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The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has earned plenty of praise for its points-earning power from many of us at TPG. From a potential sign-up bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points to the 2x points payout on dining and travel, cardholders can quickly accrue loads of points with a wide range of ways to redeem them. On a recent trip to San Francisco, though, I discovered when the card can really make a difference: when you find yourself stuck on the side of the road after a construction site tears apart the tire on your rental car.
As I was heading back to SFO after a wedding in wine country, I ran over some type of pothole/massive ravine in my rental Chevy Malibu. The tire deflated immediately. I pondered using the spare, but I was 90 miles from the airport and on a time crunch to catch my flight, which meant that the 55 miles-per-hour speed limit would lead to even more travel troubles.
After chatting with someone in Budget’s emergency roadside assistance department (who, I should add, was very helpful), my orders were to have the car towed all the way back to SFO. My wife and I climbed into the cab of the truck and prepared for a two-and-a-half-hour trip in Bay Area traffic. John, our tow truck driver, actually dropped us off at the terminal in the truck to make sure we made our flight. Consider it a new definition of Uber XL. As I boarded my flight back to Chicago, the adventure left me with one big question: Was my Chase Sapphire Preferred’s primary coverage really going to work? Tallying up the expenses of a long tow and a new tire, I worried that my California trip would wind up costing a lot more than expected.
Hassle-Free Claims Process
Shortly after I returned home, the bill from Budget arrived with a notice that my card would be charged for the full amount of $762.92. Submitting insurance claims can be, well, a terrible process, so I visited eclaimsline.com — the online claims center for Sapphire Preferred cardholders — with a sense of dread. However, the process couldn’t have been easier. After completing a simple form with a report of the incident, I uploaded a letter from Budget about the damage, my prepaid reservation email confirmation, my monthly billing statement that displayed the charges and photos of the tire.
The only hiccup was the need to request additional documentation from Budget. After my initial submission, Card Benefit Services requested a copy of the incident report, the towing invoice and an itemized estimate of the repair. Budget’s customer service department sent me all I needed. In just over two weeks from my initial claim, I received this email:
Annual Fee? Fine by Me.
In the middle of this process, I noticed the $95 annual fee charge on my card statement. While I’ve written about the ability to get that fee waived, this was a reminder that $95 is a nominal charge for the services that these premium credit cards deliver. Had I needed to submit this claim to my personal insurance, I would have paid a $750 deductible for a whopping $12.92 worth of assistance.
Rental car coverage isn’t the first benefit that comes to mind for cardholders (because they hopefully aren’t regularly having accidents in their rental cars). However, my Chase Sapphire Preferred helped me avoid the hassle of getting my primary insurance involved after declining the protection from Budget. Thankfully, my incident wasn’t dangerous, but it certainly would have been expensive.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred isn’t the only card that will cover your expenses in an auto accident. Check out “Credit Cards That Offer Primary Rental Car Coverage” to learn more.
Feature photo by TuiPhotoengineer/Getty Images
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