Thinking of renting a car in your name with your credit card and then turning the keys over to someone else to drive away? It's possible to do this favor for a friend or family member, but you should be aware of the potential pitfalls first.
It's essential to add the additional driver to your rental contract. If you fail to take this step and a non-authorized driver gets into an accident, you will be in for a rude and extremely expensive awakening. Any insurance or other damage waiver will be automatically voided and you will be held financially responsible for damage costs and potentially much more.
How to Rent a Car for Someone Else
On every car rental agreement, one person is the primary driver. This person must meet a set of requirements, including meeting the minimum age and being able to provide a valid driver's license and a credit card. (It can be possible to rent a car with a debit card and even cash, but using a credit card is much less of a hassle and it provides you with more protection than other payment methods.)
If you wish to pay for the rental car but let someone else drive it, you can rent the vehicle in your name and add the other person as an additional driver. There are some conditions. First, both you and the additional driver need to go in person to pick up the car. This isn't a transaction that can be done remotely. At the time of pickup, you'll need to provide your own driver's license and credit card and sign the contract. The additional driver must also meet all of the rental car company's additional driver requirements, including meeting the minimum age requirement and holding a valid driver's license.
Additional Costs When You Rent a Car for Someone Else
Additional driver fees. When you rent a car for someone else, you will likely incur a daily additional driver fee to the tune of $12-$15 per day. You should know, however, that there are many ways to avoid the additional driver fee, depending on where you are renting the car and what is the relationship between you and the additional driver. For example, spouses are automatically allowed to be additional drivers at no extra charge in several states. And you may belong to an organization such as the AAA or AARP that also lets you waive the additional driver fee when renting from certain companies. But be aware that in some cases, such as if you are renting a car for a friend or acquaintance, there may be no way around paying the additional driver fee.
Collision insurance. When you rent a car for yourself, you may be used to relying on your personal auto insurance or credit card benefits to cover the car rental insurance. In this case, you are likely accustomed to declining the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) when you rent a car.
When you rent a car for someone else, however, you may want to rethink this habit and spring for the CDW, which can add $20-$30 a day to the cost of your rental. Remember, if anything happens to the car, it's on you as the primary driver and the person who signed the contract.
Let's say you rent a car for a friend and that friend damages the rental car. If you didn't pay for the CDW, that damage claim is going to go through your personal auto insurance first, and then bounce to your credit card company, assuming your card provides secondary car rental insurance, as most cards do. If you have a premium credit card that provides primary rental car insurance, then you would presumably be able to handle the claim without your auto insurance company ever becoming the wiser.
Once you sign a rental car contract, you should always assume that you are responsible for anything that happens to the rental car. The safest way to protect yourself from every inevitability is to opt for the insurance offered at the rental counter.