Last Updated on January 16, 2021 by Michael
Car rentals for drivers under 25 usually mean sky-high prices thanks to onerous young renter fees. The good news is that AutoSlash has your back. We can help you avoid young renter fees and make sure you don’t overpay for a rental car.
Note: At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic last spring, several rental car companies stepped up with temporary promotions to waive young renter fees. This is a big deal, since young renter fees can be $30 per day.
Car Rental Fees for Young Drivers
A young renter fee (also called an under-25 fee or underage fee) is a daily fee that compensates the rental car company for the extra risk posed by young renters. Multiple studies show that drivers under the age of 25 are a riskier class of drivers.
Car rentals for drivers under 25 are not cheap. Young renter fees can range from $15 to $57 per day, depending on the rental car company. In many cases, the young renter fee can cost more than the rate itself. This daily fee is then subjected to taxes, which makes it a fee we hope you can avoid.
Car Rental Young Renter Fees by State
Most rental car companies will only rent to drivers 21 and older, but there are exceptions. Dollar and Thrifty set the minimum age to rent a car at 20, while Fox Rent a Car requires drivers to be 19 or older. The youngest minimum of all? Hertz recently lowered its minimum age to 18 in the U.S., except in Alabama and Nebraska, where the minimum age to rent is 19.
Two states, Michigan and New York, require companies to rent to drivers 18 and older, but car rental companies have discretion on the fee. At Alamo, for example, the fee for drivers under 21 is a hefty $57 per day, plus tax, in addition to the rental car cost. So a 20-year old renting an Alamo vehicle at New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is going to pay $75.91 in young renter fees (and associated taxes) per day, on top of the rental rate.
The exceptions are Michigan and New York, where the minimum rental age is 18. The other exception is that U.S. government employees and military personnel can rent at 18 if they are able to show official orders at the rental location.
Rental Cars Off Limits to Young Drivers
For car rentals for drivers under 25, the categories are often limited. Default car categories (economy, compact, intermediate, standard, and full-size) are usually permissible while sports cars, exotic cars, premium, and luxury vehicles are typically off-limits. Only two companies (Payless and Sixt) explicitly allow young renters to rent minivans.
Car Rental Requirements for Drivers Under 25
To rent a car, you need to meet all of the rental car company’s driver qualifications. This includes having a valid driver’s license, credit card in the driver’s name with enough credit available for the vehicle along with any deposits, and authorizations for additional services. Procuring a credit card is a challenge for the youngest renters after the Credit CARD Act of 2009 placed restrictions on issuing credit cards to those under the age of 21. Paying for a rental car with a debit card may be possible but comes with a multitude of restrictions and requirements.
Memberships That Save Young Drivers Money
Rental car companies are in it to make a profit, so if a customer isn’t exempt from a fee, the company will impose it. The single best method for minimizing a rental car bill is avoiding these fees through memberships.
Hertz created a Young Driver Fee Waiver for AAA members aged 20 to 24. In addition to waiving the Young Renter Fee with rentals from Hertz, AAA membership also provides the Roadside Protection Services and offers family rates where younger drivers can be added for a minimal cost. The reservation must be booked under the AAA rate code to be eligible for the fee waiver. This fee waiver is not global; it’s available only in the U.S. and Canada.
Better yet, Hertz recently lowered the minimum age to rent a vehicle to 18 in the U.S., except Alabama and Nebraska where the minimum age to rent is 19. Hertz also lowered the minimum age for enrollment for its Gold Plus Rewards Program to 18 years old. This means it makes even more sense for 20 year olds to rent through Hertz since they can both avoid the underage fee and also skip the counter.
Membership in the USAA is consistently a good deal for service members (and family members of service members) between the ages of 18 and 24. The fee waivers at Avis, Budget and Hertz for USAA members starts at age 18, while the fee waiver at Enterprise starts at the age of 21.
As with the AAA rate, a reservation must be booked under the USAA rate to be eligible for the fee waiver; membership alone isn’t enough, USAA benefits are also only valid within the United States.
Underage fees for car rentals are expensive, and AutoSlash wants to help young renters avoid them whenever possible. Our chart explains the basics.
|Age||Program||Rental Car Company|
|Under 18||Not Possible||None|
|18||USAA||Avis, Budget, Hertz|
|19||USAA||Avis, Budget, Hertz|
|20||USAA||Avis, Budget, Hertz|
|21 – 24||AAA||Hertz|
|21 – 24||USAA||Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz|
How Drivers Under 25 Can Waive Fees
Federal Employees and Active-Duty Military
Active duty military and federal employees on orders may rent at Alamo, Avis, National, and Enterprise starting at the age of 18 without a Young Renter fee. However, vehicles booked by an individual on government orders is likely booked through a service like Defense Travel System (DTS).
If you are active-duty military not traveling on orders, join USAA immediately. You’ll be entitled to a young renter fee waiver starting at age 18 (with Hertz) and with four more companies once you turn 21. USAA members also receive an insurance benefit on their rentals at the four main providers.
Insurance Replacement Rentals
If you need a replacement car after an accident, some rental car companies will waive fees for young renters. However, this depends on whether your insurance company has negotiated favorable rates with the rental car companies.
Employer Negotiated Rates
Car rentals for drivers under 25 can also be more affordable if the renter is doing company business. The rules and eligibility of those reservations are controlled by agreements between corporations and individual rental car companies.
Limited-Time and Uncertain Exceptions
From time-to-time, limited-time exceptions to the young rental fee also arise. Dollar and Hertz have both been known to cut down fees temporarily, especially at the beginning of calendar years. In addition, the Hertz Gold Family program (as of January 2017) appears to waive the underage fee on rentals in Canada. A caveat: The ability to waive the underage fee on U.S. rentals was recently removed, so we fear the dissolution of this program.