Rental Car Bureaucracy Conned Me Out Of An Absurd Amount Of Money

At Chipotle, a place where I have eaten roughly three times a month for the last ten years, I sometimes ask the cashier for “a little cup for water.” Then I walk over to the soda fountain and fill it up with Sprite. (I choose Sprite because it is clear and looks the most like water, so if a worker walks past, he or she won’t suspect it is a stolen drink.) At most Chipotles, the water and the lemonade come from the same tap at the soda fountain, and to get the water you have to pull on a little lever. Sometimes, to distract potential witnesses of my crime, I will even pretend to pull on the water lever as I am filling my cup up with Sprite. I am basically a monster.

So: I am owed some negative karma for my Chipotle sins, and for other small sins I’ve committed in the domain of commerce. My moral record in the marketplace is not without blemish. But I am not sure that the brutal treatment I received from the rental car industry a few weeks ago was commensurate with my misdeeds.

The background is this: One of my best friends was getting married in Wolfeboro, N.H., an old town on Lake Winnipesaukee, which is the lake where What About Bob is set. I was a groomsman. I live in Kansas City, but have long fantasized about rural New England—I believe it is where I am meant to live. So I decided to make a vacation out of it and take the whole week off work. The plan was for me and two other friends to fly into New York City on Tuesday and stay with a friend in Brooklyn for two nights. Then on Thursday morning, all four of us would take a rental car up to Wolfeboro. On Sunday, we would return the rental car at the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire (the closest airport to Wolfeboro) and fly home.

A month out from the trip, I did some research and booked a rental car with an Alamo Rent a Car in lower Manhattan. The price was $340. Not great for just three days, but we were dropping the car off in a different city than we picked it up in, and rental car companies charge “one-way fees” for that. When I asked my friends to guess the cost, they all put it at between $300 and $400, which made me feel like I had done OK in booking it.

Wolfeboro is about five hours from New York City, and we were due to be at a party at 6 p.m. on Thursday night, so we were aiming to be at the Alamo at 7th and Broadway around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday morning. We left Greenpoint on time, but the driver from Java Car Services took the Queensboro Bridge instead of the Williamsburg Bridge into the city. We voiced some hesitation, but he seemed sure of himself, so we backed off. It was another twenty minutes before we reached the island. Then he took a right off the bridge.

“We’re going to Seventh and Broadway,” I said.

“Yes, Seventh,” he said.

Well, maybe he knows some secret route where he can shoot downtown superfast, I thought. But he kept cutting further and further north. Finally I said, “Are you taking us to 70th?” And he said, “Yes, Seventy.”

“No, Seventh!” I said. “Seventh! What the fuck! Downtown! I said it like 10 times!”

Then he turned the car around and headed south down Broadway, the busiest street in the world. At Times Square, we threw up our hands, got out of the car, gave him a $20 and took the subway. We arrived at Alamo an hour behind schedule. I was medium-angry, but determined not to let the experience ruin my day. Stay positive, serenity now.

I had never rented a car before—or, at least, I’d never paid for one. When I booked the reservation at Alamo, the person on the phone told me that when we picked up the car, we would need to put down a credit card—a real credit card, not just a debit card that functions as a credit card. I do not own a credit card. I have a debit card from my bank, which I use like a credit card. I am aware that credit cards are a good tool for building credit, but they have always seemed like a dangerous, unnecessary thing to have around. And I knew that Matt, my New York friend, had a credit card. So I figured we were fine.

The two of us walked into the office at Alamo and I told the woman behind the counter that we were there to pick up our car. I gave her my driver’s license, and then she asked for a credit card, and Matt handed his over. Then the woman said, “Oh, the name on the driver’s license has to match the credit card.”

OK. So, the person on the phone never mentioned anything about the driver’s license and credit card needing to match. But no big deal: Matt could just rent the car.

Except Matt’s license was expired. He doesn’t have a car in New York, so he didn’t bother to renew his license when it ran out a few years ago.

