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Renting a car without a credit card

I had not idea it would be so hard to rent a car w/o a credit card. Three companies I've talked don't allow it. Period. One company I've talked to charges an extra $150. My family and I (husband, and two toddlers) will be in Ireland in March for a wedding. I'm fully prepared to use public transportation except I'm not sure how we're going to get from the wedding to the reception. Any ideas? Any rental companies you can reccommend that accept debit cards?

Posted by
13 posts

I bet you a million bucks he doesn't! :)

At any rate, thanks everyone for replying to my post. I'm sure I'll figure it out, sans credit card.

Posted by
10060 posts

Have you ever tried renting a car in the U.S. without a credit card? Virtually impossible. Some might but you have to leave a heft deposit--the lowest I've seen is $500.

If you can't take a rental car between wedding and reception, how about a cab?

Posted by
8293 posts

Surely some jolly Irish wedding guests will offer you a lift?

Posted by
2193 posts

Where in Ireland, and what is the distance between the wedding and the reception?

Posted by
1167 posts

The rental car company is easy to understand. They need protection against the possibility that you won't return the car on time or at all. With a debit card all they can get is what is in the account.

Posted by
13 posts

Here's more information:

I have a debit card from my bank with the Visa log, but car rental companies I've talked to said they don't accept debit, or they charge an extra insurance fee. I DO qualify for a credit card (I have superb credit), I just don't want to own one. (Anyone heard of Dave Ramsey?).

The ceremony is in Navan, Co. Meath. The reception is in Maynooth, Co. Kildare. We will have a cute flower girl in tow, but even then, I hate to ask "some jolly Irish guests" to haul 4 of us to the reception! :)

I'm sure I'll just have to pony up the extra cash in the end for extra insurance, it's just hard for this cheapskate to do, and it annoys me that everyone is expected to charge things up on credit. We're trying to do this trip as inexpensively as we can.

Posted by
8954 posts

I can understand your concerns about owning a credit card, but on the other hand I can't imagine traveling without one; it makes things a lot easier. Like anything, if you use a credit card responsibly , you won't have any problems. I'm a fan of Dave Ramsey but I'll bet a million bucks he travels with plastic as well.

Posted by
1167 posts

Sign up for one of the "no fee" credit cards and use it for the trip. When you get home cancel it and cut it up.

Posted by
9363 posts

If you pay the balance as soon as you get the bill you won't be paying much more than you would with a debit card, anyway. As a previous poster suggested, you could apply for one for this one purpose, then cut it up when you get home. DON'T cancel it, though - doing so will hurt your credit, oddly enough.

Posted by
1357 posts

And having a car would be so much easier with toddlers than managing public transportation, plus if you tried to get a ride with someone, it'd be hard to fit in with the car seats for the kids.

I'm surprised they only charge $150 for renting without a credit card! There's options for your insurance, too. Usually the regular CDW isn't that expensive, it's the super CDW that gets costly. We got a daily excess plan through a 3rd party that was considerably cheaper. We're in the process of filing a claim now, it's been a lot of work, but we'll come out ahead in the long run.

Posted by
2193 posts

Another option is to get a card from a local credit union. You won’t be able to avoid lining the pockets of VISA or MasterCard, but at least you can slice Citigroup (or other bailed out bank) from the equation. Use it for the car rental, pay the bill as soon as you receive it, and keep it for similar use in the future.

Posted by
8293 posts

As a matter of principle, the OP does not have nor does she want a credit card. (I never heard of the Ramsey person, so I do not get the reference.) Sometimes maintaining our principles costs us money, as is the case here.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you, Norma. You have hit the nail on the head. I'm slowly adjusting to the fact that I'm going to have to shell out more money if I want a car. I was suffering from sticker shock initially as the car was going to cost twice as much as I had planned. We'll make it, though. This trip is being fully funded via cold, hard cash.

Posted by
668 posts

Dave Ramsey gives a lot of sound, hard headed advice, but I suspect he does have a credit card for circumstances like this. Why don't you ask him how he rents a car?

