Rental cars and CDW


I read with interest the reader’s letter “Rented Car Online for Heathrow” (Aug. ’07, pg. 28), specifically the part regarding the auto rental company’s requirement that he show proof, from his credit card company, of CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) coverage.

I have often used the Internet to check on U.K. car rental prices and I have subsequently followed this with a telephone call directly to the U.K. company. This is helpful for two reasons: 1) the U.K. agent will make it quite clear to you whether you are required to show proof that your credit card does provide CDW coverage, and 2) if you are over 65, you will also need assurance that they will rent to a person of mature years.

The insurance proof is contained in your Guide to Your Member Benefits provided by your specific credit card company. Generally, this is sent to you annually, but if you cannot locate this document your card company will send you one. Note: it is a requirement that the entire rental car booking be paid for with the specific credit card.

Here are some websites dealing with U.K. car rental companies: www.carrentals.co.uk; www.comparecarrentals.com; www.holidayautos.co.uk (you need to be smart enough to know that the main airport in London is Heathrow); www.britainexpress.com/great_british_sites/cars.htm (a huge, “clickable” list), and www.webcarhire.com/car-rentals/car-rentals-uk.htm (here you will be able to compare U.K. car hire deals from leading car hire companies).

I have often used Enterprise car rental, last renting at Heathrow in 2005 and 2006. They do have a counter there, they do have a shuttle bus and they will return you to the airport or a nearby hotel at the end of the rental. I have found their rates to be competitive and their service to be good, and they do not have an age limit.

The Premium Location Fee for Heathrow airport is standard for all U.K. car rental companies and is generally shown and included in the specific quotation, so it is strange that it was not shown by Expedia in the above-mentioned reader’s case.

In my past experience, I have not been asked for CDW proof by the major car rental companies, however I have been asked for it by smaller, franchised companies. I now make a practice of carrying a copy of my credit card company’s member benefits guide with me.

JOHN QUIN-HARKIN

San Rafael, CA