As it turned out, none of the four of us fully grown, 31-year-old men had in our possession both a credit card and a valid driver’s license. Konnor had a credit card, but it was in Kansas City. Maybe he could call somebody in KC and get them to read us the card information over the phone? He placed a call and was able to get the information remarkably quickly. Buoyed, we reentered the Alamo office.

Nope. “We have to swipe it,” the woman said, without a trace of human empathy. She returned to whatever she was doing on her computer.

“Why? What’s the difference? He has an ID, he has a driver’s license, the name matches the card if you run it.”

“We just have to,” she said. It was starting to seem like Alamo Rent A Car did not want our business.

Concurrent to this, Al was making calls to other rental car companies in Manhattan. He had rented a car from Enterprise a few years back, and had an account of some sort with the company. He returned with promising news: Enterprise would let him rent with a debit card as long as he provided two utility bills with his name on them. Also, it would cost $530 to rent the car. We flinched.

“Whatever,” I said. “We have no choice. Let’s just do it.” We would each be out an additional $50, which was a bummer. But at least we could get on the road. We left the Alamo garage. Later, we regretted that one of us didn’t open the office door on our way out and say, really aggressively, “Alrighty then!” in the Ace Ventura voice.

The Alamo garage happened to be near a Kinko’s, so we walked over and Al printed out the bills. Then we hailed a cab and took it to the Enterprise office in Chelsea. “I called about renting the car to New Hampshire,” Al said. The guy nodded and asked for his ID.

“Oh,” he said. “I thought you had an in-state license. We can only do debit cards on in-state licenses.”

Al just hung his head. “You have got to be kidding me,” I said.

We tried Konnor’s card-information thing.

“We have to have the physical card,” the guy said.


“We just have to.”

“But you don’t know why?”

“We need to be able to swipe it.”

“What’s the difference between swiping it and us telling you the numbers? It’s the exact same information. At the grocery store when the card reader isn’t working they just type in the numbers. What’s the difference?”

“It’s just our policy.”

We exited the office and stood staring at each other on 24th Street, clutching our luggage and garment bags like a bunch of Midwestern tourist bozos. Matt was looking up train schedules on his phone.

“But here’s the thing,” I said. “Even if we take a train or a flight to Manchester, we still have to rent a car to get from Manchester to Wolfeboro.”


“Do you know anybody who has a car here?”

“No,” he said. “Nobody I feel comfortable borrowing from.”

Then the Enterprise guy (to his credit, he was apologetic and nice) came out and said that he was pretty sure the Hertz in Times Square does out-of-state debit card rentals. Al called; they would. The price was $650—roughly $162 each, plus gas.

My instinct was to resist this. That is just an absurd figure for renting a car for three days. But ultimately we had no other play. We had to get to Wolfeboro that evening.

So we took another fucking cab to Midtown. Al went into the office. We stayed outside in the garage and watched him through a glass window. After a few minutes, he gave us a thumbs-up sign. We exhaled and started discussing whether we should eat in the neighborhood or get something on the road. Then Al opened the door with a grave look on his face and said, “Now they’re saying they have to run a credit check on me. And I’m pretty sure I have terrible credit.”

I wanted to open up my suitcase and curl up into a little ball inside it. But Al’s credit turned out to be fine. We got the keys, dumped our bags in the car and ate in silence at a Chipotle across the street. When we returned, we were blocked in by another car. It wasn’t a problem getting one of the garage guys to move it for us, but for a moment it seemed like anything could derail us, that everything in New York City was conspiring against us. I’ve never felt so powerless in my life.

We piled into the car. The sky had slowly been turning cloudy, and the moment we exited the garage, it started pouring down rain.

Our trauma passed more or less the moment we pulled into Wolfeboro. The town is historic and idyllic, and the house we rented had a huge wraparound porch that looked out onto the lake. New Hampshire was as beautiful as I imagined it to be. And I felt almost sappily honored to be a part of a wedding between two people I really love and respect (shout-out to Edgevale apparel!). The reception was in a converted barn, and there was a moment when I was eating a gourmet donut and dancing to “Oogum Boogum,” and I thought, “This is about as good as it gets.” I would have liquidated my entire bank account to be there.

