Even if you rarely rent a car, you probably know the usual restrictions for doing so: You need a valid driver’s licence, you have to be at least 18 or 21 depending on the country, and in some countries, you need a credit card. But that third rule is changing.
Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty rental car companies now accept debit cards for payment in Europe, according to The Points Guy. The change was made because debit cards are used more often than credit cards in Europe, a press release from Hertz claims.
It may offer convenience for many travellers, but it comes at a price. The three rental car companies in the Hertz group will take a pre-authorised deposit if you’re paying by credit card to cover estimated charges, including a full tank of gas.
The deposit will be released when the car is returned and the final payment calculated, but it could take as long as 30 days for customers to see that deposit amount back in their account. “Acceptable debit/check cards must have available funds, sufficient to pay the estimated amount of the rental charges plus the credit reserved or deposit pre-authorised by Hertz, Dollar or Thrifty,” the release explains.
Yes, you read correctly. You will need double the estimated amount of your rental in your bank account before you get to the rental counter.
Pay with a credit card to spend less on rental car insurance
Alternately, if you reserve a car with your credit card, that hold will be released after you return the car without impacting the actual amount of money you have. This is just one of two big reasons why you should always book a rental car on a credit card, even if debit is an option.
As we’ve discussed before, some credit cards offer major travel insurance perks. Some only offer secondary insurance for car rentals, which covers anything left over after filing a claim with your regular car insurance company. Others offer primary insurance, meaning you can skip the upcharge at the rental counter and rely on your credit card’s benefits for coverage.
That coverage can vary from card to card — it’s common that credit cards only cover collision, not liability — and many rental companies will ask to see proof of your coverage when you pick up the car. But if you pay with a debit card, you won’t have any chance at getting your coverage for free.
This article has been updated since its original publication.