I hear it all the time: George, you can’t rent a car without a credit card! Rental car companies don’t accept debit cards! How do you get your hair to be so voluminous?
I’ll only be answering the first two questions today. Let’s stick to personal finance.
Can you rent a car with a debit card? The answer: Yes, you can. In fact, I’ve done it many times!
Now, you have to do some research on the front end and provide a little more information. But it’s totally possible. I’m going to walk you through what to expect, so you can rent a car with your debit card—no sweat!
- Plenty of car rental companies will let you rent without a credit card.
- When renting with a debit card, you may have a bigger hold placed on your account—but you get it back when you return the car.
- You may have to provide additional documentation or forms of ID when renting without a credit card.
How to Rent a Car Without a Credit Card
1. Choose a company and location that lets you to rent a car with a debit card.
While not every car rental company will let you rent without a credit card, there are plenty of places that do! You’ll still want to contact the exact location you plan on renting from beforehand, since they may have their own specific debit card policy. But in most cases, you should be able to find at least one rental company in your area that’ll accept your debit card. (And at the end of the day, they want your business.)
Car Rental Companies That Accept Debit Cards:
- SIXT (not all locations)
2. Meet minimum age requirements.
If you’re under 25 and paying with a debit card, you may have trouble finding a car rental company that will hand you the keys. Or they may just ask you to pay a young driver’s fee. That’s standard stuff, but it’s good to know if you and your college friends are planning to rent a car for a spring break road trip.
3. Research your vehicle options.
Some car rental companies limit the types of cars you can rent if you’re paying with a debit card. So, before you set your heart on that new SUV, check with the rental company to see what your vehicle options are. Also, you might have better luck if you book your reservation ahead of time.
If you’re wanting to rent a luxury or exotic car, you might have to lower your expectations—or find another company (like Turo) with those options. But don’t worry, those other cars will still get the job done. And they’ll help you save money on gas too!
4. Bring additional forms of ID.
Besides a valid, up-to-date driver’s license, you may have to provide another form of ID—like a passport, your Costco or Sam’s Club membership card, or a recent utility bill. So, if you’re booking your rental car before a trip, just add those items to your packing list. Again, check with the rental company to find out exactly what you need to bring.
5. Be prepared for credit checks.
If you want to rent a car without a credit card, some companies might decide to run a soft credit check on you. Look, I know that a credit score doesn’t show how well you manage your money (or if you’re even good for the price of the rental). But the rental company needs some way to figure out if they should lend the car to you or not. After all, they’re letting you borrow their $20,000 piece of machinery.
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Don’t freak out here—what they mainly care about is if you have a bad credit score. If you have no score—because you don’t use credit—you should be good to go. Just don’t be surprised if you have to go through this extra step.
6. Pay attention to travel plan requirements.
If you’re renting from an airport location with a debit card, you may need to show a boarding pass or proof of a return flight. No, they’re not being nosy about your travel plans. They just want to make sure you’ll actually return the rental car instead of fleeing the country with your one-way runaway Hyundai Santa Fe. So, be prepared to show your flight itinerary.
7. Budget for extra holds or deposits.
It’s standard practice for car rental companies to place a hold on your account (even if you use a credit card). But the amount held may be a little higher if you’re paying with a debit card—anywhere from $200–500 total.
I get it. It might feel a little scary to see a hold for $500 sitting in your bank account for a week. But you’ll get it right back when you return the car. And as long as you have a buffer in your bank account (which is always a good idea), you’ll be fine.
If you’re booking a car rental at least a month in advance, go ahead and make a line item for the hold in that month’s budget. That way, you’ll already have the money set aside and you won’t have to stress!
Can You Rent a Car With Cash or a Prepaid Card?
Many car rental companies don’t accept physical cash or prepaid cards. Even the ones that will take cash for the final payment still require a debit card to make the reservation. And there’s usually a couple more boxes you need to check first.
For example, some Enterprise locations require two current utility bills, your most recent paycheck stub, and proof of insurance when you pay with cash or money order—as well as the entire cost of the rental upfront.1 But if you’re not sure, just call the rental location and see what their specific rules are for paying with cash or a prepaid card.
Do You Need a Credit Card for Rental Car Insurance?
A lot of people think they need to use a credit card to rent a car so they can get rental car insurance through their credit company.
But guess what? A lot of car insurance carriers offer rental car coverage. Most likely, you’re already covered under your current policy (double-check with your auto insurance company to be sure). Take that credit card companies! Besides, not every credit card offers rental coverage, and some of them don’t even cover property damage or damage to another vehicle anyway.
You Don’t Need a Credit Card to Rent a Car
So, there you have it, folks. There are plenty of companies out there that will let you rent a car without a credit card. Just make sure you do your research, bring any required documents, and come to the counter knowing they might want you to jump through a few more hoops.
And listen, a couple extra steps are worth it if they keep you from falling into the credit card debt trap. The truth is, you don’t need a credit card to rent a car, travel or do anything else!
What you really need is a budget. A budget helps you plan for every expense (including that rental car deposit), so you can cover the basics and then some—without stressing if you have enough. Plus, a budget is the best way to make progress toward your money goals (like paying off debt or saving for that trip to Cabo).
If you’re not already budgeting, the EveryDollar budgeting app makes it super easy to get started. Go ahead and create your free budget with EveryDollar today!