On Sunday morning, we dragged our asses out of town and made it to Manchester a solid two hours before our flight. We found the Hertz drop-off and parked the car. The Hertz guy came up and scanned some bar code on the car and asked who was paying. Al pulled out his card. Then the guy looked at his little electronic device, and said, “OK, that’s $850.”

On the phone, on our initial call to Hertz, we had been quoted $650. At the Hertz counter in midtown New York, the clerk had given Al paperwork that also estimated the cost would be $650. But even though nobody from Hertz at any point mentioned it, that figure was apparently based on us returning the car by noon on Sunday. It was 2:30 p.m. when we arrived at the Hertz in Manchester. So they were charging us for another full day. Obviously, if we would have known it would cost an extra $200, we would have gotten there earlier. But nobody told us that. They just snuck it into the rental agreement.

Al took the matter up with a woman in the Hertz office and got her to knock $100 off. But she wouldn’t budge any further than that. What could we do? Track down the Hertz guy in New York and get him to admit that he’d misled us? We actually tried that, but the number just sends you to a general Hertz call center. Fuck Hertz. We could have bought a fucking car for $850.

We slunk into our gate and settled in at an airport bar. Another friend from the wedding was on the same flight back to KC. He had flown into Manchester on Thursday, rented a car from Dollar at the airport, and returned it on Sunday.

His bill was $78.


David Hudnall is a writer living in Kansas City.


54 Comments / Post A Comment

guenna77 (#856)

the swipe thing is a fraud prevention measure because a car is a big giant asset, and if someone rents one with a stolen credit card number, the company loses a lot of money, plus, potentially the car itself.

this doesn’t seem like a con. more like poor planning on the authors part. car rental companies do a lot of crappy things, but this is not a seinfeld moment.

EDaily (#4,396)

@guenna77 Okay, so I agree in general, but why not a debit card with Visa or Mastercard services? And why if a debit card, only a debit card with an in-state license? Sure, it could have been planned better, but there’s some bureaucracy here. Why should someone who is averse to debt and having a credit card be penalized?

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

@EDaily I suspect that the insurance with a debit card may vary by state.

EDaily (#4,396)

@WayDownSouth It just seems silly to me that you’d have to open up a credit card line just to rent a car. I think it’s awesome that these guys in their 30s don’t have credit cards because they don’t want to misuse them.

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

@EDaily let’s suppose that the value of the rental car is $10,000. If the person renting the car damages it (without sufficient insurance) or steals it, how does the rental car company get its money back?

@EDaily “Just renting a car” is a potential $15-$20k loss for the company. Of course they’re gonna do what they can to minimize that potential. Requiring a credit card is a relatively reasonable way for them to reduce that risk.

EDaily (#4,396)

@forget it i quit Okay, so if that’s the case why do they allow debit cards at all? This would make more sense to me if they said: Sorry, no debit cards, because of the loss potential. But these guys were able to rent a car with a debit card.

@EDaily I’d guess it’s harder to recover from debit card users but not impossible. So they have to balance the potential sale vs the risk.

Also, I think Enterprise is generally locally owned franchises thus the in-state requirement, might be easier for the company to take you to court in-state. Hertz on the other hand is national, thus they’ll take all-comers.

PrettyNicola (#692)

Is there where I can tell my rental car horror story that turns out to be my fault?
Last Christmas I rented a car, and when I got to the airport I hopped in the Gold member line, because I am a gold member through USAA. At the counter the lady told me I wasn’t a gold member and gave me grief for trying to skip all the other people in line, but gave me my car anyway. I was furious because I get silent instead of defensive when people are super rude to me, and because damnit, I AM a gold member.
But it turns out I made the reservation with the wrong email account, so my reservation wasn’t affiliated with my gold status AND I ended up paying extra.

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

Car rental prices vary by location. If you’re going to do this again, take the train up to Providence and rent from there. It should be much cheaper than in NYC. We don’t rent cars in Massachusetts for exactly this reason. We save a lot of money by driving the extra hour each way.

