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Don't use a debit card when renting a car

Consumer Reports News: May 10, 2011 06:08 AM

If you try to rent a car with a debit card, you can expect such annoyances as a hold of up to $500 on your debit card account until the car is returned, limits on the size car you can rent, an Experian credit check, or proof of employment, according to a survey of 45 locations representing nine major rental companies by, a card rate comparison website.

This is but one of many hassles consumers face when renting a car. A report in the June issue of Consumer Reports details others, such as stealth surcharges for such extras as EZ-Pass toll payment devices, GPS navigation, satellite radio, and child safety seats; the hard sell for model upgrades or loss damage waivers; gotcha pricing on fuel; and unreasonable damage claims. The report also gives advice on how to deal with these rental car surprises.

If you must pay for your car rental by debit card, shop around, because acceptance policies vary. Phone ahead to learn the specific policies of the rental location you’ll be using. Bring any required verification. Consider signing up for free mobile banking via smart phone, so you can manage your checking balances to accommodate any holds while on the road.

Jeff Blyskal

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