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Hiring a car with a debit card

Here at Saving Scotts were big advocates of living a debt free lifestyle. When we paid of the credit card for good almost two years ago, we also decided to cut up the card and enjoy life without that temptation.

Whilst using a credit card wisely, paying it off every month, is great for building a credit score for a mortgage. We knew as Chris was only just starting university at this point that would be a while away. We instead decided we would get a card after I finish my masters (and start full-time employment or a funded PhD). So until then we live debit only (or cash). 

car hire debit card

Up until a couple of months ago, we have had no issues living debit only. We have been travelling, hired cars abroad, even paid £1000s in tuition for my masters. However, hiring a car in the UK saw us run into a bit of challenge, credit card requirements, in the name of the driver. As far as we understand the desire for hire companies to have a credit (rather than debit) stems from the fact that if you cause damage or steal the car they can charge it to the credit card (also it is easier to put money on hold for the deposit). 

It took some time but we finally found some car hire companies that allow you to pay on the debit card only. Many will require a refundable deposit (similar to the holding fee on a credit card) so be prepared to put some money aside, and contact the hire company if you are not sure how much you need to put aside.

Whilst they may not be the cheapest companies out there, it is worth shopping around between those who allow debit cards to find the best option for your needs. None of them accept pre-paid debit cards or international debit cards, so you will have to look for an alternative solution if that affects you.

Allow hire on a UK debit card (in the driver's name) with a £250 deposit + the cost of the hire. This means if you pay for the cost of the hire upfront (which is always the cheapest option), you only need to set aside £250 for the deposit. See link to further info

Allow debit card only hire but it is a bit more of a tricky process.
They too require a deposit between £200 and £400 and this must be made on a card in the drivers name. 
They also require additional security checks when you pay by debit card. This is what enterprise had to say about the checks when we enquired. 

If the driver choses to use a Debit card in their name then we do perform an additional security check as we deem this payment method a less secure method than a Credit card. This check that is performed to every Debit card paying customer across the UK checks the person, their personal details against their address. It is checking if they have 3 connections to that address. By connections it checks electoral register, mortgage payments, utility bill payments & other payments in their name at that address. To qualify to rent with ourselves that renter must have at least 3 connections as described above to that address. If this is not the case and they cannot pay on a Credit card then unfortunately we are unable to rent to that individual. This is done as an insurance underwriting tool to securely protect our asset.

Easement require a return ticket and a priced deposit (may vary at location but around the £200 mark, worth checking with them before booking). They do require you to take the full-comp coverage if you are paying on debit only so you won't be able to get the cheapest prices available on their site. But they are still pretty competitive, but their customer service can be less than satisfactory. 

Have you hired a car using a debit card only? Who did you hire with? 

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*


  1. That's good to know that you can hire a car without a credit card. Good job finding them :-)

  2. I've hired a car at Avis before and I certainly wasn't asked for a credit card. All they wanted was a valid licence and a payment card. Perhaps their policies have changed?

    1. Hi Claire, not sure if your based in the UK or not, but according to Avis' current T&C for UK car hire they don't accept debit cards (or Electron).

  3. I'm glad you were able to find a company that met your needs, however, I'll admit to be being baffled at people's aversion to credit cards. I understand the aversion to using them for things you can't afford (things you can't pay off at the end of the month), but I don't see the difference between a credit card you pay off at the end of the month and a debit card (excpet that the credit card is safer to use/have). It is a convenient way to pay, nothing more, nothing less.

    1. For us we cut the card up to eliminating any temptation after Chris worked so hard to pay the debt off, we decided we would take a break from credit cards and learn to live without them for a while, to build some good habits. We have never been unable to do anything due to not having a card, nor have we had any security issues. We do plan on getting one in the future as we look towards buying a home, but right now as a full time students its not a feasible option.

  4. As a debit card user I also encounter a lot of difficulty paying for stuff especially abroad! It's ironic as most debit card users are actually those with more money. It's good to know though that one can get around this by offering cash as deposit.