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When it comes to choosing the right business credit card for renting a car, it’s all about the points, perks and protections. You want to choose a card that offers a combination of at least some of these qualities, as collecting points shouldn’t be your only consideration when choosing which credit card to put your business auto rentals on.
The good news is there are cards that offer both great opportunities to earn rewards and great insurance protections, while there’s one card that offers some decent perks that could get you in a higher-quality vehicle for less.
Here’s a quick glance at the business cards that offer the best rewards return on your car rental dollar.
|Category Bonus||Point Value (based on TPG Valuations)||Total Earned per Dollar Spent||Annual Fee|
|Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||3x points on travel, including rental cars||2 cents||6 cents||$95|
|The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express||2x points on all spending, up to $50,000 each year (then 1x). Terms Apply.||1.9 cents||3.8 cents||$0 (See Rates & Fees)|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card||2x points on Rapid Rewards car rental partner purchases||1.5 cents||3 cents||$99|
|SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express||3% back on a category of your choice from a list of eight, including car rentals (on up to $50,000 per year, then 1%). Terms Apply.||N/A (cash back)||3 cents||$0 (See Rates & Fees)|
|CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard||2x AA miles on car rental purchases||1.4 cents||2.8 cents||$99, waived the first year|
Here’s a deeper look at what the cards with the best returns on rentals have to offer:
Welcome Bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. This bonus is worth $1,600 based on our valuations, and you’ll get the most value for your points when you redeem with Ultimate Rewards travel partners.
Rewards: Earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in these categories:
- Travel, including airfare, hotels, rental card, train tickets and taxis
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
Earn 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Keep in mind: You must book the rental directly with the car rental agency; car rentals purchased through travel agencies, discount travel sites, vacation clubs, tour operators, or as part of a package offered by merchants such as cruise lines and railways are not eligible for 3x rewards. Companies that rent RVs and vehicles for the purposes of hauling also won’t count.
Welcome bonus: N/A
Rewards: Earn 2 Membership Rewards points on all spending up to $50,000 annually, then 1x points thereafter.
Keep in mind: Since there are no category bonuses, it doesn’t matter how or with what company you book your rental car.
Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of card membership. This bonus is worth $900 based on our valuations.
Rewards: Earn 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Plus, get 6,000 points after your cardmember anniversary. Earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points toward Southwest elite status for every $10,000 you spend on the card annually (up to 15,000 TQPs).
Keep in mind: Car rental partners include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Payless and Thrifty.
Welcome bonus: None
Rewards: Earn 5% back on purchases from US office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers on up to $50,000 in spending per calendar year (then 1%). Earn 3% back on a category of your choice from a list of eight on up to $50,000 in spending per calendar year (then 1%):
- airfare purchased directly from airlines
- hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
- car rental purchased from select car rental companies
- US gas stations
- US restaurants
- US purchases for shipping
- computer hardware and software
- advertising on select media
You’ll earn 1% on all other spending.
Keep in mind: Select car rental companies include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, E-Z, Fox, Hertz, National, Payless, Sixt and Thrifty.
Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. This bonus is worth $840 according to our valuations.
Rewards: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations. Earn 1 mile per dollar spent on other purchases.
Keep in mind: You won’t earn 2x miles if you rent a vehicle from companies that rent motor homes or other recreational vehicles or through travel agencies, tour operators and online third party travel sites.
Although it doesn’t offer great rewards for using the card for rental car purchases (just 1 point per dollar), The Business Platinum® Card from American Express comes with rental car benefits, including discounts that could save you money. Platinum members will receive premium rental car privileges, the biggest of which are complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive.
For an example of what benefits these memberships offer, let’s look at the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards perks. You’ll receive a:
- 10% bonus on Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Points if enrolled in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards
- complimentary one-car-class upgrade based on availability.
- 4-hour grace period on returns in the US.
- discount on weekend rental rates at participating locations for the Hertz Prestige Collection of luxury vehicles.
Keep in mind, though, the Business Platinum Card charges a $595 annual fee. Make sure you can take advantage of all of the other benefits this card offers before considering it for car rentals.
Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance
This benefit could potentially provide some real cost savings in the event of an accident or car theft. Many small business credit cards offer car rental insurance, but few offer primary rental car insurance. Use a card with this benefit and you can simply decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary, meaning it kicks in before your own auto insurance, when you’re renting for business purposes and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most cars in the US and abroad.
In case of loss or damage, you will not be charged for the loss. You will have to file a claim with your credit card, but not your auto insurance company. (Your personal auto insurance policy may not cover you in any event, if the rental was for business purposes.)
Primary rental car insurance is available on the following business credit cards:
- Capital One Spark Cash for Business
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business
- Ink Business Cash Credit Card
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
- Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card
The policies vary by issuer, but the Ink Business Preferred card offers up to $75,000 in reimbursement for theft and collision damage when you charge the entire rental cost to your card. If you’re renting from a smaller agency, be sure to confirm eligibility with the benefit provider (by calling the number on the back of your card) before driving away from the lot.
Here’s another option: The Business Platinum card offers only secondary insurance protection (meaning it covers what your own car insurance won’t cover — if you’re eligible) and typically comes with a deductible and may not cover the entire loss of a vehicle nor any administrative fees associated with the damage. But the issuer does offer what it calls a premium rental car protection program. Once enrolled, you pay $19.95 or $24.95 per rental period for primary coverage. (Rates in California and Florida are slightly lower.) That still may be a cheaper alternative than paying for a “Collision Damage Waiver” (CDW) at the rental counter.
Unlike with many other bonus categories, there may be more for you to think about when renting a car than the return on spending. The good news here, though, is that the card that offers the top rewards also has great rental car coverage. The Ink Business Preferred card should be your first choice when renting a car for business purposes, particularly if you enjoy combining Ultimate Rewards points from other Chase cards to score more travel.
Know before you go.
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