BACK

Tero Vesalainen / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Credit Scores and Reports

You can now rent a car with a debit card without all the hassle

Depending on where you visit, you may no longer have to jump through hoops to rent a car with a debit card.

Summary

If you prefer to use debit cards instead of credit when you travel, your next trip may be less stressful. Some travel companies have relaxed their restrictions on using debit cards to book rental cars.

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of card offers; and please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

If you prefer to use debit cards instead of credit, even when traveling, your next trip may have just gotten a lot less stressful.

Depending on where you visit, you may no longer have to jump through hoops to rent a car with a debit card.

Travel giants Dollar and Thrifty announced Feb. 6 that, effective immediately, they are relaxing their restrictions on debit card users.

Unlike many car rental companies, they will no longer require debit card users to pass a credit check before being granted keys to a rental car.

Consumers who book their car rentals at least 24 hours in advance won’t have to provide proof they’ll return either, nor will they have to provide a second form of identification.

Previously, only credit card users were able to book a car rental without worrying about a credit check or providing a proof of return and multiple forms of identification.

“This is yet another way we can do our part to help minimize any stress when traveling, especially for our customers who choose to use a debit card,” said Dollar’s Susan Jacobs in a news release.

Debit card users will still have to provide two forms of identification and proof of return if they book a car at the last minute or opt for a luxury car.

Some debit card holders may also still run into trouble using their debit cards, depending on where they travel. For example, if you try to book a Dollar car rental in the New York Tri-State area or in parts of Hartford, Connecticut; Philadelphia; Boston; Manchester, New Hampshire or Detroit; you won’t be able to use debit to book your reservation. But you’ll be able to use it when you return.

Hertz (which owns both Dollar and Thrifty) is also more restrictive. Some Hertz locations, for example, still require proof of return and two forms of identification if you use a debit card to book your car.

See related: 9 tips for renting a car with a debit card

For many car rental customers, it’s a pain to use a debit card

Dollar and Thrifty’s new debit card policy is a big shift from previous years, when they and other car rental companies imposed a number of restrictions on debit card users out of fear they’ll be less reliable than credit card holders.

For example, many car rental companies continue to require a credit check before they’ll approve your booking and will only let you use debit if your score passes a certain threshold. According to Dollar, for example, consumers with credit scores under 660 weren’t allowed to book a Dollar rental with a debit card.

Others require multiple forms of ID or require you to use a credit card to hold your reservation, even if you use a debit card to pay for your car rental after you’ve used it.

Many also require you to show some sort of proof that you’ll return, such as a round-trip airline ticket, and provide a bigger deposit.

Some car rental agencies won’t process your payment if your debit card doesn’t have a Visa, Mastercard or Discover logo. Others won’t accept debit card payments at all, or will only accept them in certain locations. A number of car rental companies also refuse cash and prepaid cards, so if you don’t have a credit card, you’re out of luck.

Debit card policies typically vary by location, and so it’s wise to check ahead of time before you book a trip.

Car rental companies justify their policies by arguing that debit cards are riskier forms of payment. For example, if you use a debit card to book your rental, but don’t have enough cash available to pay for your trip or for additional expenses, a car rental company could get stiffed.

As Thrifty once wrote on its own website: “Renting a car to someone with no credit card is risky for rental car companies. Not having a credit card is a red flag that you may be a credit risk.”

However, as Dollar noted in its press release about its new, more flexible policy, many people don’t own a credit card and so have trouble accessing a rental. Others have never used credit and so they may not be able to pass a credit check either.

See related: Which cards are best for renting a car?

Will others sign on?

For now, it appears Thrifty and Dollar are among the only major car rental companies with such loose debit card policies. But if others follow suit, it could be a big deal for consumers who eschew credit cards or aren’t able to qualify for one.

Some credit card holders may also be less interested in using a credit card now that issuers such as Discover have dropped car rental insurance as a protection.

That said, if you don’t mind using a credit card and own a card that still offers car rental coverage, you could be better off charging your reservation instead of using debit – especially if your credit card offers primary coverage.

Just be sure to read the fine print of your card agreement before relying solely on a credit card for damage protection: Car rental coverage can vary greatly, depending on the card and where and how you’re traveling.

If your credit card doesn’t offer great coverage and you’re trying to limit your charges, you may decide to just use your debit card now that it’s no longer such a hassle.

What’s up next?

In Credit Scores and Reports

Your company-issued card was canceled? Here’s how to protect your credit

If you had a business credit card issued by your employer that was suddenly canceled, there are steps you can take to make sure it doesn’t hurt your credit. Here’s what to do.

Published: February 11, 2019

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: November 13th, 2019
Business
15.14%
Airline
16.97%
Cash Back
17.16%
Reward
17.01%
Student
17.23%

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company’s business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.