Car rental without credit card?
Replies: 31 - Last Post: Jul 19, 2008 3:36 AM Last Post By: ryb
Jul 2, 2008 6:14 PM
Jul 2, 2008 8:35 PM
1I don't know if these rates apply today, but I know they did about 7 or 8 years ago.
The credit "reserve" which most car hire companies place on a credit card can be as low as 250 pounds, is (I mean was) frequently 500 pounds, but can be more, for example 1000 pounds, depending sometimes on if you get a budget or more expensive model.
That's why it is so much easier to have a card to pay with. But if you have spare a number of thousands of pounds in cash, you can phone car hire companies and ask if they would take that as security instead. You might have to ask to speak to the head office or email or write.
Without a credit card, which many persons don't have, it may be feasible to get a prepaid card, for example a MasterCard. You would need to place this amount of money, say 500 pounds or whatever on the card so it is fully available when you book, when the car hire firm puts your card through their machine.
This is a comprehensive answer for those who wish to consider prepaid cards primarily, and I only recommend one prepaid card here, the Virgin Money MasterCard. I hope the info. helps.
I have a number of prepaid cards, as well as debit card. I used to have a VISA debit card, but the new bank to I have moved happens to give out VISA Electron debit cards, which are much more rarely taken than VISA debit cards, which is why I also use a prepaid MasterCard, which is taken just about as frequently as VISA, and these are the two most frequently accepted cards. American Express has lost some popularity.
I had no problems in the past reserving and hiring with my VISA debit card through Budget RentaCar by phoning them directly, a number of times. I had to show my driving licence and my card in the office, and that was it, off I went each time.
But that was before my old bank started printing "DEBIT CARD" clearly on my new cards. I don't know if before that the car hire firms were unable to distinguish between my card being debit or credit, and I do not know if they accepted debit cards which they knew were debit cards. Not knowing, no-one said, I just gave my card details. One of the first things I said on the phone is "Can I pay by VISA card and give you the details on the phone for that please?" That was all bona-fide and true, although I didn't have a credit card, and I don't know what the Budget staff member thought.
Prepaid cards, if you don't know, are the same as debit cards, except you only get a card account, no full bank services and no normal bank account. As I'm sure is obvious, you pre-pay the cash onto the card - at a Post Office or PayPoint shop, and spend it anywhere, in person, online, by phone, fax or post, after that.
The only real, noticeable difference between a debit card of a bank account and a prepaid card is the fees for the prepaid card.
I use the Virgin Money Prepaid Card. The fees are around 3 percent (to 3.5 where the card processor paying to is outside U.K.. even if buying from a company within the U.K.) for purchases, so this is taken when the purchase is made, to Virgin Money, so you have to load a little more money on in advance. If paying in at a PayPoint agent by cash (there are loads of PayPoint shops all over the country), you further need to subtract from the amount you pay to the card another 3.5 percent or so for a loading fee, which again is taken at the loading machine automatically. The remaining cash goes on the card instantly and you get a receipt.
So this means 7 percent per transaction roughly, if loading by PayPoint.
You can also "charge" or load your card at any U.K. Post Office, by handing it over, with the cash. There is no loading fee at all at a Post Office, but the funds taking one full working day - 24 hours of working time hours - to go onto the card and be available. So for Friday, you can't spend money loaded on the card until Monday, maybe late Monday.
This is 3 or 3.5 percent of your spend in total fees, then, just the purchase price.
You can also withdraw cash from just about any A.T.M. worldwide, but the cash withdrawal percentage fee is the same as the purchase fee - home / international - and, as frequently found with A.T.M. fees, the minimum fee per withdrawal (even in the U.K.) is at least 3 pounds or 3.50, something like that.
Do note: MOST prepaid cards expressly state it is against the terms and conditions to use the card details for a reservation deposit of any type or any other deposit or security - such as hotel room booking or car hire.
The Virgin Money prepaid MasterCard doesn't have these terms, which is rare in fact.
