I don't have a credit card, still some merchants (e.g. car rental companies) require a credit card to use their services.

If I have an embossed debit card issued, may I be confident to use it when credit card is needed?

3 Answers 3


Yes they can tell the difference. But I wonder because the reader at the grocery always asks "debit or credit" after I scan my Discover credit card.

Your ability to rent a car using a debit card will vary by company and by location. You will have to research the companies in the area you want to rent.

Here is the information from Thrifty car rental:

Here are some important things to keep in mind if you do plan on renting this way:

  • Logo requirements. While many rental car companies accept debit cards, many also require that the cards have a Visa or MasterCard logo.
  • Expect a credit check. Some companies will perform a debit card check and credit inquiry to ensure that you have the proper funds. (Keep in mind, credit inquiries show up on your credit report, and too many inquiries can actually lower your credit score.)
  • Be patient. The process of paying with a debit card will likely be a longer one. It takes time to check your credit and insurance, verify your ID, etc.
  • Prepare to pay a deposit. Often times, rental car companies place a hold on the account linked to your card. It’s basically a deposit that they’ll hold until you return the vehicle. These deposits can be $200 or more.
  • Limited choice. No credit card often means you lose the option of renting luxury cars, SUVs or other specialty vehicles.
  • Outside of the U.S. - Debit cards may not be accepted at locations outside of the United States. Please check terms and conditions for the specific country or location of rental.

While it’s certainly not impossible to rent a car without a credit card, it is obviously more of a hassle. Unless you have no other option, using a credit card can really save time, money, and, perhaps, your sanity.

  • When the reader at the grocery store asks "debit or credit", it is not asking what type of card you have. It is asking if you want to process the current transaction as a "Credit" transaction through the credit-card network (Visa,MasterCard, ... ), or as a "Debit" (PIN based) transaction through the ATM network (Star, Pulse, ...). If it is asking you "debit or credit?" for a Discover Credit Card, then it is a mystery... probably something is not configured correctly. Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 11:55

No, you may not be confident. It is a different type of card and a different kind of payment system.

As others have mentioned, debit cards may be used in some occasions and with some vendors, but not because they "mistake" them for credit.

Debit card can be identified by "debit" written on it, by its number (first six digits of any Visa/Mastercard logo-bearing cards define its type) and by the responses of the system.

When "debit/credit" choice is presented at the cash register, it is allowing you to decide how the charge would be treated by your card processor, but it has no bearing on your bank account - it will still be immediately charged. Authorizations will always block amounts of money on your bank account (that is why debit cards are not usually accepted by hotels/car rentals), and the charge made without authorization may be declined by the bank.


Call the specific rental car company and ask the answer varies. Checking Hertz and Enterprise websites does not give a definitive answer. Car rental is one reason to have a credit card.

Many debit cards have the Visa or MasterCard imprint and can be used through the Visa or MasterCard networks to Auth(orize) a charge amount, and Capture the amount. Often a merchant with Auth a larger amount (restaurants for tip, and rental cars for estimated number of days of rental). This Auth mechanism is one challenge to using a debit card, as it presents a "hold" against your deposited funds, and you need to have sufficient funds for the entire hold, which may be larger than the amount of daily rental rate.

Merchants often ask to run the card as a debit card due to the reduced charges, though some do not care how you run the charge. Expect that a rental car agency will not request the card be run as a debit card, as they plan their rentals with the cost of the credit card fees included.

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