I think that the value of a debit card is limited to the amount in your linked account. The value of a credit card could be much higher. They were unlikely to be checking your friend’s credit rating (since that risk is taken on by the credit card company). They were probably checking the available balance on the account. If you didn’t have the appropriate insurance, your friend could have been at risk for a large amount of money if the rental was stolen or damaged.

Autumn in New England is lovely. However, I moved because of the winters. Before you move there, I recommend staying there for a week in January or March.

Finally, why do you steal the Sprite? I’m curious. You’re probably stealing less than a dollar. I just wonder why you do it.

thejacqueline (#799)

@WayDownSouth For NYC people, NJ is it. I never ever rent a car in the city — I got to Jersey and the price drops by $100/day, even in Northern NJ towns.

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

@thejacqueline thanks. I didn’t know that

@thejacqueline Definitely, take a train to Newark Airport and it’s not much more hassle than taking a subway to the rental agency. Easily cut your costs by half.

@fo (#839)

@WayDownSouth “Finally, why do you steal the Sprite?”

Srsly. That kind of stuff really bugs me. If he were a stupid HS kid, whatever (I did similarly stoopid stuff in HS). But dude’s *31*, and apparently still getting a thrill out of ‘pulling one over’ on Chipotle.

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

@@fo yes, I agree. I genuinely don’t understand why an adult would behave like this.

When I was in high school, I also did stupid things, like steal candy bars from 7-11. But when I remember those moments now, I’m embarrassed.

I’m really curious in the writer’s reason for stealing the Sprite. He’s not destitute. He knows it’s wrong and he tries to pretend to others that he’s not a thief. I truly wonder why he does it. That would be an interesting article.

cc (#1,069)

@forget it i don’t want to add to the guy’s misery but there’s a great enterprise rental in greenpoint……..

@fo (#839)

@WayDownSouth “and he tries to pretend to others that he’s not a thief”

Yeah, this too. It’s not like the Chipotle staff don’t notice, too; *maybe* notsomuch if he makes sure to spread out his visits to any one location, so maybe they don’t know him. But, to the staff, the extra dime (maybe) of soda isn’t worth the scene that would result from making an issue of it.

He should be bold, and just fill up a liter bottle sometime. Courage of your convictions and all that.

Also wonder if he’s a ‘burrito hacker’ ( ), too.

jquick (#3,730)

@WayDownSouth I’m at Chipotle right now. Sodas are $1.90. He’s stealing $1.90 each time he eats here.

PicNic (#3,760)

this story made me anxious and rageful just reading it. I’m glad you liked NH though! That’s my home state and it really is beautiful :)

jquick (#3,730)

@PicNic You are angry and rage full at the inept author for NOT knowing the policies of renting a car, or at the car companies?

Megs (#644)

@EDaily The credit cards typically have a sort of “damage insurance” built into them that debit cards might not. Also, there’s a $200-$500 hold put on the card on top of the actual cost of the card. That money is frozen until you return the car.

annecara (#1,914)

I am honestly more than a little baffled that not one of them had a credit card.

avoidmadness (#1,709)

@annecara I usually sympathize with these stories but this whole problem just seemed to come about from very, very poor planning. He makes a big deal about the car renters requiring the CC present at the time of the rental, this is completely legitimate and done to prevent fraud.

pengu1n (#4,391)

@avoidmadness I agree, I wanted to be on the side of the little guy but nothing in this story said “conned” to me. This is fairly standard operating procedure and while it’s fine to live your life without a credit card, you have to know that lacking one in this day and age is going to opt you out of certain things. It’s not the universe’s fault, it’s the choice you make by not having a credit card. Car rental experiences can make me crazy but this guy is very quick to make himself the victim.

@fo (#839)

@pengu1n “while it’s fine to live your life without a credit card, you have to know that lacking one in this day and age is going to opt you out of certain things”

Yep. Like any opt-out decision, one has to be aware of all that entails.

