Important facts described briefly below:
The payment of your rental car is almost always done with a credit card. Please note that you have to have a regular credit card at the supplier to pay the deposit. The credit card must be issued in the name of the main driver.
Most rental cars require a credit card at the time of booking. However, there are also offers that you can book without an existing credit card. Please be careful: A credit card often plays a central role in the deposit after all! All relevant questions about rental cars and credit cards are below.
Why do so many car rental companies require a credit card?
In most cases, you can book a rental car without a credit card. However, it is usually required, at the latest, when you pay the deposit at the travel destination. The reason for this is to provide security for the company that owns the car. With the credit card and the deposit, the rental car owner ensures that the property - i.e. the rental car - is protected and that any excess costs of the renter can be paid immediately in the case of damage. In particular, if the car rental company does not make the bookings itself, but offers a part of its vehicle fleet through a rental car broker, this protection is even more important for the company.
When is a credit card necessary for the rental car?
The credit card is sometimes required both for the payment of the rental car and for the deposit. Sometimes, it only plays a role in the second case - when you pick up the car on-site and the rental company wants to insure itself against possible damage.
Can I make a complete booking of a rental car without a credit card?
This is sometimes quite possible, depending on the provider and destination. Please note the fine print: Often you can book the rental car without a credit card, but you will need a credit card on-site for a deposit.
When and how is it possible to book a rental car without a credit card?
You can receive a rental car without a credit card, as long as the booking and the deposit can be paid by other means. While all providers allow payment by credit card, the alternative payment, direct debit, is less common. Even less common is the possibility to pay by PayPal.
Which providers allow you to book a rental car without a credit card?
SunnyCars allows you to book the rental car without a credit card, namely in the form of a direct debit payment. In addition, payment via PayPal, AmazonPay, invoice, or PayDirect is possible. With the provider Enterprise, you can choose to pay with a debit card such as Maestro in certain vehicle categories; however, a deposit of 300 dollars is required in advance.
Which providers also waive the credit card for the deposit?
Unfortunately, these providers can be counted on one hand. Only with Sunny Cars, you can sometimes - depending on the final car rental company, its location (e.g. airport), and the destination country - book a rental car without a credit card and pay a cash deposit. At SunnyCars, the deposit is usually determined according to the vehicle category and amounts to between 180 to 700 dollars.
Is payment via direct debit always possible, if the provider grants it?
No, there are additional restrictions. Very short-term bookings, which are a few days to two weeks in advance, depending on the provider, usually have to be paid by credit card. The reason for this is the delayed availability of the money in the case of direct debit. With a credit card, the provider can be sure that the money is not blocked and ultimately paid.
How can I be sure to receive the rental car without a credit card?
You should take a look at the rental conditions and check them concerning the keyword, "vehicle deposit," or in short, "deposit." If there is no possibility of a cash deposit, the local car rental company will probably not accept it. In case of doubt, you should call and ask in advance.
Are EC cards, debit cards or prepaid credit cards an alternative for booking a rental car without a credit card?
Unfortunately not. The problem is that EC-cards, debit cards and prepaid cards are not able to mark the amount for the deposit. This means that the money has to be debited and - if no damage occurs - it is laboriously refunded after the rental. Real credit cards, on the other hand, immediately block off the necessary amount, which is only debited if it is actually needed.
Another problem with prepaid credit cards is that the supplier does not enjoy sufficient security with such cards. After all, by the day you return the car, the credit balance could have decreased and fallen below the necessary amount. Sometimes, credit cards are also rejected due to the lack of a credit limit.
Which credit cards are accepted at the time of booking?
If you are booking a rental car without a credit card, you should pay attention to the type of card required. It must be issued to the main driver who drives the vehicle. Make sure that it is complete (for example, contains details such as a middle name). Furthermore, almost everywhere, only internationally recognized credit cards are accepted. This includes credit cards with a limit on the amount of money you can spend, such as American Express, MasterCard, or VISA.
Where can I find out which credit card is suitable for the booking and deposit?
You should always check with your bank to see how much money you have at your disposal and whether there is a block on credit card use abroad. You should also check what daily limits are available to you, and what type of credit card is available - a prepaid or full-value model. Of course, you should also check with the provider and the local rental company to find out which credit cards are accepted. It is essential to differentiate between the two contact persons! It may well be that the provider accepts your card, but the local car rental company does not. The rental terms and conditions usually contain more detailed information about the acceptance of credit cards.
Can I also use a debit card or cash as a deposit?
If you were able to book the rental car without a credit card, the possible obstacle of the deposit remains. In Europe, however, depending on the provider, it is usually possible to make a deposit using a debit card or cash. Some countries, such as the USA, require a credit card unless the rental car is picked up at an airport, which is one of the exceptions and places that accept cash deposits. Again, it is best to inform yourself before picking up the car.
Can't the deposit be paid before picking up the car?
Unfortunately, this is usually not possible. The reason is similar to why EC cards, debit cards and prepaid cards are rejected by many providers. If no damage occurs, the money has to be laboriously transferred back to the customer.
In the case of a second driver: Do they have to show the credit card when returning the vehicle? Is the main driver’s primary deposit upon pickup sufficient?
If you yourself are the main driver of the booked rental car and show your credit card when picking up the car, this is usually sufficient as a deposit. If you then register a second driver for a small fee and this driver returns the car to the agreed location without you, the deposited card is usually no longer required. However, if you want to be on the safe side, you should mention this when picking up the car and make arrangements with the car rental company.
One person has a driving license but no credit card. With the second person, it is the other way round. Can the problem be solved?
Unfortunately not. All registered drivers must logically have a valid driver's license. However, the credit card for the deposit must be in the name of the driver (actually the main driver). However, if an alternative security deposit - for example with a debit card or cash - is allowed, the rental car can still be booked. In this case, the main driver only needs a driver's license and no credit card.
What should I do if I don't want to have a credit card at all - not even on-site?
In this case, you should only use providers who may offer the rental car without a credit card. These include Sunny Cars and Enterprise. However, please be aware of possible restrictions resulting from a spontaneous booking, the destination, or the individual provider.
Note: At HAPPYCAR, you cannot filter specifically for rental cars without credit cards or deposits, only for providers. In this way, you can find out whether the above-mentioned providers are available at your desired location. You may also send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be happy to find out whether the local rental company accepts alternative payment methods.