If you’ve ever been denied at the rental car counter, you likely know what an embarrassing and stressful experience it can be.
When you’re traveling and renting a car, you never want to face a surprise, unless it’s in the form of an upgrade.
So what could lead to you not being able to rent a car? If you’ve been in an accident, can you rent a car? What if you have a criminal record? Does your credit report have the potential to keep you from being able to rent a car?
The following are some things to know so you can avoid the unexpected next time you rent a car.
Your Driving Record Does Matter
Many people don’t realize that when they rent a car, their driving record does matter according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
It’s not always consistent, but many companies do check driving records when someone comes to the counter, and they will reject individuals whose records don’t meet their standards. Even with a confirmed reservation, you could still be denied a car if you have recent violations on your record.
Examples of violations that could be disqualifying include:
- Reckless driving
- Accidents, no matter whose fault they were
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) violations
- Driving with a suspended or revoked license
You can verify with the car rental company beforehand whether they check driving records of their customers, so you aren’t caught off guard.
Is Your Credit Score Relevant?
If you pay with a credit card, your credit score may not be relevant at the rental counter. However, if you want to pay with cash or a debit card, your credit score could then become relevant. This is because if there are damages to the car during your rental period, the rental company may be worried they’re not going to get payment or collect the funds to make the necessary repairs.
With a debit card or cash, it’s likely a car rental company will do a credit screening, and they’re also probably going to ask you to pay a deposit. Companies that do a credit screening might also ask for a third form of identification during the process, such as a passport or utility bill.
If your credit score doesn’t meet their outlined requirements, then you may have to use a credit card or else rent from another company.
The minimum age to rent a car in the U.S. is 25, but most car rental companies will let you rent a car if you’re under this age, if you pay an additional fee and meet any other requirements they have.
The rules can vary by the company, so if you’re a driver under the age of 25, verify ahead of time.
What About a Criminal Record?
For the most part, a criminal record should not affect your ability to rent a car, unless the crime involved certain situations.
For example, according to the Budget rental car company, their locations will sometimes contact the DMV that issued a driver’s license. The DMV will verify that the license is valid and then provide details of the driver’s record. Budget says a DUI would prevent you from renting a car from them if you were convicted within the past 48 months.
They also say that one or more reckless driving convictions within 48 months would likely disqualify you from renting, or three or more moving violations within 24 months. Possession of a stolen vehicle would also prevent you from renting a car.
Offenses not involving vehicles or driving would likely be irrelevant at the rental counter.
Do Not Rent Lists
Finally, could you be on a rental car company’s do not rent list without knowing it? Rental car companies sometimes have Do Not Rent Lists.
A DNR is based on violations or infractions related to the car company itself.
For example, if you didn’t pay your bill, you would obviously be put on a DNR list. If you dispute rental charges that could put you on the list as well. If you didn’t pay tolls or fines, or you used a fake ID, you would also be someone who likely couldn’t rent from the company again. Another issue that could put you on the DNR list would be allowing unauthorized drivers to be behind the wheel of the vehicle you rent.