Posted by
1767 posts

As someone who KNOWS folks who work for Dave... HECK yes, he has a credit card, but he rarely takes it out. Dave's "endorsements" mean DAVE GOT PAID. And he's a pro at it so what he would do is call around and find some rental car agency willing to give him a deal for an "endorsement" :)

Posted by
2193 posts

I’ve gleaned that Dave Ramsey offers sound financial advice, and I suppose he’s a decent entertainer as well. He is a capitalist entrepreneur, however, and he makes a lot of money from a lot of desperate people. I acknowledge that many of his flock are far from desperate…just good people looking for a better way to live. No offense intended at all, and I greatly admire convictions like Sarah’s. He does accept credit cards on his website, though. Call it a debit card, but VISA and MasterCard are in the mix. Hypocrisy…I don’t know? I still like the idea of keeping a credit union card open for travel expenses. It would be interesting to send his organization an e-mail with Iain’s question.

Posted by
13 posts

Well, for what it's worth, I did sent an e-mail two days asking Dave to settle a message board debate. I didn't get to listen to his show yesterday to see if he answered, though. Oh well.

The point is: My husband and I have cancelled all our credit cards and have no intentions of opening any up again.

Posted by
638 posts

Sarah, I totally understand you not wanting any credit cards/debt. I'm a fan of Dave's too. But if you pay it off immediately, use it only for the car, and you know you have the bucks, is it really credit? Plus, what if you have an emergency in Ireland and need a chunk of money quick? I'm sure you have it, but will a hospital or whatever accept debit? If it's a Sunday and the banks aren't open, can you get enough money from your debit account to cover an emergency? Don't give those darn car rental companies more money than you have too!!!!

Posted by
689 posts

Also recognize you'll be charged more for using your debit card for every purchase--hotel, cash, rental car, etc. These fees differ from bank to bank but they're always there for foreign transactions. You may be planning to take US dollars and change them there at an AMEX office (or wherever), but this is not the way to get a good exchange rate.

I don't normally use a credit card, but I do to rent cars, and to make foreign transactions, via my Capitol One card, which unlike almost every other debit and credit card, does not charge a foreign transaction fee. I pay this off online as soon as I make a purchase.

So in more ways than one you'll be wasting money. If this is the ony trip you're ever going to take, it's probably not a big deal. But if you're planning on being regular travelers, you're going to lose a lot of money over the years.

Posted by
689 posts

Oh, and beware hotels holding money on your debit account. I didn't realize they did this until last month in Chicago, when I handed the clerk my debit card at the beginning of my stay. She said they would debit $500 extra for a deposit; they'd ask the bank to refund it when I checked out, but that it could take 10 days for my account to be credited. No thanks!

Posted by
9363 posts

Christy, you're not exactly right about banks always charging extra fees to use debit cards. The one I use charges nothing extra at all.

Posted by
208 posts

Sarah...
Credit cards are a part of 21st century life. If you still want to live like we did in the 1950s, that's cool. But modern day life is a lot different from the way it was then.

By the way... what ship are you taking to Ireland?

(Thanks for the heads up, Norma.)

Posted by
13 posts

It is a matter of personal principle and morals for which I do not currently own nor intend to own a credit card in the future. I have successfully owned and managed credit in the past. I no longer wish to have credit a part of my life. Those that own credit cards need not take offense to the fact that I choose not to own one. It is a matter of personal choice. I have a great personal and working relationship with my bank, and I can be a very resourceful person. I been fortunate in my brief lifetime thus far to have traveled through several countries, including third world, on several occassions. I believe I can handle traveling on a cash and/or debit basis this time as well. I think perhaps the question I really wanted answered was if anyone could recommend a car rental agency willing to deal in cash/debit (besides Dan Dooley, of which I've already been in contact)? Or perhaps someone could recommend alternative methods of transportation that I haven't already thought of as ways for my family to get around in a fun/useful way. I've investigated bus/train, bike, RV and cruiser boats, hired driver, and taxis already. I am determined, non-traditional, quirky, and adventurous. When others consider me weird, I feel most proud of the way I live my life -- even it means being accused of living in the 1950s or being ridiculed for not owning a credit card. At the end of the day I rest easy knowing I live my life in a way my children will not only benefit from, but be proud of as well. Thank you to all who have tried to be helpful regarding this thread.

Posted by
638 posts

Sarah, I hope you don't take offense by what many of us have written here. If you read the Traveler's Helpline a lot, you'll find that many of us are opinionated people, and when someone asks a question a bit unusual we jump all over it, sometimes to the questioner's dismay. We don't mean to be offensive, so please continue to post your questions. I admire your sticking with your principles, as it's something too few people (including me) do nowadays! Have fun on your trip!

Posted by
59 posts

Sarah, I am curious. If by some chance you heard from Mr. Ramsey and he said he uses a credit card for instances like this and he advised you to get one, would you then get one?

