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How to rent a car without a credit card

Oct. 19, 2020
11 min read
Silver car driving down Kaikoura Highway
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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

(Photo by minemero/Getty Images)

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

Alamo accepts debit cards at airport rental counters if you provide proof of return travel and agree to pay a $200 refundable deposit.

Avis

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

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Budget

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

HONG KONG - AUGUST 24: A smart phone with the car rental app Dollar Rent A Car is seen on the screen in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, on August 24, 2018. (Photo by Yu Chun Christopher Wong/S3studio/Getty Images)

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

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

Hertz President's Circle at Washington-Dulles airport (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

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

(Photo by Marina113/Getty Images)

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

(Photo by Shironosov_GettyImages)

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

FAQ

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:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar
  • Enterprise
  • Hertz
  • National
  • Sixt
  • Thrifty

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

Bottom line

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.

Featured image by (Photo by C Levers/Shutterstock)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023