Hertz Now Accepts Debit Cards in Europe — Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Use One

Jul 25, 2019

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Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty now accept a valid debit card in many countries across Europe, but we’d caution against taking them up on it. The updated policy applies to locations in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Slovakia, mainland Spain and the UK. But while we’re typically in favor of entities accepting more payment methods, paying for a car rental with a debit card exposes you to plenty of unnecessary risk.

Particularly when traveling overseas, you’ll want to bake in as much protection as possible while making sure that you pay for items with a credit card that doesn’t tack on foreign transaction fees. Debit cards do not typically provide car rental insurance, and most also assess foreign transaction fees.

Hertz President’s Circle garage (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Plus, paying with a credit card gives you one additional layer should you need to dispute a charge. Last year, a major car rental company charged me for refueling despite returning the vehicle full in Munich, Germany, and resolution only came after I threatened to dispute the charge on my Chase Sapphire Reserve. Had I paid with a debit card, they’d have had a direct link to my checking account for an erroneous charge.

Most credit cards offer secondary insurance on car rentals, meaning that you must first go through your personal car insurance or insurance you purchase through the rental agency before this benefit will apply. Secondary insurance does not usually cover damages to cars or property other than the rental car, nor to physical injuries suffered by the driver, passengers, or pedestrians. In short, it’s quite limited.

However, a handful of Chase credit cards offer primary insurance on car rentals. Primary insurance will apply before your personal car insurance policy and typically covers full damages due to collision or theft up to a maximum (usually $50,000).

(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)

Among the best options are the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, as well as both the United Club Card and the United Explorer Card.

Chase’s Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, Ink Business Plus (no longer available to new cardholders) and Ink Business Cash Credit Card cards all offer primary insurance for car rentals used for business purposes, though you might need to provide proof that this is the case.

Although some of its cards lack even secondary rental car insurance, American Express has a Premium Car Rental Protection plan that is available with 59 cards currently, including the Platinum Card® from American Express, the American Express® Gold Card, the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend among many, many others. After enrolling, cardholders pay a flat fee of $19.95 – $24.95 per rental, and primary coverage kicks in, along with a maximum loss or damage benefit of up to $75,000.

Before settling on a rental car insurance strategy, be sure you understand your card’s benefits fully, what’s excluded — such as types of vehicles or even entire countries — and make the best choice for your needs.

Featured image by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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