Posted by
28 posts

I'm actually surprised they won't take a Visa-backed debit card. Did you tell them it was a debit or just give them the credit card # and expiration date and they figured out it was a debit? In any case, with a Visa or MC logo they should always be able to run it like a regular credit card. If you did tell them it was a debit card, I would actually try again to just call them back and try to re-reserve and just say "Visa" and give them the number. Make sure you've got a bit of a cash buffer in your account to handle a hold a week or two before your trip.

I've never tried to get a car in Europe, but renting this way in the US has never been a problem for me and I use a Visa-backed debit card. Heck, even when some not-decent person ripped off my number and started trying to order $800 fax machines (how does one even FIND an $800 fax machine?) it was fine because it's a Visa card.

Posted by
13 posts

Cheryl: No, it wouldn't change my mind if I personally heard from Dave Ramsey that he had a credit card. Dave Ramsey was the impetus for the change in my credit mindset, but I have adopted this mindset because of my personal beliefs and for my personal well-being, not because I'm blindly following a figurehead.

Here's my update: I have reserved a car through Dan Dooley, which accepts debit cards eagerly. My 11-day rental will cost $450.

Posted by
525 posts

Make sure you get the CDW insurance on your rental car. I'd be interested in what you experience with Dan Dooley rental. I've always used Auto Europe so would like to know what your experience is upon your return.
Have a wonderful trip. My husband and I love Ireland and the people.

Posted by
8954 posts

Of course debit cards are protected when lost or stolen. From the FTC website:

Your liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your ATM or debit card depends on how quickly you report the loss. If you report an ATM or debit card missing before it's used without your permission, the EFTA says the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized transfers. If unauthorized use occurs before you report it, your liability under federal law depends on how quickly you report the loss.

For example, if you report the loss within two business days after you realize your card is missing, you will not be responsible for more than $50 for unauthorized use. However, if you don't report the loss within two business days after you discover the loss, you could lose up to $500 because of an unauthorized transfer. You also risk unlimited loss if you fail to report an unauthorized transfer within 60 days after your bank statement containing unauthorized use is mailed to you. That means you could lose all the money in your bank account and the unused portion of your line of credit established for overdrafts. However, for unauthorized transfers involving only your debit card number (not the loss of the card), you are liable only for transfers that occur after 60 days following the mailing of your bank statement containing the unauthorized use and before you report the loss.

If unauthorized transfers show up on your bank statement, report them to the card issuer as quickly as possible. Once you've reported the loss of your ATM or debit card, you cannot be held liable for additional unauthorized transfers that occur after that time.

Posted by
13 posts

Steve: Refer back to my earlier post regarding how people should not take offense to my decision to not own a credit card. It is my personal decision. I am not belittling you for being pro-credit.

Regarding Dan Dooley: I used them one other time in Ireland (for our honeymoon 4 years ago) and had no problems other than a desk attendent who was a bit on the pokey side. We weren't bothered by it, knowing fully well that others countries (especially island countries) tend to operate on their own version of time.

Regarding my rental: The $450 includes all taxes and location fees, cross-border fees to take it to Northern Ireland, CDW, theft insurance and the extra super collision supplement (which brings the rental company's security-type hold on my debit card to E100, rather than E1,000 if I had used a credit card and not taken out the super insurance). The car is a Group B (Renault Clio-type), 4-doors, manual.

I'm thinking that because so many people are doubting that my trip can be done and be done on a budget with a debit card, I will approach the city newspaper I used to work for about writing an article for their Sunday travel section on how to travel with children on a budget to Ireland during the St. Patrick's Day holiday!

Posted by
13 posts

Oh, and Steve, some car rental companies do accept debit cards, though policies vary by location. MOST car rental companies do not accept debit cards for rentals in other countries. I did my research and called around to pretty much all the rental companies to verify whether they would or would not accept debit cards. The only other company that accepted debit cards was AutoEurope, however their final rate (after reading all the fine print and adding up the taxes and misc. fees), was much, much higher than Dan Dooley's.

I hope this information is useful to others :)

Posted by
9363 posts

I'd sure like to see your quote on your rental. Not knowing exactly your dates, I chose an 11-day period around St Pat's (Mar 14-25) flying into and out of Dublin. With the class of car you selected, one driver (over 24), and the super CDW, I couldn't get a quote of less than $624.00 when you include the two child seats you will need (unless you are lugging yours along with you). Even without the child seats the quote I got was over $500 - and this was before any discussion of how it would be paid for.

