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Debit Card for Car Rental?

I can't seem to find this addressed in any posts, and Rick doesn't talk about it any in his Car rental section. -- We're planning on doing 'Rail and Drive' in France but I only have a Debit Card. Is it possible to do a rental with a debit card only. I'm guessing it's not.

I'm a grad student and I don't carry any credit cards. I always get offers, but they're those student offers that amount to a legal scam, so I always figured I just wait until I get a real job. I've never needed one to rent here in my state where they'll accept a cash hold from the debit card, but I know certain agencies in certain states will ONLY take credit cards.

My fiance has a CC, but she's 23 and from what I can tell we'll get charged an extra 25 Euro a day since she's under 25--There are few specifics on this, everywhere I can find simply says "age requirements vary from agency to agency". When going to the Websites, Hertz and Avis almost seem intentionally vague on the subject.

Just wondering what to expect and plan for. Thanks!

Posted by
1003 posts

You don't have to respond to an offer in the mail to get a credit card. If you have time before you're leaving, why not get a Capital One card. I suggest them because they have cards that have no annual fee and the real plus for traveling to europe - NO conversion fees!! It's definitely not a scam and if you pay off your bill every month you won't pay finance fees or interest or anything. You should be able to get one even if you have no credit - your limit might be low, but probably enough to pay for a short-term rental. Certainly worth a shot, if you apply online they tell you in like 7-10 days by mail if you've been approved. Plus, why can't your fiance do the paying with her CC, and you be the driver of record? Who says the driver and payer must be the same person, or is there something I'm missing or some international law i'm unaware of (entirely possible, of course)?

Posted by
6 posts

All Major rental companies that I've found list in their FAQ that the name on the card must be the primary driver with the only exception being a company card.

I've considered trying to get a card, but I'm leaving in 3 weeks and I don't that I could get it in time. Plus, would they give me one. I'm on stipend and student loans so I don't exactly have a steady job per say. My job is being a student until I finish my thesis, but nobody seems to accept that . :^)

Posted by
1003 posts

Interesting. Thanks for the correction. I wouldn't have thought of that but I suppose it makes sense if you think about the technicalities of some credit card companies providing insurance for rental cars and whatnot.

Normally I would suggest that you use your debit card as a credit card, but from what I understand you can't make point-of-sale purchases with a debit card in Europe because they use chips over there.Sorry! :( maybe someone w/more experience can help you more.

Posted by
8995 posts

Unless you have A LOT of money in the bank, you should never rent a car using a debit card. The reason being, is that the rental company will put a hold on the funds in your checking account (between $500-$1000) until a couple of days after you return the car. When you use a credit card, a hold is only put on your credit limit. FYI, this also applies to hotels.

Posted by
6 posts

Apparently they'll give anyone a CC. :^)

I went ahead and applied with capital one, and despite any real income I was approved. I suppose the idea of a soon to graduate Master's student is simply too tempting for them.

My primary concern was that it wouldn't arrive in time since we're leaving soon, but it should get here in 7-10 days. Now I just have to keep myself from actually using it to pay for anything.

Thanks for your input everyone!