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I live in the US. A friend from Australia will be visiting the US and she does not have a credit card. She would like to have a prepaid credit/debit card in the US, for obvious reasons. You cannot rent a car with cash, for example.

She could

  • (a) bring cash with her to US, and open/acquire a debit card with that.
  • (b) open/acquire a debit card account and wire money from her Australian bank onto the US debit card.
  • (c) any other reasonable option in this scenario.

Do debit cards require ID to use them? One obvious solution would be that I as a US citizen get a debit card, she bring me cash, I put it on the card, give her my card, and she uses the card. Of course, the debit card and her ID have different names. I surmise this is no problem at a gas station but it may not fly well at airlines or motels.

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    Wouldn't it be a lot simpler for her to apply for a credit card in her native Australia, and use that? At least for things like renting cars or checking into hotels. – DJClayworth May 29 '13 at 17:09
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Debit card purchases without PIN are treated as credit card purchases by merchants, and that includes ID verification.

In addition to the ways you mentioned, you can get a debit card in any grocery store and load it with cash, and these debit cards don't have a name imprinted on them. But then if you lose them - you may have troubles proving you did in fact lose them when you try to recover your money, as anyone can use them. Technically you can register them online and call in and request refunds for fraud losses just as any other debit/credit card in the US (with $50 deductible), but in practice it may be difficult. These cards have very high fees, and may not be accepted for rentals etc.

  • I don't think the 'gift cards' you can buy in grocery stores, with no naming or PIN, are the sort of thing most people are referring to when you say "debit card". You aren't going to get very far renting a car or reserving a hotel room with one. – DJClayworth May 29 '13 at 19:51
  • @DJClayworth technically they're exactly the same as bank debit cards (some even allow PIN transactions). – littleadv May 29 '13 at 19:53

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