Data breakthrough enables Dollar, Thrifty to ease restrictions on car rentals

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The U.S. car rental industry has frustrated many young adults for years with special restrictions and credit checks for customers who try to pay with a debit card. But big data is bringing some relief.

For debit card users, Dollar Rent A Car and its sibling operation Thrifty Car Rental are eliminating mandatory credit checks and cutting the temporary hold placed on cards to no more than $200, from $350, and lowering the car renter age restriction from 25 to 20 years old, Dollar announced on Tuesday.

"With the data we have today, we're able to better understand what contributes to the risk of a rental, and we're able to create a better policy because of it," Dollar explained in an emailed statement.

Drivers may now book a car with Dollar up to 24 hours in advance using their own debit card, with no need to show proof of return travel, Dollar said in a press release.

For car rentals booked with a debit card less than 24 hours in advance, or luxury vehicles, drivers must still show two forms of identification and provide details of their return trip.

“Listening to our customers and providing a better experience is in our DNA here at Dollar, and that’s why leading the industry with this big policy change is so important to us,” said Susan Jacobs, senior vice president of Dollar Brand global, in the release.

Hertz in 2012 acquired Dollar, which operates 210 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Hertz also owns Thrifty Car Rental, with 155 locations, but the new rental ad payment policies apply only to the company's Dollar and Thrifty divisions, a company spokesperson said.

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