Nowadays, many people can barely imagine living without their credit card. They see it as an essential part of their daily lives and use it for buying groceries, shopping online, paying for subscriptions and just about everything else.
Many people also hold the belief that there are so many things you just can’t do without a credit card, and one of them is renting a car. But is it true? Not always – so if you need to know how it’s done, here, we look at how to rent a car without a credit card.
If you want a preview of some of the stuff we’re going to be talking about – as well as a few other hints and tips – you can check out this video before reading on.
Which companies accept debit cards?
If you don’t want to use your credit card to rent a car – or you don’t have a credit card to use – your other main option is to use a debit card.
Not all car rental companies will accept a debit card, but if you shop around, you will find that some of them will. This means if you want to use your debit card to rent a car, your first task is to find a company that will let you.
Of the best-known rental agencies, Alamo, Sixt and Avis are examples of companies that allow you to rent cars on a debit card.
How is it different from using a credit card?
Using a debit card instead of a credit card does complicate things slightly.
The first major difference is that if you use a debit card, there will be more paperwork to do and you will be required to provide more documentation. For example, you might be asked to provide a second piece of identification along with your driving license.
Furthermore, there could be additional requirements, depending on whether you are local, non-local or an international visitor.
Local, non-local or international?
A local renting a car might be required to produce a utility bill with a name that matches the name on the debit card.
On the other hand, a non-local traveler, i.e. one from out of state, who rents a vehicle at the airport might be asked to provide a return ticket or proof of onward travel.
For an international traveler, the requirements would be similar, and they would need to show their return air ticket.
Credit checks and a deposit
For anyone renting with a debit card, the rental company might also want to do a credit check, something that could take a little extra time. Alternatively, they might accept a recent bank statement showing you have a certain required amount of money in your account.
Finally, if everything is accepted, the rental company would then take a deposit from your card. This means that money would actually be removed from your account – rather than just blocked, as is the case with a credit card.
This amount would then be refunded when the car was returned – but it could affect your bank balance and overdraft.
Also, bear in mind that, even with companies that accept debit cards, only major cards like Visa and Mastercard debit cards will be accepted – other more minor cards like Electron will not be ok.
What about any restrictions?
Another aspect of renting on a debit card is that companies that accept debit card may impose restrictions on the cars that you can take out. So, for example, you might be allowed to rent regular cars – but premium or luxury cars would probably be off-limits.
Each company that accepts debit cards will have different rules for this, so you need to check with each individual rental company.
What are the advantages?
There are a few advantages to renting with a debit card rather than with a credit card, and the most obvious one is that the price you pay really is the price you pay.
This is because whenever you buy anything on your credit card, you also pay interest on that amount. This means the longer you leave the unpaid balance on your card, the more you will end up paying for the rental.
With a debit card, on the other hand, this is not the case. You agree on a price for the rental, and that amount is taken from your account. There is nothing else to pay after.
What are the advantages of paying by credit card?
Generally speaking, however, it is better to rent on a credit card due to several advantages. First, it’s just easier. Rental companies prefer you to use a credit card, and there are far fewer hoops you need to jump through if you do.
The other big advantage is that the balance is never removed from your account. Instead, the amount for the deposit is simply blocked – and then released when you return the car.
This means you won’t see money going out of your account on your next statement, and you won’t ever risk going over your overdraft limit.
Other options – what about cash?
If you want to rent a vehicle and you have no credit card or debit card, your options are going to be extremely limited. It is next to impossible to rent a vehicle using cash only, so don’t count on being able to do so.
Also, rental companies usually don’t accept prepaid cards, virtual cards or single-use numbers.
One possibility could be that you rent a vehicle using your credit card when you take it out but then pay on a debit card (or even in cash) when you bring it back. However, for something like this, you would have to check with the agency when renting the car.
It’s possible – but more tricky
So as you can see, it is possible to rent a car without a credit card, but it is more complicated. This means if you have a credit card, it’s probably best just to use it.
However, if you don’t have a credit card or don’t want to use it for the rental, other options are available to you – you just need to be prepared for the extra admin that’s required, and the process of renting the vehicle will probably take a little longer.