Traditionally a credit card was a necessary component of renting a car. Credit cards indicate that the potential driver is both credit worthy and a fair risk. However car rental businesses have needed to move with the times, which reflect an increased usage of debit cards and a decrease in credit card usage. It is perfectly viable to rent a car now without a credit card, though the process will typically take longer and involve more paperwork.
Increasingly people are moving away from credit card usage, whether through an inability to obtain credit or through choice. Accepting only credit cards limits the customer base of a car rentals business, particularly if their competitors accept debit cards or cash in lieu of credit. A survey conducted by Creditcards.com revealed that even car rental businesses which only reluctantly accept alternate forms of payment to credit cards will in fact do so.
Those who need to rent a car without a credit card should be prepared that most rental agencies will impose additional requirements before releasing the vehicle. Actually reserving the vehicle by debit card in advance is not a problem. Renters should make the car rental business aware at the time of booking that they will need to complete the transaction without a credit card.
Most car rental agencies will require a debit card if the renter is not using credit. A debit card needs to be linked to a bank account in most cases and should carry either the Visa or MasterCard logo. As pre-paid debit cards are not linked to bank accounts these are not a generally acceptable alternative.
Those renting a car with a debit card should have the necessary paperwork in place to complete the rental transaction, which may include three forms of identification, along with their auto insurance policy.
Renters using debit cards should also be prepared for a credit check to be carried out by some agencies. They should be aware this will be a hard credit inquiry which may well impact negatively on their current credit score. Additionally a hold may be placed on current bank account funds of $100 - $500 as a security deposit, until the vehicle is returned.
Different car rental companies and agencies have different requirements, which can be ascertained in advance of selecting a company by searching online. Many place restrictions on the under 25’s renting without a credit card, and often companies will not let those not using credit drive off in the flashiest cars. Rent–A– Wreck is amongst the least restrictive rental companies, offering vehicles to the under 25’s and to cash renters.
When renting a car abroad some companies do impose mandatory requirement for credit cards. However not all car rental agencies insist on credit cards abroad, and this can be ascertained through online checks in advance. Those who typically visit a country and stay in a vacation resort will often find that cash is a perfectly acceptable way of renting a car, providing that a passport and other documentation is produced.
The typical independent car rental agencies found in resorts will often impose far less restrictions, as in many cases are not used to accepting credit cards. Car rental agencies at airports tend to be larger companies or franchises rather than independent operators, so may require more stringent requirements than independent rental agencies.
As more people elect to use cash and debit cards rather than credit cards, renting a car becomes easier for those who don’t carry credit cards. The trend is likely to increase if car rental companies wish to remain competitive and expand their potential customer base.