Maximizing Amex Post 10: Car Rental Benefits

by on May 26, 2011 · 34 comments

in American Express, Points Guy Pointers

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This is another installment in my Maximizing Amex series where I examine the benefits of American Express cards and Amex’s Membership Rewards Program. The articles include; Post 1: Understanding the Card Offering. Post 2: Understanding Membership Rewards. Post 3: Understanding Transfer Bonuses. Post 4: Platinum Card Review. Post 5: SkyTeam Transfer Partners. Post 6: Oneworld Transfer Partners. Post 7: Star Alliance Transfer Partners. Post 8:Understanding Emergency Travel Assistance and Travel Accident Insurance. Post 9: Purchase and Return Protection and Extended Warranty. Post 10: Car Rental Benefits. Post 11: Gold and Premier Rewards Gold Card Comparison.

As a New Yorker without a car or insurance, having sufficient car rental coverage is very important as I can’t afford to be on the hook for all of the fees associated with being in an accident. This is one of the main reasons why I always pay with an American Express card when renting a vehicle. The coverage gives me a peace of mind that is invaluable. Beyond insurance coverage, there are also other fun perks like elite status. Let’s take a look:

Standard Rental Loss and Damage Coverage: Available on most American Express cards, except Corporate cards. All you have to do is use your card when you are the primary renter when you reserve and pay for your auto rental. Say “No Thanks” – Decline the collision damage waiver (CDW) or similar option when you are reserving and picking up your car from a Commercial Car Rental Company. The Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance Plan provides coverage against theft of or damage to most rental vehicles. Coverage applies for the first 30 days, and is in excess to your other sources of insurance.
Exclusions: No coverage is provided for vehicles rented in Australia, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Jamaica and New Zealand. In addition, the Plan does not cover liability or another type of loss.
Link to submit a claim.

Premium Car Rental Protection: Available on most American Express cards, except Corporate cards. One flat price of $24.95 per rental period, not per day ($17.95 for California Residents). I enroll for this since I don’t have primary insurance and it automatically covers me for my rentals – even when I use Hertz points for award rentals.
Coverage: is primary. You won’t have to file a claim with your personal insurance company and risk having your premiums increase. There are no deductibles.
There is no cost to enroll and you will only be billed a premium when you use your enrolled Card to rent a car until your enrollment is terminated. Covers most vehicles typically available from a Rental Company.
Coverage (for you and your passengers):
Up to $100,000 of primary coverage for damage or theft of a Rental Car.
Up to $100,000 of Accidental Death or Dismemberment coverage.
Up to $15,000 for excess medical expenses.
Exclusions: Coverage is worldwide, except for vehicles rented in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand.
Coverage is for up to 42 consecutive days (up to 30 consecutive days for Washington State Cardmembers) and automatically extends to your other noncorporate American Express® Card accounts.

Elite Status and Perks with Hertz and National: Exclusive to Platinum Cardholders.
Hertz: Enjoy complimentary membership in Hertz #1 Club Gold, which includes complimentary One Car Class Upgrade (subject to availability) and expedited check-out (your car will show up on the screen so you skip the check-in counter). You can enroll now in the Hertz #1 Club Gold. Just have this information on hand:
Company Name: American Express Platinum
CDP Number: 211762
Assigned Promo Code Number: 154
Complete the enrollment form and submit to Hertz
Also, you get a 4 hour grace period on your return when you use your Platinum card CDP 211762.

Avis: Enjoy complimentary membership in the Avis Preferred Service program, which includes: Special discounts on normal time and mileage rates at participating Avis locations, as follows:
15% off local daily and weekly rates in Canada and the U.S. (excluding Hawaii)
5% off local weekend rates in Canada and the U.S.
10% off Intercity rates in Canada; 5% off Intercity rates in the U.S.
Up to 20% off rates outside of Canada and the U.S. *
5% off promotional rates in Canada and the U.S.

Just charge your rental to your Platinum Card and quote your Avis Worldwide Discount (AWD) #C076700 to enjoy the savings. Click here for more information.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • jb

    Do you know if the Amex premium car rental protection covers only the card holder or if there is another driver along with the cardholder driving the car will that driver be covered as well- for a rental in England?
    Thank you. Your information is much appreciated

  • Tim

    Does anyone know why most credit card car rental insurance programs exclude Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand? Is it because there are just more claims made from these locations–or is it because of some other reason?

