How Car Rentals With Debit Cards Work

The process of renting a car is no joyride. Not only do you need to be a certain age, you also have to sign a mountain of paperwork and receive a hard sell for additional insurance coverage at the pickup counter. And when the agent asks for a credit card to put on file — you realize all you have is a debit card.

So, before you hit the road, get up to speed on whether you can rent a car without a credit card.

Why do car rental companies want you to pay with a credit card?

With a debit card transaction, you normally have to enter a PIN to authorize the charge. If the rental agency finds damage, unpaid tolls or parking fines after you return the vehicle, it can’t charge your debit card for these expenses.

But with a credit card, the rental agency can charge you for these items even if you’re not present. This is why credit cards are the preferred method of payment when renting a car.

Can you rent a car with a debit card?

Yes, it’s possible to book a car rental with a debit card, but be prepared to face a few obstacles. You might have to pony up a deposit, provide additional identification or agree to a credit check.

Often, the vehicle type will be limited to cars of lower classes, like economy or compact. And in some cases, you won’t be able to rent a car at all if you haven’t reached a certain age.

The restrictions for renting a car with a debit card vary by car rental company and even location, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with the terms before you decide to rent a car without a credit card.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Prepaid cards and gift cards are not the same as debit cards and are generally not accepted as a valid method of payment when making a reservation or picking up a vehicle. They may, however, be used at drop-off at some rental agencies.

Which companies allow you to rent a car with a debit card?

Many car rental companies in the U.S. allow individuals to rent cars with a debit card, but there are typically more requirements to do so, such as credit checks and large deposits.

Here’s what you need to know for each company:

Alamo

Alamo accepts Visa, Mastercard and Discover debit cards. However, airport locations only accept debit cards issued in the U.S.

When renting from airport locations, you must present a ticketed return travel itinerary. Additionally, the name and address on the driver’s license must match your current home address (active duty military members are exempt).

If you don’t have a return ticket, you’ll need to present a credit card along with a refundable deposit of $300 to $400.

Additional drivers are only allowed if they’re your spouse or domestic partner.

Avis

Most Avis locations accept Visa and Mastercard debit cards for car rentals. Some locations won’t accept debit cards at the time of rental but will accept one for payment after your rental is completed.

A driver must be at least 25 years old (or at least 18 in New York) to rent a car without a credit card.

At pickup, a hold in the amount of the estimated car rental charges will be placed on your card, and the funds won’t be available to you until you return the vehicle.

Avis’ premium cars can’t be rented with debit cards.

Budget

When renting a car with a debit card from Budget, you must be at least 25 years old (18 in New York).

At pickup, the car rental agency will place a hold equal to the rental cost amount ($100 minimum) for the duration of your rental period. You won’t have access to those funds while the vehicle is in your possession, and the hold will be removed once you return the vehicle and settle the bill.

If you’re renting from an airport location, you will be asked to show proof of a return flight before you can pick up the car. Not all locations allow you to rent with a debit card, so it’s worth calling to check a location’s rules first.

Dollar

Dollar accepts Visa, Mastercard and Discover debit cards for car rentals but charges a $500 deposit for incidentals along with the estimated car rental cost upfront. The deposit applies only to renters who are not members of its rewards program, Express Rewards. Additionally, a credit check will be performed to determine your creditworthiness.

For a successful car rental without a credit card at airport locations, you must provide proof of return travel and at least two forms of identification: a driver’s license and one other, such as a passport, military ID, or utility bill. You don’t have to be 25 years old to rent from airport locations, but you do have to pay a young renter fee.

Off-airport locations do require you to be at least 25, present two forms of identification and provide either a corporate discount plan number or proof of return travel.

Debit cards aren’t accepted for premium rentals. However, you can pay with a debit card at the end of your rental upon return regardless of car type.

