Renting a car with a credit card is easy. Renting a car without one? Not so much. It is, however, doable. You'll need to be prepared to do your homework, and you might need to ring around more rental companies than you'd been expecting to before you find a taker. Each company has its own policies and its own set of rules governing exactly what payment methods they accept. The first company on your list might give you a straight no, but the next one might be more flexible. Here's everything you need to know about how to rent a car without a credit card.
Pay With a Debit Card
If you don't have a credit card but do have a debit card, you're in luck. Most car rental companies are prepared to take payment via a debit card, even if the process isn't quite as straightforward as using a credit card. Before you start waving your plastic friend around, there are a few things to bear in mind. As AdvisoryHQ recommends, be prepared to...
- Wait - Most rental companies will take additional steps before handing over your keys when you pay with a debit card. This can include checking your credit, calling your bank, verifying your ID, confirming your insurance, and more besides. All of these things take time, so where possible, it's always better to make arrangements in advance so you can set the ball rolling as soon as possible. If you don't, you may end up spending more time than you were expecting hanging around the counter.
- Settle - Most rental companies will only let you rent a luxury car if you can provide a credit card. If you can't, be prepared to settle for a basic, cheaper option.
- Question - Even if your existing car insurance policy covers you for rental cars, some rental companies will ask that you buy additional insurance from them if you pay by debit card. As this can cost as much as $20 a day, always be sure to ask what their policy is before agreeing to a contact.
Rental Companies that Accept Payment by Debit Card
According to The Points Guy, the following companies will, under certain circumstances at least, accept payment via debit card.
- Alamo - Providing you provide proof of return travel, Alamo will accept debit cards at airport rental counters. You will, however, have to stump up a $200 refundable deposit before they agree to let you drive away.
- Avis - While most Avis locations will accept a debit card for payment, some don't, including those in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Hartford, CT. Even if you find a location that accepts them, be prepared to jump through a few extra hoops, including providing proof of age (you'll need to be 25 years plus) and agreeing to a credit check.
- Budget - Providing you're at least 25 years old and agree to a refundable deposit of at least $100, most Budget locations will allow you to use a debit card to secure a rental car.
- Dollar - Dollar is one of the easiest places to secure a car rental using a debit card. There's no credit check requirement, and while the company states it will only accept debit cards if you book at least 24 hours before pick up, proof of ID and return travel will let you get around the requirement. Just be ready to pay the full cost of the rental upfront, together with a $200 deposit.
- Enterprise - Assuming you have proof of ID and return travel, you should be able to use a debit card at most Enterprise airport locations on payment of a $200 refundable deposit and the full cost of the rental. At non-airport locations, things are a bit stickier - not all locations will accept debit cards and those that do have some pretty strict requirements. Expect to provide copies of your utility bills, a recent paystub, proof of insurance, and even references.
- Hertz - If you have a Hertz account, you can save a debit card to your profile and use it for future rentals. Just be aware some locations will still run a credit check. At airports, you'll be asked to provide two forms of ID and proof of return travel. You'll also need to pay a security deposit, which can be anything from $900 to $2000.
- National Car Rental - If you're trying to secure a car rental at an airport and can provide proof of return travel, along with the full cost of the rental and a security deposit of $200, National Car Rental will accept debit cards. All other locations accept credit cards only.
- Sixt - To pay via a debit card with Sixt, you'll need to restrict the rental period to 28 days or less and select the "Pay Later" option when you're making the booking. You'll also need to provide two forms of ID, and, in the case of out-of-towners, proof of return travel. Local renters can provide a utility bill instead, providing the address on the bill matches the one on their driving license.
- Thrifty Car Rental - Providing you make sure to book your rental 24 hours in advance, Thrifty Car Rental will accept debit card payments. You'll also need to provide two forms of ID, confirmation of your travel plans, and a $200 security if you're not a member of Thrifty’s Blue Chip rewards program,
Pay With Cash
As WikiHow mentions, the alternative to using a debit card is to pay with cash. Just be warned that not all companies will allow it, and those that do have some pretty strict guidelines around the subject. Those that do accept cash may still ask you to present a credit or debit card before they hand over the keys. Once you find a location that accepts cash, expect to provide several forms of ID, proof of insurance, and confirmation of your travel plans. Your choice of cars is likely to be limited to basic models, and most companies won't allow additional drivers. You should also expect to be asked for an upfront security deposit. This will be returned to you at the end of the rental period providing no damage has been done to the car, and it's returned as per the conditions of the contract (eg, full tank of gas, etc). As the amount of the security deposit can vary significantly, check with the company directly to confirm the requirements.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson