How to rent a car without a credit card
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When most of us rent a vehicle, we use a credit card that offers bonus points and primary rental car coverage. However, not everyone has a credit card in their wallet or sometimes emergencies happen that leave us without a credit card. If you find yourself in one of these situations, you can breathe a sigh of relief because you can rent a car without a credit card.
You’ll face a few hurdles -- additional ID requirements, limitations on the cars you can book and even a credit check -- but it is possible. Here’s everything you need to know about renting a car without a credit card.
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Rental car companies that accept debit cards
Most of the major rental car companies will accept debit cards in place of a credit card. There are a few caveats to be aware of. For starters, many of them require you to be at least 25 years old and will run a credit check before allowing you to rent a car. Companies such as Avis also restrict the type of vehicle you can rent, with high-end options being off limits. Be sure to check the individual rental company requirements before booking with a debit card.
Related: Renting a car? These are the cards you need to get now
Alamo accepts debit cards at airport rental counters if you provide proof of return travel and agree to pay a $200 refundable deposit.
Avis has quite a few restrictions when it comes to renting a car with a debit card. While you can pay for the rental with a debit card, some locations will still require you to present a credit card to secure a rental. For example, Avis locations in the Tri-State area, Philadelphia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Hartford, CT do not accept debit cards. Other restrictions include the following:
- Renters must be at least 25 years old
- Credit check required
- No rentals from the Avis Select Series
Related: Your points, miles and loyalty guide to Avis
Budget accepts debit cards for reservation if you’re at least 25 years old. There are some locations that won’t allow debit payment, so be sure to confirm this ahead of time. As with other rental agencies, you’ll need to account for a refundable security deposit of at least $100 when paying with your debit card.
Dollar car rental has slightly more lax rules for renting a car without a credit card. You won’t undergo a credit check and the company accepts debit cards for non-premium or luxury rentals as long as you book your car 24 hours before pick-up. However, you can get around this requirement by presenting a valid ID and proof of return travel. Just keep in mind that you will be charged the entire cost of your rental upfront, along with a $200 deposit.
Enterprise allows you to rent a car with a debit card at airport locations, assuming you have proof of return travel and are able to cover the entire cost -- plus a $200 deposit. You won’t be able to add additional drivers, although your spouse or partner is allowed to drive the vehicle.
At non-airport locations, you’ll face some stringent requirements if you’re paying with a debit card. For starters, not all locations accept debit cards; and the ones that do may ask for copies of your utility bills, a recent paystub, proof of insurance and references. You’ll also need to pay the full cost of the rental, along with a deposit that can take up to 20 days to refund.
Hertz allows you to rent a car with your debit card if it’s saved to your profile. The rental location may also run a credit check. At airport locations, you’ll also need to provide two forms of valid ID and proof of return travel. If you don’t meet this criteria, you can still pay for your rental with a debit card if you present a credit card at check-in. Considering Hertz charges a deposit ranging from $900-$2,000, it’s probably best that these funds aren’t (temporarily) coming out of your checking account.
National Car Rental
National only accepts debit cards for rentals made at airport locations and only if you’re able to provide proof of return travel. A $200 deposit will be required, along with the cost of the entire rental. When renting with a debit card, National won’t allow you to add additional drivers to the reservation, which can be an inconvenience if you’re taking a long road trip.
Related: Your points, miles and loyalty guide to National Car Rental
Sixt accepts debit cards for car rentals under 28 days if you choose the “Pay Later” option during booking and present two forms of ID. If you’re a non-local, you won’t be able to rent premium and luxury cars and you must provide proof of return travel at airport locations. If you’re a local renter, Sixts requires you to present a copy of a recent utility bill that matches the information on your driver’s license.
Thrifty Car Rental
Like Avis, Thrifty accepts debit cards if you book your reservation at least 24 hours in advance. You’ll need two forms of ID, proof of travel plans and a $200 refundable deposit plus the entire rental cost. If you’re a member of Thrifty’s Blue Chip rewards program, the $200 deposit is waived, assuming you’ve added your debit card to your online profile.
Related: Rental car promotions that will save you money
rent a car with a prepaid card
Enterprise and Hertz both allow you to use a prepaid card to pay for your rental car. Some Enterprise locations accept cash and money orders for final payments only, while others allow you to secure a rental this way. Hertz accepts prepaid cards for final payment only. You still need to provide a credit or debit card at check-in to secure your rental. Keep in mind that this may not work abroad, where prepaid card acceptance is extremely limited.
Related: How AutoSlash can save you up to 77% on car rentals
Which rental car company does not require a credit card?
Most of the major rental car companies allow you to book and pay for your rental car without a credit card. Accepted payment methods include debit cards, while a few will allow cash and money orders for payment. All of the following accept debit cards:
Related: 9 rental car rewards programs you need to know about
Can you use a prepaid card to book a rental car?
Some rental car companies accept prepaid cards. Hertz accepts prepaid cards for final payments only while some Enterprise locations allow you to secure a rental car booking this way.
Related: 10 best ways to redeem your points and miles for a car rental
Can I use cash for a rental car?
A few rental car companies allow you to pay with cash, though you’ll still need a debit or credit card to make the reservation. Some Enterprise locations allow you to do this and Dollar accepts cash for car rentals in most states if you’re at least 20 years old, complete the Cash Deposit ID Card application and pay a $15 processing fee. It can take 30 days to process this application, so you’ll want to plan way in advance if you’re choosing this option.
Should you use a debit card to rent a car?
While you can use a debit card to rent a car, there are some significant trade-offs. For starters, you’ll often be liable for a security deposit that may take a few weeks to be refunded. You will also undergo a credit check in some instances and be required to provide at least two forms of ID.
Most importantly, you’ll forego primary rental coverage, which is something you normally have to pay for but you get as a benefit with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. If you decide not to and end up in an accident, you’ll have to process the claim through your own insurance and risk a higher premium. This trade-off is not worthwhile. I wouldn’t recommend renting a car with a debit card unless it’s your only option.
Related: Tuesday Travel Tip: The top 3 easiest ways to save on rental cars
Renting a car without a credit card is possible, although you’ll forego important protections and deal with a few hassles. If you’re traveling domestically, for example, you may not always have two forms of government ID on hand. If you’re booking an expensive rental, you’ll need to contend with having the entire cost plus a security deposit withdrawn from your checking account. Lastly, you won’t receive the protections that come with credit cards, which can save you time, money and a lot of trouble if you’re involved in an accident while driving the rental vehicle.