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Rent a car with a credit card

When renting a car you are often asked to pay with a credit card. This certainly applies to the large, international rental companies.

In this article we explain:

  • How exactly renting a car with a credit card works
  • Is it possible to rent a car without a credit card?

Read on and see how it works step by step.

Reserve the rental car with your credit card

If you want to reserve the rental car online in advance, for example when you go on holiday abroad, a credit card is often a requirement.

You reserve the car with your Bank of America Credit Card number and security code via the website of the car rental company or intermediary. Sometimes you initially pay a small part of the rental price to secure the car.

Rent a car without a credit card

Are you not eligible for a normal credit card because your income is too low or you have debts? But do you still want to rent a car at home or abroad?


If you rent a car abroad , it is recommended to reserve it in advance via the internet, for example via a comparison site.

This method is not necessarily cheaper than renting locally, but this way you have plenty of time to find a suitable and affordable rental car and to make a comparison with different rental companies. Moreover, you know in advance what you are going to pay for the car and you have plenty of time to read the conditions in your own language.

Collect the car from the lessor; deposit is reserved

As soon as you collect the car from the rental company, you will be asked for the credit card you used to book. At that time, a pre-authorization (reservation) is performed on the card by the lessor. In English this is often called a ‘deposit’. This usually does not require the use of your PIN.

This reservation consists of the rent and a deposit.

The deposit offers the landlord a guarantee that certain costs are covered, such as:

  • Damage to the rental car that falls under the renter’s deductible
  • Traffic fines
  • Fuel costs if the car is not returned with a full tank
  • Late return of the car

When making a reservation, it is only checked whether there is sufficient spending space. No amount of money will be debited. Only at a later stage, after returning the rental car, is part of the reservation converted into a payment.

The amount of the deposit usually depends on several factors, but is usually a fixed amount of several hundred euros or a multiple of the rental price (2 or 3 times the rental amount).

Prepaid creditcard

Do you use a prepaid card? Then the rental company cannot reserve a deposit on the card.

A rental application made with a prepaid card is therefore often refused. Sometimes you can reserve a rental car, but you have to pay the deposit in cash or with your debit card. In some cases, the rental company will require you to surrender the deductible.

Nowadays there are so-called non-declining prepaid credit cards on the market with which one can also reserve an amount of money on the card. This means that a car can also be rented.

Check the car for damage

Before you drive away, check the car for scratches, dents and other damage. Is there obvious damage? Then this must be stated on the claim form that you received when you picked up the car.

Is the damage not on the form? Then it is important to report this immediately to the rental company, before you drive away. Are you not doing this? Then there is a chance that the rental company will withhold part of the deposit from your credit card.

In addition, it is advisable to check the profile of the tires on departure, as well as the fuel content and the presence of a spare wheel and tools, such as a jack.

Finally, start the car and check whether the lighting, air conditioning, windows and wipers are working. Is everything all right? Then you can leave.

Return the rental car; a settlement takes place

After you have returned the car to the rental company, a settlement will take place. The reservation on your credit card is partially converted into a debit.

Suppose you rent a car with a rental price of 250 euros:

  • When collecting the car, the rental company will pre-authorize this amount plus the deposit on the credit card.
  • The deposit is in this case 650 euros.
  • In short, a total of 900 euros will be blocked on your credit card.
  • This amount will be deducted from your spending limit.

When returning the rental car it turns out that there is some minor damage to the rims, which falls under your deductible. The rental company charges a deposit of 70 euros for this. The rest of the reservation is automatically deleted.

In short, 320 euros will be debited from your credit card account in the long run. Your spending limit for that period has become 320 euros lower.

Is there no damage?

Then the reservation will be completely deleted. This happens automatically and takes a maximum of 30 days after the reservation

Check the charge on your credit card

Shortly after you return the rental car, an amount will be charged from the credit card. It is advisable to check whether this amount corresponds with the pre-agreed rental price.

Do you incorrectly have to pay part of the deposit afterwards? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your credit card issuer, for example your bank or ICS. 

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