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Bob Moon: Maybe you’re stuck in holiday traffic and maybe you don’t need me to tell you this. But, AAA has estimated a 6 percent increase in car travel over last Memorial Day. Now, presumably, a lot of those are rentals. But given how many folks have had cards canceled in recent years we wondered how tough it might be to rent a car for the holiday without plastic.
Marketplace’s Gregory Warner found a place that caters to just those customers.
LESLIE WELLER: Thank you for calling Just 4 Wheels this is Leslie may I help you?
GREGORY WARNER: When Leslie Weller answers the phone at this family-owned car rental agency in Berlin, N.J., she always gives people another option if they don’t have a credit card.
WELLER: If you’d like to rent with debit card or cash? You just need to bring your most recent pay stub and your most recent utility bill with you.
Leslie is the manager here at Just 4 Wheels.
WELLER: Yes, mmhm.
She says if you want to rent a car with cash, you have to put down a deposit of $250.
WELLER: A lot of people don’t qualify for a major credit card, or maybe they don’t believe in credit cards. For whatever reason, we’re able to get a wider range of people to be able to rent with us.
And give Just 4 Wheels a small advantage over national chains like Enterprise and Hertz. The strategy might be working. Leslie says her voice is hoarse from dealing with all these Memorial weekend travelers. The tiny office can get jammed though its pretty quiet now. On her desk is a snow globe — she uses it to distract children while she rents to their parents.
WELLER: How are you! You returning?
Just 4 Wheels grew out of a used car dealership in Atlantic City and now has eight other locations besides this one in South Jersey. Overall, the company reports that business is up from the past three years — though vacations are still short and more families are doing what Leslie calls, “clustering.”
WELLER: Like maybe two families get together and they rent two or three passenger vans to get the whole group together.
Those passenger vans also appeal to sports teams. Today Leslie sent two van-fulls of roller hockey players to Florida, a swim team to Virginia, and a baseball team to Michigan. And there’s still hours to go before the end of her shift.
WELLER: You’re all set! You take care. Have a wonderful holiday with your family. Thanks again.
In Berlin, N.J., I’m Gregory Warner for Marketplace.
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