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Can you rent a car with a debit card? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is, it’s complicated.
Rental car companies prefer that you use a credit card when renting. Most will let you pay with a debit card, but they’ll make you jump through some hoops first.
For instance, the company might ask you to make an up-front deposit or undergo a credit check. And they might increase their age requirement or restrict you from renting a high-end car.
Getting a car rental with a debit card is possible, but it will probably require a few extra steps.
Why rental car agencies prefer credit cards
If given a choice, rental car agencies prefer you pay with a credit card rather than a debit card. When they have your credit card on file, companies can bill you for any extra charges you rack up.
Maybe you got a parking ticket during your trip or didn’t fill up the gas tank when you returned the car. Perhaps the car got banged up in a way your insurance policy doesn’t cover.
If a rental car agency has your credit card on file, it can easily charge you for these additional costs. But with a debit card, you need to be physically present to approve a charge. You’ll need to enter your PIN, which the company can’t do.
What’s more, debit cards often come with daily dollar limits on purchases. Credit cards can typically accept large charges at once, as long as the amount doesn’t exceed your total credit limit.
Finally, rental car agencies prefer credit cards because they suggest you have decent credit. Without a credit card, the agency may wonder if you have bad credit and are a risky candidate for borrowing a car.
Renting a card with a debit card? Here's what you need
Rental car agencies want to minimize risk as much as possible. So they have some extra requirements for people who pay with a debit card. Here are some of the criteria you may need to meet:
- Use a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover debit card. Car rental agencies usually ask for a bank-issued debit card and won’t accept prepaid cards.
- Show your return ticket or itinerary. You may need to show extra proof that you’re planning to come back and return the car, especially if you rent it from an airport.
- Accept a hold on your account or make an upfront deposit. Since a car rental agency can’t charge your debit card when you’re not present, it may ask you to put down some money upfront. It may request an authorized hold on your account equal to the rental costs or a security deposit. You’ll get the money back if the company doesn’t need to charge any extra expenses.
- Provide or purchase car insurance. Credit cards often come with car insurance coverage, but debit cards don’t. You may need to provide proof of car rental insurance or purchase the agency’s plan before renting the vehicle.
- Get your credit checked. The agency may ask to review your credit profile. If you have a bad credit score, the company could refuse to rent to you. Some rental companies will run a soft credit check, which won’t impact your credit.
- Show more than one form of ID. You may need to provide an extra form of identification along with your driver’s license, such as your passport or a utility bill.
Keep in mind that rental car requirements can vary not only by company, but also by location. A Hertz office in California might have different rules than one in Florida. It’s a good idea to call the office you want to rent from to find out its guidelines.
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Which rental car companies accept debit cards?
A number of major rental car companies accept debit cards, including Budget, Enterprise, and Avis. Here’s a closer look at some major companies’ requirements for car rentals with a debit card.
Some Budget locations accept debit cards, while others do not. For those that will let you rent a car with a debit card, you’ll need to show proof of a return ticket at airport locations and be at least 25. When you use a debit card, Budget will place a hold on your account anywhere from $100 to the total estimated cost of your car rental.
Enterprise accepts Visa, Mastercard, and Discover debit cards. Your driver’s license address must match your current home address. If renting from an airport, you’ll need to show the agency your return flight.
Most Avis locations in the U.S. will let you rent a car with a debit card. Some international offices allow this too, but you’ll need to check with the specific location. Along with meeting Avis’s rental criteria, you’ll need to allow a hold against your account for the estimated rental costs. You won’t be able to access these funds while renting the car, but they’ll be reversed and released after you return the car in good shape.
You can rent a car from Hertz using a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover debit card. You’ll need to accept an authorization hold of $500 on your account. Airport locations require proof of your return ticket, while non-airport locations ask you to book your car rental at least a day in advance. Unless you link your debit card to a Hertz Gold Plus account, your rental options will be limited to the agency’s compact through full-size categories.
Alamo also asks you to pay with a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover debit card. Your license address must match your current home address, and you’ll need to show your return ticket to rent at an airport location.
Which rental car companies allow you to use a debit card?
Multiple rental car companies allow you to use a debit card to rent a car, including Budget, Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, and Alamo. However, not all locations accept debit cards, so check with your specific rental office to find out its policy.
Can I get a rental car with a debit card?
You can get a rental car with a debit card, but you’ll likely need to meet some extra requirements. Most rental car agencies will ask to put a hold on your account for the total rental cost until you’ve returned the car and/or require a security deposit. You may also need proof of a return ticket, multiple forms of ID, and rental car insurance, among other criteria.
Does Hertz let you use a debit card?
Hertz lets you use a debit card to rent a car if it has the Visa, Mastercard, or Discover logo. You’ll need to accept a hold on your account of $500. If you use a debit card, your car options may be limited to certain categories.
How much does Budget hold on a debit card?
When you use a debit card, Budget will place a hold on your account. It’s typically equal to the total estimated cost of your rental, but it could be a lower or higher amount. Budget’s minimum debit card hold is $100.
How much does Avis hold on a debit card?
Avis will place a hold on your debit card that’s equivalent to the total costs of your car rental. Once you’ve returned the car, the hold is reversed, and your funds are released, assuming you haven’t incurred any extra charges. It may take a little time for the funds to become available again in your account, depending on your bank.
Ready for your first credit card? It's easier than you think
While renting a car with a debit card is possible, it’s more complicated than using a credit card. Rental car agencies have stricter rules when you use a debit card, which can make the rental process more time-consuming.
If you want the process to go smoothly, consider using a credit card next time you rent a car. Opening a Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card can help you establish credit and eventually move on to a traditional credit card.
If you’re ready to start building credit with everyday purchases, apply for Credit Builder in two minutes without a credit check.1