How to Rent a Car Without a Credit Card
By: Ben Pappas

No credit card, no rental car?

Not so. Debit cards can secure you a set of wheels at most rental companies.

A new survey of the nine major car rental companies by reveals that 41 out of 45 randomly selected agencies allowed for debit card rentals, though restrictions applied in a majority of instances.

Companies surveyed included: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, E-Z Rent-A-Car, Hertz, National, Rent-A-Wreck and Thrifty. (Stock Quotes: ALG, CAR, HTZ) For each company called five airport and non-airport locations across the country.

Are you thinking of renting a car with a debit card? Keep in mind these tips:

1. Expect a Hold on Your Card

In addition to the money charged for the car rental, between $100 and $500 will be placed on hold, meaning it will not be yours to access until after your car is returned. Plan accordingly.

2. Credit Checks May Be in Order

Ten of the locations surveyed ran credit checks before approving debit card rentals. Be aware that too many inquiries into your credit can affect you score. Also, if you have bad credit, consider taking a bus or a different set of wheels.

3. Anticipate Restrictions or Additional Requirements

Some locations require full-coverage car insurance, which costs more, others restrict the kinds of cars available (such as no SUV options), others allow only in-state (or only out-of-state) renters to use a debit card.

The bottom line: Policies vary so it pays to call ahead.

While paying for a car rental generally saves time and money, if you are keeping your credit card in a block of ice in the freezer, at least your road trip plans this summer don't have to be put in the deep freeze.

—For more ways to save, spend, invest and borrow, visit

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