How to Avoid Paying Extra Fees on Your Car Rental When You’re Under 25

Illustration for article titled How to Avoid Paying Extra Fees on Your Car Rental When You're Under 25
Photo: Carl Court (Getty Images)

When you’re over the age of 24, your options in life are endless—at least when it comes to renting a car. But if you’re a young driver, you better saddle up to the idea of renting an old minivan with crazy, added fees.

Smarter Travel recently addressed the problem of these hefty car-rental surcharges you have to deal with when you’re under 25. The reason for the extra fees is simple: Young people are considered the riskiest drivers and car rental companies want to protect themselves from this risk by building in fees, restrictions, and even limiting certain car types from young drivers. No Porsche for you!


These restrictions also depend on the state you live in. You might have trouble renting a car at all if you’re under 21, though states like New York and Michigan are exceptions. (You can rent a car at 18 in both these places.) And if you’re under 18, you have few options, if any.

As for those between 18 and 25, young-renter fees are avoidable if you rent through certain companies or through your employer.


Rent through Hertz

If you want to avoid an additional charge for being under 25, Hertz allows for a young renter’s fee waiver in its new partnership with AAA. This eliminates its standard $30 daily fee for drivers between the ages of 20 and 25, though you’ll be limited to certain kinds of cars.

If you haven’t joined AAA yet, it might be worth joining in the long run, too. “AAA membership is pretty cheap (starting at about $50 per year, depending on where you live) and comes with a host of other benefits and savings, so it’s a no-brainer for someone under 25,” Chris Luth, head of operations at Autoslash, said in an email.


To obtain the fee waiver, you’ll have to contact AAA to get a code and apply that to your rental through Hertz, if you’re booking online.

Illustration for article titled How to Avoid Paying Extra Fees on Your Car Rental When You're Under 25
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Book through your employer

If you’ve recently joined the workforce, you might be able to avoid the young renter’s fee through your employer, if it’s a larger organization. Companies often negotiate corporate rates that waive these fees. Even if they haven’t, a negotiated rate through your employer is still cheaper than you would likely book otherwise.


Use a car-sharing app

Car-sharing apps like Zipcar let drivers as young as 21 (and 18 in some states) rent their vehicles without young-renter’s fees—you’ll have to factor in costs, though. Zipcar has an application fee plus a monthly or annual membership fee on top of actual rental fees. They also offer a student discount, however, which may cut some of those costs.

You might find Zipcar is the best solution for really short-term rentals, as in one to two hours, when you might be charged per hour versus a daily rate at a traditional rental car agency; a Zipcar application fee of $25 plus a standard monthly membership fee of $7 and two hours at $10 each for an especially cheap vehicle might prove much cheaper than borrowing a car for a day through Hertz or Enterprise. (You can cancel a Zipcar membership at any time, too.)


Rent through USAA

As we’ve mentioned before, if you’re an active or retired service member or a child of one, you can also qualify for fee waivers at four different rental agencies (like Hertz and Budget) through USAA. You can rent directly through the organization’s website and find other travel discounts.

You may not need renter’s insurance

If you want to save a little more money, Luth said renter’s insurance isn’t always necessary—your existing auto insurance may already cover rental cars (at least, in the U.S.). Be sure to check if your policy includes third-party liability and comprehensive collision and damage liability, so you’re protected in the event of an accident. If you’re overseas, check to see if your auto insurance already covers you; if not, your credit card may provide you with free coverage.


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