Car rental abroad: have you ever been denied a debit card?

Following a reader’s testimony, we asked you to testify about this mishap on Facebook and many of you have responded. On travel forums, these testimonials can be found by the thousands.

The story is always the same: we reserve a rental car abroad online. At the often low-cost car rental company, when you pull out your bank card to pay the mandatory rental deposit, disaster: the rental company explains that you don’t have a credit card but a debit card (this is there you discover that there is written “debit” in very small on the card) and that it does not happen. And it also shows you in very small writing on the rental agreement that only credit cards are accepted. In the worst case, your reservation is simply canceled (no refund). In the “best case” scenario, the landlord forces you to purchase comprehensive insurance, which is very expensive, to maintain your rental.

What is the difference between a credit card and a debit card?

In France we usually say “credit card” for “bank card”. However, UFC Que Choose points out, most cards issued in France are in fact debit cards. Take the time to look at your card: since June 2016, European regulations require that the category “credit” or “debit” be mentioned on the face of your bank card. It is because of this law that car rental companies know what type of card you are using and that some reject debit cards! For a prepaid card or an immediate debit card, with or without systematic authorization from the bank, “debit” is written on your card. On deferred debit cards (all expenses are charged at once) and cards linked to revolving credit, it says “credit.”

Why are car rental companies rejecting my debit card?

“Tenants prefer credit cards, associated with a cash reserve,” explains Romain Boguet, lawyer at the European Consumer Center (CEC). Because only the credit card allows them to actually block a deposit during the rental of the vehicle. If necessary, the car rental company can debit this money, for example, if the vehicle is damaged when you return it or if you have been fined during the rental period.

In fact, at the time of vehicle rental, on a credit card, the lessor can block a deposit on the credit card without charging it, that is, without necessarily the funds being available in the bank account. Some agencies, mainly in France, allow you to rent a vehicle with a debit card. In this case, the deposit is taken and then refunded at the end of the rental period.

What if this happens to me?

If it has been clearly specified in the general conditions of sale, even in a very small format, that “a credit card in the name of the driver of the vehicle is mandatory”, you have no recourse. On the other hand, specify the UFC What to choose, if it is not specified in the reservation voucher or if the mention only appears on the reservation voucher once you have paid, the landlord is at fault and you can turn against him. Okay, but now that you’ve read this article and checked if your card says “debit” or “credit,” this shouldn’t happen to you anymore!

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