How to Do a Car Rental Without a Credit Card

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rent a car using a debit cardHelpful information and tips on how to do a car rental without a credit card, with little or no credit and a debit card.

Planning on a family road trip for a vacation, to visit friends or family…or move to a more affordable area? (These days, with this economy, I think we all need to do that!)

But, you have a couple of obstacles.

  • no credit card
  • no car (or a car you don’t trust to take you where you want to go)

Car Rental without a Credit Card

Having a car would help you make your plans possible, but how to get one to take you from here to there? You don’t own a credit card which is, more often than not, needed to rent a car.

You can reserve a car rental without a credit card, but you’ll need one when you show up at the rental company. If you don’t, then you’ll be considered as a credit risk and end up leaving without a car.

Car rental companies want you to present a credit card to cover the cost of the rental and as one form of identity documentation. The credit card is also a form of protection for the company to cover additional expenses that might be accrued such as damages beyond the minor normal wear and tear caused by careless care of the car’s interior or exterior. And, as in many cases, to put gas in the tank for the next customer if the car is returned with less gas than was provided when the car left the lot. Stopping at a gas station to replenish the gas supply is a must to do before the car is returned!

Car Rental with a Debit Card

Some car rental companies may let you rent a car with a debit card, but it won’t be quick or easy.

To prepare for this article to help you, I did some research on my own. My advice is: Do your own research after reading this. Call each car rental agency and ask what their policies are. They vary by company and even then by locality. Learn more…

car rental Without a credit cardSo…you have a debit card with a major credit card company logo (i.e., MasterCard or Visa) with plenty of cash in your checking account to cover your car rental, gas, tolls, food, and lodging along the way.

Now this is what I learned, a debit card might be okay for your car rental without a credit card, but you’ll need to also present your driver’s license and two or three more forms of identification. These might be a utility bill, work ID, etc., that have your name and linked to your address information.

If you’re renting at an airport car rental location (which I found to be cheaper than local agencies) with a debit card, you might be required to present an airline ticket for the date and time of you’re returning the car. Some even want to see that you have round-trip tickets.

Besides having to produce airline tickets and the three forms of identification, be prepared to wait while they take the time to do a credit check, too! Since you don’t have good credit, you could be declined after all they’ve put you through. And, that can be embarrassing…

One more very important fact you should know…a hold will be placed on your debit card account to cover the car rental and an additional security amount which could be up to $500. After you return the car, it may take two weeks for your bank to process the removal of the hold.

How can you do a car rental without a credit card?

Oh, my! What to do?

Car rental agencies really don’t want to deal with you if you don’t have a credit card and have poor credit. They don’t know you and it’s risky business for them to send you off with their $20,000+ valued car.

The good news is there is a solution that allows you to pay with your debit card…as long as you have a family member or friend willing to help you out by adding you as an authorized user to their credit card account.

Think carefully of who you know with good credit and a credit card accepted by the car rental company you choose…and trusts you enough with a credit card.

Even though the account is their’s and they are responsible for the debt, by adding you as an authorized user you will have a credit card with only your name on it. The car rental agent won’t know you are not the owner of the account.

(This can work if you don’t charge anything on the card or if you do, you pay it back immediately, without accumulating interest.)

  • Credit card holder adds you as an “authorized user” by providing your name, address, and social security number to the bank.
  • Credit card holder may be able to set a limit for you, just in case…to protect themselves. (This may not be possible with some.)
  • Credit card holder may request the card be sent to them, not you.
  • Credit card holder may receive a request for you to provide proof of name, address, and social security number by sending copies of what they suggest to the credit card company. A W-2 provides proof all three pieces of information.
  • In some cases, they won’t need this and will approve it quickly, which means you will have a credit card with only your name on it to show to the car rental agency.

For more information: Does Being an Authorized User Help Build Credit?

What you can do when you pick up the car you have already reserved in advance (the rental and the credit card must have the same name) is to complete the forms, show your driver’s license and proof of insurance, present an acceptable credit card with your name on it, and tell them you prefer to pay with your debit card when you return the car to the rental company.

Also, I was told by a Discover Card Customer Service agent,

As long as you decline the car rental company’s insurance, your car insurance will be primary and the credit card’s rental coverage provides repair and replacement as your secondary coverage.

So…in the case where you may need this secondary coverage, you would need to pay for your car rental with the credit card.

Helpful Tips For Becoming an Authorized User

  • Double check the information you give your friend or family member is correctly recorded.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute. This plan needs time for research, documentation if required, and then 7 to 10 days to receive the card, once you are approved.
  • Give the credit card holder time to look into this, too, and to personally check with their credit card company.
  • You can keep the credit card holder happy by providing a post-dated check for the amount of your total car rental charges (or more to be safe) if just in case you do need to use the credit card, instead of your debit card, for coverage or other expenses.


  • By becoming an authorized user on an established credit card account of someone with good credit, it will help your credit recovery.
  • You will have an emergency source of funds while on your road trip, if you can’t use your debit card.
  • As long as the charges, if any, are paid by the due date, this will not hurt the card holder’s credit score.


  • If you don’t make good on paying the charges, then it can ruin your relationship with the credit card holder…
  • and, it will hurt their credit score if they wait for you payment and it becomes past the due date.
  • Improving your credit score by this method doesn’t always happen. It depends on how the bank reports it to the credit reporting agencies.

Research Help

Don’t take just my word for this. I’m not an expert. Do your own research to check the prices and policies of the car rental companies.

For your first research assignment…lol…check Budget Car Rental’s FAQ’s. Click on each company name to find information about using a debit card.

And I repeat…as you’ll find, you will need to further check the requirements and policies found in your rental agreement provided by the rental location you choose.

It’s not easy to determine which car rental agencies will allow you to do a car rental without a credit card. Doing your research is before you call to policy details will help you determine which questions you should ask, in addition to rates and other fees:

  • What is your policy for paying with a debit card?
  • Can I provide a credit card when I pick up the car, but use a debit card to pay when I drop off the car?
  • What credit cards and debit cards do you accept?
  • What forms of identification do you require with a debit card form of payment?
  • What forms of identification do you require with a credit card?
  • If a debit card is used for payment, what dollar amount is placed on hold on that account?

Let me know if you learn any additional tips to help others who would like to do a car rental without a credit card.

Happy travels!

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