You weigh nearly every option before renting a car, from trunk space and leg room to GPS and satellite radio, but you may not have given much thought to how you’re going to pay for the vehicle. A prepaid Visa card is a handy travel tool, because you can control your spending by loading as much money onto the card as you like. But before you try to rent a car with one, you should know that many rental agencies don’t accept prepaid cards, and those that do often impose major restrictions. Learn about the obstacles you may face when it comes to paying for your rental, and be prepared for the road ahead.
Rent-A-Wreck, an independent company that specializes in used vehicles, is one of the few agencies that lets you book a car with a prepaid debit card. The agency must first verify that you have an up-to-date auto insurance policy, including collision coverage for a rented vehicle. If you don’t meet the requirement, you’ll have to purchase a Rent-A-Wreck Collision Damage Waiver, which will cover you in the event of any loss or damage to the car. Under the waiver, your rental is restricted to a certain class of vehicles, including economy through full-size cars, and select SUVs, vans and trucks.
To book a car through Rent-A-Wreck, your prepaid Visa card will first be charged the estimated cost of the rental, plus a $200 deposit; the latter is refunded about 14 days after you return the vehicle. You’ll also need to provide three forms of identification, including a valid driver’s license issued by a bordering state. If your license is not from an adjacent state, you must provide proof of your return travel, such as an airline or train ticket, plus two forms that will verify your address, such as a bank or mortgage statement, a home or car insurance invoice, a cell phone or utility bill, a government issued ID or an employment ID card. All addresses must match the one printed on your driver’s license; documents must be dated within the last 30 days, and bills cannot be more than $100 past due.
Location Is everything
Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s policy on prepaid cards varies, depending on where the office is located. For instance, individual offices are more likely to accept prepaid Visa cards as a deposit if the agency is located outside of an airport. For your card to be accepted, however, it must have enough funds to cover the cost of the rental and a security deposit. The amount of the deposit varies by office but, once you’ve returned the car, you’ll receive your refund in about 15 business days. Call the Enterprise office you’re renting from ahead of time to verify their policy on prepaid Visa cards.
While most agencies won’t accept prepaid Visa cards at the beginning of the rental process, a host of major companies, including Hertz Rent a Car, Thrifty Car Rental and National Car Rental, will take them as payment at the end of your rental. If you wish to pay for your rental using a prepaid card, book your vehicle using a credit card and the agency will place a hold on your card to cover any added fees, damage or losses. When you return the car, just ask to pay the total cost of the rental with your prepaid card. Most companies will then release the hold on your credit card and charge the full rental amount to your prepaid Visa.