How to Rent A Car Without A Credit Card

by Ryan Guina

Many people avoid using credit cards at all costs, even though it may be inconvenient. One example that comes to mind is renting a car. It used to be you had to use a credit card to rent a car, but now most car rental companies will allow you to rent a car with a debit card or cash.  Car rental companies definitely prefer customers reserve a car with a credit card, but most companies have adjusted their policies due to the increasing number of people who no longer use credit cards.

How to Rent A Car Without A Credit Card

rent a car with a debit card

You can rent a car with a debit card

Credit cards are the preferred method of payment by car rental companies because many credit card companies offer rental insurance and because the car rental company can directly charge the customer’s credit card should there be a problem with the car when it is returned. However, not all consumers have, or want to use, a credit card. If you are in this situation, then try these methods of payment.

Renting a Car With a Debit Card

If you have a checking account or savings account, chances are good you have a debit card.  Most of them will also carry a MasterCard or Visa logo.  These debit cards will work when you want to rent a car, however there are a few things you should know about renting a car with a debit card:

  • Many car rental companies will run a credit check using Equifax.  If your credit score and information contained in your report doesn’t reach their criteria, they will not allow you to rent a car. Credit checks performed by car rental companies can show up on your credit report and in some instances, may affect your credit score.
  • Most car rental companies will keep a large deposit until you return the car. Sometimes the deposit will be on hold for ten days or more after you’ve returned the car – which means it will be unusable and not part of your checking account balance during this time. make sure you have enough money in your checking account to avoid overdraft fees.
  • Some car rental companies require people renting a car with a debit card to obtain proof of full insurance coverage that will cover the driver of a rental car – or to purchase the insurance provided by the car rental company.

Do you have a rewards debit card? If you prefer not to use credit cards, then check out PerkStreet Financial, which offers one of the best debit rewards cards on the market.

Renting a Car With Cash

A handful of car rental companies, like Rent-A-Wreck will allow customers to rent a car using cash.  You will need a cash deposit if you aren’t presenting a credit card, and the amount may be $150 or more above and beyond the price to rent the car.  This is refundable when you return the car.

Benefits of Renting a Car With Credit Card

If you have access to a credit card, it’s often a better option to use it when renting a car compared to using a debit card or cash.  Many credit cards include car rental insurance coverage at no additional cost when you rent the car.  When you rent a car with a credit card, there are no credit checks performed and no adverse affects to your credit score.  Additionally, most rental companies will not charge more than the amount to rent the car to your credit card – but if they do, it won’t affect your cash flow. finally, there are some great cash back credit cards that offer great rewards. Just make sure you have the cash in hand to pay the price of the rental in full when the bill comes.

Photo credit: Crystal Calderon

Published or updated December 27, 2012.
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1 KP

While I only rent a car using my credit card (they offer more convenience and added travel benefits), your blog post offers some great tips for those who choose to pay using other methods. Thanks for sharing your tips Ryan!


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