Many Canadians are confused about car rental insurance and it’s no wonder: at the check-in counter, you’re often presented with a long-winded policy written in “legalese,” making it hard to decipher what’s covered. For many travellers, the knee-jerk reaction is to just buy whatever policy is recommended by the company.
Such a hasty decision leads many travellers to (a) buy a bare-bones policy that doesn’t cover everything, or (b) overpay for the Shaq Daddy of policies that probably isn’t worth it.
But what many travellers forget is that they may already have credit card car rental insurance that will cover them at home and abroad – free of charge.
In this car rental insurance guide, we’re sharing our top picks for the best credit cards for car rental insurance in Canada, as well as tips and advice on everything you need to know about credit card car insurance in Canada.
Summary of the Best Credit Card Car Rental Insurance Canada
|Credit Card||Annual Fee||Coverage Amount||Best Feature||More Info|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*||$120 (1st year FREE)*||Up to $65,000||Preferred rate with qualifying Avis and Budget car rentals||Learn More|
|BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*||$150||Up to $65,000||Covers any personal items stolen or damaged in an accident||Learn More|
|American Express® Gold Rewards Card||$150||Up to $85,000||Highest coverage amount offered||Learn More|
|Desjardins Odyssey World Elite Mastercard||$130||Up to the value of the rental car||20% off with Hertz car rentals||Learn More|
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*: *This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.
What Do You Need to Be Covered for When Renting a Car?
It’s true: there are a number of Canadian credit cards that offer car rental insurance as a cardholder benefit. This means that purchasing an additional policy may be unnecessary because you may already be protected by your credit card rental insurance.
However, not all credit card car rental insurance policies are created equal: the terms and conditions are not always clear cut and different credit cards have different coverage amounts, policies, and additional benefits. For this reason, it’s important to read the fine print and really understand just what your coverage includes, in what countries it’s valid, and if there are any exceptions or limitations.
No matter how good of a driver you are, approach your car insurance with the mindset that the worst could happen and you need to be protected if it does. This means making sure that you protect yourself, but also others on the road. With that in mind, here are the types of coverage you will need.
- Damage to your rental vehicle
- Theft of your rental vehicle
- Damage to another person’s vehicle
- Injury to another person
- Property damage
- Loss of use of the rental vehicle while it’s under repair
When it comes to car rental insurance, most credit cards do not cover third-party liability (damage to another vehicle and/or injury to another person). Within Canada, each province has its own minimum third-party liability that is provided by the rental company. However, not every country has liability insurance laws and, in this case, you may need to purchase additional liability insurance from the car rental agency. Check your car insurance policy at home first, as you may be able to use it abroad.
Our Best Credit Cards for Car Rental Insurance
There are several Canadian credit cards on the market that offer car rental insurance. However, after an intensive study, we’ve narrowed down our top three picks based on their reasonable annual fees, generous coverage amounts, and attractive perks to cardholders.
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite*
Coverage Amount: Up to $65,000
Number of Days Covered: 48
Annual Fee: $120 (first year free, limited time offer until June 2, 2019)
*This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.
The TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* credit card is a favourite pick when it comes to travel cards in general, but definitely a good choice for those looking for car rental insurance. The coverage amount is $65,000 which is valid for up to 48 consecutive days. Plus, the annual fee of $120 is free the first year if you sign up before June 2, 2019.
The benefit with this credit card is that cardholders will receive special preferred rates on qualifying car rentals when they use their card to book a car rental with either Avis or Budget. This perk will be a definite money saver for anyone who regularly rents cars during their travels. Check out our full TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* review.
BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*
Coverage Amount:Up to $65,000
Number of Days Covered:48
When it comes to the best credit cards for car rental insurance, the BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®* is a favourite. The coverage amount is up to $65,000 for up to 48 consecutive days for theft or damage which is not the highest amount offered by a credit card, but still fair.
