Dec 9, 2020

Can You Rent A Car With A Debit Card?

If you have wanted to rent a car or have rented a car before, you probably already know that most rental car companies require a credit card in the renter’s name at the time of pick-up. However, not all people have a credit card in their name. 

If you are in this situation of needing to rent a car but don’t a credit card in your name, what are your options?  

The short answer is a lot. It’s not always possible with every car rental retailer, but most major car retailers now accept debit cards. 

There are sometimes extra requirements when you try to use a debit card instead of a credit card, and these extra requirements vary from company to company and sometimes from location to location.

If you prepare yourself for what to expect, you can rent a car and be on your way. So, if you are in the market to rent a car with your debit card, let’s explore the road ahead.

Extra requirements for debit card car rentals

Any time you go outside the expected norm of a process, some conditions may apply. Renting a car with a debit card is no exception. The rental company may require additional documentation other than the typical car rental requirements

Additional documentation can include one or more of the following:

  • Utility bills: One or more copies may be required.
  • Proof of insurance: Credit cards usually provide their own insurance, but debit cards do not usually have this protection.
  • Personal references: One or more of these may be required, and they will need to be people who can verify your personal information.
  • Return travel ticket from the drop-off location: This ensures that you really intend to go where you say you will be to drop the car off at the time and place you have requested.
  • Proof that you have disembarked at the pick-up location: This is typically for airport locations.
  • Most recent paycheck stub: This is to prove that you should have the income to pay for your rental since you are using your debit card.
  • A different form of identification: This could be a birth certificate, passport, social security card, etc.

Other than this possible additional documentation, the car rental company may do a credit check as well. This is essential to verify that you are good at keeping your end of agreements. 

Additionally, the company may only accept debit cards from specific and major credit card networks like Visa and Mastercard. If you are unsure if your debit card would qualify, the logo should be displayed on the card, or you can contact your financial institution for verification.

It is even possible that the car rental company may require the major credit network logo to be visible on your debit card. You may be asked to have enough funds available to cover the estimated cost of the car rental and the security deposit at the time of pick-up.

Some rental companies may only make exceptions for people who are from out of town. Local drivers who are looking to rent may be expected to follow the original credit card-only policy. 

Non-local and international customers may enjoy the exception, but they may find exceptions to their exception. This exception may come in the way of car category restrictions. As related above, this is to protect the car rental company as they take on the greater risk. If you’re going to have the potential to lose an asset, you don’t want it to be one of your more expensive assets.

Rental car companies may require non-local and international customers to show proof of return that coincides with the drop-off date and location. This is an effort to guarantee that the driver will be where they say they’ll be when they say they’ll be there. 

Lastly, the rental company may require a credit card for the security deposit and allow you to use a debit card for the form of payment when you return the vehicle. If this is the policy you are faced with, you may need to go in search of another car rental company if you do not have a credit card in your name at all.

Why are there extra requirements when using a debit card?

The list of additional requirements may sound daunting, and it may have left you wondering why the extra requirements are necessary. Are the car rental companies just picking on you for using your debit card? Don’t worry. They are not trying to be difficult or to punish you.

When the car rental companies rent a car to someone using a debit card, the company is assuming a greater risk. When the company requires a credit card, additional charges that are incurred by the renter, such as parking fees or tickets, fines, tolls, and other minor damage, can be processed for payment with or without the driver present. 

When the company allows the customer to use their debit card, any of these additional charges can not be processed on the debit card without the driver present because the debit card PIN is required to make additional purchases. 

Take the toll fee, for example. If the driver chooses a route with a toll, the rental company bears the responsibility of paying the toll, and they are left hoping that they can get the customer to pay the toll they incurred. This would not be an issue if they had the customer’s credit card info for the initial transaction. 

When you bear the greater risk, you want to make sure that you are placing your trust wisely. For this reason, car rental companies must do what they can to protect themselves.  After all, cars are expensive, replacing cars is costly, and any legal action needed to recoup their costs can also be expensive. 

Renting with a debit card or renting with a credit card: Which one is better?

If you have a credit card you can use, it makes a lot of sense to go with credit. For one, there is a security deposit required when you rent a car. The security deposit serves as a credit hold, but if you use your debit card, the deposit money will be unavailable to you for the duration of your rental. If you need cash for your travel expenses, this is something to consider.

Debit card use may be easier for some people, but depending on your circumstances, it may not be as easy as you would have hoped—especially when you consider the additional requirements. Extra time and extra legwork may make using a credit card more appealing. 

However, if you still feel like a debit card is the right choice for you or using a credit card is not an option for you, you will need to do your homework to find the right company to meet your needs. Contact your rental car retailer with your questions to make sure you know what to do.

Remember to do your homework in advance

This is a tip to save you some serious frustration. While the car rental company you are planning to use will allow for the use of debit cards in general, it is still a possibility that the location you are planning to use does not accept payments with debit cards or even follow the same rules. 

The best decision is to check with the car rental locations directly to see if they have any special conditions in addition to the ones highlighted above. The last thing you want to do is to plan your rental only to run into an issue at the last minute.

Summary

While renting a car with a debit card may be possible with some car rental companies, there could be some extra work on your part to make sure that you actually can do it. The requirements will depend on your company of choice, and you will have to assess if it is still worth it to you to pursue renting a car with your debit card. 

If using a credit card is an option for you, for your sake to save time and energy, you may want to really consider sticking with it. Making traveling plans should be as easy as possible.

If you must use a debit card, if you do your homework, prepare accordingly, and find the right flexible rental company, your experience will be smoother and more enjoyable so you can get on your way to traveling safely.

Sources:

Car Rental Tips in the USA | Immihelp.com 

Here’s the difference between a credit card network and card issuer | CNBC 

Security Deposit in Car Rental | CarRentalGateway.com 

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