Have you ever seen the brilliant Internet XKCD meme of "Someone is Wrong on the Internet"? A recent post at Automotive News spread misinformation to millennials, to the point that AutoSlash needed to step in and say "no". Every day of the year -- even major holidays -- we help users avoid unnecessary fees and explain how rental car companies classify cars. So a millennial incorrectly telling his peers that under 25 year old drivers have mandatory fees and that rental car companies have misleading car classifications needs to be rebutted! If a renter under 25 truly needs a rental car, there shouldn't be any fear or misconceptions. So what are the particularly egregious items from Automotive News? There are three major items for a young renter to note!

Under 25 Fee

It's true that the rental car companies ordinarily assess a fee for drivers under the age of 25; we discuss those fees in our article about Young Renter Fees. And in most states, drivers below the age of 21 are going to have a challenge finding any rental option.

I'm 23, and therefore under the magic age of 25, so there would be a "young driver fee," which wasn't great for my budget.

However ... many drivers under 25 years old are eligible for the fee exceptions we note in that same blog post! Young renters who are members of AAA or insurance-eligible members of USAA can book with specific providers and under special rate codes that waive Young Renter Fees. If that daily fee is potentially a budget breaker, a prospective renter who has already entered a quote request can ask us to find the cheapest AAA or USAA rate on their behalf (the qualifying rates aren't always the lowest possible rates)! Just remember that if you ask for our help in finding the cheapest AAA or USAA rate, the rental car counter staff will ask for proof of membership at the time a vehicle's picked up.  

The "Or Similar" in Listing is About Functionality

Unless a renter's paying out big money and booking a specific exotic rental car (like a Tesla Model S), the description offered by the rental car company will always list a vehicle model "Or Similar". The Automotive News writer complained that the description was for an economy car, "Mitsubishi Mirage or similar", and that the "Or Similar" is effectively a game. Here's the straight truth about rental cars:  

  1. Car classifications are based on functionality, not a specific make or model. These categories are based upon standards issued by a voluntary trade organization named ACRISS. An economy car is expected to accommodate two adults, two children, and two pieces of luggage at best. An economy car is truly a sub-compact; it's smaller than a compact car and there's no expectation of seating adults in the back.
  2. The vast majority of renters don't look at the icons that describe the number of occupants and luggage storage expectations, so the rental car companies decide to list one example of each vehicle size in their description. The one example is followed by "or similar" because again, the classification of a vehicle is based on functionality.
  3. There's only one example listed because renters also wouldn't pay attention if a rental car company listed the 200+ possible examples of any specific vehicle size.
  4. It would be possible for a manufacturer to own a rental car company and provide a guaranteed model. For instance, Ford owned Hertz into the current millennium and Chrysler owned Dollar/Thrifty into the 1990s! However, the manufacturers learned a really hard economic lesson that Audi's about to learn with their recently-acquired Audi A4-only SilverCar. When it comes time to sell rental cars after one or two years, the thousands of fairly new former rental cars on the used market cannibalize new car prices and sales. Even Nissan -- which stated extensive sales to rental car companies weren't a concern as recently as September 2017 -- realized there was a problem when 60% of all Nissan Altimas were getting sold to rental car companies (at discounts). 

Don't Complain an Upgrade is "Small"

The author used the terms "small" and "little" twice to refer to the shiny red Hyundai Accent that he received at the rental car lot. He booked an economy (smaller than a compact) car. The Hyundai Accent is a compact car. If you're an automotive writer (or anyone else) and receive a larger car than the one you booked, don't complain about cramped quarters! Be thankful you didn't receive the beer can on wheels (Fiat 500, Kio Rio, Mitsubishi Mirage or similar) that a person booking an economy car should expect! 

The Takeaway?

Are you a millennial desiring a rental car? Renting a car for the first time inherently results in questions! Don't trust an anecdote from a peer renting a car for the first time -- trust facts from the professionals in rental cars! Not only can we coach you toward those AAA and USAA rates that avoid those young renter fees in the United States, we put out various resources such as guides to insurance, child safety seat,  and satellite radio to help avoid unnecessary add-ons at the rental car counter! Our team is happy to do more than send out the lowest rates! Click below to request quotes and we'll send you the best possible offers within minutes. 

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