If you're under the age of 25, you are at a significant disadvantage when renting a car. The underage surcharge—a.k.a. the young renter fee—is a hefty per-day fee that rental companies tack on for drivers under the age of 25.
The good news is that there's a way around it: join AAA and rent from Hertz. One of the relatively new perks of AAA membership is that you can waive the young renter fee when you rent from Hertz.
Why Young Drivers Pay More to Rent a Car
Statistics show that drivers under the age of 25 have more accidents, but you would think that as long as the driver has the necessary insurance that rental company would be protected. And given the meteoric rise of ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft, you would think that rental companies would be falling all over themselves to try to attract millennials. Unfortunately, this is a case of maximizing short-term profit over long-term growth.
AAA and Hertz Help Drivers Under 25 Save on Rental Cars
The partnership between AAA and Hertz is a game changer for young drivers. With this perk, when any licensed driver between the ages of 20 and 24 rents a car from Hertz, AAA membership will remove the Young Renter Fee. The whopping $30 per-day fee will disappear for young renters who hold an annual membership to AAA. The break-even point for a new AAA membership could be as little as two days for a driver under the age of 25—and that's only from the underage-driver benefit. AAA membership also gets you roadside assistance and other discounts.
Waiving the Young Renter Fee offers immediate value for young renters. For example, AAA New York has a base membership fee of $52 per year plus a one-time enrollment fee of $15 that can be lower for initial sign-ups or drivers joining through an employer's program. Those fees can be entirely recouped with a single three-day Hertz rental, leaving the driver with all the benefits of AAA membership for the remainder of the year. Many AAA affiliates also allow you to add immediate family members for little or no increase.
Not only does an AAA membership provide roadside assistance coverage with any vehicle—privately-owned or rented—there are discounts on other products and services, including hotels and car rentals around the world. Most drivers under the age of 25 would easily recover the cost of AAA membership through just a one or two car rentals per year.
Better yet, Hertz recently lowered the minimum age for enrollment for its Gold Plus Rewards Program to 18 years old. This means it makes even more sense for 20 year olds to rent through Hertz since they can both avoid the underage fee and also skip the counter.
So what's the catch? Drivers under the age of 25 still encounter some restrictions, even with the waiver of the Young Renter Fee. Hertz, like many other firms, restricts young drivers to certain car categories. If you're under 25, you won't be able to rent exotic vehicles in Hertz' Prestige (Audi, Infinity, and Mercedes), Adrenaline (Corvette and other sports cars), and Dream Car (Jaguar, Porsche, and Tesla) collections. But want to rent a Ford or a Kia? You're good to go.
Another potential stumbling block is that renters still must be able to meet the basic requirements at Hertz. Those requirements include owning a credit card in your name, with a sufficient limit to cover the vehicle as well as the authorization for additional services. For the youngest of renters in the 20-24 age group, this might be a challenge since the passage of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 placed restrictions on issuing credit cards to those under the age of 21.
Lastly, for drivers still in their teens, AAA membership unfortunately won't help you avoid the underage surcharge.
More Ways to Avoid Underage Surcharge When Renting a Car
Are you a current or former member of the military? Are you the child of a veteran? USAA is another great organization for drivers under the age of 25. Young members have been consistently able to avoid underage fees when renting from Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz.
For 18 and 19 year olds who qualify for USAA membership, Hertz is unique in waiving the underage fee for drivers under 21 with a USAA membership. Again, note that USAA membership is typically restricted to active, retired and discharged members of the U.S. military or adult children of existing USAA members. If a parent served in the military, you are probably eligible.
For a budget-conscious young traveler contemplating AAA membership, the new underage fee waiver through Hertz is effectively a slam dunk. While Hertz doesn't always offer the cheapest base rates, avoiding a Young Renter fee that's otherwise $20-30 per day is clearly going to make Hertz the lowest all-inclusive rate much more often than not.
AutoSlash is always happy to help young renters book the best rate. Ask us for a quote today. Be sure to select AAA on the membership screen. Note that once you book with Hertz, it's important to email us to ensure that the AAA discount is applied to your reservation and the underage fee is waived for your rental.