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Travel

Can I Rent a Car If I Freeze My Credit?

Q. If I freeze my credit report to prevent identity theft, will I be able to rent a car? I know that some companies check your credit report as well as your credit card.

If you decide to freeze your credit report, you can still rent a car this summer and pay with a credit card. Car-rental firms protect themselves by placing a hold on your card for the amount of the rental plus the cost of gas and insurance, if you select those options. That way, the company is assured of payment, and it's covered if you damage the car or keep it longer than your reservation.

However, you may not be able to use your debit card. To minimize their potential losses, Avis, Budget and Hertz check your credit report at the counter if you elect to pay with a debit card.

You could unfreeze your credit report; it takes up to three business days and costs about $10 per credit bureau. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the largest car-rental firm, generally checks your credit report, too, but it may let you present other documentation, such as a utility bill or pay stub, to prove your creditworthiness. "We try to be flexible and accommodate our customers," says an Enterprise spokesperson. "We consider them our neighbors." Call the branch of the agency from which you plan to rent to discuss its requirements.

If you carry a cash identification card from Avis or Hertz, you can pay for your car with cash, traveler's checks or a money order. But you must apply for the card as many as six weeks in advance, and there is a nonrefundable application fee.

Get more advice: Go to Credit and Money Management