The 5 Best Reward Cards for Rental Cars

October 26, 2018

By Sarah Harris

Whether you travel for business or pleasure, you could find yourself frequently in need of a rental car.  Regardless of your reasons for renting cars regularly, you’ll definitely appreciate a credit card that offers rental car rewards.

You’ll be happy to learn that there are several cards offering valuable rewards for those who rent vehicles with some regularity.  Choosing the right one for your particular lifestyle and needs means understanding how you can earn points, as well as your options for using rewards.

Many cards that offer rental car benefits are geared toward travel in general, but some also offer additional benefits like primary coverage when you rent a car.  Some offer greater rewards for booking rentals with specific car rental agencies.  You’ll definitely want to read the fine print in order to find the best deals and the card that suits you to a tee.  Here are a few of the most favorable reward cards for anyone seeking rental car benefits.

United MileagePlus Explorer

True, this Visa card is associated with United Airlines, but it comes with some pretty stellar benefits for rental cars, as well.  For starters, it provides primary coverage on rental cars (excluding expensive, exotic, and antique vehicles) so you don’t have to spring for the extra insurance or rely on your own automotive insurance to foot the bill should you suffer an accident.  This card is also affiliated with Hertz, Dollar Rent a Car, and Thrifty Car Rental, so when you book with these agencies, you’ll earn reward miles for purchases.

You’ll also earn 2x miles on qualifying ticket purchases from United, hotel stays (when booked directly), and restaurants, as well as 1x miles on all other purchases.  Plus, there’s a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles when you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months.  There is an annual fee of $95, but it is waived for the first year.  There are no foreign transaction fees, which makes this a great travel card.  Variable APR of 17.74% - 24.74% applies.

Chase Sapphire Reserve
This Visa card from Chase delivers primary coverage on every car rental, as well as special privileges when you book with affiliates Avis, National Car Rental, and app-based car rental service Silvercar.  It gets even better when you start making purchases and racking up points.

You’ll get 3x points for qualifying travel and dining purchases, plus 1x points for all other purchases, as well as a one-time bonus of 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.  This bonus equates to up to $750 in travel expense when redeemed via Chase Ultimate Rewards.  You’ll also enjoy a $300 travel statement credit annually, along with a $100 credit when you apply for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

There is one major drawback: the annual fee is a whopping $450, but considering the $300 annual travel credit, this essentially drops to $150, which you could surpass in rewards, depending on purchasing patterns.  There are no foreign transaction fees.  A variable APR of 17.74% - 24.74% applies.

Chase Sapphire Preferred
You’ll get primary coverage on most vehicles you rent using this Visa card, excluding luxury and antique vehicles.  This covers the cash value for up to 31 days and is valid not only in the U.S., but also for rentals in other countries and it includes damage, theft, towing, and loss of use if the vehicle needs repairs.

As with the Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll get desirable rewards, as well, including 2x points on qualifying travel and dining purchases and 1x points for all other purchases.  You’ll also get 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months, but it only equates to $650 for this card.

While you earn slightly less rewards, you’ll also pay less.  The variable APR is the same at 17.74% - 24.74%, but the annual fee is only $95, and it’s waived for the first year.  There are no foreign transaction fees.

Blue Cash Preferred
What if you often find yourself renting a car for an extended period?  Most car rental rewards like primary coverage only last 31 days.  This AmEx card is designed with your needs in mind thanks to a premium, add-on rental policy that’s good for up to 42 days.

You’ll pay a fee of $24.95 for each rental period you want covered, but considering car rental companies charge by the day for coverage, you’re going to save a ton.  You’ll enjoy $100,000 of primary coverage that applies to damage, theft, and even accidental death, as well as secondary coverage for medical expenses and personal property damage.

You’ll also earn 6% cash back on qualifying supermarket purchases, 3% for gas and department stores, and 1% on everything else.  An introductory offer of 0% APR applies for 12 months, after which you’ll pay a variable APR of 14.99% - 25.99%.  There is an annual fee of $95.

Capital One Venture Rewards
This is just an all-around good travel rewards card that nets you 2x points on purchases every day, as well as 10x points on select hotels.  When you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months, you’ll earn 50,000 additional points, equating to $500 in travel.  There are no foreign transaction fees, but there is an annual fee of $95 that is waived for the first year.  A variable APR of 14.74% - 24.74% applies.

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