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A guide on car rental with your credit card or debit card

Adding a rental car to your holiday experience? No problem. You just need a credit card and a few clicks, and you’ll be ready to go!

 

At Vehicle Rent, we try to make the booking process as simple and hassle-free for our customers as possible. But as car hire companies have some specific requirements, we have prepared answers for the main customer concerns regarding using a credit card during the whole car hire process. If we have not answered all your questions here, you can contact our 24/7 customer support team, who will be happy to help you out.

If you don’t have 4 minutes to read the whole article, here are the main key takeaways.

Good to know: 

  • You need to have a credit card in the name of the main driver to pick up your rental car.
  • Be sure you have enough limit on your credit card to cover the deposit.
  • Be sure your credit card expiry date is at least 1 month after your drop-off.
  • You can pay for the car hire with a credit card from somebody else or you can book for someone else, but at the pick-up, the credit card used for deposit must be in the main driver’s name.
  • Credit cards give you access to a line of credit issued by a bank, while debit cards deduct money directly from your bank account.
  • Credit cards offer better consumer protection through warranties and fraud protection but are also more expensive.

In this article, our customer service experts answer your most asked questions about renting a car and credit cards:

#1 How do I know my card is a credit card?

First, you need to be sure you have a credit card. When you open your wallet, there are probably so many cards; you need to figure out which one is a credit card. You may have loyalty cards, debit cards, gifts cards… they all look the same. We will help you to identify the right one.

Debit and credit cards typically look almost identical, with 16-digit numbers and an expiration date. 

The difference between a debit and a credit card is that when you use a debit card, you spend money by drawing on funds you have already deposited at the bank, while a credit card allows you to borrow money from the card issuer up to a certain limit in order to purchase items or withdraw cash and is repaid later (usually once a month).

Secondly, how can you check which card you have? The secret is the BIN number. There are many BIN list websites available which can tell you the card issuer, brand of card, category, and country for any credit card from the first 6 digits. You just insert the first 6 digits into the required field and you’ll get your answer. This is how to be sure you can finish your car hire booking or pick up your car with this card. 

Finally, before you start your holiday, be sure that your credit card expiry date is at least 1 month after you will drop off the rental car (or sometimes more than 1 month; for exact information please check the supplier’s Terms & Conditions).

#2 Why must the credit card be in the name of the main driver?

Every year many people remain empty-handed when trying to rent a vehicle, simply because they don’t have their credit card with them when they go to pick up the car. Sometimes you’ll still be able to rent the car, but you will need to buy additional insurance, which can be very costly. It would be a pity to start your holiday with such a stressful situation. Therefore, we advise you to always read the Terms & Conditions of the rental company and avoid any possible setbacks when you are already at your pick-up location.

You can read more below on why car hire companies insist that anyone who wants to pick up a rental car needs to bring their credit card. Even if you fully pre-paid your rental fee through Vehicle Rent, at the pick-up, as the main driver, you'll need your credit card. The main driver is the one who signs the agreement and is legally responsible for the car during the rental, so only their card can be used.

Rental companies insist that their customers leave a security deposit before they hand over the car key. A car is a moving property, and the car hire companies want at least some assurance you will bring it back. The deposit must be on a credit card. A few rental companies accept debit cards, but this is not common, and no car hire company accepts cash or check for renting their car. 

#3 What does it mean when a car rental company “blocks” my credit card?

No money leaves your bank account when you put the security deposit on your credit card, so you’re not actually in the red for that amount. Instead, the money is ‘held’, ‘blocked’ or ‘pre-authorised’ on the card. This means you can’t use that part of your credit limit for other purchases until the rental company releases the security deposit.

Car hire companies pre-authorise the rental car’s security deposit amount on a credit card because then they can be confident that if they want to take money from the card, they will be able to. If there are any problems during a rental, such as damage to the car or a traffic fine, the rental company will charge these costs to the main driver’s credit card. 

 

Read more about Car hire coverage

 

#4 Do I need to use the same credit card to book and pick up the car? 

No, you can use different cards, but the card holder should still be the main driver on the booking. The Vehicle Rent website allows you to book a car with your debit or credit card (MasterCard or Visa), and the data from the card is not transferred to the rental agency. Normally, most booking websites accept more kinds of payment for car hire. 

Regardless of what type of card was used for the car rental, the main driver still needs to have their own credit card with them when they pick-up the car. 

#5 Why don’t car hire companies accept debit cards?

You can find some car hire companies in some countries that do accept debit cards, and this is because they cannot get money out of a bank account if there is no money available. However, since credit is likely available, it’s easier to get the money from a credit card. 

Since debit cards offer a lot less protection, rental agencies usually require additional insurance. This means there can be even more costs associated with renting the car with your debit card. If the deposit is made with a debit card, it is first charged on the card, and then refunded after the rental period is over if you return the car in the same state as when it was picked up. This can also bring some more costs, i.e. currency exchange rates, etc.

If you are not sure what kind of cards your rental company takes, check their Terms & Conditions before picking up your car. MasterCard and Visa are the most commonly accepted credit cards.

#6 How can I rent a car without a credit card?

If you are asking yourself this question, it means you are already aware that most car rental companies require a credit card in order to pick up a vehicle. The requirement has more to do with car rental insurance than with paying for the rental rate itself. 

Since car rental companies need to be sure their vehicles stay in good condition, they require a deposit before you can pick up your vehicle. Since car prices are so varied, the amount of the deposit can range. Making the deposit with credit cards is easier; the car rental company “blocks” the funds on your credit card, as described in Question #3. 

However, Vehicle Rent offers you the opportunity to rent a car with your debit card as well. Some car rental locations offer pick-up with your debit card, but you will be required to meet additional specifications or costs (such as full insurance) and may be subject to restrictions. We advise you to check the car rental company’s Terms & Conditions to be sure you can pick up the vehicle with a debit card and be informed on the exact conditions. Nevertheless, if you rent a car with your debit card, it still needs to be issued in the name of the main driver, just as if you were renting your vehicle with a credit card. 

Don’t forget that when collecting your vehicle, you need more documents than just the credit card.

 

Read Q&A with Maja: “Can I rent a car without a credit card?”

 

#7 What documents do I need at pick-up?

  • Booking confirmation (voucher)
  • Valid driver’s licence (international, if required)
  • Valid international credit card in the main driver’s name
  • Personal ID or passport

 

 

 


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