Looking to rent a car on your next holiday? Perhaps you are planning a road trip with friends and/or family and are looking to rent a vehicle. It may be a great option and an easy way to get around your country of destination, however, if you are under 25 you may want to consider a few things before you rent a car. In other words, go ahead and rent, you’re allowed too, just note our info below.
How old do I have to be to rent?
Now you just turned 18, got your drivers license (in most countries) and are now legally able to vote, pay taxes, join the military, etc., however, when it comes to renting a car, the rules are slightly different. Sometimes you won’t be able to rent at all, especially if you are between the ages of 18-21, or you will be able to rent, but you will have to pay hefty charges on top of your rental fee and insurance policies among other things.
The reason that most car companies ask for your age when you search on their site or an aggregate site like rentalcars.com is that many of these companies have very strict policies for drivers under the age of 25. This is because statistically speaking, the majority of car/vehicle accidents happen with young drivers (drivers in this age group). Even if you have a flawless driving record and have been on the road safely for two years, rental companies simply won’t trust drivers under 25 years of age. Nonetheless as previously mentioned you will still be able to rent a vehicle in most cases, however, you will often face the following;
- High daily underage fees – in other words if you search on a rental company website for a specific date and time, and tick the box that you are 25 or under, the prices that are ultimately displayed will be significantly higher than for someone searching for the exact same criteria, with the only difference “being older than 25.” The fees for young drivers automatically increase.
- Car restrictions – many car rental companies will restrict the type of vehicles drivers under the age of 25 are able to rent including the class of car. Even if you can afford it, often classes such as higher luxury levels are off limits. You’ll typically end up with small to medium, basic to standard cars as part of the offering.
- License type and duration – several car rental companies will restrict rentals by those under 25, especially if you hold specific licenses from one country (without an international drivers license equivalent) and wish to rent in another. On top of this, many will require that you have held your license at least 3 years prior to your first rental.
So when it boils down to how old you need to be to rent a car, the answer is not straight-forward. Always make sure to read the small print. *Most of the larger international brands such as Avis, Budget, Europcar, Sixt, etc, all allow drivers between the age of 21-24 to rent vehicles. Places such as Thrifty or Hertz even go as low as 20 years of age. Hence if your 18 or 19 and want to rent a car for a summer holiday, then in most instances you are out of luck. Especially with larger international brands.
*Note – this often comes back to country and location as well.
How much will it cost you?
Well, as we noted above, the search for the same criteria will yield someone under the age of 25 with higher daily surcharges often ranging around 20-25 Euros per day on top of what someone above that age limit would be. This again often depends on location and country. In the United States, if you are 18, the laws of the state of New York and Michigan require rental companies to rent out to this age group, however, know that you will be priced accordingly.
All in all, you will be paying the rental fee, many companies require full insurance coverage, as well as additional age fees. We can’t give you an exact price, but prepare to plan in a larger budget for your holiday if you plan to rent.
A few tips if you still want to rent
- The best thing you can do is to always compare companies and locations to avoid paying the high rates, as the same agency in a different location may vary slightly on price depending on local law.
- If you are traveling for business, check to see if you qualify for corporate rates where often times companies who have contracts with larger businesses exempt the underage fee and waiver it.
- If you are part of an organization (such as AAA in the United States), you may qualify for the underage fees to be waivered as well, regardless whether you are 18 or 23.
- If you are 20 or under, try independent car rental agencies in the area you are planning to be in. You may need to call via phone as often local independent rentals do not have full-blown websites like the big guys, including a talk to find out what the companies policies for drivers under 25 and/or 20 are.
Don’t let this article catch you and bum you out, especially if you are under 25. You are still able to rent, just note that it may be more expensive if you are still under 25, and next to impossible if you are under 21 (generally speaking). If in the end, renting a car does not suit your budget try thinking of alternative ways you could travel, things like ride sharing, public transport, etc. You’ll avoid hefty fees and perhaps meet interesting people along the way.
If you are keen on renting just make sure you calculate in the cost of daily rental fees, underage fees, insurance fees, and other fees and taxes into your overall budget. We encourage you to still weight that final cost versus other methods of transport. You save money, may not be as flexible, but certainly will still be able to enjoy a nice holiday getaway.