If you fly to a fun destination or your ride breaks down, renting a car has you covered. But not every driver qualifies for a rental due to their age.
This means if you are searching for a car rental and you‘re not yet 25, you may be stopped in your tracks. Almost universally, rent-a-car companies do not typically rent their vehicles to anyone under 25 and it is perfectly legal for them to do that. Here’s how to rent a vehicle in your name even if you are underaged.
HOW to Rent a Car When Under 25
Step #1 – Find a Company with Exceptions to the Rule
The age 25 minimum is not a hard and fast rule with every company. Certainly, you may not qualify for a luxury car rental or a sports car rental, but you might qualify for dozens of other models.
Companies that make exceptions to the rule include the Dollar, Thrifty, and Hertz brands. All three are owned by Hertz. Others making an exception to the rule include Enterprise, Avis, Budget, Alamo, Advantage, and Alamo. Even Turo, the company that arranges rentals between private owners and consumers, has an exceptions clause.
Step #2 – Find the Age Restrictions
Even with the Under 25 exception, not everyone qualifies for a rental car. Most companies, though, allow drivers from 20-24 to apply for a car rental. In a few instances, drivers as young as 18 may also be eligible per state law.
The one exception applies to drivers under 18. We have not seen a single company make an allowance for the youngest drivers. Most likely, companies want drivers with at least some behind-the-wheel experience in addition to holding legal liability in the event of an accident.
Step #3 – Read the Fine Print
Just because a company allows you to rent their cars under special exceptions does not mean you will want to move forward with them. The devil is in the details, and it is the contract that reveals whether an offer is worth pursuing or not.
Through our research, we discovered that there is a common thread for those car rental companies that allow younger drivers. Firstly, you need to hold a valid driver’s license for at least one year. Moreover, you must be in good standing. This means no recent suspensions may appear on your record.
Secondly, drivers must possess a valid debit or credit card. This means the name on the card must match the name of the person renting the vehicle. Thirdly, be prepared to pay the Younger Renter Fee (as Dollar and Enterprise call it) or the Youthful Surcharge (Alamo). Regardless of the name, be prepared to pay an extra $20 to $29 per day on top of the other fees.
Step #4 – Rent a Car
The last step in the rent a car process involves following through on your decision. Usually, this means making a reservation online to secure your ride. You’ll be required to choose the location where you’ll retrieve the car, supply the dates of the rental, and list the class of vehicle desired (e.g., compact SUV, large pickup truck, midsize sedan).
Next, supply your payment information. Companies usually allow drivers to either pay in entirety or to supply their debit or credit card for full payment later. Opt for collision insurance if your personal insurance doesn’t cover that.
Once you complete the reservation, you’ll receive a receipt with your reservation number and other pertinent details.
Finally, on the day of the rental, head to your rental car location with your driver’s license and debit or credit card to get the keys to your vehicle. Head to the vehicle, perform a walkaround to ensure everything is okay, start the car, and record your mileage. Ensure that the gas tank is full before leaving as you will refuel it before dropping it off.
Can You Rent a Car When Under 20?
Individual companies may have special rules for drivers. For instance, Enterprise rents cars to U.S. government employees as young as 18 provided the drivers supply their official orders. As for other rules and restrictions, check with the car rental company.
WHERE to Rent a Car if You’re Under 25
Now you know that it’s possible to rent a car if you’re under 25 years of age. But, will all car rental companies allow it? Unfortunately, no. Many of the major car rental companies simply draw the line and insist that drivers be at least 25 years old.
But all is not lost. Here are a few companies that will allow car rentals to individuals under 25 under certain conditions.
1. Dollar Rent a Car
If you are under 25 and have a valid driver’s license, you can rent a vehicle from Dollar Rent a Car. However, you cannot rent a luxury car, like a BMW 5 Series, but you should be able to rent a mainstream model, such as a Toyota Corolla or a Chevrolet Equinox.
You will be charged an underage document fee if you rent from Dollar. That price is set locally, so contact the rental outlet you are considering using. Tip: Try to negotiate the fee away or at least have it reduced. A talk with the manager may prove helpful here. Besides showing your driver’s license you need to supply proof of insurance.
You can rent a car at Enterprise if you are under 25, but a “youthful driver fee” is also charged. Across the board, the minimum driving age to rent an Enterprise vehicle is 21, except in two states. If you are at least 21 and not yet 25, then you may be charged a higher rate.
Enterprise will not rent certain types of vehicle to younger drivers. Typically, certain specialty models and larger sized vehicles cannot be rented. If you live in New York or Michigan, you are allowed to rent from Enterprise as young as 18. However, you will incur a per diem charge that is over and above your daily rental rate.
Renters who are US government employees only need to be 18 to rent a car. They will not be hit with a young driver surcharge provided the rental is for government purposes.
3. Go Off Brand
Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, Avis and the rest of the major car rental companies may not give you a break if you are under 25. Or at least not the break you may think you deserve.
Fortunately, there are rental car companies that operate on a much smaller scale and may be willing to take a chance with you. For example, E-Z Rental Car with locations in just 10 states, typically rents to licensed drivers who are at least 18 years old.
You may pay more if you are a younger driver, but you may also be entitled to certain discounts, such as 5 percent off if you are a student. Further, you may be entitled to additional discounts if you are in the military, are a government employee, are employed by a school or a service worker.
Lastly, the rates for many off-brand companies is often quite a bit lower than the high-priced competitors — giving you net savings that can erase any surcharge.
Rental Car Considerations
You can save money on a rental car if you are under 25 by shopping around. Besides exploring your off-brand options (Ace, Payless and Sixt should also be considered), your credit card may provide additional discounts as well as insurance savings and allow you to save on certain fees. Be mindful of extras that can be avoided and always refill the tank before you return your car rental.
To sum up, it isn’t so much the restrictions that the car rental companies place on you that make for a difficult time renting, but the savings you can find through comparison shopping and by claiming your discounts.