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How to Rent a Car

Bonus How to Rent a Car

You just landed at the airport and picked up all your luggage from baggage claim. But before you can start your big vacation, there’s one more hurdle you need to climb: renting a car.

If you’re dreading the idea of dealing with the clerk sitting behind the computer who gives you a funny look when you say you’re going to rent the car with a debit card, we’re right there with you.  

The good news is that renting a car doesn’t have to be such a pain anymore. The times, they are a-changin’! Yes, you can drive away from the rental car lot now without feeling like you’ve just signed your life away.  

Yes, You Can Rent a Car With a Debit Card!

“But you can’t rent a car without a credit card!” If we’ve heard that once, we’ve heard it a thousand times. And guess what? It’s just not true.

The truth is, you can rent a car with a debit card. In fact, you can live your life as you normally would without ever using a credit card for anything. Shocker!

Up until now, a lot of car rental companies would make you jump through some hoops if you slapped down a debit card instead of a credit card. And, yes, some of them still do. Here are some common things they might ask for if you’re paying with a debit card:

  • Proof of car insurance
  • A pay stub
  • A recent bank statement
  • A utility bill

What’s next? Your social security number? We’re kidding . . . sort of. 

Here’s How to Rent a Car With a Debit Card

So, once you’ve found a rental car company that will rent you a car without a credit card, what’s next? Here are some steps you can take to help you get on the road with your rental car faster:

  1. Research your car options. Some car rental companies limit the types of cars you can rent if you’re paying with a debit card. Check with your rental company to see what kinds of vehicles you can rent when paying with a debit card.
  2. Meet minimum age requirements. A lot of car rental companies are going to either not allow you to rent a car until you’re 25 or make you pay a pretty penny for being under their age requirement. But Dollar Car Rental is one of the few companies that will let anyone age 20 and older rent a car!
  3. Have a valid driver’s license in place. If you want to rent a car, then you need to have a valid, up-to-date driver’s license. Pretty standard stuff.
  4. Prepare for credit checks. Some companies will run a credit check on you if you want to rent a car without a credit card. Want to skip that part? Dollar wants to save you from that hassle and has done away with credit checks and credit limits.
  5. Look out for travel plan requirements. Car rental companies can be pretty nosy when it comes to your travel plans—especially at airports. So be prepared to show proof of your return flight when you go to rent a car.
  6. Be prepared for holds/deposits. Unfortunately, a lot of companies in the travel industry (like hotels) ask for a deposit when you rent a car or room. No matter how you’re paying, car rental companies will usually ask for a hold or deposit (usually around $200) before they’ll give you the keys. But don’t worry—they’ll give it right back when you return the car.

You Can Probably Skip the Car Rental Insurance

Most people also assume they need to use a credit card to rent a car so they can get insurance coverage through their credit company. That’s another common misconception.

In most cases, you’re actually covered through your primary car insurance carrier! Take that, credit card companies! We don’t need you! Besides, not every card offers coverage, and some of them don’t even cover property damage or damage to another vehicle anyway.

But listen up: If you’re using the rental car for business use, your personal policy might not cover damage caused when you're renting a car for a business trip.

Just to be on the safe side, get in touch with your insurance company before you rent a car to see if you can skip the car rental insurance. A quick call will answer any lingering questions and ensure you can check out at the counter stress-free.

If you don’t feel like you have the right coverage, talk to an independent insurance agent about the best policy for your situation.

Here’s How You Can Save Some Money Renting a Car

Traveling can cause some stress on your wallet, so you’ll want to find savings anywhere you can—including the rental car place. Here are some easy ways to save on a rental car:

  • Avoid airport rentals if possible. Yeah, it’s super convenient to just walk on over to the car rental facility at the airport and pick up a car. But you might be able to avoid the fees that airport car rentals charge by choosing to rent at an off-airport rental place.
  • Rent an economy car. It can be very tempting to rent out that luxury car you’ve always wanted to drive. But you’ll get a much better rate on those minivans and economy cars that often get ignored. And you’ll also get better gas mileage with those cars anyway!
  • Take advantage of membership discounts. Your memberships can help you score exclusive, members-only deals and discounts. For example, Dollar Car Rental offers deals and discounts for members of AAA and BJ’s Wholesale Club. Check around to see what kind of deals you can get!
  • Say no to the extras. Do you really need satellite radio for a three-day weekend? You can avoid a bigger bill by saying, “Thanks, but no thanks!” to all the extra gadgets they’ll try to sell you. And, like we mentioned earlier, you can probably skip rental insurance, too.
  • Pass on prepaid gas. You should return your rental car with a full tank of gas. It’s not just common courtesy—you might get hammered with a big fee if you don’t. But sometimes the rental clerk will ask if you want to prepay for a tank of gas. Honestly, it’s probably better to top off the tank at a nearby gas station and avoid any other additional fees.
  • Walk or use public transportation instead. Hear us out: What if you didn’t need to rent a car at all? Some cities have excellent public transportation, very walkable downtowns and plenty of ridesharing options to choose from. It might be worth skipping the car rental altogether! Do some quick research to make sure you don’t rent a car that stays in the nearest parking garage for most of your stay.