Is there a way to rent a car without a credit card?
November 15, 2007 9:58 AM   Subscribe

I need to rent a car over the Christmas weekend. I have no credit card (nor want one). Any way to make it happen? (US)

I'm flying into Manchester, NH for the Christmas weekend, and I need to rent a car to get to my parents (about an hour drive, no public transportation). However, I do not have a credit card, so I can't make a reservation for a car rental. (I do have a Visa debit card, but that is apparently unacceptable) I do not want a credit card, and even if I did, I find it unlikely that I could get one (some credit issues from a long time ago when I was younger and stupider). I would like to make a reservation, since it'll be a busy holiday weekend, so is there any way to do that without a credit card?
posted by General Malaise to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total)
Sure, for most large rental companies. You need a bank debit card with a good bit of cash padding. They'll take out some hundreds of dollars ($300? $500?) and return it when you return the car.
posted by cmiller at 10:02 AM on November 15, 2007

Alamo has no problem with a debit card if you have an airline ticket. I've actually done this with no problem. Also a lot of local rental places will allow it if you give them a deposit.
posted by chef_boyardee at 10:03 AM on November 15, 2007

My experience is that policy is different from company to company, and that if you try to do something out of the norm but even within policy, there's no way to ensure that the person at the counter knows how to deal with it (toss in Christmas and they may even just pretend not to know).

I think your best bet is to call a few companies that have counters at the airport and ask them to help you spend your money with them. Once you've figured something out, get them to fax you the details and somebody's name and number so that if you have problems there's someone internal for the person at the counter to call. Oh, another thing you may have to provide is proof of insurance. I did what you're trying to do (in PA) and they finally let me pay by cash in advance but then they wanted information on my home insurance policy (I don't know what they would have done if I didn't have one). Anyway, of course I didn't have it on me, but the name and number of the insurance agent seemed to be enough. Good luck.
posted by cocoagirl at 10:11 AM on November 15, 2007

Disposable/temporary/prepaid credit card? They're more like gift cards, in that you prepay, and it isn't linked to you in any way.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:12 AM on November 15, 2007

I've rented locally from Enterprise with a debit card.
posted by clh at 10:27 AM on November 15, 2007

I've rented cars from two separate Budget locations and haven't had any problem with them just taking a Visa debit card. They put a $300 hold on the card, though.
posted by cmonkey at 10:30 AM on November 15, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, I've been able to walk up to a counter and drive away with just a debit card, it just seems that trying to make a remote reservation is harder. But I will certainly try just calling everybody up there to see if they'll do it for me. Thanks!
posted by General Malaise at 10:33 AM on November 15, 2007

If you are able to go the route of using your debit card, be SURE to bring a copy of a utility bill. I recently rented a car from Budget out of town. Before they would even think about taking my debit card, they wanted a utility bill to verify the address. Shockingly, I don’t carry around a utility bill. I was, however, able to pressure them into taking it by showing a drivers license, voter registration card, library card, and a government photo ID. Even then they were hesitant on accepting it. It could have been that location, so YMMV.
posted by enobeet at 10:34 AM on November 15, 2007

Debit card. I know that Enterprise allows rentals with debit cards ... and a foreign drivers license, too. Leastways, that's what I saw happen last week.
posted by Xere at 10:53 AM on November 15, 2007

I used to work for Enterprise a long time ago -- bring a copy of a utility bill like enobeet said and they will take cash/debit card/etc, although there will be limitations on how nice/big a car you can take. Really, it's completely at the manager's discretion, as I've seen people rent with straight cash and no proof of residence if they'd been there before or we needed to get a car off the lot badly.

The best part of my job is when we'd rent to an especially fishy cash customer (I would estimate 90% of our cash customers were using cars to run drugs up and down the California coast) and they wouldn't come back with the then it turned into a detective game with whatever information we had acquired before they took the vehicle (i.e. knocking on doors, determining whether the mother was lying when she said she hadn't seen her son, peering over fences into garages). Why this was our job and not the police I'll never understand but it was a lot of fun.

So, um, yeah - you can do it.
posted by rooftop secrets at 11:57 AM on November 15, 2007

Seconding Alamo. I've rented a car from them numerous times with a debit card. Make sure to bring along your airline itinerary and you won't have a problem.
posted by wearyaswater at 12:24 PM on November 15, 2007

Enterprise will put a $150 hold on your debit card for each day you're renting their car, so just have that much sitting in the bank, and you're set. Renting for two days? $300. Renting for a week? 7 x 150 = $1050 hold. They'll release the hold within a few days after you return their car. You can call them and confirm all this, it's (800)Rent-A-Car.
posted by evariste at 3:13 PM on November 15, 2007

National will also do a rental with a debit card and airline ticket in most locations. (Not all.) They will do a hold of $300 for the duration of the rental. They're the business traveler half of the same company as Alamo, so IME, the cars are slightly nicer and cleaner, if that's a consideration.
posted by Dreama at 3:56 PM on November 15, 2007

I only have a debit card, and I regularly use Budget. If you sign up for their "I am a budget monkey" customer loyalty plan, they don't even do the $$ hold on your debit card when you rent from them.

I have also used Alamo with success, when I have a round-trip ticket and rent from the airport. It seems like many airport rental places do this now.
posted by batcrazy at 6:16 PM on November 15, 2007

I use Avis regularly and just have a debit card. It's entirely possible to rent without a credit card, but as previous commenters have said, be prepared for a hold on your card.

Each time I rent from Avis, they hold $500 from the first day of my rental until about 2 or 3 days after I return the car.
posted by Zarya at 8:52 PM on November 15, 2007

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