When Sam Campanella arrived at Hertz Car Rental in early June to pick up a vehicle for a one-way trip from New Mexico to Utah, he felt prepared. After all, Campanella made his reservation weeks in advance. He called to confirm the reservation and even stopped by the pickup location beforehand to make sure the arrangements were properly in place for his trip.
But when Campanella, 65, went to pay for the rental, he was in for a surprise. He gave the agent his debit card and she ran a required credit check. The agent then told Campanella that she could not rent him a car without a credit card because he did not have a high enough credit score.
Taken aback, Campanella explained that his score was low because he does not use credit cards or take out loans. He offered to pay in cash and even leave a cash deposit, but to no avail.
Campanella left without a car and had to make new travel arrangements at the last minute. But it was not the policy requiring a good credit score that left the Alamogordo, N.M., resident perturbed that day. Rather, Campanella was disappointed that no one at Hertz alerted him to the policy before he went to pick up the vehicle. “Why you need a credit score, I have no idea,” he says. “They ruined my day.”
It is Hertz policy that customers prove their creditworthiness, says Paula Rivera, manager of public affairs for the Hertz Corp. This can be accomplished by using a credit card for the rental or via a credit score if a customer is using a debit card. Customers are also able to pay with cash but must reserve with a credit card or apply for a special Hertz ID card in advance.
Reservation agents inform customers that they will need a credit card to pick up a car, but all too often customers assume their debit card will work just as well, Rivera says.
“We need to make sure the person has a degree of creditworthiness or available cash in case something happens,” she says.
Michelle Diament is a writer in Memphis, Tenn.