Renting Cars & Credit Scores

Debit-card users may have their credit scores checked by rental-car companies.
Debit-card users may have their credit scores checked by rental-car companies. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Rental-car companies generally don't check renters' credit scores if they reserve their cars with a credit card. However, a low credit score can still indirectly impact whether you're able to rent a car if you can't get a credit card in your own name. Debit-card users are more likely to be subjected to credit checks when they rent cars if they manage to find a company that accepts debit cards to reserve rental cars.

Credit Cards

People who can't qualify for a credit card because they have poor credit ratings may have trouble renting a car. Rental car companies often require renters to have credit cards to rent a vehicle. That's true even if you pay for the rental with a debit card when you return the car. Companies that allow car rentals with a debit card only put what's known as an authorization hold on the card during the rental period that may be as high as $500. Authorization holds allow rental companies to reserve an amount in a debit account that exceeds the cost of the rental to ensure you have enough money in the account to make the final payment.

Credit Checks

Companies that allow renters who don't have credit cards to pay for rentals with debit cards may do a credit check on the renter. Some companies that check credit ratings use the Equifax credit reporting company to do the credit check. Several car rental credit checks could negatively impact your credit score. Credit scoring methods vary, but people who have several recent credit checks on their credit reports are risking a decline in their scores.

Low Scores

Each company that runs credit checks has its own standards for the lowest credit score that's acceptable to permit a car rental. Generally, people who have credit scores below 620 are classified as subprime or bad credit borrowers in the auto industry. You may have trouble renting a car if your score falls below that number. People who are concerned about whether their credit rating will allow them to rent a car should contact a rental company in advance to find out about the rental requirements.


Some rental-car companies are more flexible than others when it comes to checking credit scores. For example, Dollar Rent a Car allows people to reserve a car with a debit card, but Dollar will check renters' credit scores in such cases. The company's website doesn't indicate what credit score is required, but it does say that people who don't meet Dollar's credit criteria will still be allowed to rent a car if they have a credit card in their name. The credit card would be used to reserve the car rental. However, renters can still use their debit cards to pay for their rentals when they return their cars.

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