Enterprise

Enterprise also lets you secure a car rental with a debit card as long as it has a Visa, Mastercard or Discover logo. If you’re renting from an airport location, you must provide a return travel ticket, and you can’t add a second driver unless they’re your spouse or domestic partner.

Hertz

Although Hertz prefers a credit card when making a car rental reservation, the rental car agency will usually accept a Visa, Mastercard or Discover debit card as well. However, some locations won’t release a vehicle without a credit card.

A $500 hold will be placed on the card on top of any projected costs associated with your rental. If you’re renting from an airport location, two forms of ID and proof of return travel will be required.

At non-airport Hertz locations, you must be at least 25 years old to rent with a debit card.

National

National is another car rental company that accepts debit cards at pickup.

As is the case with most companies on the list, you’ll need to present a ticketed return travel itinerary for rentals reserved at airports. Otherwise, you’ll be asked for a $300 to $400 refundable deposit on top of the full rental cost, along with a credit card to cover the cost of the rental.

The driver’s name and current address must match what’s on the driver’s license, and only spouses or domestic partners can be added as second drivers.

Sixt

Sixt takes debit cards at most of its locations for both short-term and long-term rentals (28 days or longer). The debit card must be issued in the primary driver’s name, and you must provide two forms of identification at the counter. Additionally, some vehicles are excluded, and other restrictions apply.

In-state renters can’t rent a car using a debit card from an airport location (some downtown locations don’t allow debit cards, either). Those traveling from out of state can rent from the airport, but proof of return travel is required. Finally, local customers may rent from a non-airport location but must provide a utility bill from the last 30 days.

Thrifty

Thrifty performs a credit check for drivers looking to rent a car with a debit card. Thrifty airport locations require proof of return travel to coincide with the rental and two forms of ID.

The authorization amount charged to your debit card will include the estimated total for the rental costs plus a $500 deposit for the incidentals, which will not be available to you for the duration of the rental period.

However, the deposit requirement is waived for established Blue-Chip loyalty program members who have added a Visa debit card to their Thrifty profile.

Benefits of renting a car with a credit card

If you have a credit card, there are some good reasons to use it to rent a car instead of pulling out your debit card. Here are some benefits of renting with a credit card:

Fewer hoops to jump through

Even though car rentals with a debit card are possible, rental agencies drive a hard bargain to make it happen. Extra deposits, age restrictions, credit checks and vehicle limitations can make you want to do a U-turn. Renting a car with a credit card eliminates most of these obstacles.

Built-in collision insurance

Many credit cards offer rental car collision damage waivers as part of their benefits package. For the benefit to apply, you’ll have to decline the car company’s additional insurance upsell and pay for the rental with a card that offers this perk. Should you get into an accident or become a victim of car theft, you’ll be covered, though limits will vary by card.

Card with primary rental car coverage

Collision Damage Waiver/Loss Damage Waiver coverage limit

Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card

NerdWallet rating 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NerdWallet rating 

Cash value of most rental vehicles.

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 

$0 intro for the first year, then $95.

Cash value of most rental vehicles.

United Club℠ Infinite Card

NerdWallet rating 

Cash value of most rental vehicles.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

NerdWallet rating 

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

NerdWallet rating 

Cash value of most rental vehicles.

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

NerdWallet rating 

Cash value of most rental vehicles.

If you hold a credit card that offers a collision damage waiver, make note of whether the coverage is primary or secondary as this will determine whether your personal insurance gets involved or not.

Credit card rewards

In addition to simplifying the rental process and having access to collision insurance, you can also earn points or miles when you rent a car using a rewards credit card.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and offers 3 points per dollar on all travel purchases, including car rental charges, so you can be on your way to earning another vacation while you travel.

Booking car rentals with a debit card, recapped

You can get a rental car with a debit card, but you’re going to have to overcome a few hurdles first. In most cases, you have to be 25 years old, provide multiple forms of ID and pay a larger deposit.

Read the fine print and remember to bring the required documents so you can spend less time at the rental counter and more time with your foot on the gas.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for: