Hiring a car? Your AMEX Platinum card may not actually cover you

American Express Platinum cardholders shouldn’t assume every rental will be insured, just by using their charge card...

By Chris C., February 22 2021
Hiring a car? Your AMEX Platinum card may not actually cover you

American Express’ Platinum Charge Card promises a suite of travel and lifestyle benefits in return for its hefty $1,450 annual fee – including, among other things, cover for loss or damage to rental vehicles.

It’s a common perk featured among many premium-level credit cards, as well as being a staple of typical travel insurance policies: but AMEX’s own policy is quite different, and could very well leave cardholders without cover.

That’s because the AMEX Platinum car hire cover only kicks in when “the rental takes place further than 150km” from the cardholder’s home address.

Planning a road trip? You may not be covered

At a time when international and domestic border closures continue to impact aviation, and many people are taking the opportunity to explore their own ‘backyard’ instead, this sees would-be road trippers left uninsured by their metal-plated card.

That exclusion could also impact a busy business traveller who is able to fly, and who ventures to multiple cities before returning home.

For example, a Brisbane-based flyer may zip interstate – such as to Sydney or Melbourne, where they could be covered hiring a car – then fly directly to Queensland’s Gold Coast, with plans to hire another car as part of the same journey, having not yet returned to Brisbane.

As Gold Coast Airport is around 108km from Brisbane’s CBD, this would put the rental within 150km of home for most Brisbane-based hirers, and thus, would also not be covered.

Do other insurers cover the same rentals?

While AMEX Platinum’s insurance policy restricts rentals within 150km of home, Executive Traveller did not find similar distance-based exclusions on the rental car cover packaged with other premium Australian cards.

This includes top-tier credit cards from the likes of ANZ, Qantas Money, St.George and Westpac, which demand only that a cardholder pay for the rental using that credit card to activate cover.

(Notably, the Commonwealth Bank does not provide rental car cover as part of its credit card insurance package, while NAB includes this only under ‘interstate flight inconvenience insurance’, requiring the cardholder to fly interstate for that coverage to kick in.)

Such distance-based exclusions were also not found under the policies of paid travel insurance providers Covermore, RACV, TID, and Budget Direct.

Under those policies, coverage begins “when you leave your home” – not 150km away.

What makes AMEX’s car hire coverage different

The ‘150km rule’ isn’t the only thing that sets AMEX Platinum apart in the car hire stakes: the type of insurance itself is also fundamentally different.

Under those other credit card and travel insurance providers, the insurance provided is generally “Rental Vehicle Insurance Excess”.

In the event of loss or damage to a hire car, this provides cover towards any excess payable under a separate insurance policy, such as that offered by default through a car hire company with every hire.

It’s not standalone cover to replace any alternative insurance policy, and any excess benefit payable is typically capped at between $3,000 and $6,000.

AMEX Platinum, on the other hand, offers “Loss Damage Waiver Cover”, being a dedicated insurance policy covering eligible loss or damage of a hire car up to $125,000.

That could prove handy when hiring a vehicle that doesn’t include any base insurance coverage by default – particularly in places like the United States, where the concept of an ‘excess’ may not apply, and thus, Rental Vehicle Insurance Excess cover may not be suitable.

Of course, trips to the US aren’t on the cards for most Australians this year, but holidaying at home certainly is: and that’s where AMEX Platinum could greatly improve its relevance and appeal to Australian cardholders, by removing that troublesome ‘150km rule’.

Also read: AMEX loses Shangri-La Hotels, SQ fast-track status

The above is intended as a general guide only, drawn from information published by the various insurers as available at the time of writing. Insurance policies can change over time. Executive Traveller makes no guarantee to the validity of any claim, or that the information published here remains up-to-date.

Conditions, exclusions, limits, and policy terms and conditions apply to all insurance products, including Rental Vehicle Insurance Excess and Loss Damage Waiver Cover, and may differ between policy types, plans, add-ons, rental types, and the card or policy held.

Refer to the relevant policy documents for more specific information about the coverage available, and to determine whether a product adequately meets your needs. All questions regarding insurance policies and products must be directed to the relevant insurer, and cannot be answered here or elsewhere by Executive Traveller staff.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Sep 2013

Total posts 15

I've rented cars many times in my home city assuming that I am covered with my Amex platinum card. Thanks for providing this info.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 327

Try getting Hertz Israel (Kesher Rental) to recognize the "full insurance" provided by Amex Platinum Charge Card. Hertz Israel  require a letter  from Amex specifically saying car is covered in Israel, and Amex (Chubb) WILL NOT provide this. 

Hertz Israel recognize Amex USA insurance coverage without a letter from Amex USA.

So you end up paying full insurance when hiring in Israel, effectively making this "full car rental insurance"  useless. I experience this at least once maybe twice a year when holidaying in Israel (though sadly not sinc COVID  April and August Israel trips last year cancelled)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 Mar 2015

Total posts 52

Nasty little exclusion. When I used to travel to the USA a lot and had a Black card, the Loss Damage Waiver saved me a lot of money.  My ANZ Visa only appears to offer rental benefits for hiring in Australia which is not a lot of use.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2018

Total posts 49

Also, my understanding is that camper vans are excluded which seems odd, when their general cover is up to $125,000.

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