Like refusing to give Business X your SSN–you are completely within you rights to do so, and the Business may also refuse to transact with you, even if they are a “necessity” like the electric company. He doesn’t want to have a credit card, he has to deal with insanity to get a rental car.

testingwithfire (#4,185)

@annecara Agreed. Grown folks, at least grown middle-class folks in the States, have credit cards these days, ESPECIALLY if you travel.

Doing otherwise is not just foolish but dangerous – what if the car breaks down along the way? What are you going to pay the towing company with? How about the motel where you have to hole up overnight? Do you really want to be carrying hundreds of dollars of cash? I guess there’s always AMEX travellers checks – does anyone use those any more?

My parents cut up their credit cards in the ’60′s but as far as I know, my mom had a credit card again by the time the ’80′s rolled around. Times have changed.

Veronique (#4,967)

This almost moved me to tears / gave me a PTSD episode. I had an experience that involved me renting a car in my hometown and parking it on the street in front of my house so I could get an early start the next day. I woke up only to find the car had been booted due to some asshole who’d rented the car previously and racked up traffic violations. Eight hours and countless friendly chats with Hertz later, I was on my way. When I returned the car a few days later, they didn’t seem to think they owed me any sort of discount, which is the only time I’ve actually raised my voice/screamed hysterically at a customer service rep.

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

@Veronique that’s terrible. I’m sorry to hear about that. Terrible behaviour by Hertz.

Veronique (#4,967)

@WayDownSouth Haha thank you for your support. Slowly recovering after years of therapy.

BitchneySpears (#4,988)

@Veronique On the way back from my wedding, some friends of mine were pulled out of the ferry line and almost handcuffed because their rental car had scanned as stolen. The previous renter had returned it late and the agency never took the alert off. I often repeat what my friend told the cops: “guys, if I were going to steal a car, would I really steal a Nissan Cube?!?”

sesomai (#3,874)

This is pretty standard for the rental car industry. Most major companies have these policies available on their websites.

…and people complain that the Obamacare exchanges are not working perfectly on day one? I always wonder how people who have ever dealt with the private sector could possibly believe it is “always more efficient.” Like, have these people ever dealt with an airline, a rental car company, a cable company, a mobile phone company, or a private insurance company? And they want their retirement and public schools to work that way too?

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

@stuffisthings so if I understand your point correctly, your benchmark for government services performance is rental car companies? That’s a very generous expectation.

@WayDownSouth No I’m just saying that ALL bureaucracies are generally terrible. Especially when there is little or no competition. At least when it is a public sector bureaucracy, there is usually no direct profit motive encouraging them to rip you off. (That’s why fee-charging departments, like USCIS and the IRS, tend to also be the worst the deal with.)

I just find it interesting that many people seem to have developed this assumption that government is always worse and more inefficient than the private sector, even when their lives are filled with examples of private sector waste, abuse, and malfunction. Personally I’ve found most of my interactions with the government at all levels to be fairly straightforward compared to the endless hassle and runaround of, say, Bank of America or Time Warner or any airline.

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

@stuffisthings my experience is quite different. When we rent cars and fly, the episodes are generally trouble-free. There have been mistakes and stuff-ups, of course, but most transactions are routinely positive.

In contrast, government interaction can be quite frustrating. Let’s take a recent example. Why shut down the WW2 memorial in Washington? What’s the point, other than to create public dissatisfaction?

@WayDownSouth Actually, yes, the explicit purpose of the GOP shutting down the government WAS to create public dissatisfaction. If the Alamo branch the author visited was run by a clique of ignorant zealots trying to make a political statement, he didn’t mention it.

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

@stuffisthings it takes both Republicans and Democrats to shut down the government. In this instance, the House has produced bills which restore all funding except for Obamacare. The Senate has rejected these bills and Obama has said he’d veto them in any case.

