Renting a car with your credit card: how does it work?

When you rent a car you are often asked to pay with a credit card. Certainly if you want to book the rental car online in advance, for example when you go on holiday abroad, a credit card is often a requirement. This applies in any case to the large, international rental companies such as AVIS, Budget, Hertz and Europcar.

But how does renting a car with a credit card work exactly?

We explain this on the basis of the following step-by-step plan:

Book the rental car with your credit card

If you rent a car abroad , it is recommended to reserve this in advance via the internet, for example via a comparison site. That is not necessarily cheaper than renting locally, but in this way you have plenty of time to find a suitable and affordable rental car and to make a comparison with various 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.

Via the website of the car rental company or intermediary you reserve the car with your credit card number and security code. Sometimes you initially pay a small part of the rent to fix the car.

2. Pick up the car from the landlord; deposit is reserved

As soon as you pick up the car at the rental company you will be asked for the credit card with which you have booked. At that time, the landlord will make a pre-authorization (reservation) on the card. In English this is often called a ‘deposit’. The use of your PIN code is usually not necessary here.

This reservation consists of the rent and a deposit. The deposit gives the landlord a guarantee that certain costs are covered, such as:

  • Damage to the rental car that falls under the tenant’s own risk
  • Traffic fines
  • Fuel costs if the car is not returned with a full tank
  • Returning the car late

The reservation only checks whether there is sufficient spending space. No amount of money will be debited. Only at a later stage, after handing in the rental car, part of the reservation will be converted into a payment.

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

pay attention

Are you using a prepaid card ? Then the rental company can not reserve a deposit on the card. A rental request that is made with a prepaid card is therefore often refused.

Soon there will probably be non-declining prepaid cards in the Netherlands that solve this problem.

3. Check the car for damage

Before you drive off, check the car for scratches, dents and other damage. Is there clear damage? Then this must be on the claim form that you received when collecting the car. Is the damage not on the form? Then it is important to report this immediately to the rental company before you leave. Do not you do this? Then there is a chance that the rental company will have a part of the deposit on your credit card.

In addition, it is advisable to view the profile of the tires on departure, as well as the fuel content and presence of a spare wheel and tools, such as a jack. Finally, start the car and check whether the lights, air conditioning, windows and wipers work. Is everything all right? Then you can leave.

4. Deliver 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 charge.

This is as follows:

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 in your case is 650 euros. In short, a total of 900 euros will be blocked on your credit card. This amount is deducted from your spending limit.

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