Very early in my corporate career, I served as a corporate trainer who covered the Western Hemisphere. Three weeks out of each month, I was on the road and usually had a rental car. The Young Renter fees charged by the rental car companies were a constant source of frustration. These fees pushed my corporate negotiated rate at Hertz to $80 per day, and that was in 2001 dollars (over $110 today, due to inflation). Without the help of a service like AutoSlash, I finally found an alternative that waived underage fees — immediately before I turned 25.
Today, drivers under the age of 25 can easily avoid Young Renter fees and the AutoSlash team will always work hard to ensure a renter doesn’t spend $110 per day on a rental car!
What is a Young Renter Fee?
A Young Renter fee (also called an Under 25 or Underage fee) is a daily fee that compensates the rental car company for the extra risk of accidents when young renters (those under the age of 25) drive their vehicles. The Centers for Disease Control and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) all study the risk of drivers by age – drivers under the age of 25 are riskier as a class and thus can incur a young driver (or underage) fee. Accident rates decrease substantially after the age of 25, and the rental car companies (and insurers) have evidence from hundreds of millions of drivers to support charging these fees.
Can I Rent a Car Under the Age of 18?
One of the few certainties in the rental car industry is that no rental car company will issue a contract to a driver under the age of 18 -- there are issues of driver risk as well as contract law. Most companies won’t even rent to drivers between the ages of 18-20 unless required by law!
What Are the Rental Car Companies Default Policies?
By default, the rental car companies normally only rent to drivers age 21 years or older (with limited exceptions). The States of New York and Michigan require rental car companies to rent to drivers starting at the age of 18. Drivers aged 18-20 might rejoice for a moment but the joy is short-lived. Sure, a renter who is 18, 19, or 20 can rent in New York but the rental car companies still have discretion on the young driver fee assessed on those under 21. At Alamo, the extra fee for those drivers is $57 per day, plus tax, in addition to the rental car cost! Yet in Canada, Avis takes the opposite tact in helpfully noting the minimum rental age in Saskatchewan is 18 with no underage fees.What about my company discount?
Some rental car companies issue contracts with employers that allows special exceptions to renters under 25; however, there is a very important concept to understand: the rental car company agreement often applies to corporate-owned locations, not franchised locations. One of our AutoSlash team members was twice denied rental cars in Alaska despite his employer (an airline) having an agreement to accommodate staff members under the age of 25.
How Much is a Young Renter Fee?
Young Renter fees are not cheap – they range from $15 to $57 per day, and the amounts vary from one rental car company to the next. On many rentals, the young renter fee can be more than the rental car itself! This daily fee is then subjected to taxes, which makes it a fee we always hope to avoid.*
That $57 fee charged by Alamo? A 20-year old renting an Alamo vehicle at New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is going to pay $75.91 in young renter fees (and associated taxes) per day, before the cost of the car. Yikes!
* Don’t worry, we’ll talk about avoiding these fees in a bit.
Are Any Cars Off-Limits for Young Renters?
Along with the fees and restrictions, young renters truly want to read the Rules of their reservations to ensure the ability to drive off the lot with their desired vehicle. For drivers under the age of 25, it’s common to find car categories that are off-limits for renters. Default car categories (economy, compact, intermediate, standard, and full-size) are usually permissible while sports cars, exotic cars, premium, and luxury vehicles are off-limits. Only two companies (Payless and Sixt) explicitly allow young renters to rent minivans.
During the reservation process and after confirmation, the “Rules” link provides all the information needed!
What Does a Young Renter need to Rent a Car?
The young renter would still need to meet all of the rental car company’s other driver qualifications. This includes a credit card in the driver’s name with enough credit available for the vehicle, any deposits, and authorizations for additional services. Procuring a credit card is a challenge for the youngest renters after the Credit CARD Act of 2009 placed restrictions on issuing credit cards to those under the age of 21. Paying for a rental with debit cards may be possible but would come with a multitude of restrictions and requirements.
Avoiding Young Renter Fees – Know the Exceptions!
We all know that the goal of the rental car company is to make a profit; if the customer isn’t exempt from a fee, the rental car counter is going to charge that fee! The single best method for minimizing a rental car bill down is planning to avoid these fees.
Exception 1: AAA Membership
Hertz created a Young Driver Fee Waiver for members of AAA aged 20-24; AAA is likely the best option to consistently reserve a rental car without a fee for these drivers. While the AAA membership only waives the Young Renter Fee with Hertz, this is a commonly known discount that is easily recognized by agents in the U.S. and Canada, while also providing the Roadside Protection Services of AAA. Even better, AAA has family rates where younger drivers can be added for a minimal cost!
