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Why the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the top card for booking rental cars

Nov. 03, 2021
6 min read
family road trip
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In August 2021, Chase refreshed the Chase Sapphire Reserve to include new bonus-earning categories.

They now are:

*after you spend $300 on travel purchases annually.

That second bullet is what we'll focus on today. Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders already had an incentive to use this card to pay for car rentals thanks to its various travel protections. Now, thanks to those earning rates, they have yet another reason to use it for this purpose.

Here's why the Chase Sapphire Reserve might just be the best credit card for car rentals.

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Chase Sapphire Reserve: A great choice for car rentals

(Photo by The Points Guy)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve currently offers 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. It comes with other excellent benefits, too, such as:

But some of the best parts of the card are two special benefits that put it miles ahead of any other credit card when it comes to renting cars.

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Primary rental car insurance

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers primary insurance when you use it to book your rental car. Just decline the rental company's in-house collision damage waiver (CDW) and Chase will automatically cover you for theft or damage. If you've purchased a rental agency's insurance before, you know how expensive it can be. You could easily save $15 or more per day simply by using the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the bill.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve's coverage provides reimbursement for damages caused by collisions or theft, up to $75,000. Just note that it only covers the rental vehicle, and won't cover things like personal injuries or damages to other vehicles or objects. There are also plenty of exclusions, including motorcycles and recreational vehicles, and you'll render the coverage moot if you do things like off-roading or if you are under the influence of an intoxicant. However, for normal, everyday driving needs, this insurance can be a real money-saver.

I've had a wonderful experience with this coverage in the past. Chase has previously reimbursed the damage charges from my rental car in full (a $2,300 debacle), and it took them less than three weeks to cut me a check.

10x points on car rentals

The other reason you might want to reach for the Chase Sapphire Reserve first is that it earns 10 points per dollar on car rentals through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. TPG valuations peg Chase points at 2 cents each. Earning 10 points per dollar means you're getting a 20% return on these transactions.

Booking rental cars through the Chase Travel Portal

Since you have to book car rentals through the Chase Travel Portal to qualify for that 10x earning rate, it's worth looking at how rentals reserved this way work.

In my experience, I've found the rental prices posted by Chase to be competitive (or even lower) than other online travel agencies. Here are some recent booking scenarios with the same time frame and location that demonstrate Chase's price parity with other portals.

Chase Travel Portal

(Screenshot from Chase)

Priceline

(Screenshot from Priceline)

Kayak

(Screenshot from Kayak)

There do appear to be some cases when the Chase Travel Portal prices rental cars a bit higher than a competing website. Notably, Costco Travel generated a lower number than any other site on a few occasions.

In this situation, you've got two choices:

  1. You could use the Chase Sapphire Reserve to book the cheaper rate, still earning 3 points per dollar.
  2. You could stick with the more expensive rate through the Chase Travel Portal and earn 10 points per dollar

It all depends on how much value you receive from Chase points. If you consider them to be worth 2 cents each (like us), earning 10 points per dollar is a solid 20% return that might be worth a little extra spending.

But with all things equal, here are the prices of a compact car from each of the above sites and the number of Chase points you'd earn, along with the return you could expect from them based on TPG's valuations.

  • Chase Travel Portal: $490, earns 4,900 points worth $98
  • Priceline: $489, earns $1,467 points worth $29.34
  • Kayak: $487, earns 1,374 points worth $27.48

Although it's slightly more expensive to book through Chase, you might still want to do so given the value of the rewards you earn.

Bottom line

Very few other travel credit cards present the same value proposition — both in terms of earning points as well as in comprehensive protections — as the Chase Sapphire Reserve when it comes to renting cars. With its ability to save you on expensive insurance and simultaneously earn you 10 Chase points per dollar, even an occasional renter could reap hundreds of dollars in savings each year. Road warriors might even save thousands.

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023