Posted by
9363 posts

You mention cross-border fees for taking the car into Northern Ireland, but you didn't mention needing to go there at all. Are you flying out of Belfast? Neither Co. Meath nor Co. Kildare are in Northern Ireland.

Posted by
13 posts

To the woman traveling during the same time: After doing some online quotes for Dan Dooley (using coupon codes IRISH DANCER or DOCHARA), I called both the Dublin airport desk and the U.S. Dan Dooley reservations number to confirm debit card policy and prices. The receptionist I talked with at the U.S. reservations number quoted me a price that beat my online quotes, so I went ahead and booked with her over the phone. She said she'd send an invoice a month before the trip which would give us an opportunity to pre-pay the amount, which would be charged in U.S. dollars, to eliminate any debit/credit card foreign transactions fees. Like I said before, it's a Group B car (from the 12-23rd), manual, over age 24, CDW and excess insurance. We're not renting car seats because the rental rate is more than the purchase price was for our car seats. We will either bring ours with (1 booster seat, one car seat), or my friend who lives in Dublin will find some for us to borrow, or we'll purchase some inexpensive ones to use.

As for traveling to the North: After arriving in Dublin on March 12, we'll head toward Belfast for 4 nights (with visits to Belfast, Giant's Causeway and possibly Omagh) before returning to the Dublin area for St. Patrick's Day/hurling match, putzing around Dublin and the wedding. We leave from the Dublin airport on the 23rd.

I think after reading everyone's warnings about debit cards, I'm thankful for my relationship with my bank. They called us to verify there wasn't fraudlent activity after we booked our airline tickets because it was such a large sum being debited. I guess they're really looking out for us.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks Steve. The invoice will be run through Dan Dooley's office in the U.S. (New Jersey, I believe), so foreign transaction fees shouldn't be an issue at all. That's why the receptionist was so up on doing it this way.

Posted by
668 posts

Sarah:

I admire your patience and perseverance in answering all the posts here! I doubt if I would have been able to respond so courteously to each one.

Personally I have experienced the problem related above about the security of CC v Debit cards, coincidentally, in relation to a trip to Ireland last year. I booked our flights with Zoom and when I arrived in London I got an email advising me they had declared bankruptcy. I had paid by Visa and they refunded every penny I had put out for the return flight. My sister, whom we met in Dublin travelled with us back to Scotland. She had paid for the ferry from Larne to Troon through a booking agent with a debit card, because it was cheaper. They went bankrupt - with no notice to her and we had to pay again for the ferry. She got nothing back from the bank. Nothing to do with her relationship with her bank, just the type of transaction. For this reason alone, I will always pay for future services by CC as I know they will stand behind me if something goes wrong.

Not saying Tom Dooley is going to go bankrupt, but better safe than sorry in my opinion.

Posted by
13 posts

Looks like there's a lot of credit card fans here, just as I'm sure there a lot of debit and cash fans hanging out in other places, too.

Thanks for all the words of warning. There are definitely risks lurking in every decision we make and around every corner of the globe.

Goodbye and good luck :)

Posted by
2 posts

I know this thread is a year old, but I just wanted to say thanks for the information on Dooley's, Sarah! I am currently working on getting a quote from them.

My husband and I have been Dave Ramsey fans since we got married nearly 10 years ago. We destroyed our credit cards and have not had one since. I frequently rent cars on trips all over the U.S. and have never had a problem doing so with my debit card.

Also, we travel to Europe just about every year and have never had to have a credit card for anything. We usually don't rent cars overseas, so I was wondering if we'd have a problem using our debit cards for an upcoming trip to Ireland this September.

People think you need credit cards to "survive", but you don't. My husband and I are living proof of that. We have no debt and we travel the world and do everything we want to do...with our debit cards! ;)

Posted by
8954 posts

I have three credit cards, and no debt...so there you go;)

Many rental cars companies don't accept debit cards. If you do manage to find one that accepts debit, be careful. When you rent the car a hold of a few hundred dollars will be placed on the funds in your checking account until you return the car. So make sure you have enough funds to cover the hold or you could run into some cash-flow issues. Same deal for hotels and debit cards.

Posted by
1167 posts

I am frankly surprised that they would knowingly accept a debit card. Why couldn't someone rent a car for 3 days, empty the account and then not return the car until a month later in a different country? It might be very hard for them to collect.

Posted by
1167 posts

I am frankly surprised that they would knowingly accept a debit card. Why couldn't someone rent a car for 3 days, empty the account and then not return the car until a month later in a different country? It might be very hard for them to collect.

