In our blog post about finding the lowest rates for a rental when the driver's under the age of 25, we noted how there are some existing ways for drivers to get the underage fees waived, whether by being a member of AAA or an insurance-eligible member of USAA. Years ago, there was another way of getting the under 25 fee waived by using the Student Advantage discount code at Dollar. Now, there's an under 25 fee reduction available from Student Beans at Dollar. And in the vast majority of cases, we would still recommend asking for help to book under the AAA rate code at Hertz or the USAA rate code. So why does this new "deal" not really qualify as a deal?
What is Student Beans?
Student Beans is a discount program for full-time students that is open to students in multiple countries (including the United States) although based in the United Kingdom. One of their partners -- for rentals between May and December 2018 at least -- is Dollar Rent A Car and Dollar has a promotion to reduce the Under 25 rental surcharge to $15 per day for members of Student Beans who book under the Promo Code 101342. Sounds like a winner? Here's why it's not.
Every rental car company has its own nuances -- it's the reason our blog is closing in on 500 posts! And the nuances of the various rental car companies mean that competitors to Dollar will almost always be cheaper for a driver under the age of 25. Whether it's the under 25 fee charged by competitors, Dollar only allowing one code per reservation, or the benefit packages offered by AAA and USAA, most rentals under the age of 25 in the United States will be able to find a cheaper rate elsewhere.
1. Dollar's "Student Beans" code reduces the under 25 fee to $15 per day (plus taxes and fees) yet many other competitors already have underage fees at or below $15 per day. These fees are listed in the rental rules one sees before booking but Enterprise in the Washington D.C. region lists their under 25 fee at $15 already without a special code. A reduction of the daily fee to $15 per day doesn't mean much when many competitors have already set the fee at $15 (or less) without a special code!
2. Dollar only allows one code per rental and that's a huge reason this offer may not result in the lowest possible rates. If a renter books using the Student Beans code to reduce the under 25 fee, there's no ability to apply any other discount. So while a renter attempting to book anywhere else can find the lowest possible rate on the car itself and then deal with the under 25 fee, booking under the Student Beans code means one's locking in the under 25 fee at $15 per day but not seeking discounts on the car itself!
3. Members of AAA and USAA can get the under 25 fee waived (at participating providers) and also still remain eligible for the AAA or USAA-based discounts on the car itself. Any U.S. resident can join AAA and can even add household members at little incremental costs -- many renters under the age of 25 could even still count in their parents'/guardians' households. The participating providers with AAA (Hertz) and USAA (Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz) often provide fantastic discounted rates in addition to the fee waiver and AutoSlash is able to find those qualifying rates if a renter enters a quote request and then sends a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Real Life Example
We picked a hypothetical three-day weekend, noon on May 18 through noon on May 21, 2018, to find the cheapest possible rates for a rental at Washington Reagan National Airport for a renter between the ages of 21 and 24.
Booking under the Student Beans code, the rental at Dollar came out to $157.18 before the $45 in Under 25 fees (and taxes on the fee). The total at Dollar would thus be $212.17 with the "reduced" under 25 fee.
Booking under the best available base rate for a car only (at competitor Budget) and paying their whole, non-discounted Under 25 fee, one ends up with a total of $209.69 by just focusing on the cheapest car and paying the full Under 25 fee of $25 (plus tax) per day.
Booking the best available USAA rate (in this example, at Avis), one comes up with $128.41 and the Underage waiver is already included. Yet we understand most people aren't eligible for USAA, so the best AAA rate at Hertz? That comes out to $164.73 with the Under 25 driver waiver already included.
We're considered experts on rental cars for a reason! It's horrendously counterintuitive initially but making a decision to rent based upon a program offered by Dollar to "reduce the under 25 fee" means paying more than renting from a competitor and far more than a booking made under the AAA or USAA rate codes that completely waive the Under 25 fee! It's an important life lesson -- not all deals are deals -- but AutoSlash is always willing to help renters find the lowest possible rates on reservations. And if a renter needs to be reserved under a specific rate (like AAA), all that's necessary is a quick email to our support team and we'll find the lowest possible qualifying rate! We're always willing to help our fellow travelers find the lowest possible rates and encourage renters to take advantage of memberships that can truly help!