You better have a credit card if you’re planning to rent a car soon. But what if you only have a debit card? Will the car rental company accept it? Well, that depends.
Debit card payments are limited to the amount of money you have in your bank account. If you seriously damage the rental car and your card has insufficient funds to meet the damages, the rental car company is left to pay for the difference.
Furthermore, for some debit cards entering your pin is required every time a charge is made. This can present a problem for the car rental company in case you skip town after returning the vehicle. Owning a credit card also serves as evidence that you’re financially responsible because a financial institution trusted you enough to offer you credit.
Additional requirements when renting a car with a debit card
Considering the risk involved with accepting debit cards, many car rental companies insist on additional requirements for them to accept your debit card.
- Deposit amount. Many car rental companies will require you to put down a deposit of at least $200 for you to use your debit card.
- Credit check. A car rental company may require a credit check to determine whether you can meet the costs of damages should they arise. If your credit check is too low, the company may not accept your debit card. Keep in mind that credit checks lower your credit score. So find out in advance whether the does credit checks for debit card transactions.
- Your travel plans. If you’re renting a car at the airport, the car rental company might want to see your return ticket to be a bit more confident that you’re not going to go missing.
- A car rental company sees you as less risky if you have adequate personal car insurance. Keep in mind that even though credit cards usually cover rental car damage costs, debit cards do not. So it’s advisable or required to have additional insurance.
- Additional ID. A car rental company might want to see your passport or proof of residence (e.g., a utility bill) before accepting your debit card.
Restrictions associated with renting a car with a debit card
The restrictions depend on the location and car rental company. To avoid surprises, it’s a good idea to check the website of the specific location at which you’re planning to rent the car.
Luxury car rental companies are not likely to accept debit cards. You may also be limited to driving the rental within the state. You will likely be required to be over 25 years old. While some companies may allow people aged 21-24 to rent a car for an additional “young driver” fee, this option is probably not available to debit card renters.
You’re better off using a credit card
If you’re planning to rent a car soon, it’s a good idea to get a credit card. Renting a credit card to rent a car is more affordable, less time-consuming and hassle-free. If you can’t get a credit card, though, prepare to do some research and put down more money.
If you run a car rental company and want to educate your customers on the best way to go about renting a car, consider setting up top-of-the-line custom trade show displays at industry events.