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Frozen Credit and Using Debit Cards to Rent a Car

Written by admin - 2 Comments

I written elsewhere about how and why to freeze your credit record, and I’ve also written about the ins and outs of renting a car. I was thus intrigued when I saw a blurb in a recent issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine about renting a car with frozen credit.

A reader had written in asking if it was possible to rent a car while your credit record is frozen, as he had heard of rental agencies running a credit check before allowing you to rent a car. The answer is a qualified “Yes.” If you rent with a credit card, the rental agency will simply place a hold on your credit limit to assure that it gets paid, and to protect against getting stuck with the bill for overages or damages. No credit check necessary.

That being said, you may be out of luck if you want to rent a card with a debit card. The reason for this is that at least three major rental firms (Hertz, Avis, and Budget) will check your credit at the counter if you present a debit card at check-in. If they can’t access your credit record, you can’t rent a car. While you can thaw your credit, that takes up to three business days and costs upwards of $10 per bureau.

The good news is that Enterprise may let you present other documentation, such as a utility bill or pay stub to prove your credit worthiness. Note, however, the use of the word “may,” and call ahead. Also, Hertz and Avis offer cash identification cardsthat allow you to pay for your car with cash, traveler’s checks or a money order. Unfortunately, you have to apply for the card up to six weeks in advance, and you may have to pay an application fee.

Of course, this can all be avoided by simply using a credit card.

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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. Best reason to rent a car with a credit card is the insurance coverage!

    Comment by Steve — Aug 25th 2008 @ 12:47 am
  2. Yes its easier to rent with a credit card BUT i live my life on a non debting basis meaning why should I pay credit card interest rates in order to rent a car. I deal in cash and it seems no car rental companies care about that. therefore its easier to own my own car actually. Easier is most often more expensive in the long run.

    Comment by ara — Jul 14th 2009 @ 7:47 am

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