Do you need a credit card to rent a car?

You have decided to rent a car. Maybe it’s for vacation, or maybe you need to move around while your main vehicle is in store. It can be exciting, but also a little nerve-wracking. Even if you’ve already figured out what you want to drive, you might end up thinking, “Do I need a credit card?”

Do I need a credit card to rent a car?

The short answer is no, a credit card is not required to rent a car, but it can make things easier. Most major rental companies accept debit cards for initial deposits and final payments. A credit card is usually encouraged as it is usually the easiest way to pay.

Why rent with a credit card?

There are many advantages to using a credit card to rent a car:

  • No credit check: Car rental companies take a certain amount of risk by renting vehicles, and a credit card gives them peace of mind.
  • Your credit card may offer rental benefits: Discounts on credit card rentals and additional insurance are common benefits of renting a vehicle with some major credit cards.
  • You can earn rewards on your credit card: If you rent a car with a rewards credit card, you will likely earn points, miles or cash back on the amount you spend on the rental.
  • There is no direct access to your bank account: Unlike debit cards, credit cards are not directly linked to your bank account. If the rental company charges a security deposit or charges other fees when you return the vehicle, a credit card will allow you to cover these costs without diving into money you may need today.
  • There is fraud protection: If your credit card number is stolen, you will not be liable for the fraudulent charges you report, as long as you do so in a timely manner.
  • Flexibility to pay afterwards with pin: If you prefer or need to pay for your rental with a debit card, rental companies can accept this as a form of payment when you return the vehicle. When this happens, they will drop the security deposit on the credit card and take the money for the final bill from your debit card instead.

Can I rent a car without a deposit?

The answer is usually no, but it may depend on the agency, the situation, and the location. The amount of the deposit can also vary. Don’t be afraid to poke around and find out what they need at specific rental locations.

Best credit cards for car rental

Certain credit cards offer benefits on rental cars. Benefits may include car rental discounts, upgrades, luxury vehicle savings, promotions, and other offers such as dedicated check-in counters.

If you’re not looking for a new card, it’s still in your best interest to review the rental car benefits that your credit cards offer before booking your rental.