USAA is my favorite bank, and one of my favorite companies, for many reasons – customer service, ease of use, portability, and benefits. One of the lesser known benefits that USAA provides concerns rental cars, specifically discounts with certain companies – Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz. Also, and this is huge, USAA provides primary liability coverage if you rent with one of these 4 companies through their website! Finally, they waive most fees associated with these rentals, including the additional driver fee and the under age 25 fee. All of these benefits combined are why I usually rent through USAA, even if the fee is a little higher than on Hotwire, Priceline, etc.

 

As an example, using Avis’ USAA site, I was able to book a hypothetical car at Las Vegas from Sept 17th – 21st, over a weekend, for $159.13 for a subcompact.
avis usaa

When going through the regular non-USAA site, it’s $169.20, and doesn’t include primary liability insurance. Not a huge savings, but this is just a hypothetical example.
avis non usaa

Most rewards credit cards with which you book your rental car provide secondary insurance, ie it’s insurance kicks in after your primary auto insurance is tapped out. Daraius from Million Mile Secrets provides a good explanation of car rental insurance here, and notes, “[liability coverage] is the most important rental car insurance coverage to have because the liability of a serious car accident could be hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars!”, and I agree.Here is an article on the current credit cards that offer primary rental insurance coverage. (of note, since this article’s publication, there is no more Chase Fairmont card). Also, Chase Sapphire Preferred will be offering primary liability coverage sometime later this year, and American Express offers Premium car rental protection for an extra fee per rental.

 

When you book through USAA however, you will have primary liability coverage, fees waived, a discount from 5-25% off, and you can use whatever card you’d like! You can view all the included benefits below:
usaa car rental

Of note, USAA does not primarily cover the first $5000 of loss or damage to rental vehicle, but your credit card or auto insurance might, depending on their terms.

 

There are also links on the webpage to enroll in these rental companies’ loyalty programs, which I recommend you doing. Of note, having certain credit cards, such as the American Express Platinum, or a World Mastercard Elite, will automatically give you high-level status in these programs. For example, having a Barclaycard Arrival, which is a World MC, will give you Avis First status, which is their highest status. You can then match status with other programs; a good website to check that out is Status Matcher.

 

If you have any questions feel free to email me.

 

-Andy

Posted by glenn | 5 Comments

5 responses to “From the Archives – Rental Cars Tricks”

  1. Firm Guy says:

    I’m a member too but I tried to enroll my 20 yr old nephew for the car benefits but no go. And without USAA membership you can’t rent a car and realize the bennys(well, you can use the code but if you got into an accident…). Any workaround that you know?

  2. JRG says:

    I think you are better off using a search engine for rates. I go to zalyn.com. Create a profile (which includes USAA discounts) and run the search. For your hypothetical search time frame, I was able to come up with $118 total (Budget).

  3. Firm Doc says:

    How can I get my nephew who’s 20 yrs old a USAA membership in order to book using USAA AWDs for under 25 waiver? I’m a member but I think they’ve closed membership unless you’re military. Any one know?

    • glenn says:

      @ Firm Doc – USAA has expanded their membership to include all dependents even if they are not in the military to include even down to “my Grandfather served”. Not sure if nephew would apply, but he or she could call to try to get car insurance and then they would be a member with all the benefits.

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