Looking to rent a car and wish to pay with a debit card. You may already know that car rental companies are picky in terms of what payment methods they accept. So if you are looking for car rentals that accept debit cards, you are on the right post. In this guide, we share the complete details, what car rental options you have when it comes to using a debit card along with all important riders that you need to take note of.
Do the popular car rentals like Enterprise, Budget, Hertz, Dollar Rental, Thrifty, Avis, Alamo, etc. accept payments by debit cards, read on to find out.
In a nutshell: Most popular car rentals including Enterprise, Avis, Budget, Dollar Rental, Thrifty, etc. accept debit cards as a payment method. But it is not a preferred option when compared to credit cards and you have to go through the fine print as there are many conditions attached including age restrictions, additional documentation requirements, credit checks, higher hold charges (blocking the funds in your bank account), access to limited vehicle types, location-specific constraints, etc.
Further, some car rentals like Hertz only accept debit cards for final payment and not at the time of pick up.
In this guide, we cover the details of all the different car rental service options.
On the safe side, we recommend you always check preferably by calling the location beforehand. Or have a backup plan like a credit card, to avoid surprises.
With that context out of the way, let’s jump to our core question and examine the fine print on using debit cards with major car rentals:
What Car Rentals Accept Debit Cards
- Hertz (only for payment at the time of car return)
- Dollar Rental
As they say, the devil is in the details.
So let’s now look at the string of conditions attached to using a debit card for each of these players.
Does Enterprise Accept Debit Cards?
Enterprise is one of the dominant players in the car rental market. Apart from the Enterprise Rent-A-Car band, it also has Alamo and National Car rental in its group.
Yes, Enterprise does accept debit cards as a payment method. Do keep in mind that NOT ALL locations may accept it. So it is always better to have a backup plan. Further, keep in mind the additional conditions from Enterprise when using a debit card-
- Debit/check cards should be of a major brand like VISA®, Mastercard® or Discover® logo
- For Airport Location booking- You have to produce a ticketed return travel itinerary
- The name and address shown on the renter’s driver’s license must match their current home address (exempt- if you are in active military duty)
- Other than the Renter’s spouse or domestic partner, no other additional drivers are allowed.
- Hold Charges- If you use a debit card for a reservation, Enterprise will put a hold on your bank account linked to your debit card for an amount that covers the full cost of the rental plus the security deposit of $200.
Additionally, you are responsible to absorb any overdraft fees that may apply due to the charges.
Does Budget Accept Debit Cards
Yes, Budget does allow debit cards as a payment method. But the policy can differ from location to location and you need to meet a few conditions.
The major condition being the renter must be at least 25 years old and ready to accept authorization hold charges.
Few locations insist on a credit card for pick up or reservation and you can only use the debit card for paying the final rental in such places.
Generally, the conditions for using a debit card are similar to these:
- Car renter should be at least 25 years of age
- The name of the renter should match the one on the debit card
- Debit Card may NOT be accepted for premium vehicle bookings
- For Airport reservations, return flight ticket proof is required
- You may be required to undergo a credit check
Further, with a debit card, the minimum hold will cover rental charges + additional deposit of $100. However, if you see the actual figures across locations the deposit can be in the range of $200-250.
Budget can place additional holds if you extend your car rental. So these funds will be blocked and not available for use in your bank account.
If you are booking online, you can prepay with your debit card.
Budget recommends that you familiarize yourself with the debit card policies for your specific pickup location in advance.
In fact, their website has a helpful location tool where you can search for the location, and look for the “Debit Card Policies” for the specific locations.
Does Hertz Accept Debit Cards
Hertz is another leading car rental service provider founded way back in 1918 in Chicago (more than 100 years, phew!)
As per Hertz’s website, they do NOT accept debit cards or prepaid cash cards at the time of reservation, or time of pickup.
However, you can use debit cards for payment upon return. Eligible debit cards include Visa/Mastercard Reward, AAA Memberone/Membercash.
Hertz also owns other famous brand names like Thrifty and Dollar Rental, whose debit card policies are more accommodative.
