How to Rent a Car Without Being Ripped Off


By: Customer’s Poet

If you’re like me or one of the millions of people traveling back home to see loved ones in need of a rental car this holiday season, here are some golden rules on how not to get screwed over by rental car copies.

Contact your own insurance provider

While renting a car for Thanksgiving, I was asked “Would you like to purchase collision damage waiver insurance?” Before declining I asked myself “Should I get it?”. Then quickly came to my senses and said “No”. Little did they know, I called my insurance provider before renting the car.

While the rental car companies offer their own auto insurance, which has its perks being that it will be separate from your own insurance policy should an accident occur, it’s never a bad idea to call your own auto insurance provider. In most cases if you have a full coverage car insurance policy (which includes comprehensive and collision coverage), your personal auto policy would apply to a rental car.

Call your credit card company

This option may not be available to everyone but I still wanted to mention it. There are many rewards credit cards that offer perks for travel (including car rentals, airline tickets, hotels, etc). For some credit card holders, rental car insurance is offered through their credit cards. While most require your rental is for business related for the coverage to apply, it never hurts to try. According to, here are a list of the best credit cards for renting a car:

  • United MileagePlus Explorer and MileagePlus Club
  • Fairmont Visa Signature
  • Discover Escape
  • J.P. Morgan Palladium card
  • Ritz Carlton Visa Signature
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred

If you must buy rental coverage insurance from the rental car company

If none of the options above apply to you, according to Allstate, the following rental car coverages maybe available to you at the rental car counter:

Liability coverage

Intended to help protect you if you injure someone or damage their property while driving. If you have sufficient liability coverage through your own auto insurance, you may not need to buy extra coverage from the rental agency.

Collision/loss damage waiver

Also known as an LDW or CDW, isn’t technically insurance. If you damage the rental car, this waiver may help cover the cost of repairing it. The waiver typically excludes coverage for damage caused by speeding or driving on unpaved roads.

An LDW may duplicate your existing coverage if you have collision and comprehensive coverage on your own car. However, if you’ve dropped collision or comprehensive coverage from your policy, and you don’t purchase the waiver, you would likely have to pay for damage you cause to the rental car.

Additionally, a rental agency could charge you for “loss of use” of the car (lost rental income) while the car is in the shop being repaired. Your own auto policy typically won’t reimburse you for that. Be sure to read your car rental agreement carefully to clarify what kinds of charges you could incur if you were to damage the vehicle.

Personal effects coverage

May help cover your personal belongings, such as your laptop or clothing, if they’re stolen from the rental car. If you have renters or homeowners insurance, the personal property coverage on that policy typically helps cover your personal items through what’s known as “off-premises coverage.” Off-premises items are usually only covered up to a certain percentage of your personal property coverage. The deductible on your homeowners or renters insurance will apply. Check with your agent about the limits of your coverage.

Personal accident insurance

May help pay your and your passengers’ medical bills if you’re injured in a rental car accident. The III says if you have health insurance, medical payments coverage or personal injury protection on your car insurance policy, you may already have coverage comparable to what the rental company offers. Medical payments coverage and personal injury protection (not available in all states) may help pay for medical bills due to a covered car accident.

Avoid the refueling premium

I get it. By the time you return home from travel, all you want to do is crash. Yet for the love of saving money, please do not give rental car companies more money by not refilling the gas tank before returning the car. While the cost may seem small, it adds up.

As always be smart, be savvy, and equip.

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