How to Rent a Car Without a Credit Card

Have you ever wondered how to rent a car without a credit card? Or if it’s even possible? Renting a car without a credit card may be necessary for some and a preference for others. Perhaps you’ve chosen to live your life without credit cards in the name of financial stability. Not everyone cares about earning credit card rewards and welcome bonuses.

Or maybe you went through a rough financial patch and can’t get qualified for a credit card (if that’s the case, a good secured credit card may help you get your credit back on track). 

No matter your reasons, the good news is that you don’t need a credit card to rent a car. Of course, not every car rental company will accommodate your request, but as you will see in this article, there are many that will.

Table of Contents
  1. How to Rent a Car Without a Credit Card
    1. Choose the Right Car Rental Company
    2. Know the Company’s Requirements 
    3. Be Prepared for Inconveniences 
  2. Car Rental Companies That Accept Debit Cards
    1. Alamo Car Rental 
    2. Avis Car Rental 
    3. Budget Car Rental 
    4. Enterprise Car Rental 
    5. National Car Rental 
    6. Thrifty Car Rental 
  3. Benefits of Renting a Car with a Debit Card
    1. No Chance of Paying Interest
    2. Encourages You to Stay Within Your Budget
  4. Final Thoughts

How to Rent a Car Without a Credit Card

Renting a card without a credit card will take some creativity, but it is possible. You simply need to know the right steps to take and how to be prepared for some surprises that may catch you off guard. Here are some steps you can follow.

Choose the Right Car Rental Company

Not all car rental companies will allow rental with a debit card, and you will likely need to use a debit card to rent a car without a credit card. While you may find a small, local company willing to rent to you if you pay cash (and put a large security deposit down), most rental companies do not want to deal with cash for security reasons. 

However, renting with a debit card is accepted at some car rental companies. If you don’t have a debit card, there are ways to get one even if you have bad credit and need to rebuild. 

Some larger companies that will rent a car to you when you provide them with a debit card include:

  • Alamo
  • Avis 
  • Budget
  • Enterprise
  • National
  • Thrifty

We’ll get into the details about renting from these companies later in this article, but it is important to check a rental car company’s requirements well in advance. Checking the fine print details is essential because many credit card companies have special requirements for renters who use a debit card instead of a credit card. 

Know the Company’s Requirements 

Renting a car with a debit card comes with some risks to the car rental company. There’s a perception that you have thousands in available credit if you have a credit card.

Of course, this isn’t the case with all credit card holders. However, car rental companies like their odds more with a credit card than a debit card.

As such, many car rental companies have additional requirements that you’ll need to meet to be able to rent a car with a debit card rather than with a credit card. 

Visa/Mastercard Logo Requirements

Most rental companies will want your debit card to have a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover logo on the card if you’re renting a car through them.

The Visa/Mastercard/Discover logo ensures companies that transactions have extra protection for the car rental company should something go awry. If your debit card doesn’t have a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover logo, ask your bank about getting one that does. 

Age Requirements

Age requirements may also differ if you use a debit card to rent a car rather than a credit card. For instance, you may find more stringent criteria requirements on age minimums if you’re renting with a debit card. 

The minimum age to rent a car with a debit card may be higher than renting a car with a credit card. Check each company’s minimum age requirements for renting, along with the company’s debit card rental policies for specific information.  

Credit Requirements

Even though you’re looking to rent a car without a credit card, some car rental companies may require you to authorize a credit check if you want to rent with a debit card. 

Depending on the credit check results and the individual rental company’s approval criteria, they may deny your car rental due to information obtained during the credit check. 

Deposit Requirements

Most car rental companies that allow you to rent a car without a credit card will require a security deposit of $200 or more. They will set this money aside to cover any damages when you rent the car. 

Be Prepared for Inconveniences 

Along with the criteria mentioned above, here are a few inconveniences you might expect when you rent a car with a debit card.

Sharing Your Travel Plan

Car rental companies that rent with a debit card often ask you to share your travel itinerary.

Specifically, they want to see proof that you have a return flight or ticket already in hand. Proof of your return trip gives car rental companies the peace of mind knowing that your stay in the city you rent the car in is only temporary.

Thus, there’s no need for long-term vehicle usage. For that reason, you’ll want to have proof of whatever method of transportation you’re using to return to your hometown. 

If you’re renting a car in your hometown, proof that you live nearby should be sufficient, and a travel itinerary shouldn’t be required if it doesn’t apply. 

Holds on Funds

Whether renting a car with a credit card or a debit card, you can expect the car rental company to place a hold on funds to cover the car rental amount and often more than that. However, when you use a debit card to rent your car, the hold is on your actual available cash and not just your available credit.

If your bank account balance isn’t super high, this hold could inconvenience you. If you tend to keep your checking account balance low, you may want to deposit additional funds to the account to cover the hold. 

Note, too, that holds on funds may last longer than the day your rental car is returned, depending on how efficient the accounting of the car rental company is, as well as the bank.

