Car rental without a credit card and bad credit?
March 12, 2009 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Help! Stranded at the airport.

This is kind of embarassing, but here it goes. Due to bad timing, my husband and I are without a credit card to use until midnight tonight. We need to rent a car to get out of the airport, but my husbands credit isn't good enough to use a debit card, and I can't use my debit card
because I am under 25. Are we simply stranded at the airport until we have a useable credit card? Does anyone know of a car rental company that doesn't have a credit check? The family we are visiting is 6 hours away and I couldn't ask them to pick us up. We're in the Louisville airport and it has the standard car places. We're willing to put as large a deposit as needed. Anyone have any ideas? Greyhound is out of the question.
posted by lizjohn to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total)
Why is Greyhound out of the question?

Can you get close enough to a city hub (via cab with cash on hand) to get to a bus or rail line that would bring you closer to the family you're visiting?
posted by availablelight at 7:25 AM on March 12, 2009

Have you called your credit card company to see if they see the pending payment (which is what I assume is happening here) and if there's anything they can do?
posted by DarlingBri at 7:25 AM on March 12, 2009

I don't understand. Your husband has a credit card that works, but they won't rent to him?

I'd try calling your credit card companies and asking if they can help you out.

I think Alamo will rent for cash (with a big deposit), but I'd be amazed if they rent without a credit check.
posted by zippy at 7:28 AM on March 12, 2009

Credit has nothing to do with whether you can use a debit card - if your debit card has a Visa (or AmEx, or Mastercard, or Discover) logo on it, you can use it anywhere a credit card is accepted, but you can only charge (and place holds upon) as much money as you actually have. So if you've got a couple grand in the bank, or can transfer some money from savings and don't need the liquidity immediately, that will work just fine. Note that the car rental company will place a hold upon (i.e. make unavailable for other uses) the cost of the rental plus a ~$400 overage that can take up to a week to be released.

Additionally, most rental places don't care whose name is on the card, so long as the card owner is around to sign for charges. I have rented cars in my name with someone else's card without a problem.

If you really can't use your debit cards, you're unfortunately out of luck, as few rental car companies will rent without plastic. Can you just take a taxi to a hotel and delay your arrival?
posted by TheNewWazoo at 7:28 AM on March 12, 2009

And no, a rental car company does not run a credit check before renting you a car.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 7:29 AM on March 12, 2009

Due to bad timing, my husband and I are without a credit card to use until midnight tonight.

I think we're missing some info here. Your husband can't use his credit card until midnight tonight?
posted by nitsuj at 7:44 AM on March 12, 2009

Response by poster: I have called the credit card company, they said the payment wouldn't be processes until midnight tonight. I talked to multiple people and they said there was nothing they could do to expedite it We actually got in yesterday evening, tried to use a debit card and was told that due to my husbands bad credit they would not allow us to rent without a credit card. I asked if they could run it like a credit card (it's master card backed) and she told us she "had no way to choose how to run it". We stayed the night in a hotel by the airport. Is there a rental company who doesn't run a credit check? We talked to budget (whom we had our reservation through) and dollar, and they both ran credit checks.
posted by lizjohn at 7:44 AM on March 12, 2009

Call the family, plead bad planning, and ask to put it on their card for the time being? (Either paying the family back in cash, or, when returning the car, putting the final charges on your now-valid card.)
posted by whatzit at 7:47 AM on March 12, 2009

Best answer: It looks like there is an Enterprise at the Louisville airport. They rent to people under 25. Their website says that some of their locations accept debit cards. I certainly was able to rent from them when I was under 25, with no credit card, just my debit card.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 7:50 AM on March 12, 2009

Will they let your husband use your debit card?

Are you sure they won't rent to you? I haven't heard of any rental car company that won't rent to under-25--usually there's an extra fee, but the major companies rent to 21+.

Does your job offer any kind of rental car discount program? A lot of places do and they will generally waive the under-25 fee if you use it.
posted by phoenixy at 7:52 AM on March 12, 2009

As suggested above, you should check with Alamo. They will rent with a debit card. Also you can usually pay a fee to be an underage driver (between 21 and 25).

From the alamo site:
When renting in the U.S., debit and check cards may only be used in conjunction with proof of a round trip travel ticket (airline, cruise ship or train) at time of rental.
posted by cabingirl at 7:55 AM on March 12, 2009

Long shot: Log on to and look for a rental car. I think there is an option that allows you to see companies that don't require a separate credit card (I only have a debit card myself.)

The upside of Priceline is you usually get a low price and unlimited mileage. The down side is you can't choose a specific model of car, but only a type of car.

Also, I did need a seperate credit card on one occassion and my we used my daughter's, who was present. They said since it was the same last name, it would work.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 7:56 AM on March 12, 2009

Best answer: Try Enterprise. I have successfully rented from them with a debit card, although I am over 25.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:00 AM on March 12, 2009

I asked if they could run it like a credit card (it's master card backed) and she told us she "had no way to choose how to run it".

It may be that I don't know what I'm talking about here, but I'm pretty sure that you just don't enter your PIN. If they swipe it and hand back the debit card, it's been run as a credit card. If it's one of those swipety things like at a supermarket, when it tells you to enter your pin, hit cancel and it will flash up the little place for you to sign. Right? At least that's how it works for my bank/card.
posted by phunniemee at 8:04 AM on March 12, 2009

At most rental places debit cards (even with credit card logos) are not equivalent to credit cards. While some places will rent to you with a debit card, as noted above, those rentals usually require proof of round trip air travel arriving and departing from the rental location.

FWIW, the credit card logo on many debit cards is really just a processing network issue, and unrelated to any actual extension of credit. (And therefore provides no assurance to the rental car company that they could collect damages or additional costs should you fail to return the car.)
posted by mercredi at 8:04 AM on March 12, 2009

Where are you trying to go from the airport?

There may be a city to city shuttle, or a cab co. that will do the trip for a (high) flat rate. There may also be public transit.

Call around and see if there are alternatives to Greyhound (though nthing others - if the choice is 'be stuck at an airport for an extra day or two, or use Greyhound', I'd use Greyhound).
posted by zippy at 8:17 AM on March 12, 2009

Response by poster: My husband is currently driving our spiffy car from enterprise! They don't perform a credit check. We just got so discouraged when two people told us no, we didn't bother trying all the rest. In the spirit of my ancestor state of Kentucky, thank y'all!
posted by lizjohn at 8:25 AM on March 12, 2009

For future information, the city buses do run out to the airport pretty regularly, and there are cabs as well if you could get cash from an ATM.
posted by dilettante at 8:54 AM on March 12, 2009

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