    Do any cards offer truly worldwide coverage?

  • Mike

    HEY TPG! I have both the Platinum and Blue Cash Preferred cards from AMEX. I use the Blue Cash Preferred only for groceries (6% cash back) and gas (3%) to replace the value I gave up when upgrading from Premier Rewards Gold Card to Platinum (for lounge access).

    Anyway, I’m having an issue trying to refer my friends to these cards. I’ve noticed a glitch in their referral system – I can’t use the online links to refer friends to either card…it automatically defaults to the Platinum or my old Premier Rewards Gold Card (which I upgraded to Platinum from). I called and emailed to ask for help and got a response along the lines of “referral bonuses are targeted only…sorry, you are not eligible.” The only thing is, in the case of the Blue Cash Preferred Card, the referral credit of $75 is advertised right on the AMEX website! I pointed that out and never received a response. I’ve tried going through both Platinum and Blue Cash Preferred customer service lines and had no help. Also, depending on whether you use a Google search, search through the AMEX website, or click through the AMEX website, referrals to the Platinum card vary from 5,000 MR points to 25,000 MR points! Seems like the marketing and customer service sides of AMEX can’t seem to jive. Any advice? I have 2 referrals for the Blue Cash and 1 for the Platinum.

  • Trixie

    @Tim – Once you’re in Ireland you’ll understand why. Every single rental car you see has its mirrors damaged to one extent or another. Those narrow roads lined with rock walls coupled with driving on the “wrong” side do a number on ‘em ;) I researched it before my trip a couple years ago and it seemed that no one covered Ireland and Jamaica, I believe Visa signature covered AU and NZ.

  • pixel girl

    Hi PG, This is a non-sequitur, but generally related to MR, so hopefully it’s okay! I have a large purchase coming up, which I could either order through Amazon tax free and save $125, or order via the Bonus Mall and gain approx 6,000 points. ($2,000 at 3X rewards)

    Off the top of your head — which one is a better deal?

    Thanks and maybe another post in the series could be about maximizing the bonus mall?

  • ArlingtonTraveler

    I have been looking into switching from my Amex Gold charge card to the Amex Platinum but decided against it. I actually hold the predecessor to the Preferred Rewards card. It has double points on gas and groceries as well as 1.5 points on travel (hotel and airlines I believe). The cool thing is that up to 5 cards can be gotten for no extra charge which comes in handy for me because I have one for my wife (full time student). If I upgrade to Platinum it is true the 25K upgrade bonus they give you pays for the difference in the annual fee, BUT then I have to pay $175 a year for an additional Platinum or $45 a year additional for a Gold. The elite status with hotels and car rental companies isn’t worth much to me because I travel enough to earn it or have it already. The $200 is worth it, but as I fly only about 6 times a year the airline club privilege is not worth it for me.

  • Mike

    @Arlington Traveler: I was in a very similar situation. Was considering upgrading to Platinum from Preferred Rewards Gold Card, but didn’t want to give up my 3X MR points for airfare, 2X for gas groceries, 1X for everything else. The difference maker for me was the frequency with which I fly – on average 2 round trips per month. I opted to upgrade to Platinum after hitting the bonus points for spending $30K on my PR Gold Card, took the 25,000 MR points for the upgrade, and opened a new Blue Cash Preferred Card. The Blue Cash Preferred Card actually pays 6% cash back on groceries, 3% back on gas and department stores, and 1% cash back on all else. We use it exclusively for groceries and gas and it more than makes up for the increase in annual fee on the Platinum. Since I travel a decent amount, the lounge access was worth it, and so is the $200 airline fee credit. Also, I got a free upgrade on a 1 night Starwood hotel stay the day after I got my card because of the complimentary SPG Gold status.

    Moral of the story is: to each his own!

  • Glenn

    i agree this $25 per rental insurance coverage is a very good benefit. It also covers “loss of use” which most credit card basic coverage does not provide. this refers to the rental agency’s process of charging you while the car is being repaired since they can’t rent it out during that time.

  • Scott C

    @Mike. Can’t say this will work as I’m not having your issue. Have you tried clearing cookies?