I DON'T KNOW if a car rental firm's card processing machine will highlight if the card is credit, debit or prepaid. If it does, it may disallow debit cards or prepaid cards or both. It may not. You can try, with 500 pounds plus the purchase percentage loaded, or 1000 pounds plus the percentage loaded, and phone a few car hire firms to see if they accept your MasterCard. You just need to say you have a MasterCard from Virgin Money, and would like to use that for everything to do with the car hire transactions. Virgin Money also produce a MasterCard credit card. Websites and people all the time ask for credit card details, and then their list of options include cards which can only be debit, saying VISA Debit, Switch, Delta etc. but yet they still ask for for your credti card details. As this is not uncommon at all, in fact quite frequently found, you can just say "I have a MasterCard" in response to "We need your credit card details". It will work with everything else, but perhaps, perhaps not car hire, perhaps some firms, perhaps not some others.
The Virgin Money prepaid card costs 9.99, you buy online (www.virginmoney.co.uk + look for prepaid card application - or search in these terms in Google). As far as I know you have to print out a barcode which is in the online application procedure. Then you take this printout to a PayZone (not PayPoint) shop. You decide the first load amount - as much as you want (there is no lower limit on this one, some have a few hundred pounds as a starting charge) - and also you must include the 9.99 charge.
The PayZone shop should scan the barcode, take your money, enter the amount in their machine, and print you a receipt.
You keep the receipt which has a code on it and you return to The Web network and enter the code online, after going through the rest of the application procedure, and that amount you have paid is credited to the card, minus the card price.
After that, charging is via PayPoint and The Post Office as and when you like (by handing over the card with your cash), rather than PayZone shops. But I think you can also go into PayZone shops. You don't give them your card, but you pay for a "360 Money Top Up Pack" at the amount you decide. You then go to a Web connected computer, log in to your prepaid Virgin Money card account at the Virgin Money web site, select top up, and enter the top up pack code reference for that money to be credited.
Spending is as easy as with a credit or debit card. You never have to specify anywhere, in person, online, by phone etc. that your MasterCard is not a credit card. If asked for a credit card details, you can say "I have a MasterCard number I can give you". I did this recently when booking a hotel whose practice is never to take any payment upfront, but they said they need to take credit card details for reservations. I had no problems. This hotel didn't seem make any small "reserve" or debit in advance (like some companies do (though perhaps they checked the validity of the card first in their machine). Not even for reservations did this hotel make a small debit or reserve amount (which becomes held in your pending items list in your statement and account, and you can't access that money while it is reserved - if the seller does not take the reserved money, it drops off the pending list in around 10 days and is available to spend again). Som companies always or often just take a small debit or reserve first and complete the transaction by debiting the rest of the money. The small reserve is seldom more than a pound or two and usually about 49p, so you won't be prevented from spending too much until this drops off your pending list.
You can see all of this and what is going on on your online statements, which are, as nearly as I have come across, in real-time. Which is to say that as soon as something is bought or you charge your card, the item goes on the online statement (once you log in to your online statement again if you were logged in already before the transaction), and I have come across only one or two exceptions where something took around a day or more to appear on the online statement and affect the balance. I have used the card a lot. The exception to the real-time statements is credits made in the post office, which are only visible on your statement and card balance after the one working day is over.
Jul 2, 2008 8:55 PM
2I have used a debit card many times to rent a car (in the UK, the US and Australia) and have never had any problems. You would need to contact the car rental companies direct to ask if they will accept cash transactions/payments; I know that some will do so if you have a credit card that they can take an imprint of for security but for pure cash transactions you may need to leave a hefty cash deposit.
Be aware that these days most car rental companies want two forms of ID in addition to your passport & driver's license if you are from outside the UK so do check the conditions when you make a booking.
Jul 3, 2008 2:23 AM
3You probably could rent a car without a credit card, providing you can pay the deposit in cash as well. Why don't you contact one or two (like Enterprise Rent-a-Car) and ask them directly or via email?
#2 is correct, you will need your drivers licence and passport when picking up the hire car.
Bloody hell newone, you know it's good to get straight to the point!? You've written a damn novel not an answer!
Jul 3, 2008 4:18 AM
I have rented with Thrifty Car Rental before and their currency conversion rate is 3.5%, but you can decline this when you go to pay for the car, and choose to pay in Euro. You will then be charged for currency conversion by your bank, and in the case of Ireland your receipt will be in Euro.
