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 three 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||Best Feature||More Info|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card||$139|
(Annual fee rebate for first year if you are approved by May 30, 2021)
|Preferred rate with qualifying Avis and Budget car rentals||Read On||Visit Site|
|BMO World Elite®* Mastercard®*||$150 |
(Waived for first year)
|Covers any personal items stolen or damaged in an accident||Read On||Visit Site|
|American Express Cobalt™ Card||$10 per month ($120/year)||Earn Membership Rewards® points for every $1 in card purchases||Read On||Visit Site|
|Desjardins Odyssey World Elite Mastercard||$130||20% off with Hertz car rentals||Read On||Visit Site|
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* Card
Limited-time offer: Apply by May 30, 2021, to get an annual fee rebate for the first year and a welcome bonus of 10,000 Aeroplan points after making your first purchase. Earn another 10,000 Aeroplan points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.
The TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card is a top 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 valid for up to 48 consecutive days. The additional benefit of 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.
Car rental perks aside, you can also take advantage of the decent welcome offer when getting approved: earn 10,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase with your card. The annual fee is also rebated in the first year for both the primary and additional cardholders if you apply by May 30, 2021. You’ll also get a bonus Buddy Pass after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days from account opening, which can be used to bring anyone along to anywhere Air Canada flies in North America, including Hawaii and Mexico. Last but not least, that $1,000 spend in the first 90 days will also earn you an additional 10,000 Aeroplan points.
Check out our full TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card review.
- Annual Fee: $139 (annual fee rebate for the first year if you apply by May 30, 2021)
- Minimum Income Eligibility: $60,000 personal or $100,000 household annual income
- Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
- Welcome Offer: Welcome bonus of 10,000 Aeroplan points after first purchase + another 10,000 Aeroplan points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. Must apply by May 30, 2021
- Other Perks: Travel insurance, VIP benefits when travelling on Air Canada flights, $100 Nexus fee rebate (every 48 months), Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance, and no Aeroplan points expiry for cardholders
- Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
*This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.
BMO World Elite®* Mastercard®*
Coverage Amount: Up to $65,000
Number of Days Covered: 48
Annual Fee: $150 (waived for the first year)
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 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. Plus, upon sign up, cardholders are able to earn up to $575 between all its enticing introductory bonuses. You get a welcome offer of 40,000 points and the $150 annual fee waived in the first year ($285 travel value booked on bmorewards.com + $150 Value*), as well as 4 free passes for worldwide VIP airport lounges every year —a $140 value.
These added benefits make the BMO World Elite®* Mastercard®* a stand-out choice.
- Annual Fee: $120 (waived for the first year)
- Minimum Income Eligibility: $80,000 individual or $150,000 household annual income
- Credit Score Required: Excellent
- Welcome Offer: Welcome bonus of up to 3,000 AIR MILES
- Other Perks: 15% off AIR MILES flights within North America booked with AIR MILES, comprehensive travel insurance, Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey with two free annual passes
- Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 22.99%
American Express Cobalt™ Card
The American Express Cobalt™ Card is an excellent credit card for car insurance because it has a relatively high coverage rate of $85,000. That means if you rent a higher-end vehicle, it will be covered by the American Express Cobalt™ Card’s car rental insurance, versus other credit cards that offer a lower dollar value of coverage. Plus, new cardholders can earn up to 45,000 Membership Rewards® points in your first year.
Finally, the biggest benefit is that you can earn points for every purchase charged to this credit card, which can be redeemed for travel rewards, shopping rewards, and gift cards. Since eligible transit or travel purchases get 2X the points, your car rental will not only be insured, but you’ll also earn twice the points for every dollar you spend on your rental.
- Annual Fee: $120 ($10 per month)
- Minimum Income Eligibility: N/A
- Credit Score Required: Fair to Good
- Welcome Bonus: Earn up to 45,000 Membership Rewards® points in the first year
- Coverage Amount: Up to $85,000
- Number of Days Covered: 48 days
- Additional Perks: Insurance, exclusive entertainment access, access to VIP benefits at the Hotel Collection from American Express®
- Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 21.99%
Desjardins Odyssey World Elite Mastercard
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.
- Annual Fee: $130 (unless you are a Desjardin member, then $0)
- Minimum Income Eligibility: $80,000 individual or $150,000 household
- Credit Score Required: Fair to Good
- Welcome Bonus: Get up to 2% in BONUSDOLLARS®.
- Coverage Amount: Up to the value of the rental car
- Number of Days Covered: 48 days
- Additional Perks: Insurance, 8 free passes per year to the Desjardin Odyssey Lounge
- Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: n/a
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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