Important Notes: The reservation must be booked under the AAA rate code to be eligible for the fee waiver; membership alone isn’t enough! Remember that the first “A” in “AAA” is “American”. This fee waiver is not global; it’s just for the U.S. and Canada!
We don’t get paid to promote AAA or any other membership program; we simply want to help renters minimize their rental car bills. AAA rates may not be the lowest possible rate on any rental – contact us if you must be booked under an AAA rate.
Exception 2: USAA Membership
We’ve heard USAA has been cracking down on members who are not affiliated with the U.S. military but USAA has been consistently good for service members (and family members of service members) between the ages of 18-24. The fee waivers at Avis, Budget, and Hertz for USAA members starts at age 18 but the program also provides a fee waiver at Enterprise for those above the age of 21.
USAA provides for more fee waivers than Hertz but full membership is limited.
Important Note: Like with the AAA rate, a reservation must be booked under the USAA rate to be eligible for the fee waiver; membership alone isn’t enough! USAA benefits are also only valid within the United States. USAA rates may not be the lowest available for a specific rental -- contact us if you must be booked under a USAA rate.
Exception 3: Federal Employees and Active-Duty Military
Active duty military and federal employees on orders may rent at Alamo, Avis, National, and Enterprise starting at the age of 18 without the Young Renter fee. However, vehicles booked by an individual on government orders is likely to be done through a service like Defense Travel System (DTS) rather than AutoSlash.
Active-duty military but not traveling on orders? Go back to Exception 2 and join USAA immediately. You’ll be entitled to a young renter fee waiver starting at age 18 (with Hertz) and with four different companies once reaching the age of 21. USAA members also receive an insurance benefit on their rentals at the four main providers.
Exception 4: Insurance replacement rentals
Some rental car companies will waive fees for young renters when the vehicle is an insurance replacement after an accident. However, the insurance companies paying for those replacement rentals have already negotiated rates with the rental car companies; those reservations wouldn’t be booked through AutoSlash.
Exception 5: Employer negotiated rates
Many large corporations have rates that remove the young renter fee for staff members on company business; the rules – and eligibility – of those reservations are controlled by agreements between corporations and individual rental car companies.
Limited Time and Uncertain Exceptions
From time-to-time, limited-time exceptions to the young rental fee also arise. Dollar and Hertz have both been known to cut down fees temporarily, especially at the beginning of calendar years. In addition, the Hertz Gold Family program (as of January 2017) appears to waive the underage fee on rentals in Canada. We’re not actively recommending that program for drivers – the ability to waive the underage fee on U.S. rentals was recently removed and the program website is currently unavailable; we fear the dissolution of that program.
We’ve also heard that Costco Executive Members in Canada and Visa members booked under a specific coupon code receive a fee waiver but those offers are not published benefits. Renters should only expect a fee waiver on policies that are printed on paper (or mobile device); a rental car counter staff member will never be able to dispute the AAA and USAA policies!
Now that we know Who, What, Where, When, and Why, Can you Simplify?
Knowing that underage fees are expensive, AutoSlash wants to help young renters avoid those fees completely! The options available to avoid these fees varies by the age of the renter. The chart of reliable fee waivers is concise for those seeking to avoid these fees on personal rentals.
|Age||Program||Rental Car Company|
|Under 18||Not Possible||None|
|18||USAA||Avis, Budget, Hertz|
|19||USAA||Avis, Budget, Hertz|
|20||USAA||Avis, Budget, Hertz|
|21 - 24||AAA||Hertz|
|21 - 24||USAA||Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz|
Hertz is consistently the most practical rental company for waiving the Under 25 fee, with waivers through both AAA and USAA.
There’s no such concept as a cheap rental car when paying a daily fee for being under the age of 25! Just like with any other rental, the best possible rate comes to those who plan the furthest in advance. Through an AAA membership that provides member benefits for a year (or a USAA membership that provides member benefits for a lifetime), many young renters are often able to avoid this needless fee completely!
Are you relying upon a rental being available as a driver under the age of 25? Call the rental car site you select to understand both eligibility and fees.
Looking to take your first (or next) cheap rental and avoid an underage fee? Submit a request for a quote and we’ll send you the best possible offers within minutes!
Rental Company Corporate Policies on Under 25 Renters
- Hertz – Rents to drivers age 20 or older, charges “Fee Differential” based upon car type.
- Payless – Allows young renters to have a minivan.
- Sixt – Drivers also must be licensed for at least one year but Sixt allows categories such as minivans and compact convertibles.