The Republicans in the House want to defund Obamacare. The Democrats in the Senate and Obama said they’ll reject anything which doesn’t fully fund Obamacare. Both sides have taken what I believe are extreme and non-negotiable positions. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

Regarding the shutting down of the WW2 memorial in DC, the funding of Obamacare is irrelevant to it. I’m not aware of any logistical reason to prevent people from visiting it. This is a classic instance of why government is significantly worse than private industry.

coupdefoudre (#3,172)

@WayDownSouth When the government is shut down, many people are not allowed (by law) to go to work and do their jobs. Some of those people are the people that staff and patrol the monuments. If those people cannot be at work, those monuments cannot be open. The government would open itself up to liability if someone was hurt there, no one is around to stop any vandalism, etc.

Besides these reasonable logistical concerns, yes, it doesn’t hurt that closing monuments puts a public face on the shutdown that your average person may not normally notice. Some people like to think that government does nothing for them except take their tax money and give it to others – sometimes people need reminders about the public goods that everyone takes for granted.

ATF (#4,229)

And rental car companies are why I cried the day Zipcar was acquired by Budget.

Eric18 (#4,486)

Sounds like you and your friends don’t know how to plan a trip. If you were 22, I’d just roll my eyes. At 31, this is just sad and pathetic. And stealing Sprite from Chipotle? Kind of glad you bros got hosed on the car rental.

here_kitty (#2,856)

The third time I ran into this very same problem with my credit card-less self was the day I walked into the bank and applied for a credit card.

Although, to be fair, the third time I ran into this problem was also when I realized exactly why they have all these policies in place. I have a CA license but was working in a state across the country, I’m the third person on my parents’ insurance policy so my name is not actually listed on my insurance card, and I had no stable address in that state (staying with friends!) nor did I have proof of a plane ticket in or out of the state to prove I was a tourist (I took a train). If I didn’t know me I’d think I was a felon fleeing for the border, too.

Thankfully I had paystubs from the state to prove that I had some kind of reason to show back up and return the car.

The fourth time I ran into these kinds of issues though – trying to use my credit card to rent a car for my mom – was just obnoxious. I had the credit to cover it and I wasn’t going to be driving, so why charge us the under 25yo fee? Ugh.

dham (#2,271)

I am of two minds about this. On one hand, I truly hate the car rental’s “credit cards only” policy. Everyone here justifies it through the typical logic, but I can rent a car with a credit card with a $500 limit and cannot with a debit card with thousands of dollars in checking. That is stupid. Yes, credit cards come with insurance for rentals, but the car companies also constantly try to up-sell you insurance policies that would void the card-based insurance, so this cannot be the justification.

Car rental companies clearly make a killing, and do not “need” to require credit cards to prevent a kind of fraud that can be prevented by other means.

On the other hand, I have also known that you had to have a credit card to rent a car since I was in early college. This is why I have them. I a little baffled by the fact that people have no idea these policies exist.

grehaeli (#4,979)

I fully agree with the commenters who say this is not a case of being conned, but instead, a textbook example of poor planning. But what really gets me is this line:

“I am aware that credit cards are a good tool for building credit, but they have always seemed like a dangerous, unnecessary thing to have around.”

Really? I believe the author has it completely turned around: DEBIT cards are the dangerous, unnecessary thing. If your debit card is stolen, the money comes straight out of your bank account and it is GONE. Maybe your bank can get it back for you, but you’re broke in the meantime. Credit cards have insurance, you can stop charges, and the bank usually pays those fraudulent charges. I’ve had my credit card numbers stolen twice, and each time my bank was able to stop it immediately with barely a ripple effect on me beyond waiting for the new card.

If nothing else, here’s a post from the well-regarded blog “Naked Capitalism” that converted me to skepticism of debit cards (no, I don’t have any connection to this site):

The danger is the credit card owner: If you’re well educated on how to obtain and use your credit card wisely, then you can build up credit, minimize your debt (find a bank or credit card company with reasonable practices and no/few fees), and avoid nightmare situations like this. And if you don’t trust yourself, then as a previous commenter mentioned, just get a beginner’s credit card with $500 credit line for emergencies.

grehaeli (#4,979)

I fully agree with the commenters who say this is not a case of being conned, but instead, a textbook example of poor planning. (I simply cannot fathom why anyone going on a long trip would leave their credit card at home as his friend did. For day-to-day stuff, I can understand not using the credit card. But if I’m traveling halfway across the country, on a vacation where I know I will or MIGHT have to book hotel rooms and rent a car? A credit card is a must-have.) But what really gets me is this line:

“I am aware that credit cards are a good tool for building credit, but they have always seemed like a dangerous, unnecessary thing to have around.”

