Why is it asking for a credit card when I make a reservation?

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2017 07:30PM EDT
With most of the rates we find, you won't even be asked for a credit card. That's because most companies don't require credit card information to reserve a rental car.

Occasionally, though, you may be asked for a credit card to reserve your car. Read through the reservation rules to be sure, but most of the time, you can change, cancel, or even no-show for your reservation any time without any fees or penalties, even if you're required to put a credit card number in.

Here's why: some rental companies are now asking for a credit card in hopes that it may make people think twice about no-showing for their reservation, even though no agency currently charges any penalty for canceling or no-showing for a reservation. It’s mostly a game of psychology—if people think they might be charged, they’ll be more sure about canceling unused reservations, even though no one actually is getting charged.

There has occasionally been talk in the rental industry of requiring a credit card guarantee for a reservation, but so far, none of the companies have wanted to be the first to do so, since that would of course put them at a competitive disadvantage in an industry where the product is often a commodity. So while some companies may ask for a credit card, there currently isn’t any risk of being charged for canceling or no-showing and as far as we’ve heard, no plans to implement that anytime soon. We’ll of course update our website if that ever changes, but for now and the foreseeable future, you can change or cancel your reservation at any time without any penalty whatsoever.

Note that on some specialty vehicles in high-cost locations, there may be a cancellation fee, so again, read the reservation rules to be sure. Also, some of the sites we may refer you to offer prepaid rates of their own. These prepaid rates may incur a cancellation penalty, so be sure to read before booking. 99% of the time, though, this isn't an issue.
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