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.
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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.
- Consider joining AAA or USAA: AAA has the partnership with Hertz, and USAA has partnerships with a few companies including Hertz and Avis. Note that in order to be eligible for USAA, you must meet its standards for military involvement or affiliation.
- 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.
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