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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Andrew, whose credit card benefits saved him from a major rental car expense. Here’s what he had to say:
In September of 2017 I traveled to Europe with friends, and we decided to rent a car rather than fly to each of our various stops. I figured if I was going to be driving across Germany (on the Autobahn), I should get a comfortable car that could handle high speeds. Since I didn’t want to drive a manual in cities like Amsterdam, Berlin and Munich, I rented a Jaguar XE sedan. I didn’t want to add any more expense to my Hertz rental, so knowing my Chase Sapphire Reserve card offered primary rental car coverage, I declined the insurance offered by Hertz.
Well, on the second day of our trip I scraped the front-left panel of the car on a pillar while backing out of a tight space in an Amsterdam parking garage. After temporarily being upset and trying to figure out my next course of action, I remembered my Sapphire Reserve card would cover the damage. I took pictures, and we drove without further incident to Berlin, Prague, Munich, Neuschwanstein Castle and Luxembourg, and finally back to Amsterdam where we dropped off the car.
A Hertz agent in Amsterdam laid out a few options for dealing with the damage, but I told him to just charge it to the credit card. When I got back to the States, I immediately opened a claim with the Sapphire Reserve benefit administrator and got my paperwork in order. Getting some of the additional documents from Hertz took a while, but Hertz Netherlands was overall very helpful and responded promptly. The claim was a bit delayed due to the holidays, but in mid-January I received confirmation my claim was fully reviewed and approved. That was much appreciated, since the damage came out to a little over $1,200.
Thanks to you for making me aware of the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits, and thanks to Chase for the reimbursement!
Several travel rewards credit cards offer primary rental car coverage, which can help you avoid paying for collision damage waivers directly from the rental car company. Even if you typically lean on your personal insurance rather than purchasing additional coverage, these benefits can save you the cost of your deductible (and potentially higher premiums) in case the vehicle incurs damage while in your care. Just note the relevant exclusions — for example, the Sapphire Reserve coverage doesn’t apply to rentals over 31 days or to vehicles valued over $75,000 — and make sure you take pictures and file claims promptly.
On another note, I’m often asked whether renting a car in Europe is a good idea. The answer depends a lot on your plans, but I think trains are preferable if you’re mostly traveling from city to city. European trains are fast, comfortable and reasonably priced, and the experience is overall much more pleasant than flying (at least in economy). Renting a car will likely be cheaper if you’re traveling in a group like Andrew was, and is certainly more convenient if you’re headed somewhere off of major rail lines. Just make sure you account for additional expenses like fuel, parking, vignettes and tolls to get a fair price comparison.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Andrew for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to email@example.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Featured photo by @phiasinclair via Twenty20
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