Personal Finance: Ask the Experts

Get advice on money matters from The Bee's Claudia Buck and a panel of local experts

July 26, 2012
Rental cars: Get the extra (often pricey) insurance?

If you've ever rented a car - here or overseas - you know it's always one of those confusing decisions: Should you get the extra - and often pricey - rental car insurance?

If you're a credit card user, buying that extra insurance may be unnecessary, because the major cards - American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa - all offer car rental insurance as a standard perk.

That's the message from a new study by CardHub.com, which recently compared car rental coverages of all four major credit cards. Overall, it ranked Visa highest for the most comprehensive coverage.

To be eligible for your credit card's coverage, the full vehicle rental must be charged on your credit card and you must decline the supplemental insurance offered by the rental company.

But there are some quirks and odd little twists:

  • American Express doesn't cover SUVs, including popular models like the Chevy Suburban, GMC Yukon, Ford Expedition, Toyota Land Cruiser, Range Rover.
  • Some countries are excluded - Israel, Ireland and Jamaica, for instance - by American Express, Visa and MasterCard. Discover is the only card that covers all countries where its card is used.
  • MasterCard does not cover accidents on dirt or gravel roads.
  • None of the credit card companies covers trucks, certain vans and antique, expensive or exotic automobiles. (If you're renting a Lamborghini, you won't be covered.)

And as CardHub.com noted, the "fine print" and various caveats to each company's coverage can be difficult to understand. But the study is a good starting point on what your card covers.

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Meet Our Financial Experts

Claudia Buck

Claudia Buck is The Sacramento Bee's personal finance columnist. Read all her columns here. Contact her at cbuck@sacbee.com

Terri Carpenter

Terri Carpenter offers advice on job hunting, retraining and career counseling. Carpenter works at Sacramento Works Inc., the career and job training arm of the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA). With 15 years in the field, she has hands-on experience with everyone from first-time job seekers to career professionals seeking advice after a layoff or looking for a mid-career change. Ask her a question.

Carlena Tapella

Carlena Tapella is a partner in the law firm of Webb & Tapella Law Corp. in Sacramento. The firm specializes in estate planning and probate, such as estates, trusts, conservatorships and litigation. She is a past president of the Sacramento County Bar Association's Estate Planning & Probate Section. Ask her a question.

Kimberly Foss

Kimberly Foss, certified financial planner, is the founder of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville. With nearly 30 years in the financial industry, her clients include women in transition, small business owners, retirees and "pre-retirees." Ask her a question.

Jesse Weller

Gregory Burke, a CPA and tax expert with John Waddell & Co. in Sacramento since 1984, worked as an IRS tax auditor for six years. He’s a past chairman of the California Society of CPAs. Ask him a question.

Daniel Tahara

Daniel Tahara takes your questions about California taxes. Tahara, a spokesman for the state Franchise Tax Board, has 10 years of experience as a tax auditor. Ask him a question.



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