Which Car Rental Companies Accept Cash or Debit Card Payments? [2021]

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Are you thinking about using cash or a debit card to secure or pay for a rental car? Are you aware of all of the different requirements that go into doing this?

The process of renting a car with a debit card or cash payment is not quite as straightforward as you might’ve hoped but it still can be done in some cases.

Below, I have provided the policies for accepting cash or debit card payments for some of the most popular rental car companies including: Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, National, Alamo, Budget, Dollar, and Thrifty.

Credit cards for rental car payments

Before I jump into the requirements for paying with a debit card or cash, I wanted to reiterate how much better it is to use a credit card for rental cars.

For one, most rental car companies expect you to pay with a credit card and they may not accept other forms of payments.

And if they do, you may have to jump through extra hoops to make it work.

Credit cards will always be more convenient.

But the biggest reason is that some credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, come with primary rental car coverage which can save you money because you can decline the collision damage waiver and you will not have to file a claim with your rental car insurance company.

So while some rental car companies will accept cash or debit cards, I would highly recommend to just go the credit card route.

Tip: Use WalletFlo to help you optimize your credit cards. It’s free and will help you get approved for some of the best travel cards!

Two types of acceptance

As you check out the policies for different rental car companies you will notice that there are often two types of acceptance for debit cards/cash.

The first type of acceptance is credit identification (which allows you to rent the car) and the second is final payment acceptance (which allows you to pay for the rental).

Each rental car company will have its own unique policy for these two different types of acceptance so you really want to make sure you are familiar with the details when you rent a car.

Credit identification

The first type of acceptance is for credit identification in order to pick up your car at a given rental car location.

This is the process that verifies that you have enough funds to cover the cost of the rental, potential deposits, and additional fees.

There’s also a security component to this credit identification as well, which is why your credit report might be checked in conjunction with this identification check.

Cash is often not accepted for the credit identification. There are some exceptions to this rule like Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty which all allow cash rentals but only if you have a cash deposit identification card and agree to certain terms.

However, many rental companies will usually accept debit cards for credit identification.

You will often find certain stipulations for using a debit card. For example, you may have to make your booking at least 24 hours prior to pick up and the debit card must be on a network such as Visa, MasterCard, or Discover.

There may be restrictions on additional drivers, the types of vehicles you can rent, and you may have to prove your address.

A $200 to $300 hold might be placed on your debit card and you might be subject to a credit check.

The policies may differ based on whether or not you are renting from an airport location. Also, some geographical locations may not accept debit cards.

I strongly recommend to inquire with the specific pick up location before renting in order to verify that they will accept a debit card or cash deposit for your credit identification.

If they do accept it, chances are you will have to supply additional documentation as explained below.

Final payment

The second form of acceptance is for the payment which comes at the end of the rental period.

This acceptance is generally more lax since your credit identification has already been made.

Many rental car companies will accept cash payments but others will not due to security reasons.

In some cases, debit cards will be allowed but they will still ask for you to submit a credit card at the time of renting the car.

Prepaid debit cards, money orders, and gift cards can also often be used for your final payments.

When attempting to use a debit card always make sure that the debit card can be used for the type of purpose you need whether it is identification or final payment.

You can do this by contacting the specific pick up location.

Rental car companies that accept cash

Enterprise

Many Enterprise branches will not accept cash payments for initiating a rental.

However, you can find some branches that will accept a cash or money order at the end of the rental for your final payment.

If you are renting from an airport location within the United States, most likely cash will not be accepted. However, you still may be able to use a debit card.

In that case, you will likely need to show a ticketed return travel itinerary that coincides with your rental timeframe.

If you are renting from a non-airport location within the United States debit cards and other forms of payment (possibly cash) will be accepted subject to certain conditions.

In these scenarios, you will need to contact the local rental branch in order to verify that they will accept a non-credit card payment. You can find out contact information here.