As regards Debit cards, they can be used in some instances, but SDW insurance will need to be purchased and any fuel charges will need to be prepaid. The Irish car rental companies don't take pre paid credit cards to the best of my knowledge.
As regards identification, Irish Car Rental companies only require your drivers license and your credit card. Most do not require a passport.
Jul 3, 2008 2:54 PM
Jul 3, 2008 7:24 PM
6I wrote so much to make it easy for anyone to apply for the Virgin Money Prepaid card quickly.
Not only for people from and living in the U.K., but travellers spending months or weeks here, as it takes around week after you apply for the card online to get to you in the post and then you can use it after you type in your PayZone 360 Money initial deposit code online.
You don't need to supply any proof of address, there are no credit checks, not even any age checks, so a five year old could buy one and use it online, as long as he lies about his date of birth he won't be found out over the internet.
So you could give a hotel address, a youth hostel address, a friend's address. Anyone can give a post box (eg.Mailboxes Etc.) for anything like this, as I moved my bank accoun which had credit facilities with it at that time to a post office box company box while I was moving around and travelling years ago. You just need to remember that you gave that address for when purchasing online or by phone or anywhere which asks you for the registered address of the card. The original address, if you don't still live there, might get occasional receipts, but you can just about always choose a new postal address with any seller for any order, it doesn't have to be the same as the card address, as most people know. You can update your address details, of course, also when you move somewhere more permanent. (Actually, I have got no receipts by post separate to goods ordered, and I have used my card really frequently over the best part of a year.)
So the point of so much information is to tell you what to do to get this card in a week. No passports, no bank statements, utility bills, nothing at all has to be sent to get this Prepaid Card. AS - there is no risk to the card supplier at all - it is for electronic use only - so the card processing machine will check how much you have as balance, and you can only spend that. There is no spending what you can pay off some time in the future, ever.
That was one limitation I forgot - it does say "Electronic Use Only" clearly on the card (as it also does on many bank account debit cards these days). So an old style place which takes imprints of the card won't accept it.
But you can use it for buying by post or fax, where the seller processes electronically - you can virtually be sure everyone or nearly everyone selling in bulk operates electronically now. You don't have to ask in any case, the terms say buying by post and fax and email is fine, and I've done all using this card.
Jul 4, 2008 2:03 AM
7As regards the use of pre-paid credit cards the car rental companies in Ireland will not accept them. The reason being if you bring the car back damaged or in such a way that there will be an additional charge, if the money is not in the credit card, the car rental company cannot charge it.
The credit card is an important form of security for the car rental company, and a pre paid credit card doesn't provide this security.
Jul 5, 2008 11:57 AM
8What I was wondering was - if the companies actually know it is a prepaid card - if you don't tell them.
I suppose most of the companies do have that information, but if you have the amount which the company use to "reserve", to set aside as they usually do with credit cards, (or check - they have a minimum availability of credit on your credit card at time of booking, so sometimes a credit card won't be accepted) then maybe some can't tell, or just don't distinguish.
And I know that many prepaid cards, for example the Post Office VISA Electron "Travel Money" card specifies: No using the card details for reservations of any type where that is not an actual payment.
So perhaps these cards have something in their chip or somewhere which alerts the car hire company that it is not acceptable on their card processing machine, if you do not mention "prepaid card" to the hire company.
But the Virgin Money prepaid card doesn't have these terms, which is really unusual in this country for prepaid cards in my experience (I'm from up north in the U.K., Belfast), so perhaps it, from its chip or rear stripcode or from the Virgin account information accessed, would be accepted by car hire companies, or some anyway.
I don't know. In any case, you would have to have the large sum, 1000 pounds or Euros or whatever (though it might be half that) loaded in cash first onto the card, for the checks and, sometimes, reserves which the processing machines run.
Jul 5, 2008 12:04 PM
9For example, I paid a percentage deposit which was asked by a Crowne Plaza hotel near last Christmas in London with my Virgin Money Prepaid card in advance, direct to Inter-Continental hotels. The booking arrangement was to pay the remaining amount, vastly more than the deposit, during the stay.
