We hear about it from our clients and students, we read about it in various coaching and financial blogs / groups we belong to. “They” say you can’t rent a car with a debit card.
Well, you can. And we did.
We were geared up to take a trip over New Year’s, about a four hour drive from home. The temperature had dropped overnight to around 30 degrees – the first real cold snap of the season. I installed the trailer hitch shelf to hold the oversized cooler. We opened the hatch and back doors to carefully pack all manner of suitcases, totes full of food and provisions, backpacks, and guitars because once we were at the VRBO house, we were in for the long haul and not going anywhere.
Departure Time: 6:45am. Start the car. The car clicks and won’t start. DOH! It’s probably a dead battery, as this one was put into service over three years ago. Nothing opens til 7:30 so we thought, do we risk buying a battery, taking the time to change it (about an hour due to a difficult-to-reach tie down and the cold, and the fact that I’m NOT much of a wrench-turner) and risk having it be something more involved than the battery while we’re on the road in the middle of nowhere, on a holiday weekend (did I mention ‘ol Blue has 290,000 miles on him?)….or do we consider this an emergency and rent a vehicle? We opted for the latter. There is an Enterprise car rental very near our house (not an airport location). We did not have an advanced reservation. We just…walked in and rented a car.
Here’s the thing. I didn’t ask them if they would take a debit card. I didn’t tell them it was a debit card. I just handed them my debit card when asked for payment. He didn’t look, he didn’t ask, he kept referring to it as a credit card, and ran it as such. He took a $350 hold for the rental which of course was fine. The debit card has the Visa logo on it so it runs through their system like any other Visa card, credit or debit. It doesn’t matter. It’s the same protections for both of us and the same fees for Enterprise.
After the fun of unpacking Blue and repacking the 2018 Nissan Rogue (which had NO trailer hitch shelf) like a 3D Tetris puzzle, we were off on a great holiday trip. When we got back it was indeed the battery, and I expect ‘Ol Blue will go another year or so but that’s another story for another time.
Use your debit card. Pay cash. If you have good car insurance it already covers rental cars, so that argument for using a credit card to rent a car doesn’t hold up. Besides, you don’t rent a car that often anyway. So stop making excuses for “needing” a credit card. You don’t.