Do Visa Credit Cards Come With Rental Car Coverage?

Last Updated on March 31, 2023

You may have heard some credit cards include rental car coverage. But does Visa come with rental car coverage?

Visa, like other major credit card companies, provides rental car coverage to all Visa cardholders in the United States. If you have an active Visa credit card, then you should have Visa’s Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).

Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about Visa’s Auto Rental CDW and how it works.

Table of Contents:

Yes, Visa Provides Rental Car Insurance to All Cardholders

Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, and other major credit card companies provide rental car insurance to all cardholders.

If you are a valid Visa credit card holder, then you are eligible for Visa’s Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, which means you have extra protection when renting a car.

You are eligible for Visa’s Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver as long as your name is embossed on an eligible Visa card issued in the United States. Visa only covers you when you are the primary renter of the vehicle. Visa also extends to cover any additional drivers permitted by the auto rental agreement.

How Visa’s Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) Works

Visa cardholders are eligible for Visa’s Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), which provides added protection when renting a vehicle.

However, depending on the type of Visa card you carry, your coverage varies.

With all Visa cards, Visa reimburses the rental car company up to the actual cash value of the vehicle as it was originally manufactured.

Visa covers most private passenger automobiles, minivans, and SUVs, although there are some restrictions.

Visa’s Auto Damage CDW covers the following things:

  • Physical damage to the covered rental vehicle
  • Theft of the covered rental vehicle
  • Valid loss-of-use charges imposed by the auto rental car company
  • Reasonable and customary towing charges linked to covered theft or damages

The coverage lasts 15 consecutive days when renting a vehicle within your country of residence and 31 consecutive days outside of your country of residence.

How Visa’s Auto Damage CDW Works with Other Insurance

Your Visa Auto Damage Collision Damage Waiver works differently depending on whether you have or do not have car insurance.

If you have your own personal auto insurance policy, for example, then Visa’s Auto Damage CDW will be secondary coverage. That means your personal auto insurance comes first. You file a claim through your ordinary auto insurance company, and Visa could cover any remaining expenses. Visa will also pay your deductible.

If you don’t have a personal auto insurance policy, then Visa’s Auto Rental CDW still applies. You do not get personal liability coverage with Visa, although Visa will still cover damage and theft of the rental vehicle.

If You Do Not Have Personal Automobile Insurance: If you have personal automobile insurance or any other insurance covering the rental car, then Visa’s Auto Damage CDW reimburses you for covered theft or damage to the rental vehicle, along with any additional administrative and loss of use charges imposed by the rental car company. It can also cover towing charges linked to a covered loss or theft of the rental car. If you do not have personal auto insurance, then you will not have liability insurance when renting the vehicle (unless you buy additional liability insurance through the rental car company).

If You Have Personal Automobile Insurance: If you already have your own personal automobile insurance policy, then that policy should extend to cover any rental cars you own. In this situation, Visa’s Auto Rental CDW reimburses you for the deductible portion of your personal automobile insurance and any unreimbursed portion of valid administrative and loss of use charges from the rental car company. Visa’s Auto Rental CDW also covers reasonable towing charges linked to damage or theft.

In other words, Visa’s Auto Rental CDW compensates you for vehicle damage or theft regardless of whether you have a personal auto insurance policy. However, if you have a personal auto insurance policy, then Visa’s Auto Rental CDW will also cover your deductible. After a loss, your insurer will require you to pay your deductible. Then, your insurer covers all remaining expenses.

What Is Not Covered by Visa’s Auto Rental CDW?

Visa’s Auto Rental CDW has certain exclusions that could affect coverage. Here are some of the exclusions that may apply to your rental car situation:

Expensive, Exotic, and Unique Automobiles: Visa’s Auto Rental CDW is designed to cover ordinary private passenger rental vehicles, including cars, vans, and SUVs. It does not cover expensive or exotic automobiles (like Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Bugatti, or Lamborghini rental cars) and antique automobiles (more than 20 years old or vehicles that have not been manufactured in the last 10 years).

Certain Types of Vans: Visa’s Auto Rental CDW does not cover vans, except for vans manufactured and designed specifically as small group transportation vehicles to hold a maximum of 8 people, including the driver.

Rental Periods Beyond 15 or 31 Days: Visa covers rental cars for up to 15 days in your county of residence or 31 days for other countries. Beyond these periods, Visa’s Auto Rental CDW will not apply.

Violations of the Auto Rental Agreement: If you violated the auto rental agreement and it led to loss or theft of the vehicle, then Visa may not cover you.

Theft of Personal Belongings: If someone breaks into your car and steals your luggage while on vacation, then Visa’s Auto Rental CDW will not compensate you for the loss. Visa’s Auto Rental CDW covers theft of the vehicle, but it does not cover theft of your personal belongings inside that vehicle.

Theft or Damage Due to Intentional Acts (Including Illegal Activities and Alcohol-Related Incidents): Visa will not cover damage to the rental car caused by intentional acts to the vehicle, including alcohol and drug-related incidents, illegal activities, and driving off-road.

Personal Liability: Visa’s Auto Rental CDW does not include personal liability coverage. If you have personal auto insurance, then it includes personal liability coverage that matches your state’s minimum required limits. Liability coverage generally includes bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. If you injure someone else or damage someone else’s property when driving, then that person can make a claim through your liability coverage. If you don’t have liability coverage, then you need to pay for these damages out of pocket. Regardless, Visa does not cover personal liability through its Auto Rental CDW.

Theft or Damage Reported More than 45 Days from the Date of the Incident: If you damage a rental car and make a claim, then you need to report the incident to Visa within 45 days. Visa may not cover theft or damage reported more than 45 days from the incident.

Country-Specific Exclusions: Visa’s Auto Rental CDW does not apply to theft or damage from rental transactions that originated in Israel, Jamaica, the Republic of Ireland, or Northern Ireland.

Other Exclusions: Visa has a long list of exclusions. Generally, if you violate the terms of the rental agreement, were driving the vehicle irresponsibly, or damaged the vehicle through an intentional act, then you should not expect Visa’s Auto Rental CDW to apply to your claim.

How to Ensure Visa’s Auto Rental CDW Covers your Rental Car

To make sure Visa’s Auto Rental CDW applies to your rental car, you need to take the following two steps:

  1. Initiate and complete the entire rental transaction with your Eligible Visa card.
  2. Decline the rental car company’s collision damage waiver or loss damage waiver (CDW/LDW) or similar option.

The rental car company may insist that you purchase their collision damage waiver. However, if you purchase the auto rental car company’s collision damage waiver, then Visa’s CDW will not apply.

Final Word on Visa Rental Car Insurance

If you have a valid Visa credit card, then you are eligible for Visa’s Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).

As long as you pay for your rental car with your Visa credit card and decline the rental car company’s CDW, Visa’s Auto Rental CDW will cover certain damages and theft of the rental vehicle, with some exclusions.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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