Limited Car Rental Choices

Some car rental companies have specific limitations on the types of cars you can rent with a debit card. 

Specifically, luxury cars and higher-end models may not be allowed on your car rental contract if you’re renting with a debit card. See each rental car company’s policy page for details, or call the company you want to rent through and talk with a customer service representative. 

Next, let’s talk about which car rental companies accept debit cards and the basic debit card rental policy for each company.

Car Rental Companies That Accept Debit Cards

The following companies (as of this writing) will allow you to rent a car using a debit card. We’re including basic debit card rental requirements for each company here, along with a link to the company’s debit card rental policy. 

Alamo Car Rental 

Debit card rental requirements:

  • Debit card must have a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover logo (Discover is not accepted in Canada)
  • Return travel itinerary documentation required (no exceptions at airport locations)
  • If you don’t provide a  return travel itinerary, Alamo will require a credit card with an available hold amount between $200 and $400. 
  • No additional drivers except spouse or domestic partner
  • Name and address on driver’s license must be current (military members exempt from this rule)

See Alamo’s debit card policy page for more information. 

Avis Car Rental 

Debit card rental requirements:

  • Minimum 25 years of age
  • Hold placed on account funds for at least the cost of the rental
  • You  must present an Avis-honored charge card at the time of rental (includes Avis charge cards, Amex, AT&T Capital, China Union Pay, Diners Club International, Discover, JCB, Mastercard, Visa)
  • Acceptable driving record

See the Avis debit card rental policy page for additional requirements. 

Budget Car Rental 

Debit card rental requirements:

  • Minimum 25 years of age
  • Proof of travel itinerary required at airport locations
  • Some locations allow payment with a debit card but need a credit card to hold the reservation
  • A minimum hold of $100 will be placed on the debit card

See the Budget debit card rental policy page for more information.

Enterprise Car Rental 

Debit card rental requirements:

  • Return travel itinerary required at airport locations
  • Debit card must have Visa, Mastercard, or Discover logo (note: Discover is not accepted in Canada)
  • Only spouse or domestic partner allowed as an additional driver
  • Renters without a return travel itinerary (at locations that do not require one) will have an additional $200 to $400 hold placed on their card

See the Enterprise debit card rental policy for additional requirements. 

National Car Rental 

Debit card rental requirements:

  • Debit card must have Visa, Mastercard, or Discover logo (Discover not accepted in Canada)
  • Airport rental locations require proof of return travel itinerary
  • Current name and address on driver’s license are required (military members exempt)
  • Only spouse or domestic partner allowed as an additional driver
  • National may place additional hold amounts on debit card funds

See the National debit card rental policy for more information. 

Thrifty Car Rental 

Debit card rental requirements:

  • Debit card must have Visa, Mastercard, or Discover logo
  • No digital wallet cards are allowed – you must present a physical card
  • Compact through full-size rentals only
  • Proper identification required
  • Credit check performed

See Thrifty’s debit card rental policy for additional requirements.

Next, let’s go over a couple of the benefits of renting a car with a debit card instead of a credit card. 

Benefits of Renting a Car with a Debit Card

Although renting a car with a debit card can be inconvenient, there are some benefits. 

No Chance of Paying Interest

When you rent a car with a credit card, you’ll have the option of not paying the charged amount in full at the end of the billing period.

That means you could be paying 15% or more interest on your car rental bill should you choose not to pay the balance in full. Or you simply could forget that you owe the bill and inadvertently accrue interest charges. 

Unless you’re a stickler about keeping track of credit card balances and ensuring that they’re paid in full every month before interest is charged, renting with a debit card could save you money. 

Encourages You to Stay Within Your Budget

Renting a car with a debit card also encourages you to stay within your allotted budget for the car rental. 

People get a perception when using a credit card instead of cash or a debit card, and that perception is “I’m not spending MY money.” Of course, in reality, you are spending your own money, but cash and debit card funds tend to drive that point home harder – especially cash purchases. 

Choosing to rent with a debit card instead of a credit card limits you to the funds you have available in your account and may encourage you to stay within your budget as you rent. 

Final Thoughts

Have you ever rented a car using a debit card? If so, how was your experience? Knowing how to rent a car is important, especially if you don’t have a credit card. If you plan to rent a car using a debit card, my best advice is to plan ahead. Do your research and understand the policies of the different car rental companies. I recommend that you start with the companies featured in this article, as they are all well-established, reputable brands.

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About Laurie Blank

Laurie Blank is a blogger, freelance writer, and mother of four. She’s psyched about teaching others how to manage their money in a way that aligns with their values and has been quoted in Bankrate.

She's a licensed Realtor with Edina Realty in Minneapolis, Minnesota (also licensed in Wisconsin too) and has been freelance writing for over six years.

She shares powerful insights on her blog, Great Passive Income Ideas, that will show you how you can create passive income sources of your own.

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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