Renting a Car? You Don’t Need a Credit Card


My name is Carrie Smith and I’m a debt hater just like Martylio. I’m a Certified Bookkeeper and the financial writer behind the personal finance blog Careful Cents. My motto is love what you do, and do what you love while making cents of life. I’m so thankful to Martylio for letting me guest post on his awesome website, enjoy.


“You can only rent a car with a credit card!” That was the topic of a recent conversation (aka argument) I was having.

One of the most common reasons for keeping and using a credit card is because you NEED it to rent a car.

Well with my recent personal car rental experience, I have gone through this process first hand, and here are a few facts I discovered.

– Not all companies require a credit card
Yep, I paid with a debit card (gasp!). I was kind of surprised because all the advice I’ve ever heard is how you can only rent a car with a credit card. So I asked the manager “I don’t have to pay with a credit card?” He said no, and all they require is for me to fill out a paper with my name, address and phone number.

– They don’t always do credit checks
The only reason most companies require a credit card, is because they use it as proof of good credit. Otherwise they will run a credit check. Some places will ask for copies of 2 utility bills and a $250 deposit (refundable on return) instead of running a credit check now. The manager also said that since my car is in the shop getting repaired, that’s good collateral too.

No more excuses
Lots of people will use the excuse that you need to keep a credit card in the event you have to rent a car, but as you can see that isn’t always the case. And for me, this is great news, since I am not a big fan of credit cards. Plus, the next time I get into an argument with someone about this fact, I will have some good research to back it up.

Yes, some companies still require a credit card instead of doing a credit check, but more and more places are offering other alternatives since the economy has changed.

A lot of people like Martylio and myself, have found that using credit too much can get you into a lot of trouble, and we are using other methods of payment.

Now, there are no more excuses to keep a credit card as a crutch, at least for this particular reason.

What are your experiences with credit cards and trying to rent a car?

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9 Responses to Renting a Car? You Don’t Need a Credit Card

  1. PKamp3 says:

    I rented on a debit card in college – and they put a hefty hold on the card, but it worked. I did end up getting a credit card soon after that, but you’re definitely right – if you are holding a credit card only to rent cars you should shop around a bit, haha.
    PKamp3 recently posted..45-49 Years Old: The Peak of Your Financial Prowess

    • Martilyo says:

      I rent cars using my debit card. If you cannot deal with the hold they put on the card, I guess you should wonder if you really need to be traveling anyway… Once I am debt free, I will teach myself the proper use of credit and be able to reward myself with perks, freebies and cash back. Until then, it is a debit card and cash for me. Since I have stopped using credit cards, I feel like I am in much more control with my money, because I am! Good post Carrie!
      Martilyo recently posted..November goals and October recap…

  2. Pingback: Reselling For Profit, Renting a Car and The Idiot | Careful Cents

  3. Wow, that is news to me & surprising. Now is it possible to get an airline ticket without a credit card? I don’t think so. They are looking for a quick way to avoid a credit check too, I’m guessing.
    Maggie@SquarePennies recently posted..Will the US Get Hurt by the Eurozone?

  4. Shay Matthews says:

    Maggie you can actually make reservations with the airline and pay with cash using a service called Western Union Speedpay

    • Martilyo says:

      Thanks for the comment Shay. I did not know that. However, you can still pay for an airline ticket with a debit card. It won’t be long until we are going to shy away from the actual plastic card and pay with a phone app or a fingerprint/pin number. Technology is constantly changing and hopefully improving!
      Martilyo recently posted..Why You Deserve to Pay Those Big Bank Fees!

  5. Susie Allread says:

    Thank you for the wise advice. I am sure that I, along with thousands, maybe millions of others did not know this. Susie Allread (Martyilo’s Mom)

  6. Jeanne Ellis says:

    Hi, Martilyo, Carrie and others.

    I have rented a car with my Debit Card and they do put a big hold on funds in your account until the car is returned. The reason they prefer a Credit Card is that it is very difficult for them to go after a Bank or Credit Union should you not return the car for whatever reason. But with a Credit Card eventually they have legal some sort of recourse. That is what I was told by Budget. I do use a Credit Card for the purpose of car rental but pay it off as soon as I arrive home. Never carry a balance, always pay it off each month, if for some reason you have to use it. Be well, live well and debt FREE is a Great Place to BE!!

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