So you consider yourself an adult (over 18) and financially independent? Great — car rental companies will loan you a ride. The bad news? They’ll try to charge you a young driver fee if you’re under the age of 25! This surcharge can be anywhere between $10 to $75 for each day of the rental. Well that sucks, doesn’t it?
Not to worry — I’m going to show you how to avoid paying that young renter fee and get a great deal in the process.
Note: If you’re a U.S. military personnel or government employee hitting the road for official business, mention that to get the fee waived instantly.
What’s in this guide:
- Current young driver under 25 fees
- How to rent a car by waiving the fee
- Age requirements to rent a car
Current young driver under 25 fees
The table below shows the latest details for each company. Do note that young drivers in New York and Michigan usually have higher fees (go figure).
|Minimum Rental Age||21 yrs old||21 yrs old||21 yrs old||21 yrs old||21 yrs old||20 yrs old||21 yrs old||21 yrs old|
|Vehicle Type Restrictions||No restrictions||Excludes full-size SUVs, minivans, Signature Series||Excludes luxury cars, full-size SUVs, minivans, specialty vehicles||Exclusions depend on individual locations||No restrictions||Excludes Adrenaline and Prestige vehicles||No restrictions||Only economy cars (excludes luxury, SUV, minivans)|
|Under 25 Young Driver Fee||$25||$27||$27||$15-$35 (Depends on location)||$20-$25||$15-$30||$25||$15-$35 (Depends on location)|
|New York Surcharge (18-20 yrs old)||$57||$52||$52||Depends on location||$57||$20-$41||$57||$73|
|New York Surcharge (21-24 yrs old)||$20||$35||$35||Depends on location||$20||$20-$25||$20||$35-$42|
|Michigan Surcharge (18-20 yrs old)||$40||$41||$41||Depends on location||$40||$20-$41||$40||$48|
|Michigan Surcharge (21-24 yrs old)||$25||$28||$28||Depends on location||$25||$20-$25||$25||$25-$28|
|Alamo Deals||Avis Deals||Budget Deals||Dollar Deals||Enterprise Deals||Hertz Deals||National Deals||Thrifty Deals|
How to rent a car by waiving the fee
I’ve discovered a few ways you can avoid paying this young-driver surcharge. I do not agree with this extra fee rental companies tack on. You already purchase the insurance on the car rental, so the only reason I can see is extorting extra revenue from people who fit that age demographic. Here are three ways you can swerve this surcharge:
1. USAA fee waiver for eligible rentals
USAA (United Services Automobile Association) to the rescue! Create a free account on USAA with your SSN (Social Security Number) — you do not actually need to be in the U.S. military to join. Neither do you need parents or siblings in the armed forces. Sweet! Once you have signed up, you’re eligible to get the fee waived at several large car rental companies.
There’s more! You can take advantage of exclusive discounts a USAA membership provides at Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz.
USAA young driver fee waivers:
- Avis: $27 daily Young Driver Fee waived for 21 to 24-year-olds.
- Budget: $27 daily Young Driver Fee waived for 21 to 24-year-olds.
- Enterprise: $20-$25 daily Young Driver Fee waived for 21 to 24-year-olds.
- Hertz: $15-$30 daily Young Driver Fee waived for 18 to 24-year-olds.
Combine the savings you get from USAA with points by using a travel rewards credit card. Then off you go for that frugal spring break or road trip. Drive safe!
2. AAA membership fee waiver advantage
Already an AAA member? Take advantage of your membership to get the young renter fee waived at Hertz. If you are between 20 to 24 years of age, an AAA membership also saves you up to 20% on the rental costs.
The fee for younger drivers at Hertz is typically between $15 to$30 ($20 to $57 if you’re in Michigan or New York). That’s high! So I would only recommend renting from Hertz if you can get that fee dropped. There are other options I’ve outlined in the section below if you don’t have AAA.
Other money savings to get from AAA:
- Free use of one child, infant or booster seat.
- No extra charge for additional drivers.
- Free towing if your rental breaks down (up to 4 calls per year).
- Flat tire replacement with a spare.
- 675 Gold Plus Rewards Bonus points at Hertz.
- Up to 30% off on everyday purchases at 7,000 brands.
3. Alternative rental companies
There are plenty of new startups around the country that will loan you a ride without slapping the young driver fee. Here are my favorites:
Zipcar does not charge a young driver fee. You must be at least 21 years old though — or at least 18 if you are affiliated with a college or university. Goes without saying you must also have a valid driver’s license. Non-US driver’s licenses are also acceptable by Zipcar.
Even though Zipcar has an initial membership fee ($7 per month), you can take advantage of the 30-day free trial. Once you get used to it, there’s no going back. Insurance and gas are included 😳. Zipcar gives you a gas card that you can use to fill up the tank on the go. Get started with a Zipcar reservation and flip off that “underage” driver charge.
Maven is the new kid in town. It’s General Motor’s response to startups like Zipcar. You must be at least 18 years or older to join Maven and have a valid, U.S. state-issued driver’s license which is not suspended, revoked or restricted.
Download the Maven app for iOS or Android. It only takes a minute or two to join. Do note that after you join, it takes about 5-10 minutes for their system to approve you before you can start making reservations. Say goodbye to that driver fee.
car2go has a unique offering. You pay a fixed $5 to join (no monthly or annual membership costs like Zipcar). Then it’s simple — only pay for how long you use the car. It’s based on time instead of miles.
car2go is currently running a $10 credit promotion. New members get $10 to apply toward their first reservation. Gas, insurance, and parking are all included. That’s the real beauty of these alternative car rental startups.
That being said, I wouldn’t recommend car2go for long road trips since there is a 3-day max. You can only use a car2go for up to 150 miles or three days. car2go’s fleet consists of Smart Fortwo and Mercedes-Benz GLAs and CLAs.
Turo is the Airbnb of car rental agencies. Instead of renting from a company, you loan a car from individuals. The concept is literally Airbnb for cars. People who aren’t using their ride at certain hours put up their cars on the Turo platform, with photos and price.
What’s special about Turo? It’s available in over 3500 cities, has pickup locations at 300+ airports, and provides a $2 million insurance policy for users.
Again, no young driver fee 🎉.
ReachNow, by BMW, is on the luxury end of alternative car rentals. It’s a good start for car-sharing in major cities where traffic is congested. Their fleet includes (no surprise here) BMW 3 Series and Mini Coopers. It’s definitely more snazzy compared to Zipcar’s Honda or car2go’s Smart Fortwo.
ReachNow charges a one-time membership fee of $39, then it’s based on miles driven. The huge downside? It’s currently only available in Seattle and Portland.
Age requirements to rent a car
Young adults always find it challenging to rent a vehicle without getting the short end of the stick. Especially if you are under the age of 25. I want to outline all the legal age restrictions so you are aware before heading in:
- The minimum legal age to rent a car in most states is 18. The reason is that under 18 you can’t legally sign a contract with the car company. That would open them up for liability in the event you get injured or wreck the car.
- Drivers under the age of 25 usually can’t rent luxury cars, SUVs, minivans, and passenger vans.
- Military and government personnel are exempt from the young driver surcharge. Almost all car rental agencies will honor that.
- If you are over 75 and traveling outside the U.S., call the rental agency in advance. They might have some restrictions.
Found a loophole to swerve rental surcharges not covered in this guide? Leave them in the comments below.