Study: Credit cards vary on rental car coverage

During a recent trip to home to Nebraska, a WTOP editor rented a Fiat 500. Rental cars are covered through the auto insurance most people already have. (Lacey Mason/WTOP)

WASHINGTON – Insurance for rental cars may be covered if drivers use certain credit cards to pay, but coverage is more complicated than a simple swipe.

CardHub has released its 2012 Credit Card Auto Rental Insurance Study which compares coverage by the four major cards: Visa, Discover, MasterCard and American Express.

CardHub found that all four provide some form of rental car insurance coverage, but MasterCard is the only one that doesn’t provide it to all cardholders.

All four also require that a renter waive supplemental insurance from the rental company. In addition, none provides coverage for exotic, expensive or antique cars, or for off-road vehicles or those with open beds.

Accidents that occur on dirt roads aren’t covered by Visa or MasterCard. Mastercard also does not offer coverage for incidents occuring on a road that isn’t regularly maintained.

Discover is the only card that provides coverage in all countries where Discover is accepted.

Popular SUVs such as Chevy’s Suburban and Tahoe, the GMC Yukon, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, Toyota Land Cruiser, Lexus LX450, Range Rover and the full-sized Bronco aren’t covered by American Express.

Overall, the study revealed Visa offers customers the best coverage.

The full results of the study are available at CardHub.

An important tip for car renters that the study doesn’t mention: The auto insurance most drivers already have for their personal vehicles also applies to rental cars.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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