Don't carry a credit card? Under 25 years old? Renting a car just got a whole lot easier. Two budget-minded rental car companies, Thrifty and Dollar, now accept debit cards with virtually the same ease as credit cards. And here's the kicker: The minimum age to rent a car with a debit card is just 20 years old.
Thrifty and Dollar Have Stopped Demonizing Debit Cards
Historically, it has always been much harder to rent a car with a debit card. Rental car companies consider debit cards to be riskier, and often unfairly view them as a warning sign of bad credit. Companies also worry that a debit card may be linked to a bank account without enough funds to satisfy unexpected charge if the car is damaged or returned late.
So, to encourage using credit cards, most rental car companies force debit-card holders to jump through a series of onerous hoops. They put large holds on renter's bank accounts until the vehicle is returned, run a credit check and force the renter to fork over several additional forms of identification before getting the keys.
But that might be changing. Thrifty and Dollar—two budget rental car companies owned by Hertz Corporation—have just decided to stop treating debit card holders like second-class citizens. Now, as long as you reserve a car at least 24 hours in advance, you can rent from Dollar and Thrifty with a debit card and just a driver's license as identification. There's no longer a credit check or extra documentation required. (This new policy is in effect at corporate-owned branches, but not at all franchises. Always call ahead to your desired location to check.)
And there's good news for drivers under 25, the likeliest age group to lack a credit card. Most rental car companies (including, until now, Dollar and Thrifty) have historically excluded young drivers from renting a car with debit cards. Dollar and Thrifty now allow drivers as young as 20 to rent a car, regardless of whether they use a credit or debit card.
What You Need to Know About Renting a Car With a Debit Card
- If you rent a car with a debit card, funds for security deposits and holds might be tied up for up to three weeks after the rental ends.
- Debit cards don't have the same consumer protections as credit cards for billing disputes. Credit cards put the consumer in a stronger position to contest charges than debit cards do, because a credit-card user does not lose access to the disputed funds during a dispute.
- Many credit cards provide insurance coverage for damage to a rental vehicle that a debit card will not. If a renter wants rental car damage protection, he or she may have to buy it separately.
- The rental car company has direct access to the checking account after a rental if there's alleged damage.
- Why It's Easier to Rent a Car with a Credit Card Than a Debit Card
- Can You Rent a Car with Cash?
- Cheap Car Rentals for Drivers Under 25