Visa Credit Cards refuse to cover Zipcar rentals

Update: Jan, 2015, Class Action Settlement reached, @Visa will pay denied claims. Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting!

Visa Enhancement Services refuses to cover Zipcar rentals under its rental car coverage benefit. This service, which exists to help card holders “Take advantage of the security, flexibility, and convenience that come with a Visa card,” including an auto-collision damage waiver, does not offer this security, flexibility or convenience for Zipcar drivers.

This post may seem off-topic for this blog; however,

  • It is DC-relevant, and really to residents of any other major urban centers, who are environmentally and socially supportive of their communities, and
  • I want to enter it into the “record of the Internet,” making this information searchable for any other customers of these companies who experience this situation – spirit of social media, etc.

I have gone ahead and pasted in their letter of determination to me, again, in the interest of helping other customers understand what might happen in a situation where they attempt to use this benefit, now that my situation is concluded (click to see full size).


To quote (again, to help the search engines out there):

Zipcar Members entered into a “Vehicle sharing service subscription contract” with Zipcar and not a rental agreement. Zipcar Member’s relationship as a member of Zipcar, entitled you the use of an automobile but did not constitute a “rental transaction” as required under the terms and conditions of the Visa Auto Rental CDW Program.

Now, I did discuss this carefully with Visa Enhancement Services, including the explanation that DC charges Zipcar rentals with a Rental car tax. The individual I spoke with there said that it doesn’t matter if my locality considers this a rental car. Regarding the issue of Collision Damage Waiver, ZipCar does offer a buy down to zero deductible, and I did decline that.

The final person I spoke with at Visa Enhancement Services was professional and cordial, but ultimately unhelpful in creating understanding around Visa’s stance on this issue. He suggested that the Zipcar company initiate a written dialogue with the head of their Division, on behalf of Zipcar members. He stated that Visa doesn’t get that many claims from Zipcar members; I honestly find that hard to believe.

So, despite what the letter says (“we reserve the right to accept this claim later” – really, why put that language in there if there’s no intention of doing such a thing…), I don’t think Visa’s going to change their mind on this one.

Most importantly for me, I should state, the damage I experienced was not personal injury inducing to anyone or anything, which is infinitely more important than the financial impact, and there are options to mitigate that going forward (see below)

Compared to Visa, a different (and great) experience with Zipcar

I have to say, compared to Visa, which has not been customer friendly, Zipcar has been terrific. I contacted them right away using their procedures and they were understanding that I am not the only one who has experienced this with Visa, and they managed the repair and restoration of my membership quickly and efficiently. After all was said and done, they even offered an unsolicited token of gratitude for my loyalty as a customer.

And that’s on top of the fact that every interaction that I have had with them has had an excellent level of customer service, from start to finish.

Zipcar does offer the option to buy down the deductible of their rentals down to zero, so there are clearly stated options to prevent this in the future.

Which one do you like / trust more when this happens?

There’s a social media aspect to all of this…

For people in this situation, and from what I’ve seen online, there’s going to be a tendency in this situation to decide whether you “liked” dealing with Zipcar or Visa, and ultimately whether you “trust” Zipcar or Visa, or really any company who you approach about their assurances and ability to deliver on them.

I have read some commentary online about whether Zipcar’s policies are unclear or if their approach to a situation like this is confusing. At the same time, I’ve stopped owning a car since 2008, and I don’t miss it one bit, mostly because of Zipcar’s flawless customer service and approach to making cars available only when they are needed. That means a lot. And it’s worth putting it out there for others to appreciate.

From the perspective of my experience then, of the two, Zipcar is the organization that is doing more to support people like me in making the decision to keep 2-6,000 unnecessary pounds of aluminum, glass, and steel out of my community. Visa, on the other hand, seems to be doing the opposite, making it more difficult for people to use car sharing, and providing inferior customer service.

So there you have it, entered into the record of the Internet.

if anyone coming across this finds themselves in the middle of a seeming tug of war over this issue feel free to use my experience to innovate around a creative solution that supports yourself, your community, and a healthy environment.


I would expect that Zipcar members as a share of the rental market actually have a better track record as far as accidents go. Members usually know the streets and areas better than those people renting a car while visiting strange areas.

Thanks for posting this. I just went through an extremely similar experience: I grazed a pole in a parking lot with my Zipcar, and Visa did not cover the $500 fee. However, Zipcar was actually great to work with throughout the process, submitting most of the paperwork to Visa for me. I'm curious to know whether holders of American Express or Mastercards have had success getting their damage covered.

Laura, I'm really glad my experience could help someone else in the same situation, and that you had a similar experience with Zipcar. I hope Visa would take note and provide better value for their product in the future,


Ted, your story on your zipcar exprience was very well said. Thanks for helping the "little guy" out in being my voice for positve customer change. Be for reading your post, I was going to use my Visa card for a zipcar. Thanks a mill.

Thanks for sharing your experience. A few months ago I called Visa's benefit helpline and specifically asked about Zipcars. The girl on the phone told me it didn't matter which rental company I used, I'd be covered by the CDW insurance. Although initially she got confused thinking that Zipcar was a "make" of car (like BMW)! After reading this post, I realised that Zipcar is not considered to be in the same category. That's really not good.

Perhaps we can encourage Zipcar to negotiate with Visa, MC, Amex and Discover and get this sorted. Although this might not be in accordance with their business plan of encouraging zipsters to buy the $50 and $75 CDW from Zip.


Thanks for writing, and glad this helped! From what I was told, the Zipcar company has been trying to negotiate with Visa and it is Visa that is not extending this coverage to Zipcar drivers. It seems we are caught in the middle and it is up to customers of Visa to help Visa understand know how this appears.

I left the address of Visa Enhancement Services visible above, so that if people are so interested, they can write them directly. Feel free to post your experience back here,


Visa Enhancement Services are a total scam.  Good luck ever getting a claim paid.  They are a evil company, multiple complaints to the BBB and insurance commissioner.

Thanks for sharing your experience. A few months ago I called Visa’s
benefit helpline and specifically asked about Zipcars. The girl on the
phone told me it didn’t matter which rental company I used, I’d be
covered by the CDW insurance. Although initially she got confused
thinking that Zipcar was a “make” of car (like BMW)! After reading this
post, I realised that Zipcar is not considered to be in the same
category. That’s really not good.

Ted Eytan, MD