Is a car rental without a credit card possible?

Q: Is renting a car without a credit card possible? All I have is debit.

A: Is it possible? However, it’s not nearly as simple as when using a credit card. Here’s what you need to know if you plan on attempting it…

Why don’t car rental companies accept debit cards?

car rental sign at airportYou would think that as long as they are getting paid, they wouldn’t care the method used, right? Well unfortunately they take a different mindset. It basically comes down to managing their risk of not getting paid if unforeseen things happen while the car is in your possession.

According to Thrifty’s 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.”

Other companies may not be so blunt in telling you this, but you can bet their mindset is the same as Thrifty’s.
Another reason that a car rental without a credit card is so difficult, I suspect, is because they want the assurance they will be able to charge you for extra costs after you turn in your vehicle – i.e. gas charges, smoking fees, vehicle damage, and so forth. If you paid with a debit card those charges (if applicable) might bounce if there isn’t enough money in your checking account. On the other hand, with a credit card, they’re far more likely to go through unless of course the credit limit has been maxed out. Prepaid debit cards can sometimes be better than ones tied to a traditional checking account in these situations, since any funds loaded on the card are less likely to disappear compared to funds in a checking account. So, if you have a sufficient amount loaded on a prepaid debit card, such as $1,500 or more, you’re probably fine in terms of being able to rent a car, assuming the rental company in question doesn’t have a policy against debit cards. Credit cards offer a credit line that can be temporarily “blocked out” by the car rental company until the charges are finally settled – this protects them (and other types of merchants that don’t know your final bill at the time they take your card information (like hotels and pay at the pump gas stations).

The exact requirements will vary by company and location, but don’t be surprised if you are asked to provide any of the following:

How to rent a car without a credit card

The exact requirements will vary by company and location, but don’t be surprised if you are asked to provide any of the following:

  • A credit check. Keep in mind that credit checks (not including those done by yourself) can have an adverse affect on your credit score. Too many will hurt you. This is why you want to save them for when you actually need them – applying for a loan, mortgage, credit card, etc. In my personal opinion, exposing yourself to a credit check just to rent a car is a bad idea.
  • A security deposit charged to your debit card of probably at least $200, but it may be as much as $500.
  • Insurance through car rental company. If you already have full coverage on your own car, odds are it probably covers you in rentals too. Regardless, to rent a car without a credit card, you may be required to purchase the rental company’s insurance coverage – that can increase the cost of your rental by as much as 35% to 70%.
  • Extra proof of identity. I have heard stories of people being asked for utility bills, airline tickets and even pay stubs to prove their identity and their ability to pay.
  • Additional restrictions. There could be other stipulations, such as age requirements, vehicle exlusions, and having to stay in-state.

Want an example for all of the above? When my car was in the shop last, I got a rental through Budget. Take a look at this notice which was posted on the counter. Sorry for the poor quality pic, as I snapped it with my phone…

rental policy for debit card

Car rental companies that don’t require a credit card?

There is no simple answer, because even among the same company, the policies can vary based on location.

Thrifty mentioned on their website that they accept rentals at some locations with a credit check, deposit and additional restrictions. I have also heard that Hertz, Enterprise, and Budget don’t require a credit card at every location, if you are willing to endure some of the stipulations mentioned above. Call around to see if the company and location you’re interested in accepts debit cards.

If you don’t have a debit card or don’t wish to use one, then there is only one company that I know of that will accept cash; Rent-A-Wreck. I’ve actually rented from them once before (but using a credit card) when my car with in the shop and I didn’t have rental coverage on my insurance policy. As their name implies, their cars are absolute junk (mine was an old beat-up Hyundai) but if you need a car rental without a credit card, then they are probably your only option. On the plus side you don’t have to worry about getting a door ding in the parking lot when renting from these guys. As long as you don’t totally smash the car up or set it on fire you should be good.

