Diners Club to BMO Harris – keeping car rental primary CDW, losing AA transfers

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The Rapid Traveler recently received a sheaf of fine print from BMO Harris that it will take over Diners Club effective November 7, 2011. Most recently Citibank held the portfolio.

One change and one non-change were eyecatching:

  • Effective November 3, 2011 you can no longer redeem Club Rewards points for American Airlines AAdvantage miles. With the December changes to AA’s million miler program, those considering transfers should be emptying their Club Rewards accounts anyway, but it will be an inconvenience going forward.
  • The primary collision damage waiver coverage remains in place. This, along with access to a motley assortment of airport lounges, are the best benefits of an otherwise lackluster rewards card.

The Rapid Traveler’s employer used to use the Diners Club Corporate Card for employee expenses and he added the personal Professional card because of its car rental coverage. Primary is a lot better than secondary and a rare benefit. At the sub-$100 annual fee level The Rapid Traveler is aware only of the Chase Continental OnePass Plus Card/United MileagePlus Explorer Card offering similar coverage.

There are slight differences in the coverage between the two, such as country exclusions. Diners Club says “You may be unable to receive benefits in Australia, Italy and New Zealand. Please contact your vehicle rental agency before you travel.” As if the rental agency is likely to know or tell you when aggressively upselling their own insurance. Chase explicitly excludes Israel, Jamaica, or the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland, also adding a proviso to verify with a local rental agency in any country.

It is important to note that no credit card offers liability coverage, not even the American Express Premium Car Rental Protection, which is quite similar to the Chase and Diners Club offerings, though is valid for up to 42 days versus 31 and has some other coverage differences. It requires advance sign-up, with either a $19.95 or $24.95/rental flat fee depending on coverage.

The Rapid Traveler has toyed with dropping his Diners Club card, but since it is not currently available to new individual applicants he is holding on to it, and already emptied his Club Rewards into AA a few months ago.

The airline lounge benefit occasionally comes in handy, though the selection is quite unpredictable. Last week he used it for perhaps the saddest lounge he has yet visited, the Club America lounge in Miami’s tattered terminal F. One magazine, no newspapers, and one type of cookie, with nothing else to eat.

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