  • Mickey

    I’ve kept a Diners Club card for years for the automatic Primary CDW coverage in the US.
    Since I use the card for nothing else except rental cars in the US (20 times/ year) its harder to justify keeping the card then ever, but still not a terrible deal for the $95/yr annual fee IF one actually rents a car more then four times in the US.

  • SBE

    The real “gotcha” with the rental car is diminished value. Your credit card can cover the damage and the loss of use but if it doesn’t cover DV then you are still exposed to thousands of dollars in potential liability.

    Unfortunately I know of no card that will cover this. Nor will your existing auto insurance. It used to be possible to buy a rider for your homeowners policy but that seems to be impossible now.

    Its something to keep in mind when you decline the rental car company’s coverage. At least be aware you are on the hook for this.

    For some real horror stories Google “diminished value car rental.”

    I suggest any discussion of the merits of the various credit cards include this information. Also be aware that some cards will not pay for loss of use unless the rental car company will supply a log and the log shows the car would have been in use. In this case you would also be on the hook for those charges. Again do a Google search. This can be a pretty ugly surprise.

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  • Stefan

    Credit cards with free primary car insurance and annual fees under $100:
    -Continental OnePass Plus Card (I just got this with the 50k offer but have not been home to receive it and review the detailed terms.)
    -Diner’s Club Professional (I got this in connection with my corporate card, it does not seem to be generally offered to the public.)

    Does anyone know of any others? I have done a lot of research, but card companies do little help in disclosing this on their websites.
    It is important to note that none of these, not even the AmEx Premium, provide liability insurance. I too live in NY and rent a lot for personal use, so after some calling around got a non-owners liability policy through Progressive to cover me in that area.

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  • NateGuam

    I love the car rental benefits offered through my Platinum card.

    I got the card last month and started putting it to use on my trip to Honolulu two weeks ago. Made a reservation with National. Customer service said to line up right at the Emerald club booth in the parking lot – simple! Not only that, I would pay two car classes lower

    One of the ladies asked for all Executive status holders to raise their hands. She asked if I’d like the Lincoln MKS they set aside for me or if I’d like to pick anything in the Executive line OR anything in the lot. Now thats customer service!

    Had the car for about a week. One thing to point out, I’m only 23 so the reservation just for the car costs less than the cost for my age being less than 25. After some talking they decided to discount even further than they already had when I was returning the vehicle.

    You bet I’ll be using National in Honolulu again. I go there often enough to make the annual fee worth it.

  • guest

    does this cover zipcar or other car sharing arrangements?

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  • boka

    How much is the now-owners liability policy costing you in NYC? thanks

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  • EW

    Is is a commercial insurance? I don’t see it on the progressive’s personal site.

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  • Peggy Toole

    I rented from Enterprise from 2005-2010 on an almost weekly basis and in that time had a couple little dings from grocery cars hitting the sides of their cars and in one case a coke bottle being thrown thru the windshield. Never a moving accident or anything that was my fault. I never had any problem until this spring when apparently a kid hit the side of the parked car overnight, probably with a bike tire and put it a little dent in the side— didn’t even the chip the paint. This was back in May and 5 months later, Amex is now claiming that they won’t pay “loss of use” ” diminishment of value”, administrative fees—in all over $600+ they are claiming I would have to pay. This is on a GOLD CARD THAT I HAVE TO PAY FOR. I’m closing all three accounts I have with Amex- the platinum and both Gold cards. Amex insurance was great in the past but beware now. This has been a total nightmare.

  • Dave

    Just signed up for programs. Not sure if they are good value. I think Avis preferred is free. Booking online, without entering any codes, I got cheaper rates for both Avis and Hertz. What gives? Charge more for AMEX customers cause they are less price sensitive?

  • ThaiTex

    Just had auto rental damage claim denied by American Express on the basis that Hertz Bonus Points were used to offset a portion of the total rental charges. The reservation was made using an Am Ex card and the balance, taxes and fees, was paid using the same Am Ex card. I have been an American Express card member since 1969. I am protesting this decision to deny my claim and am thinking about my future relationship with Am Ex and the four accounts I have open with them.

  • Privat1

    National how to get elite status?

  • Stephen

    Ireland is an Island as well as a country. Does this Ireland refer to the country Ireland and exclude Northern Ireland (after all this is part of the UK) or is it both?

  • tpguws

    Same thing is happening to me. Did you contest? How did it turn out?

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