How Do Rental Car Deposits Work?

Rental car deposits are a fact of life whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure. However, not many people know what deposits are for or how a deposit is calculated. Depending on your situation, your deposit could be greater than the total cost of your rental, or partially waived. Find out exactly why rental car deposits are necessary, and how to keep your car rental deposits to a minimum.

What Are Rental Car Deposits?

Whether you’re renting an apartment, car, or specialty vehicle, it’s very likely the rental agency will ask for a deposit. A deposit is a lump sum given to a rental agency that covers the car in case something goes wrong during your rental period. If you return the car late, dirty, or with damage, the rental company can deduct the costs from your deposit. This is designed to prevent rental agencies from losing money if a renter is reckless or negligent with their rental car. Damages can include down time while the vehicle is being repaired and lost earnings. The entire deposit is refunded if you return the car in the same condition as when you picked it up. Ensuring the tank is filled when you return the vehicle can also keep you from losing a portion of your deposit.

How Much Are Rental Car Deposits?

Rent a Car in Los Angeles vs leasing buying

The deposit size varies between corporate rental chains and independent agencies. In general, your deposit is calculated based on the category of vehicle you’re renting. Economy class cars will have a significantly lower deposit that luxury vehicles. The number of days you reserve the vehicle can also change your deposit. If you’re renting a car under the age of 25, your deposit may be higher than an older driver.

In short, your deposit is calculated based on the risk of your rental. If you’re a young driver in a fancy car, your risk is very high so the deposit will likely be higher. If you’re an experienced driver renting an economy car for a few days, the risk and deposit will be minimal.

How Do I Pay My Deposit?

More often than not, customers use a credit card to make their deposit. Instead of charging the lump sum, a hold is placed on the card for the deposit’s amount. Once the car is returned safely, the hold will be lifted and the deposit returned. By requiring a credit card, the rental company has a way to hold the customer liable if damage to the car exceeds the initial deposit.

Some independent car rental companies offer cash deposits. However, it’s a good rule of thumb that a cash deposit will be higher than a hold made on a credit card. The rental company shoulders significantly more risk when they offer cash or debit card car rentals.

Can I Reduce or Remove My Deposit?

independent auto rental cash

There is no way to completely remove your rental car deposit, but you can certainly reduce it. One of the best ways to lower your deposit is to negotiate with your rental agent. They’ll give you options for more comprehensive insurance that can help reduce your personal liability.

Fair warning, it can take up to 15 business days to get your deposit back after you return the vehicle. Make sure a large hold on your card won’t spoil any travel plans. Cash rental deposits are usually paid back in cash or by debit.

Value Rental Car Accepts Cash and Debit Card Rentals

At Value Rental Car we want to help you get to your destination quickly and safely. We offer clean and affordable rental cars for local driving in LA, with complimentary pickup and drop off at LAX. If you’re a college student, we want to help you get on the road. We rent to drivers under the age of 21, and we offer cash and debit card car rentals. Check out some of our other articles to learn more about how car rental works.

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