When renting a car in Europe, by all means use your Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club or American Express card to avoid the expensive collision damage waiver (CDW) and theft insurance charged by rental companies. You can save anywhere from $10 to $45 per day if your card provides such coverage. (Call your credit card company to find out.)

In addition to the cost savings, credit card insurance offers broader coverage. The insurance purchased from a rental company may have a large deductible/excess and not cover damage to wheels, side mirrors, glass, interior. under-carriage, and roof. Credit cards that provide CDW/Theft insurance cover all these items and coverage is zero-deductible/excess.

Credit card insurance coverage works a bit different in Italy and Ireland:  See our reports on Car Rental Insurance in Italy and Car Rental Insurance in Ireland.

When relying on a credit card for CDW and theft you must, of course, follow the credit card's simple rules in order to be reimbursed for damage or theft. Here is additional information on credit card insurance:

  • You must decline the CDW or similar option offered by the European car rental company to activate coverage for a particular rental.
  • You must pay for everything with the credit card: the car itself, extra drivers, road tax, baby seats, GPS, etc. Everything. Pay nothing in cash or with a different credit card.
  • Credit card insurance covers most rental cars including many foreign cars, when they are rented on a daily or weekly basis for no more than 15 or 31 days, depending on the credit card (ed. note: Amex now offers “Premium Rental Car Protection” which extends coverage to as long as 42 days). This means if your credit card limit is 15 days and your rental is 16 days you have zero coverage for the entire rental). 
  • Certain rental vehicles are not covered, such as off-road vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, recreational vehicles, trucks, campers, trailers, certain vans, four-wheel-drive sport/utility vehicles when driven off-road, and most cars valued at more than $50,000. Minivans are covered when used for personal or business use. Please note Amex's “premium” protection includes more expensive cars as well as some vans not covered by other credit cards.
  • Coverage does not extend to "losses caused by or contributed to by operation of the rental car in violation of the terms and conditions of the rental car agreement signed at the rental desk.
  • Damage claims must be filed as soon as reasonably possible following a loss. If such notification is not received, coverage may be denied. Written proof of loss, including completion of a claim form provided within a time period specified by the credit card company. Please contact your credit card company for your card's complete terms and conditions of coverage.

Book your rental car in Europe with the Gemut.com travel department and get the best rates, personalized, knowledgeable service, and our unique at-the-rental-counter safety net that ensures our customers get what they are promised. We book with major companies in more than 35 countries. If you have questions about rentals in Europe, or simply prefer to deal in-person, phone us at 800-521-6722 or get a written quote here.