Prohibition Sign

Did you know that every rental car company maintains a list of customers who are forbidden from renting? These drivers are persona non grata due to some event (or series of events) in the past and are placed on a "Do Not Rent" (or DNR). The customer is precluded from renting from the rental car company in the future because of the risk (real or perceived) to the rental car company in getting paid, losing the car, or having an uninsured loss. The rental car company has documented violations of the rules of the rental car contract or a customer having an unpaid financial balance with the rental car firm.

On rare occasions, we receive requests for help from AutoSlash users who happen to have made a rental car company’s Do Not Rent list. The short answer is "we can't help on that one" but there are many other questions a banned user might have. And of course, there's also guidance for users to prevent showing up on this rarely encountered list.

Why doesn’t AutoSlash automatically stop bookings?

AutoSlash is a booking service, not a rental car company, and the Do Not Rent lists are proprietary to the rental car companies. Those lists are tracked using information AutoSlash never receives. In fact, booking directly through the rental car company itself would go through; the rental car company doesn't request driver's license information at the time of booking, so there's no way to positively identify whether a person is on the Do Not Rent list.

For instance, there are many Michael W. Smith’s looking for their Place in This World but perhaps only one has been caught Ridin’ Dirty (with no regard for the law). If any Michael W. Smith is banned by a rental car company, information such as date of birth and driver’s license number are used to confirm that match at the rental car counter.

Renters are almost always aware that they are on a specific rental car company’s Do Not Rent list, so a valid question is …

How Can a Renter Make a Reservation when Banned?

Reasonable readers would say “if a customer is banned by Budget, why would the customer decide to rent from Budget”? Well, the rental car market is highly consolidated and dominated by three companies; Budget is part of one of these larger corporations. A ban by one company, therefore, may extend over to sister companies owned by the same corporation:

  • AvisBudget Group (owns Avis, Budget, and Payless)
  • Enterprise Holdings (owns Alamo, Enterprise, and National)
  • Hertz Global Holdings (owns Dollar, Hertz, and Thrifty)

A reservation made with Avis will have the same ban in place as Budget, while Payless would probably just make up a new fee or non-refundable deposit.

If I Follow the Rules, Will I be Put on the Do Not Rent List?

No, renters perfectly following the rental car rules won’t be put on the Do Not Rent list. Why? Lawyers get involved when rule-following customers get banned.

If a customer wanted to rent a car with unlimited mileage with a friend as an authorized additional driver to make loops around the highway system of Florida, returning the car with an extra 1,200 miles the next day would be acceptable. The rental station manager might not be happy but as a former station manager stated, “the Do Not Rent list is never used to punish rule-following customers for odd or excessive activities”.

So What Gets a Driver on the Do Not Rent List?

Every single activity that can get a driver placed on the Do Not Rent list is within the customer’s control. The most blatant examples are ordinarily referred to as “common sense” while the remaining examples ordinarily involve debts to the rental car company.

The truly egregious actions that get drivers permanently banned from a rental car company include:

Belligerent / Threatening Customer: A threat toward an employee or any other action that gets the cops called while at the rental car counter will get the customer placed on the Do Not Rent list (though we have yet to hear about anyone being physically dragged away from the rental counter...).

Passing a Fake ID: Falsifying documents (often because a customer is already on the Do Not Rent list) results in a Do Not Rent notation, as it’s not clear the rental car company will ever get the car back.

Showing Up at the Counter Drunk or Otherwise Intoxicated: Trying to rent a car while being unfit to drive will result in being placed on the Do Not Rent list. The Americans with Disabilities Act might cover working while intoxicated but doesn’t protect the right to drive while intoxicated.

Rental Car Insurance Fraud: Yes, there’s sadly a profile of customers* who rent cars in order to intentionally stage accidents.

* And we wonder why the rental car company’s coverage is so expensive …

Unauthorized Drivers: Even with the best of intentions, the reason for the unauthorized driver doesn’t matter. So how do the rental car companies learn about unauthorized drivers? Accidents and traffic citations issued by police.

