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I rented a car in Turkey. The rental company said they would put a (~$1200) hold on my credit card in case of damage and that they would release the charge assuming there were no problems. I just realized they charged the amount to my card instead of putting a hold (I have confirmed with my bank that it is in fact a charge, not a hold).

I don't want to piss them off (and thus encourage them to screw me over when I return the car in a couple weeks), but I also think it might be in my best interest to notify my (American) credit card company that this has happened should I need to file some sort of claim later on.

Any suggestions on how I should proceed?

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    How else would a hold be processed? If no issues when returning it the charge is reversed.
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 20, 2023 at 13:05
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    While what they did isn't nice, if you are going to be returning the car before the end of your billing cycle there shouldn't be a problem.
    – Peter M
    Mar 20, 2023 at 13:06
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    How certain are you that they have charged? Some credit cards will show holds in the same or very similar way to a charge – the amount will show on your balance however the difference between a charge and a hold is the hold isn't transferred to the merchant. If you really want to be sure, you could contact your credit card provider and ask if the transaction is a hold or a charge.
    – Wing
    Mar 20, 2023 at 13:31
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    I have confirmed with my bank that this is a charge, not a hold. Mar 20, 2023 at 16:30

3 Answers 3

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Assuming this is not causing you problems for lack of available credit and that you don't carry a balance month-to-month on this card (and, thus, are not paying interest on it,) I would recommend just completing the rental as normal. If they don't refund the difference back to the expected charge within a few days of returning the vehicle, then file a dispute with your bank. For U.S.-issued cards, you have a minimum of 60 days from the time you receive your credit card statement on which a charge appears to dispute that charge. This is a legal requirement under the Fair Credit Billing Act.

So, assuming your rental is not for an especially long period, you should have plenty of time to wait until a few days after returning the vehicle to make sure that the final charges to your card are correct before you would need to file a dispute with your bank. Even if your card statement closes during the rental, the charge would appear in your amount owed on the statement, but, once the refund posts, it would normally count as a "payment" towards the outstanding statement balance, so you would not need to actually pay it from your bank account.

Granted, this becomes more problematic if you carry a balance on this card (in which case you'd potentially be paying interest.) In that case, you may want to contact your bank sooner in order to see if they can waive the interest on the amount you were not expecting.

If the problem is just a matter of lack of available credit due to the charge, there's not likely to be much you can do about that. You would generally have the same lack of available credit even if it were just an authorization and not an actual charge. This is why authorizations exist in the first place - to make sure there's enough credit available to clear the charge later.

(By the way, the last couple of paragraphs aren't intended to assume anything about your situation. They're just there to cover all of the possibilities and, even if not relevant to your case, may be relevant to others who find and read the question later.)

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    This is why I often read the advice to travel with two creditcards, one for car rentals, one for whatever else you need to pay or need to have credit for.
    – Willeke
    Mar 21, 2023 at 9:08
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    Definitely not worried about my credit limit, and assuming they refund the amount within a week of me returning the car I shouldn't have to worry about paying interest either. My only real concern is that a rental car company has over a thousand dollars of my money and it'll basically be up to them whether I get it back. But there isn't much I can do about that so I'll just enjoy my trip and sort it out when it comes time to return the car. Mar 21, 2023 at 13:43
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    @AlexJohnson Gotcha. That's what I figured your main concern was, but I didn't want to make assumptions. The good news is that, since it's a credit card, even if the rental agency tries to do something shady, the bank that issued the card can do a chargeback regardless of whether the agency likes it or not. Just make sure to hang on to the documentation just in case.
    – reirab
    Mar 21, 2023 at 15:29
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This is totally normal for how car rentals work. A "hold" in the sense of an authorization generally has some time limit that's potentially shorter than the rental period, and for which the failure mode would be the rental company not getting paid at all. They are not going to do this. Authorizations are for in-process purchases like pumping gas at a gas station or checking out at a restaurant, where the sale is already in progress but you don't yet know the total (until it's pumped or until the customer selects a tip amount, etc.). They're not for car rentals.

