Renter's who don't read the fine print when booking a rental car in Germany with Thrifty or Dollar may get a nasty surprise at the rental car counter. The text below is just one important clause in both companies' terms and conditions. (LDW/loss damage waiver refers to collision and theft insurance.)

To decline LDW, customer must have US issued Gold/Platinum MasterCard or Canadian issued Gold/Platinum Visa Card and provide WRITTEN PROOF issued BY CREDIT CARD INSURANCE COMPANY that the card has FULL COVERAGE for GERMANY or WORLDWIDE at time of rental. Only US issued Gold/Platinum MasterCard or Canadian issued Gold/Platinum Visa can be used to waive LDW coverage. These cards will only be accepted for coverage for rental periods of less than 28 days in any calendar year. For 9-seaters, Credit Card Coverage is NOT accepted. If relevant card AND cover letter are not produced at time of commencement of rental then Dollar LDW must be purchased. In the event of an accident, any damage or theft, whatever the cause or who is to blame (even if the car was unattended), the driver must obtain the relevant report from the German police. Failure to provide a correctly completed police report to the rental agent on return of the vehicle will void the Loss Damage Waiver (LDW). The driver will then be liable for the total cost of the damage up to and including the total cost of the vehicle. Location does NOT accept insurances purchased on third party websites.

So, if you have a Visa or an American Express card (even Amex's Premier Car Rental Protection plan), you are out of luck if you had planned to rely on their free LDW. Instead, you will have to purchase the insurance at the rental counter, adding anywhere from about $13 to $25 per day to the rental cost. Renters should also know that most MasterCards do not cover collision or theft insurance on rentals longer than 15 days.

MasterCard rental car coverage terms and conditions.

Visa rental car terms and conditions.

Best Coverage: American Express rental car coverage terms and conditions.