How to Avoid Paying the Under 25 Car Rental Fee

If you are younger than 25 and need to rent a car, look for offers or companies that waive the underage fee.

Sally FrenchJun 8, 2021
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Renting a car when you’re under 25 can be surprisingly difficult and costly because of young driver surcharges. If you fall in this age range, you could pay hundreds of dollars more than a 26-year-old with a couple of speeding tickets, no matter how perfect your own driving record is. Some rental car companies won’t even serve you if you’re under a certain age.

But it’s possible to avoid paying (or at least reduce the cost of) the under 25 car rental fee. Some car rental companies charge less than others, and some membership programs — like AAA and USAA — can get some (or all) of those fees waived. And other car rental companies don’t charge underage driver fees at all.

Here’s what you need to know about avoiding underage rental car fees when you’re under 25.

How to waive or reduce the under 25 fee

One of the best ways to not have to pay underage rental fees is through membership in certain programs.

Rent with Hertz, where AAA waives young driver fees

Hertz has among the steepest underage driver fees, yet the fees are among the easiest to get around because of the partnership between AAA and Hertz. AAA benefits when renting through Hertz include a waived young renter fee for members from ages 18 to 24 who also meet standard rental qualifications.

Other Hertz-related benefits for AAA members include discounts of up to 20% off, waived additional driver fees and free use of one infant seat or child booster seat with every rental.

How to become a AAA member: AAA membership costs vary based on location and level of coverage, though it typically ranges from about $40 to $165 per person, per year.

Even with the lowest tier of membership, the cost will likely end up as a net savings, meaning you nearly always break even on your AAA fee with just one Hertz rental per year. Throw in the other discounts and services, and AAA membership is worth it if you’re an underage driver looking to rent with Hertz.

Nerdy tip: Many major hotel brands offer special discount rates on rooms for AAA members. This is another great way to get even more value out of your AAA membership on top of car rental savings.

Check with your employer or university for underage fee waivers

Some employers and universities have partnerships with rental car companies that provide benefits for employees, alumni and students like discounted rates and waived underage driver fees.

Check your employer’s benefits portal or alumni website for potential car rental discounts.

Rent through nontraditional rental car companies

While most typical car rental companies have underage surcharges, there’s an increasing number of alternatives that charge smaller fees or none at all.

Silvercar

If you want to roll around town in a luxury car, look to Silvercar by Audi, which rents Audi sedans and SUVs. Silvercar rental locations are typically found at Audi dealerships and off-site airport locations.

To rent with Silvercar, you typically must be at least 22 years old at the time of rental, and Silvercar doesn't have an underage rental car surcharge in most cases. The exception is if you’re renting in New York, where you only have to be 18 years old and pay a $75 daily surcharge.

While the Silvercar rental cost varies based on the vehicle chosen, rates start at about $49 per day (though you could also pay more than $100 per day). Considering that $49 isn't much more than the underage surcharge at some rental car companies, you might save money even if the base car rental price is more expensive.

Getaround

If you’re annoyed that a 24-year-old with a perfect driving record could owe hundreds of dollars more than someone just a few months older, Getaround has a solid solution. The company, which operates as a sort of Airbnb for cars, uses a tiered system for its underage surcharge.

Here’s how much you’ll pay when you rent with Getaround and are under 25:

Age

Under 25 Fee

19

75% of trip price

20

45% of trip price

21

25% of trip price

22

15% of trip price

23

10% of trip price

24

5% of trip price

25

None

Your trip cost could be hefty if you’re closer to age 19, but if you’re 24, you won’t owe much more than older folks.

Turo and Zipcar

Like Getaround, both Zipcar and Turo have tiered underage driver fees, but unlike Getaround, there are just two tiers.

No matter which tier you fall into, the Turo young driver fee is on the higher end for U.S. rentals: $30 per day if you’re 21 to 25 years old, and $50 a day if you’re 18 to 20.

For shorter rentals, Zipcar's young driver fee could be among the lowest you’ll find, even if you’re 18. For most U.S. trips, you’ll pay $1 per hour and $12 per day if you’re 18-20, and 70 cents per hour and $10 per day if you're 21-24. There are some exceptions, such as certain membership plans (which may waive the fee) and cars rented in New York (where the fee is higher).

If you need a Zipcar for just an hour, you’d pay $13 as an 18-year-old. Though, if you’re taking it for a whole 24-hour block, it would cost $36.

Take advantage of the USAA car rental fee waiver

If you’re a member of the United Services Automobile Association and younger than 25, you might be able to get fees waived at some of the biggest car rental companies, including Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz.

You’ll have to currently be enrolled in military schooling, such as a trade school or military academy, to qualify, and the fee waiver applies to rentals at participating U.S.-based locations. When renting through Avis, Budget and Hertz, the minimum USAA car rental age is 18, and — if you qualify — USAA waives the young driver fee through deals they’ve negotiated with the rental companies.

Here’s what you need to know about the USAA under 25 car rental fee waiver, by rental company:

Avis: Young driver fee (average $27 per day) waived for USAA members from 18 to 24 years old.

Budget: Young driver fee (average $27 per day) waived for USAA members from 18 to 24 years old.

Enterprise: Young driver fee (average $20 per day) waived for USAA members from 21 to 24 years old.

Hertz: Young driver fee (average $30 per day) waived for USAA members from 18 to 24 years old.

How to become a USAA member: USAA membership is open to current and former military and their spouses, as well as children of USAA members. Beyond avoiding the underage rental car fee, membership entails access to USAA banking and insurance products, and other travel and shopping discounts. As long as you qualify, membership is free.

But to rent a car using USAA benefits, you may have to be more than just a member. USAA said you may also be asked for proof of USAA insurance or a military ID at the rental car counter to get the fee waived.

Underage fees and other policies at major rental car companies

Underage driver fees vary based on the car rental company you’re using. Here are the general underage driver policies at the major rental car companies. Keep in mind that some states have their own rules for younger drivers. Fees and policies could vary depending on where you’re renting.

Alamo Rent a Car

Can you rent a car at age 18? Generally, no. The minimum age to rent an Alamo vehicle in most cases is 21 years old.

Underage surcharge: About $20 a day (though exact figures vary by location).

Some restrictions/requirements for renting a car if you’re underage:

  • You are restricted to renting from certain car classes only.

  • You will pay an additional per day surcharge.

Some exceptions to the car rental age limit (not a comprehensive list):

  • You’re a member of the U.S. military or a government employee age 18 or older and are renting for authorized government travel.

  • You’re renting in New York or Michigan, in which case the minimum age is 18.

Budget Rent a Car

Can you rent a car at age 18? Yes, with restrictions.

Underage surcharge: $27 per day.

Some restrictions/requirements for renting a car if you’re underage:

  • You must show proof of: an accepted credit card (not a debit card), a valid driver’s license and an official student ID.

  • You will pay an additional per day surcharge.

  • You aren't allowed to rent most larger or luxury cars, which includes premium SUVs, passenger vans.

Some exceptions to car rental age limit (not a comprehensive list):

  • You’re getting a replacement vehicle through select insurance providers and are at least 18 years old.

  • You’re renting with certain employer corporate rates and are at least 21 years old.

  • You’re U.S. government personnel with a government purchase order and are at least 18 years old.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Can you rent a car at age 18? Generally, no. The minimum age to rent an Enterprise vehicle in most cases is 21 years old.

Underage surcharge: About $25 per day (though exact figures vary by location).

Some restrictions/requirements for renting a car if you’re underage:

  • You may not be allowed to rent certain types of cars (typically larger or luxury vehicles).

Some exceptions to car rental age limit (not a comprehensive list):

  • A U.S. government employee can rent at 18 years of age, but must be able to provide official orders.

  • You’re renting in New York or Michigan, in which case the minimum age is 18 or older. However, a young driver surcharge still applies (and it’s higher if you’re 18-20 years old versus 21-24).

  • You may be able to rent if you’re 18 to 24 years old and your vehicle is being repaired.

Hertz

Can you rent a car at age 18? Generally, no. The minimum age to rent a Hertz vehicle in most cases is 20 years old.

Underage surcharge: Up to $52 per day (can vary by car).

Some restrictions/requirements for renting a car if you’re underage:

  • You may not rent Hertz’s Dream Cars, Prestige and Adrenaline collections, and certain specialty vehicles.

  • You must show proof of a valid debit or credit card and a valid driver’s license in good standing for over a year.

  • You will pay an additional per day surcharge.

Some exceptions to car rental age limit (not a comprehensive list):

  • You’re renting in New York or Michigan, in which case the minimum age is 18.

