Do you know that you can reserve a car rental using cash? Or a debit card? Credit cards, while still the most common, are no longer the only payment method accepted by independent car rental companies. Of course, each method has its advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the decision is up to the person renting the car and their personal financial situation. So, which option makes sense for you? Car Rental Express takes a closer look at payment methods, the pros, and the cons, and how you can make the most of your booking.
The Obvious: Credit Cards
Credit cards are the most universally accepted and used car rental payment method. Credit cards also remain the only payment method that is accepted at every rental car company, both independent and major. While other payment options are available, credit cards make renting a car hassle-free – both for you and for the rental company. While most companies require a credit card to secure your rental, either online or over the phone, you don’t necessarily have to charge the rental. Alternative payment methods may be available. If you wish to pay with a different method, check with the company ahead of time to review your options. Ready to reserve a vehicle? Then check out our comparison car rental search tool here.
More and more car rental companies allow their customers to pay for car rentals using a debit card. There is a catch, however. Most car rental companies, in order to protect themselves against any unforeseen accidents or problems, will often charge you more than the actual cost of renting the vehicle. This buffer charge is left on your account until the vehicle is returned and assessed. Mileage overages, damages, and refuelling charges will be taken from this buffer. If there are no additional charges, the rental company will provide you with a full reimbursement. This may not be the best option for budget-stretch travelers. Remember, this money is charged and removed from your account immediately. Some companies may even charge you an additional, non-refundable fee for debit transactions, so always remember to ask before completing your purchase at the rental desk.
A Word of Warning about Cash
Very few car rental companies will accept cash at the rental car counter. Some independent companies will allow it, but will still require a credit card number as an additional level of protection. If cash is an accepted payment method, it will come with restrictions. Certain car makes and models may not be available to cash-only renters. As with debit rentals, a large surcharge may be required upfront. While this additional charge will be refunded by mail at a later date, it may take a while and is a huge inconvenience to the company. If cash is your only payment option, give yourself plenty of time to find a rental company that will work with your needs. You can also anticipate filling in plenty of paperwork, as well as a lengthy background check.
Gift Cards and Pre-Paid Vouchers
Looking for a unique gift to give the worldly travelers on your Christmas list? Then why not consider a prepaid car rental voucher or gift card? Gift cards can be purchased directly from the car rental company of choice, or via a knowledgeable travel agent. When it comes time to pick up your rental, simply provide the rental attendant with your prepaid voucher. Unfortunately, you may still be required to provide a credit card number, in the case of additional charges and fees.