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How to Rent a Boat without a Credit Card

No credit check boat rentals are more common than you’d think. When you get into the realm of renting and even leasing water vehicles, many of the credit hurdles you’d have to leap when buying aren’t going to be in your way.

In most cases, the advice I give is going to apply whether you’re renting a center-console boat like a Mako or a Boston Whaler, a Hunter 212 sailboat, or nice paddle boat like the tandem kayak. Heck, this should apply for something as simple as a tube rental.

If you do need a credit card, remember my original advice about the secured credit cards. I’ll repeat it below for those who didn’t read the homepage of this site: secured credit cards help you build credit while giving you pay your bills and entertainment expenses. People don’t like the idea of getting a credit card with collateral, but this often teaches them good credit habits.

Ski Boat Rentals with No Credit Check

Renting a Boat with Bad Credit Is Easier Than It Is Renting a Car.

In most cases, that won’t be needed for water vehicle rentals.

The nature of the business of renting boats makes it necessary for these lakeside mom-and-pop rental businesses to trust their customer base more than a big corporation would.

It helps that these people often know their customers. The boat rental industry is much different than auto rentals.

Boat Rental Companies

As far as I know, you won’t find a counterpart to the “Rent-a-Wreck” company which offers no credit car rentals. The patchwork nature of America’s lakes, rivers, and beach resorts means you’ll find a patchwork of smaller local and regional boat rental outfits.

That’s good, because you’ll be dealing with Mom-and-Pop businesses where a personal touch means the most. Some of these companies have payment policies that don’t require a credit card at all.

Houseboat Rentals

Many of the prominent online ads for houseboat rentals stipulate no credit cards of any kind. Instead, you pay the entire rental free in cash, through a mailed personal check, or a certified check. These payments are often made weeks in advance–often up to a month in advance. Credit cards or debit cards aren’t allowed.

That’s a great set-up for people who wouldn’t be able to rent a houseboat going through the usual credit process. Check with the lakes and seaside boat rentals places in your local area to see what the policies are. Many times, the lack of a good credit history is no impediment at all. In almost all cases, you’ll need to be 18 (or even 21) years old to make a rental.

Keep in mind that the houseboat rental is often for parties taking off on a lake or down the coast and that the boat is captained by an employee of the renting company, so the credit card isn’t needed for many of the reasons it would be needed in a car rental. When I was younger man, I was a member of the crew on one of these 80-foot houseboat rentals. That was a lot of fun for both the crew and the party-goers, er, customers. Amazing enough, “The Oasis” on Lake Texoma is still in business, though they need to update their calendar.

Pontoon Boat Rentals

Renting a pontoon boat is going to require a deposit for an all-day rental. These usually require cash or credit. Debit cards work in place of the credit card and you’ll need to show a drivers license to rent the watercraft. Many places require someone 21 years or older to rent the pontoons. They’ll prefer you use a credit card, since clean-up fees, damages, and cancelled reservations can be charged to it. Once again, debit cards work as an alternative in most cases. This information is going to apply to most variations of pontoon boats, including skitoons and maxitoons.

Also, tow tube rentals follow the same general pattern.

Renting Jet Skis

Jet ski rentals are going to be an option, if you have the cash to cover rentals and a deposit. Renting jet skis is more feasible than many boat rentals, because a jet ski is a 1 or 2 person vehicle and the fees are going to be less expensive. If you’re renting for one hour, your bill is going to be less. Credit and debit cards are preferred, but not absolutely needed.

Boat Rental Safety Message

When renting a water vehicle, remember to practice good safety habits. I’m sure I’m being a fuddy-duddy, but I’m supposed to be a voice of reason. To that end, I’ve posted a 10-minute boating safety message from Georgia wildlife officials. While the laws and regulations vary from state-to-state, most of the safety rules tend to be standard in the United States. This is a good reminder for people about to navigate the lakes and rivers of America.

Boating safety is a lot like credit card habits: practicing a few common sense policies help you stay safe and secure. In both cases, maintaining your good sense allows the fun to continue. Stay clear of the hazards and you’ll end up with a lot of good memories. Ignore the pitfalls and trouble ensues.

Long Term Planning: Secured Credit Cards

If the boat rental places in your area require you to use a credit card, sign up for a secured credit card. This works more like a home mortgage would, except on a micro level. You put up collateral to get a credit card. If you don’t pay your bill, your creditor eventually has the right to take the collateral as payment. If you do pay your bill on time, the secured credit card helps you build up credit while doing cool things like renting boats for your family outings.

When applying for a secured line of credit, check for two things. One, make sure the creditor reports this card activity to the credit bureaus, so you’re building good credit while you spend. Two, don’t agree to a lending plan which requires you to pay monthly insurance: it’s a scam. Your collateral should be all the insurance you need and those credit card insurance policies eat up your disposable income.

Whatever the case, if you want to rent boats, jet skis, and pontoons, you should have no trouble. Come with a deposit. Be polite to the manager or owner of the rental place. Discuss the options with respect and you should be motoring around the lake in no time.

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