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Paying $500 in rental car damage — reader mistake story

Jan. 13, 2020
4 min read
Paying $500 in rental car damage — reader mistake story
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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Connie, who negated one of her credit card benefits by putting the wrong name on a rental contract:

My husband and I decided to take a quick and cheap weekend trip to visit family in Sacramento. Knowing that my Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a primary rental car insurance benefit, I used the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book a rental car for 6,710 points for two days. My husband normally drives when we're together, so I thought it would be more convenient to put his name on the reservation instead of mine.

While we were having lunch, our rental car was hit while parked on the street. With no note or witnesses, I called Chase to file a claim only to learn that we were not covered, because the name on the reservation did not match the cardholder name. We would have been covered if I had added my husband as an authorized user, but alas, I had previously cheaped out on that because of the $75 fee. I added him without hesitation later that night!

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The damage totaled a little over $1,000, so we ended up using our existing auto insurance policy and paid the $500 deductible. If only I had put my own name on the reservation or added my husband as an authorized user in the first place, we wouldn't be out $500. That charge more than doubled the cost of our quick and "cheap" weekend trip.

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Some credit card benefits (like elite status or lounge access) are granted to you simply by virtue of being a cardholder, while others (like trip cancellation and interruption protection) don't apply unless you actually pay with your card. The auto rental collision damage waiver benefit on the Sapphire Reserve card falls into the latter category, as Chase specifies in the terms and conditions that you're only covered when you use your card (or rewards from the same account) to complete a rental car transaction as the primary driver. However, additional drivers listed on the rental agreement are also covered.

By state law, there's no fee for adding drivers in California, so Connie could have avoided this mistake by simply paying with her card and including her husband's name on the contract. Several other states have similar laws for additional drivers, but adding a spouse or family member as an authorized user is an excellent solution if you commonly rent vehicles on your own and don't otherwise need individual Sapphire Reserve accounts. Authorized users don't get their own $300 annual travel credit or an application credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck, but they do receive a Priority Pass membership and are eligible for travel protections, so there's value beyond the collision damage waiver benefit.

Related: Credit cards that offer elite status for rental cars

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing us to post it online), I’m sending Connie a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I'd like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put "Reader Mistake Story" in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can't respond to each story individually, but we'll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured image by Getty Images

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  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
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Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees