Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.
Recently, I had to book my first rental car for a solo trip to a friend’s wedding. I flew into another state and needed a rental car to drive the three hours from the airport to the wedding venue. At 24 years old, I had never needed to rent a car until this point.
I had heard that there were underage-driver fees, but was unsure how significant they were. Until, that is, I found a great way to avoid paying them.
» Learn more: Looking for more travel hacks? Visit our travel community
The cost difference was big
I expected additional fees as an underage driver, but what I did not expect was my reservation costing more than double the base rate because of my age. And that’s where I got really frustrated.
I’m 24. I’ve been married over three years, have a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old. I have an engineering degree. I also have an almost perfect driving record (here’s to you, 5-miles-over speeding ticket at age 19!).
It honestly felt laughable that as a young professional, wife, and mom of two I would have to pay an underage fee. Also annoying: This reservation was made about one month before my 25th birthday. One customer service representative even joked with me to “be a little patient” and wait the month. I joked back that my friend would need to move her wedding, so no.
Now, I understand there are statistics that have led to these charges, but does the fee need to be greater than the base cost of the rental car?
How I avoided paying the underage fee
While I wish I could say I had a completely free fix to avoiding the underage fee, unfortunately I can’t. What I did find, though, was a solution that saved me money and got us a service in return: I joined AAA to get my Hertz underage-driver fee waived.
Hertz and AAA have a partnership where Hertz waives AAA members’ underage fees on Hertz rental car reservations. In my case, the AAA basic membership cost me $52 for the year (cost will vary by location), but the underage driver fee was $90, so I saved $38 on this specific reservation and got AAA for the year.
Your underage options
If you aren’t 25 yet, you have a few options.
Your employer may have a corporate program that waives fees, including on personal trips.
Opt to use Uber, Lyft, or other transit during your stay.
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Young small-business travelers spend more than older counterparts The cheapest way to rent a car: 9 tips 9 easy ways to earn travel rewards you’ll actually use