You can expect to have to supply documentation which may include the following:

  • Two current utility bills (water bill, gas bill, or an internet/cable bill)
  • Your most recent paycheck stub
  • A minimum deposit plus the entire cost of the rental at the time of pickup.
  • Proof of insurance
  • Personal references

You can find out more information here.

Related: Enterprise Weekend Special Rental Car Promos: Worth It?

Hertz

Hertz will allow cash rentals but they will also require an upfront cash deposit and require customers to have obtained a cash deposit identification card.

To qualify for a rental, Hertz will accept debit cards that have a Visa, MasterCard, or Discover logo and withdraw funds directly from the cardholders account.

However, you will have to provide additional documentation in many cases.

At airport locations, you will need to provide proof of a return airline flight that coincides with the rental and also present to different forms of valid identification.

If you are renting from locations outside of airports you can use a debit card at the start of the rental but you will be required to make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance, you must be at least 25 years old, have a corporate discount plan number listed in the reservation or proof of return trip travel ticket to coincide with your rental dates, and present two forms of valid identification.

In certain areas, debit cards may not be accepted at the outset of the rental and these include areas such as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut along with Philadelphia, Boston, Manchester, Detroit, Baltimore, and Atlanta.

To use a debit card as a payment for your rental you will have to abide by additional requirements, which could trigger at the outset of your rental.

In some cases, the location will perform a credit check which could be a hard pull on your credit report. You will have to meet the minimum credit criteria which is not officially published.

You will have to have available funds to cover the estimated charges and also an additional authorization of up to $200 depending on the location, length and date of the car rental.

If you are trying to make a debit card payment at airport locations, in addition to a valid drivers license you will need to present one of the following forms:

  • An additional credit card or debit card embossed with the same name as the driver’s license.
  • A Government issued ID, in the same name as the driver’s license and debit card:
    • Passport – United States or Foreign Country Issued
    • United States Military Identification Card
  • Non-government form of ID, example that may be accepted includes photo store member card (Costco, Sam’s, etc.), a company ID badge with photo. Only acceptable if the photo and name matches the driver’s license and the debit card. Current month Utility statement in the renter’s name and the same address as on the driver’s license (e.g., gas, electric, cable bill).

To find out more about paying for your rentals with cash or debit cards click here.

Related: Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Membership Guide

Avis

You likely will not be able to rent a car with cash but you might be able to pay for your rental with cash depending on the rental location.

Most US Avis locations will accept debit cards as long as you meet their minimum criteria to rent.

This means that you need to be at least 25 years old, have a valid drivers license, and an acceptable driving record.

It’s possible that they might ask you for additional documentation which could include an additional form of ID, an international drivers permit, or an electronic DMV check.

You can find out more about these requirements here.

A hold will usually be placed on your account for at least the estimated cost of the rental. During this time these funds will not be made available to you.

Avis does NOT require a deposit to reserve a car.

Some vehicle types cannot be rented with debit cards.Typically, these would be premium car rentals.

Also, in certain locations debit cards will not be accepted at the time of rental for any vehicles. These include locations in the New York tri-state area, Philadelphia, Mississippi and Louisiana as well as some other locations across the country.

You should be allowed to make your final payment with a debit card at the end of your rental car period.

In addition, they will likely even accept prepaid debit and gift cards as a form of final payment.

You can find out more about their payment policy here.

National

Cash is not accepted as a deposit at the beginning of a rental for any location. Many locations may not accept cash at any time due to security reasons.

Debit cards are accepted for rentals if they have a Visa, MasterCard, or Discover logo.

If you are renting from an airport location, the debit card deposit may only be accepted at the time of rental if it is accompanied by a ticket and return travel itinerary.

If you do not have a return travel itinerary you will need to provide a credit card with sufficient funds to cover the cost of the rental in addition to a $200 holding fee.

When it comes to payments, National will accept many different forms of payments.

In the US, you will often be able to make a final payment with a gift card or a prepaid card. In addition, money orders will be excepted as a form of payment.

Cash may not be accepted even for a final payment.

You can read more about the requirements here.

Alamo

Cash is not accepted as a deposit at the beginning of a rental for any location. In addition, due to security reasons, many locations will not accept cash at any time.

For car rentals, debit cards with a Visa, MasterCard, or Discover logo will be accepted.

At airport locations, debit card deposits will only be accepted at the time of the rental if they are also accompanied by a ticket in return travel itinerary.

If you do not have a return travel itinerary you will need to provide a credit card with sufficient funds to cover the cost of the rental in addition to a $200 holding fee.

You can read more about the policy here.

Tip: Use WalletFlo to help you cut down on your hotel and airline expenses by optimizing your travel credit cards. It’s free and will help you get approved for some of the best travel cards!

Budget

You may not use cash for a rental deposit at the time of renting. However, when you return your vehicle you may pay for the final rental costs with cash.

You are allowed to rent a car with a debit card at many different Budget locations across the US.

You will need to be at least 25 years old and be prepared to have an authorized hold placed on your account for the duration of your rental car reservation.

Related: Guide to Rental Car Age Requirements

If you are renting from an airport location, there’s a good chance that you need to show a boarding pass as well as a proof of return flight at that airport location.

Because some budget rental car branches will not accept a debit card at the time of reservation, you should always call ahead to make sure that they will except it.

The type of cards excepted include:

  • American Express
  • Budget Charge Card
  • Budget International
  • Discover 
  • JCB/Japan Card
  • MasterCard 
  • Optima 
  • PHH 
  • Visa

Just like with cash, you should be able to pay for your rental car with a debit card. In fact, you may even have the option to pre-pay for your rental online with a debit card.

Just note that some locations may still require a credit card at the time of pick up even though you will be allowed to pay for the rental car with your debit card.

You can read more about the policy here.

Dollar

If you want to rent a car with cash, it is possible with Dollar.

You will have to make an up front deposit that is only acceptable from rental car customers who have obtained a cash deposit identification card.

You can find the application for a cash deposit ID card here. Applicants must be at least 20 years old in most states and the process can take up to 30 days.

There is also a $15 nonrefundable processing fee which helps to offset the cost of having a credit check performed.

You should be able to use a debit card to rent a car at US locations.

They will not perform a credit check but you will need to make sure you have available funds on your debit card and that you can cover and authorization of $200.

As long as your debit card is issued under a Visa, MasterCard, Discover logo and draws funds directly from your linked bank account and the rental was made 24 hours prior to vehicle pick up you should be good.

If the reservation was not made 24 hours prior to pick up or you are renting a premium or luxury vehicle, you can still use a debit card but you will have to meet additional requirements such as: showing two forms of identification and showing a proof of return travel ticket that coincides with your rental. This could be either an airline or cruise ticket for example.

Debit cards will be accepted for Dollar express rewards members as a form of payment.

You can read more about their policy here.

Thrifty

Thrifty will also allow cash rentals but they will also require an upfront cash deposit and require customers to have obtained a cash deposit identification card.

Debit cards are excepted for rentals but the rental must be booked at least 24 hours in advance. If the rental is not booked that far in advance, additional policies apply.

You should be able to use a debit card with a Visa, MasterCard, or Discover logo.

Thrifty will also allow you to pay with a debit card or even a prepaid card when you return the vehicle.

Keep in mind that at the time of the rental, there likely will be a hold on your debit card to cover the estimated rental charges and any additional fees that might be incurred. There may also be an additional $200 hold put on your card as well.

Final word

As you can see there are different policies for using cash or debit cards for car rentals.

For most companies, a debit card can be used for a car rental but may require you to submit additional documentation. Debit cards and other forms of payment are often allowed for the final payment of your car rental as well.

A minority of rental car companies will accept cash payments but they will likely require you to submit a cash deposit identification card and subject yourself to a credit check.

UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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