Every major rental car company offers some sort of discount to military families who are renting a car for personal travel. (Official travel gets booked through different systems such as a DTS travel coordinator.)
Virtually every military discount is a nice gesture, but some of these discounts and offers are more valuable than others—in fact, there's only one discount program we consistently recommend to military families based on our experience searching over one thousand different publicly available discount combinations day in and day out.
USAA is the Gold Standard for Military Discounts
The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is a financial services group that offers banking, investing, and insurance to people and families who serve, or served, in the United States military. At the end of 2017, there were 12.4 million members.
Service members and their immediate families are eligible to join USAA for free. The USAA is the program of choice who need to rent a vehicle for personal use. The USAA has two categories for members:
- full, insurance-eligible members: service members and families
- non-insurance-eligible members: members with limited benefits without a military connection.
Only full, insurance-eligible members can take advantage of USAA rental car benefits. There are four rental car partners—Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz. This is a particularly good membership for underage drivers under age 25 and for those wanting to avoid additional driver fees.
In addition, reservations booked under the USAA's rate code have caps on financial liability for damage to a rental car ($5,000) and waives Loss of Use charges.
For military families that want to rent a car for personal travel, it's going to be hard to beat USAA rate and if you need to be booked under the USAA rate code to take advantage of their benefits, send us a note after making a quote request and we will find the cheapest possible USAA rate.
Most major rental car companies have a connection to Veterans Advantage, a membership program that provides access to various discounts, much like AAA, AARP and the Entertainment Book. The company provides discount codes for Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, National, and Thrifty—the four companies that partner with the USAA plus five additional companies.
Veterans Advantage has two forms of membership—free and fee-based. To access to the rental car discounts, you need to have a paid Veterans Advantage membership, which starts at $64.90 per year. That's why the travel discounts are listed as VetRewards Exclusive.
We never recommend paying for something that you can get for free, and publicly available discounts don't require paying a membership fee. The underage driver fee waiver at Dollar may seem enticing, until you remember that four rental car companies offer the same discount with the free USAA membership. Got kids? The combination of the Hertz and AAA rate codes provide a great rate and a waiver of the underage driver fee, plus a free child safety seat if needed. Rental car discounts alone are not a great reason to join Veterans Advantage, but like any other membership program, the program may be a good bet for someone who can take advantage of multiple benefits.
The AutoSlash Advantage for Military Families
Our free service helps travelers every day get the best possible car rental rate. In our experience, the combination of publicly available rates and USAA membership creates the lowest possible rates for the vast majority of military leisure travelers. There's never any obligation for using AutoSlash; if you find a better Pay Later ("Free Cancellation") rate elsewhere, you can still track the price and we will send you a notification if we find a better rate.
The best way to land the lowest rate is to start by requesting a quote. We've designed our service to save you time searching for the lowest rate.
Comparison of Military Rates on Car Rentals
- Alamo: Offers a leisure travel program but partners with Veterans Advantage
- Avis: Links directly to Veterans Advantage but partners with USAA
- Budget: Links directly to Veterans Advantage but partners with USAA
- Dollar: Can book government rates for leisure travel (but lose vehicle protections) and partners with Veterans Advantage
- Enterprise: Offers a leisure travel program, partners with USAA and Veterans Advantage
- Europcar: Partners with Veterans Advantage
- Hertz: Offers a leisure travel program, partners with USAA and Veterans Advantage
- National: Offers a leisure travel program but partners with Veterans Advantage
- Payless: No program for military families
- Sixt: Offers a 5% military discount
- Thrifty: Offers a leisure travel program but partners with Veterans Advantage