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No Plastic -- What You Need to Know When Renting a Car

If you’re thinking about renting a car, but you don’t have a credit card, things can get a little tricky. Not to say that it’s impossible, but it can be a major obstacle.

The problem: Renting a car to someone with no credit card is risky for rental car companies. Not having a credit card is a red flag that you may be a credit risk. Allowing you to drive off in a pricey vehicle is not something they’re comfortable with, especially since they may be the ones who lose out.

Of course, your credit may be excellent and you many just prefer not to use a credit card. Rental car companies are starting to understand that, so many are offering you the option of paying with a debit card instead. Here are some important things to keep in mind if you do plan on renting this way:

  • Logo requirements. While many rental car companies accept debit cards, many also require that the cards have a Visa or MasterCard logo.
  • Expect a credit check. Some companies will perform a debit card check and credit inquiry to ensure that you have the proper funds. (Keep in mind, credit inquiries show up on your credit report, and too many inquiries can actually lower your credit score.)
  • Be patient. The process of paying with a debit card will likely be a longer one. It takes time to check your credit and insurance, verify your ID, etc.
  • Prepare to pay a deposit. Often times, rental car companies place a hold on the account linked to your card. It’s basically a deposit that they’ll hold until you return the vehicle. These deposits can be $200 or more.
  • Limited choice. No credit card often means you lose the option of renting luxury cars, SUVs or other specialty vehicles.
  • Outside of the U.S. - Debit cards may not be accepted at locations outside of the United States. Please check terms and conditions for the specific country or location of rental.

While it’s certainly not impossible to rent a car without a credit card, it is obviously more of a hassle. Unless you have no other option, using a credit card can really save time, money, and, perhaps, your sanity.

* DEBIT CARDS ACCEPTED AT PARTICIPATING LOCATIONS ONLY