Commission of a Crime: Just like the cops being called to the rental car counter, the renter is going on the Do Not Rent list if the cops call the rental car company to report the vehicle has been used for a crime

DUI While in a Rental: Not only will this get a customer put on the Do Not Rent list, there’s a decent probability this will place a renter on the Do Not Drive list (no license / suspended license means no company will rent).

Violating Geographic Restrictions: How does the company learn about operations in unauthorized territories (countries, states, islands, etc.)? Mechanical breakdowns, accidents, parking tickets, red-light cameras and speed cameras provide more than enough evidence.

Other Unauthorized Use of the Rental Car: Twelve years ago (in a previous life), I saw a gentleman racing a rental Hertz Ford Mustang on a road course. Racing a rental car is always prohibited (whether on the race track or street). He overcorrected from a skid and wrecked the car. Although I never saw him again, he’s most assuredly on Hertz’s Do Not Rent list.

If you’re thinking “Wow – it’s pretty hard to get on the Do Not Rent list”, you’re right almost 100% of the time. Aside from the violations above -- being a bad person or violating the rental contract -- the most common way a driver ends up on the Do Not Rent list is to owe the rental car company money.

Bouncing Payment: At the point your debt to the rental car company is sent to collections, expect to be added to the Do Not Rent list.

Disputing Rental Charges: We occasionally see customers who end up on the list after disputing rental charges. One example is disputing the cost of refueling a car, as the customer “didn’t know” that the rental car company might charge $9.99 per gallon despite the posted signage. Other examples including insufficient funds to cover the cleaning fee after smoking in a car, or disputing damage claims by the company.

Failure to Pay Fines/Citations/Tolls: These are charges that come well after the rental. Citations from automated cameras in regions like Europe can come 6-9 months after the actual rental.

Ignoring Communications from the Company: If the rental car company sends a bill for damage, that’s one step from the Do Not Rent list. I've personally gone through this process twice; once handled by my credit card company's insurance coverage and once had a claim dropped by the rental car company.

Can I Make the Do Not Rent List without Knowing?

Yes, but the situation is exceptionally rare. If a customer moves without address forwarding (or the rental car company has an old address), communications related to billing might go to an undeliverable address. The rental company will interpret the lack of response from the customer who had moved the same as a customer who intentionally ignored the communications.

With late-arriving citations like those traffic fines in Europe, customers also may have changed credit card numbers since the time of the rental. For those caught by speed cameras in Europe, the first indication is often a charge of approximately $50 on the credit card a half-year after the rental (the rental car company’s administration fee). If that charge is denied and/or the company doesn’t get compensated, the customer can be blocked from future rentals. 

The good news? The driver accidentally incurring a debt frequently gets their rental privileges restored simply by working with the rental car company to pay off the debt. 

So, if a driver hypothetically takes a car in an area forbidden by the rental contract, breaks down while on unimproved roads, abandons the car on the side of the unimproved road, and then cancels the credit card before the towing fee can be charged by the rental car companies …

This wasn't a hypothetical, and the renter is banned by the rental car company.

Are There Temporary DNR lists?

A rental car company may always decline to rent to a customer due to scenarios such as insufficient documentation (such as local renter restrictions), an expired license, a declined credit card or failing a credit check (common when attempting to use a debit card). Those are simply declined transactions, not a placement on the Do Not Rent list.

Is There an Unofficial Do Not Rent List?

At some locations, yes. Imagine flying into a small airport where the rental counters are in a small area. The staff members of various firms are a form of social organization. While the companies might be competing for customers, they are often friends outside of work – some have even worked together in the past. A customer who berates the staff member(s) at one company may walk to the next desk to find maximum rates or an expression that the company is currently “sold out”. No rental car company wants to willingly take up another company's problem customer.

Does the Average Person Worry about the List?

Not at all. If a driver is aware a payment is due – such as the flash of a red-light camera – the resolution of the fine is critical. Even an accident caused by an authorized driver while in the rental car won’t cause a customer to end up on the Do Not Rent list, provided the customer’s insurance and/or credit card company compensates the rental car agency. If the company knows the driver follows the rules and that any financial losses are quickly covered, the driver will be clear for the rest of their driving career.

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