Last Updated on September 1, 2023 by Elizabeth
Don’t carry a credit card? Under 25 years old? Renting a car is now a little bit easier. Major rental car companies now accept debit cards from young drivers, though not with the same ease as credit cards. The minimum age to rent a car with a debit card is 20 years old with Dollar and Thrifty and just 18 years old with Hertz.
Has a rental car company pushed back when you wanted to pay with a debit card? In some states, the law is on your side. In August 2023, the New York State Attorney General found that Avis/Budget was unlawfully denying car rentals to customers who wanted to pay with a debit card, saying that “this practice unfairly harms low-income consumers and communities of color who are less likely to own a credit card, and no one should be discriminated against because of their credit or banking status. I encourage consumers to submit complaints and concerns to my office if they feel they have been treated unfairly or illegally.”
Hertz, Thrifty and Dollar Stop 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.
As long as you reserve a car at least 24 hours in advance, you can rent from Hertz, Dollar or Thrifty with a debit card and a driver’s license as identification. (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 have historically excluded young drivers from renting a car with debit cards. Dollar and Thrifty allow drivers as young as 20 to rent a car. Hertz will allow drivers at least 18 to rent, regardless of whether they use a credit or debit card.
Now for the reality check. There will still be a credit check for drivers who rent with a debit card. There will also be an authorized hold secured with your debit card of $500, which will not be available for you to use until after you have been charged for the rental.
How to Pay with Debit and Get Door-to-Door Rental Car Delivery
Kyte is the first rental company to offer door-to-door delivery service on both ends of your trip. Kyte will deliver a vehicle directly to you and then come pick it up at end of the rental period, as long as you are within one of their service areas. So far, that means the NYC area and major hubs like Boston, LA and Chicago. But more locations are being added all the time.
The company also has one of the debit-friendliest policies we’ve seen. “We allow you to use a friend or family member’s credit or debit card. We will ask for verification for the cardholder if the name differs from the name on the reservation,” according to Kyte’s terms.
How to Rent a Car With a Debit Card
- If you rent a car with a debit card, expect a credit check.
- 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. That’s 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.