Thrifty Car Rental

Can you rent a car at age 18? Generally, no. The minimum age to rent a Thrifty vehicle in most cases is 20 years old.

Underage surcharge: About $27 per day (though it varies by location).

Some restrictions/requirements for renting a car if you’re underage:

  • You may not rent some specialty vehicle classes, such as the StyleSeries.

  • You must show proof of a valid debit or credit card and a valid driver’s license.

  • You will pay an additional per day surcharge.

Some exceptions to car rental age limit (not a comprehensive list):

  • You’re renting in New York or Michigan, in which case the minimum age is 18.

  • You are U.S. military personnel or a government employee and can provide official government paperwork, in which case the minimum age is 18.

Other things to know about under 25 car rental fees

You’ll likely owe more at the counter than the rate quoted online

In most cases, car rental companies don’t verify your identification when you reserve a rental car online. That also means they generally don’t bake in the underage driver fee in your quoted rate. Be prepared to owe more at the counter than what the initial booking receipt suggests if you’re under 25 years old.

Some fees vary by state

Some states have their own rules, so you could get hit with varying fees. For example, at Budget’s New York corporate-operated locations, there’s an additional $84-per-day underage surcharge for drivers 18 to 20 years old and $35-per-day surcharge for drivers 21 to 24. At Budget’s corporate-owned locations in Michigan, there’s an additional $41-per-day underage surcharge for drivers 18 to 20 and $28-per-day surcharge for drivers 21 to 24 years old.

A young driver fee isn't the same as insurance (you’ll need that, too)

Not only do drivers under 25 typically have to pay a young driver fee, but you’ll also need to have rental car insurance. Rental car insurance typically isn’t any more expensive based on your age. What’s more, it’s fairly easy to avoid paying extra for the rental car insurance offered at the counter.

If you already own a car, then your existing auto insurance policy may cover you. Many credit cards also provide coverage for rental cars when you use that card to pay for the rental and the rental is in your name. Or it might make more sense to purchase a standalone rental car policy rather than purchase it from the rental car company. You generally need to decline the rental company’s coverage to use these options.

Alternate transportation methods worth considering

You’re seeking advice on how to avoid the under 25 car rental fee, but what if you avoid the car rental entirely? Depending on the nature of your trip, it might turn out to be more cost-efficient to go with alternative transportation.

Use Uber, Lyft or other ridesharing services

You’ll pay per ride, but an Uber or Lyft might end up saving you money over a rental car, especially if you won’t actually be taking very many rides on a trip.

Plus, you’ll save on parking costs while avoiding the hassle of trying to find parking in the first place. You’ll get to avoid rental car counter lines, and you won’t have to worry about navigating an area you’re unfamiliar with.

If you hold The Platinum Card® from American Express or the American Express® Gold Card, your Uber ride could be completely covered or significantly discounted. As of Feb. 4, 2021, customers with the American Express® Gold Card now get $10 a month in Uber Cash, which can be used toward Uber rides or U.S. UberEats orderswhen you add the card to your Uber app. With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll receive $15 per month in Uber Cash, and a $20 annual bonus in December ($35 total credits for the month). Terms apply.

Take a different type of 'road trip'

It’s no secret that road trips are one of the hottest travel trends since the coronavirus pandemic started. A National Park road trip can take you to a new part of the world while largely avoiding crowds, and driving your own car can often turn out to be cheaper than flying and renting a car.

But you don’t necessarily need to rent a car to tour the off-the-beaten-path parts of the country. Consider a train ride, traveling from one city to the next by rail. Some trains have sleeper cars so you don’t even need to get off and find a hotel.

To save money, look for railroad loyalty programs like Amtrak Guest Rewards, which allows you to earn points from other travel and even everyday shopping to earn points toward free train tickets.

Also consider using privately-operated buses headed to where you need to go. For example, rather than rent a car to go from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe for a ski weekend, it’s not uncommon to take a ski bus. You don’t need to worry about underage driver fees or driving in snow — and they’ll often throw in free hot cocoa for the ride home. Or look to intercity bus services like Megabus for travel between major cities.

The bottom line

Rental cars can quickly get costly if you’re underage. For most people, joining AAA is the best way to get that under 25 car rental fee waived. Though, depending on your affiliation with employers, the military or a university, you may be eligible to avoid the young driver surcharge in other ways.


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