If you don’t like credit cards for whatever reason, then you may want to consider a charge card. They are a little bit different than a credit card, because you have to pay the bill in full each month. However unlike a debit card, charge cards have rewards, benefits – and yes – you can even use them to rent a car. The only down side to having a charge card is that they typically charge an annual fee. It’s not that the card issuers are greedy in this case. It’s really the only way they can make money, since there are no interest charges. Here’s a list of the best charge cards on the market.

Last edited on April 11, 2016

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Can I hire a car at Boston airport without having a credit card

There are lots of other smaller rental companies who will rent a car without a credit card (Like Value Car Rental in LA). If you do a little searching (like on yelp, yellow pages, or a simple google search for “cash car rental “). Many of these companies are just as good as the bigger name companies and would be more than happy to accommodate you for your business. You’ll still need some form of alternate ID or document to verify who you are and your contact information.

allison mccoy1

Traveling into Sac with a debit card and bad credit. Any updates on which rental car companies that will work with you?

For those travelling and renting at airports, Alamo rents with a debit card as long as you show them proof you’re flying – boarding pass, etc. They’ve always been great for me to work with. Things are better for us and I have a major credit card now, but I still use Alamo due to their good treatment of my wife and I.

Rental car monopolies have gotten to be ridiculous. I am hoping that upstarts like RelayRides and GetAround (peer to peer car renting) will do to car renting what Uber and Lyft have done to the taxi industry!

There are many companies that will accept debit card payments but they do not promote the fact. I dont hold a credit card and just search for ‘car hire without a credit card’ and found a number of companies offering it.

I just read your comment from Nov 2014 about being able to rent a car without a major credit card. Do you know if you have to have a good credit score ? (mine is bad) & if so, can you please tell me which ones you found ?

I flew into the airport in Syracuse NY. Dollar, budget, and thrifty allowed for the use of a debit card with no problems. Just placed a 250.00 credit hold on my debit card. When I returned the car they used that to pay off the balance I had for the 3 day rental. I go to rent a car at Denver national and was told by all the rental car company’s that if I did not have a CC card they would not rent to me. I guess it all depends on how bad someone wants your business. Denver must not need my business.

I have traveled all over the country and rented cars in various locations – I had NEVER encountered this credit / debit / deposit issue until I travelled to Denver last year. COMPLETE NIGHTMARE that has left me scarred for life when it comes to renting a car .. hence why I am researching this topic as I plan a trip again (to Sacramento)

Did they run a credit check?

I rented through dollar rental in Arizona they wanted to charge me a deposit for using my credit card. The guy said they can’t charge a deposit on Visa cards. And he only charged me the rate of my rent. With only a hold for the rental amount.

I am a small business owner with several employees and I have an established account with Enterprise. Often, I register one of my employees as an alternate driver, especially when we plan long trips. Today, when I was planning our latest rental at the Enterprise office I was informed that my alternate driver had to register his individual credit card. I pointed out that I was established ten-year business customer, that I provided a credit card for the rental and that this particular employee had been listed as an alternate driver many times before. I do not believe I should force my employee to submit his credit card for my business rental. There was no flexibility and I cancelled my reservation and am going elsewhere. In addition I am contacting their Corporate Offices. This is corporate overreach gone mad.

Adelaide Child IV

I have used ENTERPRISE since 2003. I’ve never used less than a dozen times per year except when undergoing Chemo. I used the same license Same Debit/Visa card. I always instruct them to submit as Credit card. I always top off the gas upon return. Their issue was that I do not have a Pay Stub. I am retired and brought back in Tax Returns. Quarterly statements for pension, 1099Rs, Bills and credit report. They would not give me the car UNLESS I had a Pay Stub. I know people that change jobs every few months. My pension is guaranteed until I die. I makes absolutely no sense. I have their highest membership rewards (still get updates every month) yet can’t use. I will be contacting their Corporate offices by mail. I e-mailed them and not so much as a reply.

Best option is to join Zip Car. A $60 a yr fee but after that you can rent for an hour or for however long you want. Gas is included ….you get a gas credit card to use…181 per day. Longer trips may run you a little more but there is no hassle, reserving a car is quick, easy. Love it.

