Rental car benefits, including primary liability, through USAA

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.





  1. The great part about having USAA and the Amex Platinum is that often you’ll have dueling discounts to work with when you’re making your reservations. AAA is often great as well.

  2. @Jerry – Agreed. I used to just do Priceline name your own price, because I used the Chase United card which offers primary liability. I got rid of that card, so now USAA is my go to rental car agency.

  3. Thanks for the great article! I am a civilian member of the USAA, which doesn’t give me banking or insurance, but does provide me the ability to book a rental car. Do you know if the primary insurance extends to civilian members such as myself, who do not have a banking or insurance relationship with USAA? Also, are there any countries excluded by their coverage? My parents have been trying to join USAA for years after my grandfather served our country, but to no avail.

    1. I’d like to know this answer as well.

      Also, and this is minor but worth knowing, charging extra for an additional driver is illegal in California, so you’re good to go there no matter who you use.

  4. I was told by AMEX and Chase that they do not provide liability coverage on any of their credit cards… Is this info correct?

  5. Another great website to get rental cars is Costco travel. Not a lot of people know about this but the rates are comparable to USAA!

  6. @TomJ – I think that this coverage only extends to USAA members who are eligible for their insurance exchange…sorry. The normal exclusionary countries, Ireland, Jamaica, etc., are excluded from this.

  7. @Naif – I’m not quite sure to what you’re referring, but no matter what card you use through USAA’s service, as long as your eligible, you’ll be primarily covered by USAA, not the card.

  8. @naif @Andy – indeed there is no liability service from Amex and Chase. Some discount codes will waive charges for the LDW that rental car agencies offer though.

  9. Divya says:

    May 1, 2017 at 04:17

    Thank you for this post but I really think that in Iceland it is better to participate in organized tours.
    That way, you don’t have to drive yourself hundreds of km through deserted areas. It’s safer and actually more fun because you will see a lot more and you can rest any time you want.
    Iceland is not done in one visit – I think you need at least 4 weeks to visit every region. Therefore, there is no need to rush through the Ring Road in a rental car!


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