Posted by
2 posts

I definitely recommend purchasing travel insurance for more expensive trips. The travel insurance that comes with credit or debit cards are not sufficient for us. My husband is military, so there are few insurance plans that cover revocation of leave. We found a good one through TravelGuard that covers this.

I just booked our rental cars for Ireland with my debit card. Like Sarah said, there is an extra $10 per day charge for extra insurance (so that we won't have a deductible in the case of an accident). With Dooley's, I got a 7 day rental for $311.00 - That's cheaper than what AutoEurope quoted and includes all insurance and fees! Sweet!

I don't bust on people who have credit cards. Most Americans do, because we've been programmed to think we can't live without them. I used to have them. What I don't understand is why a lot of people get all panicky and defensive when I mention I don't use them, LOL.

Posted by
990 posts

Jeff, that's exactly why so many companies have policies against renting cars to those without credit cards.

For those who don't use credit cards--whether due to ideological commitments or lack of good credit--you may want to consider comprehensive travel insurance. Unlike credit cards, which will reimburse you in case of bankruptcy of your travel purchasers, debit cards leave you high and dry in that case. Travel insurance will make you whole when your debit card won't.

Posted by
1767 posts

I am amazed at the Dave Ramsey fans... I have a feeling if you really knew him you would run screaming LOL I have a friend who just walked out one day. Let's just say, Dave believes that his advice is better then paying his employees LOL!

So remember Dave is a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of guy.

Posted by
689 posts

Wendy, I didn't see anyone get panicky and defensive. I do people pointing out some potential pitfalls, which, like every other post on this board, people are free to think about or ignore. But if you do elicit reactions from people, I don't think that it's because you mention you don't use them. It's probaby because you make judgements about people who do. (ie we've been "programmed", People "think they need them" but they're wrong, etc). Who cares who uses them and who doesn't? Different strokes, you know...

Posted by
710 posts

Just a thought .......My brother-in-law did not believe in credit cards. On a company trip he got stranded by a snow storm with no way to pay for a hotel room. His boss had to bail him out. He then applied for a credit card and found out a person with the same name and similar SS# had bad credit. He had to prove who he was and finally did get a credit card. He hardly ever uses it, but pays it off ASAP. He has always paid cash buying a car, no auto loans for him. I guess having a credit card is a safety net for him when traveling. He started saving for his retirement at his first job when he was 21. They have a nice home that they have paid off, and have take family trips and go out to dinner. He just budgets like crazy. At first it drove my sister crazy, but now she appreciates all he has done financially for his family.

Posted by
13 posts

Ahhhh, I had totally forgotten about this post! Good to know it's still around and people are still debating the merits/pitfalls of credit vs. cash.

Anyway, I'm sure everyone is waiting with baited breath to hear how our cash-funded, nearly 2-week trip with toddlers went: The car rental went perfectly fine. The only issues we had were going through M50 tolls near Dublin ... We had paid them via our mobile phone and our debit card, but Dan Dooley charged us again. A quick call to customer service got us a speedy refund post-trip. We had a lovely, relaxing trip with our kids who were SOOO well-behaved -- even on the flight! Never encountered a need for credit cards, for those keeping score ;) The total cost of our trip, including airfare, car, lodging, food, entertainment and incidentals was about $4,500 for a family of 4.

Posted by
78 posts

I am also a big fan of Dave Ramsey. I think that he gives excellent, common sense advice. I follow many of his principles and, because of this, lead a "no debt" lifestyle when it comes to credit cards, cars, and my house. That being said I do not feel it is necessary to adhere to everything he says. I do have a credit card that I use for convenience when traveling. I pay it off immediately so it is a non-issue.

I think it is great that some people avoid them completely. As Sarah has posted, in many cases there may be a bit more inconvenience but ultimately they are usually not necessary. The typical American is burdened with excessive debt - it is no surprise that so many are agitated when you suggest doing without them (no, I'm not referring to anyone specific here).

This thread should not be a pro/con credit card thread. It is good info. for those looking to travel without them.

Posted by
112 posts

Ugh. Dave Ramsey annoys me. My credit score is higher than his, I go through credit cards rapidly - I earn a ridiculous amount of cash back without spending a single $1 - just about 30 minutes of my time a month - and the wife and I haven't bought a plane ticket overseas in 5 years thanks to points and miles. I get a lot of mileage (no pun intended) out of my good credit.