When it comes to modern traveling, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. With the power of the internet, there are a million ways to choose destinations and make travel arrangements. It seems like there’s a million ways to pay for your trip, too. Consumers are no longer tied down to a credit card or two when they want to make purchases. Alternative payment methods like PayPal, virtual currencies, debit cards, and wire transfers are accepted almost everywhere now. If you’re trying to rent a car, however, you might run straight into a wall if you’re trying to pay with anything but a major credit card. Cash deposit car rentals are one alternative if you want to rent a car without a credit card. You’ll have to hunt around in some cities to find car rental companies that accept cash deposits, however.
If you’re one of the millions of consumers who don’t carry a major credit card, don’t lose heart when it’s time to rent a car. We’ve assembled a handful of smart strategies for renting a car without a credit card.
Avoid Prepaid Cards
Rental car companies that accept cash deposits aren’t as common as regular car rental companies. Most cities have at least a few to choose from. They’ll all have different rules for cash deposit car rentals, but you can usually work out something that fits your budget and your payment method. However, it’s smart to avoid using prepaid credit cards, like gift cards, to rent a car. Here’s why
A prepaid credit card isn’t cash, it’s not a debit card, and it’s not really a credit card, either. It doesn’t bring all of the benefits that a traditional credit card enjoys. There’s no credit line backing it up, and there are no extra features like free travel insurance.
Since the money is available immediately on a prepaid card, you might think that it’s as good as cash. Your car rental company probably won’t. That’s because even though the card is loaded with cash, it still carries a few of the protections for the consumer that a regular credit card has. It might be possible to reverse a charge on a prepaid card, for instance. That means you might have a more difficult time using a prepaid card than with straight cash deposit car rentals.
Debit Card Car Rental
Many travelers are surprised to find out they can use their debit card to rent a car. Car rentals using a debit card are similar to cash deposit car rentals, but not exactly the same. The differences might mean the difference between a carefree trip and a traveling disaster, so plan ahead.
Travel budgets can be tight. It’s smart to have contingency funds available at all times to take care of travel hiccups, or to take advantage of opportunities for extra shopping or added excursions. That kind of cash buffer can be hard to maintain if you use a debit card. Cash deposit car rentals have a fixed amount, for instance, but using a debit card for car rental, hotel stays, and the like can be trickier. Many businesses treat debit card transactions like a regular credit card purchase. That means they place a hold on contingency funds they require to cover any potential charge you might make.
On a credit card, this contingency isn’t such a big deal. It’s applied against your credit line. The car rental agency just verifies that you could charge up to the amount that’s required. It doesn’t charge the whole amount at once. With a debit card, they freeze the total amount they need to cover any potential charges. That means your money will be held in your debit card account until the transaction is complete. That won’t happen until your vacation is over. Even if your car rental charges are low, you can’t spend the rest of your money until the bill is settled. If you need the money in your debit card account for other purchases, you’ll be out of luck.
Use Premium Debit Cards
All debit cards are not created equal. Some debit cards are more like hybrid credit cards, especially if they’re linked to bank accounts that have overdraft protection. If you use a premium debit card at the car rental counter, you’ll probably end up with a smaller hold on your available funds. That will leave you more leeway on other purchases while you’re traveling.
For example, PayPal debit cards come in many flavors. If you qualify for a Business or Premier PayPal debit card, you can link a backup funding source to the card. This can be one of any number of accounts, from checking to a money market fund. This allows you to use the debit card for things like car rental, but doesn’t require having a huge cash balance that’s put on hold to make the transaction go through. As long as there’s a backup funding source for emergencies, you’ll satisfy the requirements of most car rental agencies. When you return the car, the hold on your backup funds will be removed.
Cash Deposit Car Rentals
If you don’t carry a major credit card or premium debit card, car rentals with cash deposit is always an alternative. For the most part, you’ll do better at smaller, independent car rental companies than at the major car rental outfits. While some big car rental companies advertise non-standard rental terms, you might be turned away from the counter anyway. Many car rental companies are franchises, and the local outlet has the right to refuse service to cash customers.
Beware Online Aggregators
If you’re planning on looking for car rentals that accept cash deposits, you have to be very careful if you use online travel comparison sites. Car rentals that take cash deposits are harder to find, and many comparison websites lump all their listings together. Some travelers make reservations through online travel aggregators because the listings promise one thing, only to find out that the listing is out of date or in error.
This can lead to a big problem when your reservation puts a hold on your funds. If you cancel the reservation because the car rental company won’t accept a cash deposit, the hold on your funds can last for days, or even weeks. You won’t have a rental car, and you won’t have access to your available balance, either. It’s always better to talk to the actual rental car company for car rental with cash deposit.
Avoiding a Credit Check
Lots of traditional car rental agencies advertise cash deposit car rental. They use credit checks to turn away cash customers anyway. Many consumers who use cash don’t have a credit history, or are still rebuilding their credit. A credit check can be a non-starter for any kind of car rental. Make sure a prospective car rental agency will accept cash and valid ID for cash deposit car rentals, and without any strings.
Don’t forget, one of the reasons car rental agencies like credit cards is that they represent a second form of identification. They also serve as a form of of credit check. If you’re using cash, or a debit card, be prepared to show more proof of identity than just your driver’s license. Some possible ID might include things like a passport, an insurance card for a vehicle, an airline ticket, or a copy of a utility bill or bank statement that shows your name and address. A military ID is also an excellent form of identification.
For more information about cash deposit car rental in Los Angeles, contact Value Rental Car. They have convenient locations near LAX, and in Pasadena.