What makes this card is stand-out is that it covers any personal items stolen or damaged in the accident (maximum $1000 per person or $2000 per vehicle). Additionally, this policy offers accidental death or dismemberment insurance of up to $300,000. These added benefits make the BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®* a stand-out choice.
American Express® Gold Rewards Card
Coverage Amount: Up to $85,000
Number of Days Covered: 48
Annual Fee: $150
The American Express® Gold Rewards Card is a winner if you’re looking for a credit card with generous car rental insurance coverage. This credit card offers up to $85,000 in coverage fees for 48 consecutive days compared to the $65,000 of the other two cards listed in this article. Remember though, that the value of coverage only equals the value of the rental car. However, the benefit of having a much higher coverage amount means that you can use anything left over to cover other associated expenses, such as towing. This additional coverage makes the American Express® Gold Rewards Card a solid and safe choice when looking for credit card car rental insurance.
Desjardins Odyssey World Elite Mastercard
Coverage Amount: Up to the value of the rental car
Number of Days Covered: 48
Annual Fee: $130 (Unless you are a Desjardins member, then $0)
While the Desjardins Odyssey World Elite Mastercard doesn’t have the personal items coverage offered by the BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®*, this card does offer 20% off car rentals with participating Hertz car rental locations. This discount benefit can be a big money saver to individuals who frequently require car rentals for their travels. At the end of the day, the coverage up to the value of the stolen/damaged rental car of 48 consecutive days is very reasonable. Also, remember, if you are a Desjardins member, then this card has a $0 annual fee.
Using Your Credit Card Car Rental Insurance
Having car rental insurance coverage on your credit card is a huge benefit. However, to be able to use it, you do need to meet some requirements. Here’s what you need to watch out for.
- You must be a Canadian citizen with a valid driver’s license
- When renting a car, the full amount must be charged to your credit card. For example, if you are booking an all-inclusive trip that includes a car rental, the entirety of the trip must be charged to your card. Same goes if you’re booking a car rental by itself. Always charge the cost onto your credit card to secure the coverage.
- Credit card car rental insurance in Canada only covers certain vehicles. Normally, pick-up trucks, luxury vehicles (often over 65k), antique cars, and commercial fans are not covered.
- Not all countries are covered under your insurance. For example, destinations with Canadian travel advisories are often exempt. You will need to check this with your card provider.
- Your credit card account must be in good standing (e.g. pay minimum deposits on time)
- What you’re doing with the vehicle matters. For example, commercial purposes (such as moving your things) isn’t normally covered.
- If you are driving while impaired, your insurance policy will be void.
- The maximum time your card will insure you is between 31-48 days of rental. However, this varies by credit card, but those we have listed in this article max out at 48 days.
- Accepting the rental car company’s insurance will likely void your credit card insurance policy.
- If the car rental is a prize (lucky you!), you may still be covered through your credit card. This is especially true if you have proof of using the credit card for car rentals in the past. However, it’s not a guarantee so it’s best to check with your credit card provider ahead of time.
- If you use credit card points to book your car rental, then you should still be covered. That is, assuming that you used the points from your credit card with the car rental insurance. Again, it’s best to call the credit card provider ahead of time to make sure.
Pro tip: it’s good practice to examine the car with a rental agent before you leave the property. Note any questionable marks, scratches, or dents on the documentation, so you don’t get slapped with a big bill when you return the car. You can also take photos of the car using a camera with a time stamp to keep as evidence. That way, there can be no discrepancies or accusations of car damage when you return the vehicle.
Is Credit Card Car Rental Insurance Worth It?
Having car rental insurance included in your credit card is a big perk, especially if you are a frequent traveller. However, it’s not as easy as just swiping your card: it’s something you need to research ahead of time, understand the terms and conditions, and use your card appropriately to accommodate impending travel plans. While the credit cards listed above are the best credit cards for car rental insurance in Canada, make sure to read the fine print to really understand what you are covered for. Bon voyage!
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