Really? I believe the author has it completely turned around: DEBIT cards are the dangerous, unnecessary thing. If your debit card is stolen, the money comes straight out of your bank account and it is GONE. Maybe your bank can get it back for you, but you’re broke in the meantime. Credit cards have insurance, you can stop charges, and the bank usually pays those fraudulent charges. I’ve had my credit card number stolen before, and each time my bank was able to stop it immediately with barely any damage on me beyond waiting for the new card. Yes, identity theft and damage to your credit score can happen if it escalates, but for immediate security, you have more recourse in cases of the credit card theft.

If nothing else, here’s a post from the well-regarded economics blog “Naked Capitalism” that converted me to skepticism of debit cards (no, I don’t have any connection to this site):

If anything, the danger is the credit card owner: If you’re well educated on how to obtain and use your credit card wisely, then you can build up credit, minimize your debt (find a bank or credit card company with reasonable practices and no/few fees), and avoid nightmare situations like this. And if you don’t trust yourself, then as a previous commenter mentioned, just get a beginner’s credit card with $500 credit line to have on hand for emergencies.

I live in Kansas City too, but I fantasize about living on the other side of the US…

jetztinberlin (#1,286)

Hmm. Every single thing you describe, from having to have a credit card, to needing the card to match the drivers’ license, to needing to have a valid drivers’ license, to needing to return the car by a certain time, is 100. Percent. Standard. Operating. Procedure. I know other people have already said this, but honestly. Dude. DUDE. This is pathetically narcissistic to refer to this experience as being ‘conned’, and it makes me sad that that’s the takeaway, and makes me sad that The Billfold would print this as that being the takeaway, and makes me hope it’s linkbait for irate comments like mine, and makes me hope everyone is not as inclined as you are to whingingly blame others for their own mistakes, and makes me hope you do other stupid shit like stealing from Chipotle like a 10-year-old, so that you can get called on it, and maybe someday realize you’re being a jackass.

Hmm. Now I’m oddly in favor of this post, because writing this comment was cathartic. Thanks Billfold!

Mik1916 (#4,990)

These guys are 31? I guess we have become a nation of man-children. You dont have a credit card in your 30′s and your surprised that you have trouble in the normal world of responsible commerce? Of course they need a legit source of credit to hand you a 25k machine to do with what u wish. A debit card in no way provides that. I guess I’m just always shocked that people seem to be in an ever longer adolescence these days and are always so shocked at real world intrusions or declare they were conned by a company when they don’t have the basic tools to complete the transaction or read the contract they sign.

Niko Bellic (#311)

“We could have bought a fucking car for $850.”

Riiight. One that’s really worth $20 and a broken toaster, I presume.

This is a pretty stupid article if you ask me. I registered just to respond to this.

I have rented cars over a dozen times in Canada, USA, Germany, Britain and other countries. I have always used a credit card and driver’s licence. This practice is standard across many countries. The only times I had issues with a rental were the couple occasions where I caused damage and my credit card company handled it completely without additional cost.

As a regular traveller, a credit card is very helpful and often includes insurance on purchases and rentals. Are you really going to give a large deposit to a hotel? Have you tried using traveller’s cheques? Good luck cashing them!

And a little research would prove that renting in a dense urban area is always more expensive and more of a hassle. I always went to a suburb that was a short train or bus from the airport and rented there.

Sounds like the writer is dodging responsibility and criticising a system that has worked for other people millions of times prior.

jquick (#3,730)

Sheesh. 31 and never rented a car before? NO credit card? And apparently hanging with same kind of buddies. Who says your gen is incompetent and helpless without Mommy and Daddy?

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