Sorry…I meant 181 miles per day!

ive rented with enterprise for years with a debit card and im a plus member. but now they require a utility bill with no past dues on it and a drivers license with your current address on file. i do not live at that address anymore so thats a huge inconvenience to me. they have lost my business as a result.

I rent from Thrifty all the time, 2 weeks or more at a time, for the past 2 years, we just went to SC for 2 weeks they gave us an awesome SUV that was just amazingly comfy. Well we go back to get a car we put on hold for Easter, gave them our debit card we have used for the past 2 years, they know us in there, and they told us no we could not have the car this time, they did a soft credit check and they have to decline us at this time, but we can try again in 90 days and we should be able to get one then … 90 days Easter will be over and our family plans will be different. So I do not under stand these soft Credit checks why they do them, its sill they are getting their money, We will no longer rent from Thrifty after 2 years of using them, its sad they lose good paying customers ….

To all those who have nothing to contribute but shout at the post, i have a quote for you from Denis Thatcher: “Better keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt.”

Really! Listen to your own advise!

Enterprise at SFO rents out with a debit card and bad credit. No problem.

Sounds familiar, last year I rented a truck from Dollar rental car company with my debit card, but when I went in a few weeks ago to rent a car, they told me they don’t accept debit cards. Same place, same card.

Enterprise is prolly the best with just a debit card..they all will require a security dep without a major cc. They only verify your address…. rent a wreck..ah, dont waste ur time, they want 300$ deposit & proof that you have collision on your car & wont let you rent/pay for less than three days…what a joke, guess id rather hitchhike

Last August I rented car with Thrifty in Milwaukee, WI (Milwaukee International Airport)with debit card issued outside of the USA. Everything was just fine: nice staff, they did not impose any extra services, new car, etc. Next time I decided to continue my relationship with Thrifty and just recently tried to rent a car in Chicago, IL (O’Hare International Airport). The experience was totally different. A Thrifty guy started to impose extra unnecessary things. Then he denied my debit card (exactly the same card I used in Milwaukee), I offered to pay with cash and he told me NO. But there was another company FireFly and they accepted my credit card. They charged for the car plus blocked $200 as security deposit. By the way, the car was pretty new, Mazda3.

Alamo and National will allow rentals with a debit card with proof of a return ticket (i.e. airline, train). They only charge for the rental, no security deposit necessary.

Hi Alyssa, from what i was told its not actually a credit check more of an address check, similar to what a landlord would do, so this should have no bearing on your credit history.

They all do a credit check if u dont have a good score and no credit card then no rental. My family lost there vacation to the beach due to this hope they know they r loosing miney trying to save on risk.

Frequent Traveler

I just recently rented a car from Budget in Maine. I used my debit card and they did inform me that they were going to run a soft credit check on me. They also told me that they would put a hold on my account for the estimated charges for the car ($492) plus a $200 deposit. I was in and out with my rental car in no time. My bank did not put a hold on my account for the two weeks I was there and I have less than perfect if they rented the car to me, then I don’t think anyone else should be worried.

my credit score is around 600. should I be worried

Where town did you rent that from? I’m in Maine, and trying to rent a car for two weeks for a driving trip, but only have a debit card…they can hold the entire amount if they want to, and my credit is definitely less than perfect 🙁


what I dont understand is I was denied by credit check at thrifty, but they never even asked me if they could check my credit. I never authorized the credit check and now being denied gives me a ding on my credit report. It’s not fair.

Dollar Rent-A-Car at La Brea and Olympic in Los Angeles rents out cars with out credit cards or credit checks. (323) 933-4949.

Enterprise will rent a car without a credit check in the Greater Cleveland, Ohio branch locations. This does not apply to the Cleveland Hopkins Airport location. The branch offices have limited hours of service. As far as I know, all of them are open until noon on Saturday and are NOT open on Sunday. They do require a deposit, one or two utility bills, and proof of car insurance. Also, car rental prices can be significantly different from one location to another.

I went to Dollar rent at car in December and I was denied because I didn’t have a credit card. I offered to pay with cash and they told me no. That they don’t accept cash.