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Renting a car when you're under 25 can be surprisingly difficult and expensive due to the additional fees for young drivers. If you fall into that age range, you could be paying hundreds of dollars more than a 26-year-old for a few speeding tickets, no matter how perfect your driving record. Some car rental companies won't even serve you if you're under a certain age.
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But it is possible to avoid paying (or at least reduce the cost of) the rental car fee for up to 25 years. Some car rental companies charge less than others, and some membership programs—like AAA and USAA—may waive some (or all) of these fees. And other car rental companies don't charge any fees for underage drivers.
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One of the best ways to avoid paying micro-rental fees is to join certain programs.
Hertz has some of the highest rates for underage drivers, but the rates are among the most affordable thanks to the partnership between AAA and Hertz. AAA benefits when renting through Hertz include a youth rental fee waiver for members between the ages of 18 and 24 who also meet standard rental qualifications.
Other Hertz-related perks for AAA members include up to 20% off, waived driver surcharges and free use of a child seat or child car seat with every rental.
How to become a AAA member: The cost of AAA membership varies by location and level of coverage, though it typically ranges from $40 to $165 per person per year.
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Even at the lowest membership level, the cost will likely end up being a net savings, meaning you'll almost always offset the AAA fee with just one Hertz rental per year. Offer extra discounts and services, and AAA membership pays off if you're underage drivers looking to rent from Hertz.
Many major hotel brands offer special room discounts for AAA members. This is another great way to get even more value out of your AAA membership beyond the rental car savings.
Some employers and universities have partnerships with car rental companies that provide benefits to employees, graduates and students, such as discounted rates and underage driver waivers.
While most standard car rental companies have surcharges for minors, there are a growing number of alternatives that charge less or nothing at all.
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If you want to get around town in a luxury car, check out Silvercar by Audi , which rents out Audi sedans and SUVs. Silvercar rentals are usually found at Audi dealerships and at airports outside of home.
To rent from Silvercar, you usually need to be at least 22 years old at the time of rental and in most cases Silvercar does not have a small car rental charge. The exception is if you rent in New York, where you only have to be 18 and pay a $75 daily fee.
While Silvercar rental costs vary depending on the vehicle you choose, prices start at around $49 per day (although you can pay upwards of $100 per day). Since $49 isn't much more than the extra charge at some car rental companies, you can save money even if the base rental car price is more expensive.
If it bothers you that a 24-year-old man with a perfect driving record could owe hundreds of dollars more than someone just a few months older, Getaround has a solid solution. The company, which acts as a sort of Airbnb for cars, uses a tiered system to charge extra for minors.
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Your travel expenses may be significant if you're closer to 19, but if you're 24, you won't owe much more than older people.
Like Getaround, both Zipcar and Turo have tiered fees for underage drivers, but unlike Getaround, there are only two tiers.
No matter what tier you're in, Turo's new driver pay is on the higher end of U.S. rentals: $30 a day if you're 21 to 25 and $50 a day if you're 18 to 20.
For shorter rentals, Zipcar's youth driver fee can be one of the lowest you'll find, even if you're 18. For most trips in the US, you'll pay $1 an hour and $12 a day if you're 18-20. 70 cents an hour and $10 a day if you're 21-24. There are some exceptions, such as certain membership programs (which may waive the fee) and cars rented in New York (where the fee is higher).
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If you only need a Zipcar for an hour, you'll pay $13 as an 18-year-old. Although, if you take it for a full 24-hour block, it would cost $36.
If you're a member of the United Services Automobile Association and you're under 25, you can get fee waivers at some of the major car rental companies, including Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz.
To qualify, you must be enrolled in military training, such as a trade school or military academy, and the fee waiver applies to rentals at participating U.S. locations. When renting through Avis, Budget and Hertz, the minimum age to rent a USAA car is 18 and – if you qualify – USAA will waive the young driver fee through agreements negotiated with the rental companies.
Here's what you need to know about the under 25 car rental fee exemption:
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Avis: The young driver fee (average $27 per day) is waived for USAA members ages 18-24.
Budget: The young driver fee (average $27 per day) is waived for USAA members ages 18-24.
Business: The new driver fee (average $20 per day) is waived for USAA members ages 21-24.
Hertz: New driver fee (average $30 per day) waived for USAA members ages 18-24.
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How to Join USAA: Membership in USAA is open to current and former military personnel and their spouses, as well as the children of USAA members. In addition to avoiding the small rental car fee, membership means access to USAA banking and insurance products and other travel and shopping discounts. Joining is free if you qualify.
But to rent a car with USAA benefits, you may need to be more than just a member. USAA said you may also be asked to show proof of USAA insurance or military ID at the rental car counter to have the fee waived.
Fees for underage drivers vary depending on the car rental company you use. Here are the general guidelines for underage drivers at major car rental companies. Keep in mind that some states have their own rules for younger drivers. Fees and policies may vary depending on where you rent.
Can you rent a car at the age of 18? Generally no. The minimum age to rent an Alamo vehicle is 21 in most cases.
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Can you rent a car at the age of 18? Generally no. In most cases, the minimum age to rent a Budget vehicle is 21 years.
Can you rent a car at the age of 18? Generally no. In most cases, the minimum age to rent an Enterprise vehicle is 21 years.
Can you rent a car at the age of 18? Generally no. In most cases, the minimum age to rent a Hertz vehicle is 20 years.
Can you rent a car at the age of 18? Generally no. The minimum age limit to rent a Thrifty vehicle is in most cases 20 years.
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In most cases, car rental companies do not verify your identity when you book a car rental online. This also means they generally don't include the underage driver fee in your quoted price. Be prepared to pay more at the counter than the original booking confirmation says if you are under 25 years old.
Some states have their own rules, so you may be charged different fees. For example, at Budget-operated locations in New York, there is an additional charge of $84 per day for drivers aged 18 to 20 and $35 per day for drivers aged 21 to 24. In affordable Michigan locations, there is an additional small surcharge of $41 per day for drivers ages 18 to 20 and a surcharge of $28 per day for drivers ages 21 to 24.
Not only do drivers under 25 usually have to pay a new driver's fee, but you also need to have car hire insurance. Rental car insurance is usually not more expensive depending on your age. Plus, it's very easy to avoid paying extra for rental car insurance that's offered free of charge.
If you already own a car, your existing car insurance may cover you. Many credit cards also provide rental car coverage when you use the card to pay for the rental and the rental is in your name. Or it may make more sense to buy a rental car than to buy from a car rental company. In general, you should refuse
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