Friday Financial Tidbit: How to rent a car or get a hotel room with a debit card

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As I have mentioned before, I am not a big fan of using credit cards.  In fact, my family does not use them or even carry them around for emergencies.  In discussion, when people find out I do not use credit cards, one of the first questions I get asked is “how do you rent a car or get a hotel room without a credit card?”  My answer surprises them when I say that I have never had a problem using my debit card to rent a car or get a hotel room.  I have found that if you use a debit card to either rent a car or get a hotel room make sure you follow the following three rules:

Know the companies debit card policy-I recommend calling ahead and finding out each companies debit card policy as they vary greatly.  You can usually find this information on the company’s website and just to make sure, go ahead and call the specific hotel or car rental that you are thinking of renting from and make sure they accept debit cards.  Calling ahead will let you know which companies you have to jump the fewest hoops through and can save you time later.

Have money in your bank account-This seems pretty obvious, but some companies may put a “hold” or “block” on your account to make sure you can pay your bill plus any extra charges.  This can range anywhere from $200-$500 so you will need to make sure you have a cushion in your account.  But getting a $150 hotel room with only $200 in your account is not a good plan anyways.

Expect a credit check-I have only had this happen once for a rental car when we were on vacation this past May.  I still do not understand the reasoning behind asking for a credit check considering I had over 5 figures in our account at the time!  Just remember that a credit check goes down as an inquiry and too many inquiries over a time period can hurt your credit score.  So if you are looking to get a mortgage soon you might want to avoid places that require a credit check on debit cards.

For those of you thinking of getting rid of your credit cards and going to cash and debit cards, I hope you will find comfort knowing that you will be fine to rent a car or get a  hotel room.  There is a lot of misinformation out there on debit cards, but as long as you do some planning ahead of time, using a debit card for hotels or car rentals should be no problem.

What have been others’ experience when renting a car or getting a hotel room with a debit card?

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2 Responses to Friday Financial Tidbit: How to rent a car or get a hotel room with a debit card

  1. Don Current says:

    Some very good information and advice Jon. I have taken several trips recently without using a credit card. I booked flights and hotel rooms on my debit card with no issues whatsoever. I haven’t rented a car yet since I did ride sharing with others on my trips, but your advice will definitely come in handy when I do have to. Thanks.

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences Don. I keep hearing how difficult it is to get flights or hotel rooms without a credit card but I have yet to talk to someone who has had a problem with using a debit card.

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