Auto Rental Rights

Learn your rights when getting an auto rental while traveling.

The simple part of auto rentals is the basics—you need a valid driver’s license and a credit card. But, what many once took for granted—multiple drivers, inclusive liability insurance, and the ability to rent a car as long as you had a valid driver’s license—has changed and is not always part of the auto rental agreement.

NOTE: Debit cards, even with the MasterCard or Visa logo, will not be accepted by rental car companies at time of rental. They may be used for payment upon return of the vehicle.

What most travelers know was not ever included in rental agreements, such as collision damage waiver, now can be included—to a greater or lesser extent—if certain credit cards are used to rent certain types of cars in certain circumstances for a certain length of time and when driven along certain types of roads.

None of this seems complex until you end up in an accident or have to modify a reservation at the last minute. Or, until you are faced with a rental agent who looks you straight in the eye and tells you your credit card collision damage waiver (CDW) doesn’t cover the automobile you are planning to rent. (At least he or she “can’t guarantee that the car is covered” or they “wouldn’t want to chance it.”)

Naturally, none of us wants to “chance it” with massive liabilities. If you have any questions, simply pick up the phone and call your credit card company. All have special numbers to call for collision damage waiver information. The 800 number on your card will allow you to reach those experts so you can be sure. The next pages show how much these policies vary. So read on and be prepared before you face the agents.