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Do you need a credit card to rent a car?

You've decided to rent a car. Maybe it's for vacation, or maybe you need to get around while your main vehicle is in the shop. It can be exciting but also a little nerve-wracking. Even if you already picked out what you want to drive, eventually you might think, "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 may make things easier. Most of the major rental agencies will accept debit cards for initial deposits and final payments. A credit card is usually encouraged because it tends to be the easiest way to pay.

Why rent with credit card?

There are many benefits of using a credit card to rent a car: 

  • No credit check: Car rental companies take on a certain amount of risk by renting vehicles, and a credit card gives them peace of mind. 
  • Your credit card may provide rental benefits: Credit card rental discounts and additional insurance protection are common perks of renting a vehicle using some major credit cards. 
  • You may earn rewards on your credit card: If you rent a car with a rewards credit card, you'll likely earn points, miles or cash back on the amount you spend on the rental.
  • There's no direct access to your bank account: Unlike debit cards, credit cards aren't directly linked to your bank account. If the rental company charges a security deposit or adds other charges when you return the vehicle, a credit card will allow you to cover these charges without dipping into money you might need day-today.
  • There's fraud protection: If your credit card number gets stolen, you won't be liable for the fraudulent charges you report as long as you do so timely.
  • Flexibility to pay with debit later: If you prefer or need to pay for your rental using a debit card, rental companies can accept it as a form of payment when you return the vehicle. When this happens, they will drop the hold on the credit card and pull the cash for the final bill from your debit card instead.

Can I get a car rental with no deposit required?

The answer is usually no, but it can depend on the agency, situation and location. The amount of the deposit can also vary. Don't be afraid to shop around and check with specific rental locations to see what they require.

Best car rental credit cards

Certain credit cards offer perks on rental vehicles . Benefits may include car rental discounts, upgrades, savings on luxury vehicles, promotions and other offers, such as special check-in counters. 

If you're not in the market for a new card, it's still in your best interest to check out any rental car perks your credit cards offer before you book your rental.

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