Every rental car company I've used (in my case, in the US) that charges a "hold" (really, a combined payment plus deposit) does so by completing the transaction for the total hold amount immediately, then refunding the deposit part when you return the vehicle. This is completely normal. They just don't expect customers to be wise guys who understand and nitpick about the details of how credit card transactions work. Maybe they "should have" explained it better to you, or maybe you "should have" asked for details how it would appear on your account before checking out. In any case it doesn't matter. It's a credit card not a debit card (they insisted on credit, right?) so for functional purposes like when you can use your money, it behaves exactly as they told you it would, as a hold.

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    Every time I've had even a one-day rental, it was charged and refunded, not done as an authorization-only. Mar 20, 2023 at 21:56
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    Saying that "every car rental company" completes a transaction and then refunds a deposit at the time of return is definitely wrong. Maybe that's normal for Turkey, but it's definitely not true anywhere near as broadly as this answer suggests. I've rented many cars from the major U.S. brands (including 4 in my most recent CC billing cycle) and I don't think I've ever had this charge/refund cycle. Also, credit card authorizations can last for up to a month. It's perfectly normal for rental car agencies and hotels to use authorizations and then clear the charge at return/checkout.
    – reirab
    Mar 21, 2023 at 6:58
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    @reirab: My experience is in the US with National/Enterprise and several other cheaper/sketchier companies. Some of them didn't have a deposit at all, but the ones that did, did it as a charge/refund, and it totally makes sense for them to do it that way. Mar 21, 2023 at 12:40
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    You may be right, but I've rented cars in over a dozen countries (including the United States and across the reputable to sketchy spectrum) and have never witnessed a deposit being carried out this way. I've seen holds many times, but never charges and refunds. And I pay pretty close attention to this stuff, so I think I would've noticed it. Mar 21, 2023 at 13:38
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    @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE I have rented quite a few cars in the U.S. from both National/Enterprise and Hertz (I have status with both National and Hertz) and I don't recall ever seeing them do this.
    – reirab
    Mar 21, 2023 at 15:23
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The same thing happened to me when I rented a car in England and declined the Collision Damage insurance. (The rental agency did not believe that my credit card provided collision insurance).

Assuming that they're honest and credit you with the money when you return the car, there are still three annoyances that you'll have to deal with. One is that this may push you close to your credit limit. The second is that the rental may cross card billing cycles, so you'll have to pay credit card interest.

The third is arbitrage. Let's say they charge you 22000 Turkish lira. That will show up as a $1150 charge on your card. Two weeks later you return the car and the rental company returns your entire deposit of 22000 lira. But the exchange rate may have fluctuated, and that 22000 might be worth $1200 ☺️ or $1100 ☹️. When I was in England, the pound increased in value by enough to cover the full cost of my rental, but it can easily work the other way.

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    Further to arbitrage: I have been bitten by a VISA card (20 years ago) where the transaction was refunded within minutes, but VISA used a different exchange rate in one direction to the other, leading to me being charged several dollars for a service that was fully refunded. Mar 22, 2023 at 4:19
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    Great point. And yes, they said they'd add the hold after I declined the CDW. Mar 22, 2023 at 4:39
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    At least on U.S.-issued credit cards, interest isn't charged unless you carry a balance past the statement due date. At least on all of the ones that I've had, refunds are counted as payments, so, even if the statement closes during the rental, the refund will count as a payment towards the most recent statement's remaining unpaid balance (if any) as soon as it posts, so you just end up paying the difference between the original charge and the refund and no interest is assessed.
    – reirab
    Mar 22, 2023 at 5:56
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    @reirab Yes, you're correct. I was thinking about longer (3–4 week) rentals, where you might rent the car just before the statement came out, and not return it until after the due date.
    – AndyB
    Mar 22, 2023 at 23:33
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    @JosephDoggie Right, that was why I caveated it with "unless you carry a balance past the statement due date." As long as you pay the balance in full before the due date each month, there is no interest charge.
    – reirab
    Mar 23, 2023 at 15:01

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