Your Protection when using a Credit Card to book Car Hire

Car rental companies normally insist that customers use a credit card for car hire - we explain below why this gives hirers a lot of extra protection.

Mark's Top Tip

The protection that using a Credit Card gives you makes it the preferred option for car hire

Credit Cards Deliver Extra Protection for Car Hirers

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Using a credit card for your Car Hire is, in my view, a must do if you can. Not only do rental firms prefer it, but it delivers real protection for car hirers if things go awry.

This is because if things go wrong you not only have the car hire firm, or maybe an arbitration service to fall back on, but you can often get your credit card firm working on your behalf as well.

It's worth pointing out though that the protection is strongest where you contract directly with a rental firm (say you buy directly from Avis, Budget or Hertz). If you go via a broker the credit card firm may say that as their contract is with the broker and not your rental firm they are not liable for tany failings by the hire car company themselves.

However even in these cases its still best to use a credit card, as if unasked for extras or disputable damage is charged to it by a rental firm then the protection comes into force.

This is because credit card firms share the liability under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 for breach of contract or misrepresentation of a contract.

If you are overcharged, incorrectly charged, or otherwise unfairly debited for services you didn't request or shouldn't have had to pay for you can go back to your credit card company and fight them.

It also means that if your hire firm goes bust you may well be able to compensation via your credit card company even if you have paid an intermediary as in this case the middle man will have failed to deliver the promised service to you.

Some key points though:

  • You need to have paid a total of more than £100, although you only need to have paid part of this using a credit card. If you pay the deposit on a card and the rest in cash that's fine as long as it adds up to over £100.
  • You get this protection at home and abroad - its a massive advantage - can't face the hassle of dealing with a car hire office abroad - talk to your UK based credit card company instead
  • Even if you are not covered under Section 75 and the credit card firms thinks you have been poorly treated they can under the terms of their agreement 'chargeback' the car hire firm.
  • Only primary cardholders are covered by Section 75. Make sure the main driver uses a card where the bill is addressed to them.

So I think its a credit card all the way if you have the option.

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This content was last reviewed on 23/07/2014