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Renting a Car With a Debit Card? It Just Got Much Easier | Intelligencer

If Dollar and Thrifty are right about debit cards and customer risk — it’s worth noting, the past debit-card-using customers whose behavior they’ve analyzed comprise a specific set of debit-card holders who have been willing and able to jump through hoops like passing credit checks before rental — then they are making a smart play for an underserved market from which they may be able to gain outsize loyalty.

For many customers, rental cars are a commodity service: People are indifferent to which company they rent from, so they go on a site like Orbitz and rent from whichever agency is cheapest. This is especially true for value brands like Dollar and Thrifty, which focus on price-conscious customers. Being the only debit-friendly agencies could give them an advantage with a significant customer segment that would allow them to compete less aggressively on price.

There is also an opportunity to build early loyalty with young customers. Adults under 25 are the likeliest age cohort to lack a credit card, yet many agencies (including Dollar and Thrifty) have historically excluded young customers from renting with debit cards. Now, the minimum rental age at Dollar and Thrifty will be 20 with either form of payment. This expands a youth-friendly policy Dollar and Thrifty already had before today: Their minimum rental age of 20 was already lower than most of their competitors, which generally require renters to be at least 21.

By being the agency with the easiest policies for young, debit-card-holding customers, Dollar and Thrifty may be able to form a positive brand image that persists even after those customers pass the age of 25 or obtain credit cards and no longer need their unique policies.

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Renting a Car With a Debit Card? It Just Got Much Easier.