I’ve been traveling alone or with friends my age for almost 6 years now. For the most part, I’ve been able to travel the world without my age being an issue. Other than a few hiccups when checking into hotels, trying to get into airline lounges, or at immigration, traveling alone as a teenager and young adult has been relatively stress-free. However, there has been one aspect of traveling as a younger person that’s consistently been an issue. In the United States and in most other parts of the world, renting a car when you’re under 25 years of age is quite difficult. Many rental car companies and local laws make it virtually impossible for someone under 25 years of age to rent a car. Many younger travelers admit defeat before even researching rental cars and cars for hire. However, you don’t actually have to be 25 years old to rent a car.
While some rental car companies have requirements outlined in their renter’s contracts that require drivers to be 25 years of age or older, this is not a blanket requirement. There is a common misconception that there is a federal law that requires anyone renting a car to be 25 years or older. Most states will allow drivers under the age of 25 to rent a car. However, while states permit younger drivers to rent a car, most states also allow rental car companies to require drivers to be a certain age when renting a vehicle. That being said, since there isn’t a federal or state law that prohibits younger travelers from renting a car, there are ways that the under 25 crowd can get behind the wheel on their next trip. Here’s how.
Rental Car Companies That Allow For Drivers Under the Age of 25
Surprisingly, in the United States, there are a number of rental car companies that will rent to those under the age of 25. Keep in mind, however, that each rental car company has its own policies and rules that pertain to younger drivers. Some rental car companies may rent to a younger driver no questions asked while other rental car companies may require a parent or guardian to sign off on the rental. That being said, there are some car rental companies that are more welcoming to drivers under the age of 25. Here are the requirements outlined by each major rental car company in North America.
Advantage Rent A Car
Advantage Rent a Car is a relatively small car rental company serving cities in the United States. While small, Advantage does serve a few major airports including Atlanta, Chicago-O’Hare, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, and Phoenix. Advantage Rent A Car will rent to drivers under the age of 25. According to their website, Advantage Rent A Car will rent to drivers 21 years of age and older. However, drivers aged 21 to 24 will likely face additional fees when renting vehicles from Advantage Rent A Car.
The minimum age to rent a car with Alamo is 21 years of age. Additionally, all drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 will incur additional fees as a result of Alamo’s “Youthful Surcharge.” According to Alamo, the average daily Youthful Surcharge is $20 in addition to all other taxes and fees. However, the daily surcharge will vary depending on the location from which you rent. In addition to a young driver surcharge, Alamo restricts drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 to select vehicle classes. This means that younger renters will not be able to access larger or higher-end vehicles.
Avis allows drivers 21 years of age and older to rent vehicles from its fleet. However, as is the case with Alamo and most other car rental companies, Avis also charges a daily surcharge for drivers age 21 to 24. Avis states that this rate is a flat rate of $27 per day in the United States and $35 per day in Canada. However, it is encouraged that you contact the location from which you plan to rent to confirm the total cost to rent from Avis. Additionally, drivers under the age of 25 will not be able to rent certain vehicles including full-sized SUVs, luxury cars, trucks, or minivans.
A part of the Avis Budget group, Budget’s age requirements are essentially identical to that of Avis. Drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 can rent vehicles from Budget but, will incur a daily surcharge. The daily surcharge is the same as Avis’ at $27 per day in the US and $35 in Canada. Keep in mind that younger drivers will also be limited to certain vehicle classes.
Dollar Rent A Car will rent to anyone 20 years of age and older. Dollar is one of the more young driver-friendly rental car companies in North America. Nevertheless, drivers age 20 to 24 will be subject to additional fees and surcharges. According to Dollar Rent A Car, this fee varies depending on the location from which you rent. Unlike other young driver surcharges, Dollar Rent A Car’s surcharge is a one-time surcharge charged at the time of booking or pick-up. As is the case with most rental car companies, young drivers may be restricted to certain vehicles.
Enterprise requires all drivers to be 21 years of age or older. Some corporate locations may rent to drivers 18 years or older when a parent is present. However, this is discouraged as finding a location that will rent to a driver under the age of 21 is quite difficult and extremely costly. For drivers age 21 to 24, Enterprise charges a young driver surcharge averaging $20 per day. Additionally, younger drivers may be limited to certain vehicles.
Europcar is primarily found throughout Europe, hence the company’s name. However, Europcar operates a few locations in the United States and numerous locations throughout Canada and Mexico. In the United States, Europcar requires all drivers to be 21 years of age or older. All drivers age 21 to 24 will incur a daily surcharge in addition to the standard daily rate. All young drivers will need to have held a driver’s license for at least one year and must pay by credit card. There may also be some vehicle restrictions.
Firefly Car Rental is a subsidiary of the much larger rental car company, Hertz. The being said, Firefly has age restrictions and requirements that are similar to that of Hertz. Firefly Car Rental requires that all drivers are at least 21 years of age. All drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 will also be subject to a young driver’s surcharge. This surcharge varies by state, with the average surcharge totaling $20 per day. Younger drivers may also be restricted to certain vehicle classes.
