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Guide to Picking Up a Rental Car in the United States

Picking up your rental car in the US banner

Are you planning to rent a car in the United States? When it comes time to actually pick up the vehicle from the depot, there are a few important things to be aware of. For example, are you planning on purchasing any optional extras? Do you understand how Collision Damage Waiver works? Or are you unsure about paying with a debit card? Here is everything you need to know about picking up a rental car.

Paying with a debit card

You will need to confirm with the location where you are picking up the vehicle from whether you can use a debit card. The policy varies based on the supplier and depot. Generally, debit cards with the Visa or Mastercard are accepted, provided the driver meets all other age and licence requirements.

If you are renting a car from an airport, and you plan on paying with a debit card, there may be additional identity requirements. For example, you may have to provide extra identification documents as well as a copy of your return flight information.

Read more about paying with debit cards​.

Can I pay cash?

Some suppliers will allow cash as an acceptable form of payment at time of return at most locations, but you will still need a credit card during pick up. This vary across suppliers and locations so be sure to check their cash payment policies as well.

Read more about the cash qualification requirements​​.

Will the car rental companies place a hold on the credit card?

Car rental companies generally place a hold on your credit card to cover any additional charges. These funds will not be available to you during the rental period. It will be returned to you when you return the vehicle, provided you have not incurred any extra charges.

Read more about this here.

Picking up from the airport

In the United States, you will find that from most major airports you will need to take a shuttle to a rental car center away from the terminal to pick up your vehicle. Sometimes service desks are within the terminal, often close to baggage claim.

  • At Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) head to the purple sign reading "Rental Car Shuttles" where you can take the complimentary bus to the rental car service desks.
  • If you're renting a car from JFK in New York, you'll find the car rental service desks in the Arrivals area. Just follow the signs from baggage claim.

Read more about picking up your rental car at the airport.

Additional drivers

When you pick up your rental car, any additional drivers you plan to add to the rental agreement will need to be present. They will need to have their driving licence, and meet all the age requirements.

In some cases, an additional driver fee may apply. Sometimes a renter's spouse, or their employer may be considered an authorized operator and therefore will not be charged an additional fee. You will need to check the terms and conditions of your particular car rental booking, as policies differ per supplier.

Read more about additional drivers.

Loss Damage Waiver

The purchase of Loss Damage Waiver is optional in the United States. Many US residents choose not to purchase this as they are already covered by their own personal car insurance policies. Without any insurance, renters are liable to pay for the full cost of the vehicle as a result of loss or damage.

It is particularly important for overseas renters to understand Loss Damage Waiver when they visit the United States. Many visitors rely on their travel insurance policies, which may just cover an excess amount. Check the terms and conditions of your policy to make sure you understand what you are covered for.

Read more about Loss Damage Waiver.

To find out more information about car rental insurance in the United States, see our article.

 Remember:

When you pick up your rental car

You will need a credit card in your name when you go to pick up your rental car. If you are paying with a debit card, you will need to check the supplier's terms and conditions to see if they will accept this. The car rental company will need to place a hold on your credit card, so you'll need to make sure you have available funds. Additional drivers will also need to be present to sign the rental agreement. 

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