I expected to pay at check-in and was going to pay in cash, but the receptionist said to me that as long as the hotel had my credit card details, it was usualy to pay on checking out (and as is usual for a single room in a Crowne Plaza Hotel in London, the charge was well over a hundred pounds per night). The receptionist checked and said to me "We have your MasterCard credit card details, so please pay on checking out." I didn't correct or object to their procedure - I couldn't have been bothered to.
I don't believe they knew, as with other hotels I have used this prepaid card to reserve in a "security" manner without giving payment for, that this is not a credit card. Though I don't know.
Jul 5, 2008 7:23 PM
10Oh for god's sake give it a rest! I have used a prepaid Visa debit card on many an occasion to rent a car and never had any problems, as I already said. Cards used were from both US and Australian banks. No questions asked.
Newone this is a TRAVEL website, not a place to flog or blog your employer's prepaid credit card (or whatever). We get the message. Move on.
Jul 6, 2008 6:11 PM
11KoalasRule, many people are saying the opposite above with regard to Ireland, maybe its just different in that country. I was somewhat tangental, flogging the very good Virgin Money site (I don't work for Virgin Money) for people who can give a temporary or permanent U.K. address to receive it at, rather than Ireland, because this is the British Isles site and it could be helpful information for some.
But, firstly, we U.S. and Australian prepaids cards are a bit far flung for most people here, but it is good that you post it as there are American and Australian travellers on these isles, lots of them. So, yes, it is very relevant, but not helpful for those who are looking to get a card on these isles.
And secondly, specifically VISA prepaid cards are nearly unheard of in the British Isles. MasterCard and VISA Electron are quite common. You can get a VISA prepaid card from Barclays and also Lloyds T.S.B. The Barclays rates are quite good, the Lloyds, as far as I remember aren't good.
Both of these are called "Travel Money" cards. Just about every other "Travel Money" card in this country, U.K. (which, sorry, is not where the O.P. asked about) has terms which forbid using the cards for security for any kind of reservation - hotel, bicycle or car or whatever. I haven't checked the terms of these cards, and maybe as they are the only 2 VISA prepaid cards in the U.K., they don't have the terms of the other cards. I don't know.
VISA prepaid cards are quite common in America but not here yet.
Jul 6, 2008 6:15 PM
12And then there is the question of
Do the Irish car hire firm processing machines, as is suggested above, not accept prepaid cards which are from Ireland, or do these machines make out that any country's prepaid card is a prepaid card and doesn't accept those either? For those who don't know, prepaid cards for any purchase are acceptable all over the world, just like a debit or credit card.
Jul 6, 2008 7:20 PM
13Newone, pre-paid credit cards are strictly for people who cannot get a normal credit card for whatever reason. They are not for anyone with a good credit history. But more importantly, the OP didn't ask about pre-paid CREDIT CARDS.
The OP appears to be American. When s/he writes s/he want to pre-pay to avoid currency conversion costs, s/he is saying s/he wants to pay in the USA in US dollars. So pretty much all of the responses so far have not addressed the actual question being asked at all. So forget pre-paid cards and try reading what was written. This thread is so far off track it is ridiculous.
Eilismaura, I don't know of any way you can pre-pay the rental beforehand unless it is part of a package deal like a fly/drive. Your best bet is probably to call Avis or Hertz and ask them if there is a way of doing this. Normally, as I'm sure you know, the payment is made when you return the rental car and the money is debited to your credit card in the local currency, thus incurring exchange fees by your bank.
What you could do is give the rental agency your credit card details when renting and then pay in cash when you return the car. But you would still have had to buy € somewhere to do that.
Really, your problem is not how to rent a car, it is how to minimize any exchange costs. You might do better to search some of the threads here on the TT that talk about the best credit and debit cards to use for travel in that regard. There is a very long FAQ thread on the topic on the RTW branch you might want to start at the end of and read backwards. (it's been running a while and the first posts are well out of date now.) I believe that the consensus is that the best you can do in the USA is 1% on exchange.
Jul 6, 2008 10:00 PM
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