Fox Rent A Car
Fox Rent A Car is by far the most accommodating when it comes to younger drivers. Fox allows anyone 18 years of age or older to rent from the company’s corporate locations. The phrase “corporate location” is important to keep in mind as affiliate locations may not be able to rent to drivers under the age of 21. Before making a reservation with Fox Rent A Car, it is encouraged that you call the location from which you plan to rent. All drivers age 18 to 24 will be subject to a younger driver discount. This surcharge varies by location however, averages around $20 per day. Additionally, according to Fox Rent A Car, young drivers will be able to access nearly any vehicle in the company’s fleet. Fox Rent A Car’s accommodating young driver policy has the backing of The College Points as we’ve ranked Fox Rent A Car as the top car rental company for young drivers.
Drivers 18 years of age or older can rent from Hertz. Some locations may not rent to drivers under the age of 21, so it is encouraged that you contact the Hertz location from which you plan to rent. All drivers age 18 to 24 will be subject to a younger driver surcharge. The average young driver surcharge at Hertz is around $27 per day. Hertz does restrict young drivers to certain vehicles however, compared to other car rental companies, these restrictions are pretty insignificant. Young drivers will be unable to rent from Hertz’s Dream Car Collection, Adrenaline Collection, and Prestige Collection. With sensible yet accommodating young driver policies, The College Points ranks Hertz as the 2nd best car rental company for young drivers.
National Car Rental
A favorite among frequent travelers thanks to National’s fantastic Emerald Club program, National has similar restrictions to those imposed by Alamo and Enterprise. National Car Rental requires all drivers to be 21 years of age or older. Additionally, all drivers age 21 to 24 will be subject to a young driver surcharge. This surcharge can be viewed online during the booking process. According to National Car Rental, the average surcharge is $20 per day and varies depending on the location from which you rent. Drivers under the age of 25 will be restricted to certain vehicle classes.
Payless Car Rental
Drivers must be 21 years of age or older to rent from Payless Car Rental. All drivers age 21 to 24 will be subject to a young driver surcharge of $25 per day. Additionally, drivers under the age of 25 may only rent select vehicles.
Sixt Rent A Car
Sixt Rent A Car is primarily found throughout Europe; however, Sixt maintains a presence in a few major US cities. In the United States, Sixt requires that drivers be at least 21 years of age to rent a car. Drivers ages 21 to 24 will also be subject to a young driver surcharge. According to Sixt Rent A Car, this surcharge varies by state and on the location from which you rent. Additionally, younger drivers will be restricted to certain vehicle classes.
Thrifty allows drivers 20 years of age or older to rent their vehicles. Thrifty also requires that younger drivers have a driver’s license for a least one year and that their license is in good standings. Drivers age 20 to 24 will incur a young driver surcharge. According to Thrifty, this surcharge varies depending on the location from which you rent and the vehicle type you select. Younger drivers will be able to rent the majority of the vehicles in Thrifty’s fleet with a few exceptions including those in Thrifty’s StyleSeries.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind When Renting a Car Under 25
While most US states, Canadian provinces, and Mexican states do not have laws or regulations pertaining to renting a car under when you’re under 25 years of age, there are a few outliers. In the United States and Canada, there are a few states and provinces that may allow drivers to rent cars at just 18 years of age while other states require car rental companies to charge higher young driver surcharges. Here’s a list of US states and Canadian provinces that have laws and regulations that apply to renters under the age of 25:
States in the US with Laws Applying to Renters Under 25
- Alabama: The minimum age to rent a car is 19
- Nebraska: The minimum age to rent a car is 19
- Mississippi: The minimum age to rent a car is 21
- New York: While the minimum age to rent a car is 18, the state has mandated surcharges:
- 18-21: $57 per day
- 21-24: $20 per day
- Michigan: The minimum age to rent a car 18. This is mandated by the state, which means car rental companies must rent to anyone 18 years or older.
Provinces in Canada with Laws Applying to Renters Under 25
- Saskatchewan: The minimum age to rent a car is 18
- Quebec: The minimum age to rent a car is 18
If you are active-duty military in the United States and must travel on military orders and obligations, rental car companies are required to rent to drivers 18 years or older. Additionally, all surcharges and fees pertaining to young drivers will be waived. While extremely specific, it’s worth noting as this is an official law in the US.
Younger drivers will also need to remember that, in addition to the standard rate, taxes, and potential surcharges, rental car companies offer car rental collision and loss coverage. Most personal car insurance plans do offer a great deal of rental car loss coverage. Car insurance plans may cover a portion of damages. However, it is highly recommended younger drivers have a form of supplemental car insurance when renting from a car rental company.
Supplemental coverage is typically offered by the car rental agency from which you rent. However, this coverage may be limited or quite costly. Numerous credit cards also offer supplemental car rental coverage when the cardholder uses the card to pay for the full cost of the rental. One student credit card that offers car rental coverage is the Deserve® EDU Mastercard.
In addition to the Deserve EDU Mastercard student credit card, most credit cards with an annual fee like the American Express Gold Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and numerous travel rewards cards offer supplemental car rental coverage. It is recommended and highly encouraged that cardholders review their card’s car rental coverage benefit prior to making a reservation with that card.
The Bottom Line
So, that whole thing about needing to be 25 to rent a car isn’t really true. While you can rent a car from most major rental car companies in the United States, even when you’re under the age of 25, there are a number of things to keep in mind. The College Points highly encourages all younger drivers to call the location from which they plan to rent to ensure they will be able to pick-up their vehicle without any unexpected fees and without added stress.
If you’re looking for ways to lessen the impact of the younger driver surcharge on your wallet, some car rental companies offer student discounts. We recommend visiting StudentBeans to check for the latest student discounts. However, some rental car companies may offer student discounts at pick-up or when during the reservation process.