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"Credit Check" when renting a car???!?!

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I meant to post this when we got back from our trip in September, but forgot, so here goes:

DH and I flew into Chicago for his sister's wedding. We go to Hertz at ORD to rent a car for the weekend. He hands the counter agent his debit card to pay and the agent says that he'll "need to run a credit check" on us to rent us the car.

I thought this sounded suspicious and absurd. I've never encountered that sort of thing before when renting a vehicle or in any other travel arrangements. Have you? Why on earth would Hertz need to check our credit?

We were paying with a debit card issued by a national bank with a Visa symbol on it.

I was really irked. :-L What gives?

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