled until you explicitly terminate your enrollment. So, if coverage won't be necessary for a specific car rental reservation, be sure to terminate your enrollment before the rental by calling 1-866-518-0259 or the number on the back of your card. Otherwise, you'll continue to be charged for coverage each time you rent a vehicle using an enrolled card.
Related: Is credit card travel insurance sufficient on its own?
Although the American Express Premium Car Rental Protection policy isn't expensive at $12.25 to $24.95 per rental, it's still usually better to use a credit card that automatically provides primary car rental protection when you use that credit card to pay for a rental. However, there are some reasons why you might want to use an American Express card and enroll in the Premium Car Rental Protection program instead:
Related: Comparing car rental elite status
If you're going to enroll in the Premium Car Rental Protection program, which American Express card should you use? TPG has a guide of the best American Express cards, but here are some of the top choices based on their estimated return on car rentals. Note, the estimated return rate for these Amex cards is based on TPG's latest valuations.
The information for the Hilton Aspire card, and Amex EveryDay Preferred card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: Apply for the best credit card offers using the CardMatch Tool
If something does go wrong while you're on the road, here's what you need to do to take advantage of American Express Premium Car Rental Protection.
Your first step should be to report any damage that occurs to your rental car – including vandalism, theft or an accident – to the appropriate law enforcement agency as soon as reasonably possible.
Next, call your rental agency to inform them of what has happened and that you have notified the authorities and will be filing a claim through American Express.
Then call the number on the back of your enrolled card to report the incident and begin the claims process.
If required, you'll be sent a claim form. This form, and all other requested documentation, must be returned to the Premium Car Rental Protection Claims Unit within 60 days following the date of the damage or theft. If the required documentation is not received within 60 days of the date of loss – except for documentation that has not been furnished for reasons beyond your control – coverage may be denied.
Required documentation may consist of, but is not limited to:
If your claim is approved, it will be payable either to the cardmember or directly to the rental agency, depending on the circumstances and coverage.
Related: Paying $500 in rental car damage — reader mistake story
The American Express Premium Car Rental Protection policy provides cardmembers with a valuable option when deciding how to insure themselves best if renting a vehicle. Competing credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card include primary car rental insurance just by using the credit card to pay for the rental. However, note that the third-party insurance provider that Chase and some other issuers, such as Capital One, use has a poor reputation for accepting claims.
If you don't have a card that provides primary auto rental coverage in your wallet, though, then the American Express Premium Car Rental Protection policy can be a great choice for a reasonable fee. This is also a good option if you're booking a longer rental or a type of vehicle that's otherwise difficult to insure, like pick-up trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles.
Related: When to buy travel insurance versus when to rely on credit card protections
Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Eric Rosen.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, please click here.
The Points Guy believes that credit cards can transform lives, helping you leverage everyday spending for cash back or travel experiences that might otherwise be out of reach. That’s why we publish a variety of editorial content and card comparisons: to help you find a great card to turn your goals into reality.
When you choose to apply (and are approved) for a new credit card through our site, we may receive compensation from our partners, and this may impact how or where these products appear. While we don’t cover all available credit cards, our editorial team creates and maintains all of the analysis of these cards, and our content is not influenced nor subject to review by any credit card company, bank or partner prior to (or after) publication. Please view our advertising policy and product review methodology for more information.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *