Categories

Score Advice

Is a Credit Check Required to Rent a Car?

Whether you're taking a long-awaited vacation or in a rush and have to rent a car at the last minute, the last thing you want is to be stuck at a rental car agency with an agent who refuses to hand you the keys. However, sometimes poor credit can keep you from renting a car. A credit check may be required to rent a car depending on what type of payment method you use.

When You Might Need a Credit Check to Rent a Car

The policies vary depending on the rental car company and the location where you're renting, but generally, a credit check is only a requirement if you rent a car using a debit card. If you use a credit card, the policies tend to be much more lenient.

The idea may be that someone who doesn't have a credit card could have trouble paying for incidental charges, such as a late return, or for damages after an accident. Running a credit check could help the agency ensure the renter has a history of paying bills on time and isn't currently behind on any accounts.

What Credit Score Do You Need to Rent a Car?

Car rental agencies may have a minimum credit score requirement to rent a vehicle. However, they rarely publicize that score requirement.

In February 2019, Dollar Car Rental, part of Hertz, announced it would eliminate credit checks and proof of return travel, as well as lower the age restriction, for debit card users. It also revealed that Dollar Car Rental previously had a minimum score requirement of 660.

Other rental agencies may have a similar score requirement, but many are more concerned with specific types of information in your report rather than the score. For example, having a history of late payments or multiple delinquent accounts could make it harder to rent a car.

How Renting a Car Impacts Your Credit

If the rental agency runs your credit, a hard inquiry could be added to your credit report. Hard inquiries might hurt your credit scores by a few points and typically remain on your credit reports for about 24 months. However, the impact of a single hard inquiry tends to dissipate within a few months.

Generally, one hard inquiry won't have a major impact on your scores—it might not impact your scores at all—and you shouldn't let the potential of a hard inquiry keep you from renting a car or opening a new account when you need one.

If you're worried about the hard inquiry and you have a credit card but don't want to use it for the rental, you may be able to put your credit card on file to avoid the inquiry and then pay with your debit card when you return the vehicle.

How to Rent a Car Without a Credit Card

If you don't have a credit card, you'll probably be able to rent a car with many car rental agencies using a debit card. And whether or not they perform a credit check, you may need to provide additional documentation and there could be limitations on your rental.

Here are a few examples of companies' rules and requirements:

  • You might only be able to use a debit card if it has a Visa, Mastercard or Discover logo.
  • You might not be able to rent a vehicle with a debit card if you're under 25 years old.
  • You might not be able to rent certain types of vehicles, such as a luxury or premium car, unless you meet additional requirements.
  • If you're renting from an airport location, you may need to show proof of your incoming flight and your return flight.
  • You may need to show additional forms of identification, such as your driver's license plus a passport, utility bill or a different card with your name embossed on it (such as a second debit card or store card with your photo).
  • A hold could be placed on funds in the checking account that's linked to the debit card you use to rent a car. The hold amount can vary, but could be $200 or a percentage of the total rental amount. You won't be able to use the money while it's being held, so be sure you have enough money in your account to avoid overdrafts. It may take a couple weeks for the funds to be released.

Sometimes you can avoid the hold on funds or additional identification if you join the company's frequent renter program and add your debit card to your account prior to renting.

Additionally, be aware that some rental car locations don't accept debit cards or cash at all. If you're booking travel ahead of time, call ahead and make sure the agency's policies won't interfere with your travel plans.

You may also want to check your credit reports before renting a car and look for potentially problematic marks, such as several accounts with past-due balances. You can check your Experian credit report for free online.

Keep an Eye on Your Credit

Rental car agencies are one of many types of organizations that will check your credit before accepting an application or opening a new account. Even if you don't plan on renting with a debit card soon, you may want to regularly check your credit reports for incorrect information. An account or inquiry you don't recognize could be a sign of identity theft, and learning about the theft early allows you to take action and protect yourself from additional fraud.


Want to instantly increase your credit score? Experian Boost helps by giving you credit for the utility and mobile phone bills you're already paying. Until now, those payments did not positively impact your score.

This service is completely free and can boost your credit scores fast by using your own positive payment history. It can also help those with poor or limited credit situations. Other services such as credit repair may cost you up to thousands and only help remove inaccuracies from your credit report.

How Good Is Your Credit Score?

300 credit score301 credit score302 credit score303 credit score304 credit score305 credit score306 credit score307 credit score308 credit score309 credit score310 credit score311 credit score312 credit score313 credit score314 credit score315 credit score316 credit score317 credit score318 credit score319 credit score320 credit score321 credit score322 credit score323 credit score324 credit score325 credit score326 credit score327 credit score328 credit score329 credit score330 credit score331 credit score332 credit score333 credit score334 credit score335 credit score336 credit score337 credit score338 credit score339 credit score340 credit score341 credit score342 credit score343 credit score344 credit score345 credit score346 credit score347 credit score348 credit score349 credit score350 credit score351 credit score352 credit score353 credit score354 credit score355 credit score356 credit score357 credit score358 credit score359 credit score360 credit score361 credit score362 credit score363 credit score364 credit score365 credit score366 credit score367 credit score368 credit score369 credit score370 credit score371 credit score372 credit score373 credit score374 credit score375 credit score376 credit score377 credit score378 credit score379 credit score380 credit score381 credit score382 credit score383 credit score384 credit score385 credit score386 credit score387 credit score388 credit score389 credit score390 credit score391 credit score392 credit score393 credit score394 credit score395 credit score396 credit score397 credit score398 credit score399 credit score400 credit score401 credit score402 credit score403 credit score404 credit score405 credit score406 credit score407 credit score408 credit score409 credit score410 credit score411 credit score412 credit score413 credit score414 credit score415 credit score416 credit score417 credit score418 credit score419 credit score420 credit score421 credit score422 credit score423 credit score424 credit score425 credit score426 credit score427 credit score428 credit score429 credit score430 credit score431 credit score432 credit score433 credit score434 credit score435 credit score436 credit score437 credit score438 credit score439 credit score440 credit score441 credit score442 credit score443 credit score444 credit score445 credit score446 credit score447 credit score448 credit score449 credit score450 credit score451 credit score452 credit score453 credit score454 credit score455 credit score456 credit score457 credit score458 credit score459 credit score460 credit score461 credit score462 credit score463 credit score464 credit score465 credit score466 credit score467 credit score468 credit score469 credit score470 credit score471 credit score472 credit score473 credit score474 credit score475 credit score476 credit score477 credit score478 credit score479 credit score480 credit score481 credit score482 credit score483 credit score484 credit score485 credit score486 credit score487 credit score488 credit score489 credit score490 credit score491 credit score492 credit score493 credit score494 credit score495 credit score496 credit score497 credit score498 credit score499 credit score500 credit score501 credit score502 credit score503 credit score504 credit score505 credit score506 credit score507 credit score508 credit score509 credit score510 credit score511 credit score512 credit score513 credit score514 credit score515 credit score516 credit score517 credit score518 credit score519 credit score520 credit score521 credit score522 credit score523 credit score524 credit score525 credit score526 credit score527 credit score528 credit score529 credit score530 credit score531 credit score532 credit score533 credit score534 credit score535 credit score536 credit score537 credit score538 credit score539 credit score540 credit score541 credit score542 credit score543 credit score544 credit score545 credit score546 credit score547 credit score548 credit score549 credit score550 credit score551 credit score552 credit score553 credit score554 credit score555 credit score556 credit score557 credit score558 credit score559 credit score560 credit score561 credit score562 credit score563 credit score564 credit score565 credit score566 credit score567 credit score568 credit score569 credit score570 credit score571 credit score572 credit score573 credit score574 credit score575 credit score576 credit score577 credit score578 credit score579 credit score
Resources
Sign up for helpful tips, special offers and more!
You're signed up!
Our system is undergoing maintenance and will be available again soon.