Does Dollar Rental Accept Debit Cards
Yes, Dollar Rental accepts Debit Cards as a payment option.
But there are a bunch of asterisks you need to look at.
Dollar Rental has the following conditions attached to using a debit card:
- The debit card can be of American Express, MasterCard, Carte Blanche, Visa, Diners Club, Discover, JCB, China Union Pay
- Authorized Hold – Up to $500 (for a credit card, it is $200)
- A credit check will be performed for most cases
- Not accepted for all vehicle types. Debit cards can be used for compact through full-size and NOT for premium vehicles, including convertibles.
- For Dollar Airport locations– Proof of a return travel ticket and valid identification required (Driving license + alternative credit card, passport, utility bill, etc.
Debit cards are accepted for payment at the end of your rental regardless of the vehicle type rented.
Does Thrifty accept Debit Cards?
Yes, Thrifty accepts debit cards for car rentals with conditions attached.
Thrifty is also a part of the Hertz group, along with Dollar Rental.
When it comes to debit cards, the terms are very much similar to those followed by Dollar Rental above (almost a replica).
You can check further details on this page.
Thrifty is known to offer a greater variety of vehicles and has a larger presence worldwide.
Does Avis Accept Debit Cards
Yes, Avis accepts debit cards at most US locations and not for premium vehicles.
You are to determine creditworthiness at the time of rental. Renters must also meet Avis’s minimum criteria in order to rent.
If you are planning to use debit cards, take note of the following points:
- Authorization hold for the estimated rental charges + $200 (can be up to $500)
- A credit check may be required
- Debit cards cannot be used for premium car rentals
- Positive identification in addition to your driver’s license may be required
- Any returned checks or overdrafts to be borne by the renter
- Some Avis locations do NOT accept debit cards at the time of rental for any vehicle including locations in the Metropolitan NY Tri-State area, Hartford, CT, Philadelphia area, Mississippi or Louisiana locations, etc.
Avis also offers customers an option to split rental charges across two debit cards.
Does Sixt Accept Debit Cards
Sixt is another long-established car rental company founded in 1912 in Germany.
You can rent a car with a debit card at Sixt at most locations in the US.
However, there are a bunch of conditions and restrictions, that also depend on your residential location (in-state or out-of-state).
- The debit card should be in the name of the main driver
- Two forms of government-issued identification
- Have sufficient funds available to cover hold charges (usually estimated cost of rental + $200 deposit)
- Return airline ticket/roundtrip flight itinerary required for airport locations pick-up
- Access to vehicle types -referred to as car categories vary based on address- whether you are in-state, out-of-state customers, or international customer (who can rent any category vehicle except Specialty cars)
Why Car Rentals don’t accept debit cards
There is a reason why car rentals tend to be selective and not keen to support debit cards. Car rental is a fraud-prone business with high instances of theft. There can be scenarios where people remove the money from their bank account, once they pick up the car and the upfront payment is not likely to cover it.
Further, your final payment liability is highly uncertain. There could be damages or you may overstay your rentals.
In addition, there may be a plethora of other charges that can be triggered like having to pay fees for an additional driver, extensions, fuel costs, insurance etc. This is highly variable and case-specific.
It is much easier to charge a credit card with proper pre-authorization (which is a part of a car rental contract), than a debit card in this business.
But nobody likes to lose out on business. So fortunately you still have a few options to pay for the car rentals with debit cards. They all come with strings attached and you do have to tick a few boxes before you can flash your debit card.
Keep extra money in your bank account- Most car rentals will charge your debit card with a temporary hold to cover the estimated car rental charges + an additional $200 to $500 as a security deposit. This is a temporary block on your funds, which gets released only when you return the car.
Sometimes banks can take as long as 10-15 days to process the refund even after your car return. So make sure you have enough funds in your bank account.
Further, note that many times, you don’t get the option of using online bank app debit cards like Chime at such car rentals.
So while you can use your debit card at most car rentals, it can be a pain with the number of conditions attached to it. Also, there is no guarantee when some individual locations can refuse to accept the debit card at some car rentals. But to some, it may be worth it.