10 tips to renting a car without a credit card

January 25, 2008 at 2:09 pm 4 comments

If you’re a MoneyTalk reader, you’re probably aware that, not only do I not endorse credit cards, I don’t have any. My husband and I have stuck to the basics by either paying with cash, check or debit card. It’s definitely helped get our finances in order and we’re in a much better position than we were when we relied on plastic. There are concerns that there’s too much work involved by not using credit cards for simple things like online purchases, hotel reservations and car rentals. Although we’ve never had problems with using our debit card, there are some things you need to consider when you rent a car. Here are 10 things to keep in mind when renting a car with a debit card:

1. Call around and compare.
It’s important to find a rental car company with fewer restrictions on non-credit renters. Policies vary from branch to branch, so be sure to call several. Be sure to keep in mind what is posted on their corporate sites when you speak to an agent.

2. Give yourself some time.
Credit cards allow renters to quickly drive a car off the rental lot without having to stand in line. This is typically not the case for those using debit cards, so be sure to consider the rental counter line when you pick up the car. The extra time simply accounts for the agent conferring with management, credit check, and verification of your identity, insurance, and/or bank.

3. Have your debit card ready.
Some rental locations allow customers to pay their final bill with cash, but require either a debit or credit card before you can drive the car off the rental lot.

4. Know your “holds” and “blocks.”
It’s common for rental car companies to place a ‘hold’ (deposit) on your checking or savings account that’s linked to the debit card you’re using. The amount can be anywhere from $200-500, on top of that rental car cost. These holds can tie up that money from 24 hours to 14 days, depending on how long it takes your bank to release the funds.

5. Visa or MasterCard or walk?
Be sure to check whether your debit card has the Visa or Mastercard logos. Some agencies don’t accept other cards.

6. Expect a credit check.
Many of the the major rental car companies will run credit checks on renters who don’t pay with plastic. They need to make sure that you are not a credit risk before you can be entrusted with a $20,000-30,000 vehicle. These credit checks will show up on your credit report as inquiries, which, if you have too many, can have negative effects on your credit score.

7. Bring your papers.
Some rental car companies require some paperwork if you’re not paying with plastic. Common requirements include a recent utility bill, proof of auto insurance and/or a return plane ticket or itinerary.

8. Names must match.
Rental car companies will check to make sure that the name on the debit card you’re using is you. They will not allow you to use anyone else’s card, even if it’s a spouse or parent. The name on the debit card must match your driver’s license, insurance cards and other documentation mentioned in number 7. This is also the case with credit cards.

9. Don’t expect a warm welcome if you’re local.
Some rental car companies only allow out of town rentals for customers without credit cards.

10. Size matters.
If you’re using a debit card to rent a car, there are several rental car companies that ban the rental of luxury cars, SUVs or other specialty cars.

Note: I personally haven’t had any issues when renting vehicles.

Source: 12 tips for renting a car with a debit card


Entry filed under: Money Fun.

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