5 things young drivers should know when renting a car

Along with getting your driver’s license and driving alone for the first time, renting your first car is one of the major milestones of driving.

Whether you’re renting a car for vacation or work, for a long road trip or just around town, here’s what people under 25 should know about renting a car. 

1. You don’t need to be 25 to rent a car, but you do need to meet the rental company’s age limit

It’s a common mistaken belief that you must be 25 or older to rent a car. How old you do need to be to rent a car depends on the state you’re in and the company you’re renting from.

While the law may not prohibit 18-year-olds from renting in your state, for example, most of the well-known rental car companies set a higher limit. Renters must be at least 20 to rent a car from Hertz in most parts of the U.S., and at least 21 to rent from most other brands such as Enterprise and Budget.

The exceptions are in Michigan and New York, where state law mandates 18 as the minimum rental age for all brands; and in Alabama and Nebraska, where Hertz’s minimum age is 19. 

International car rental age requirements similarly vary by country and brand. For example, drivers must be 20 years old to rent from Hertz in Canada, except in Quebec, where the minimum age is 18. For Enterprise, drivers must be at least 21 in every province. If you’re renting overseas, be sure to check the age requirements ahead of time. 

2. Young renter fees aren’t the same for all brands & ages

Drivers under the age of 25 usually pay a daily surcharge referred to as a “young renter fee” when renting a car. The exact amount of the fee depends on the brand you’re renting from and your age. Car rental companies usually have a lower fee for drivers age 21-24, and a higher fee for drivers age 18-20 in the few states where people that age are allowed to rent.

Book a Hertz rental through AAA & get the young renter fee waived

Hertz waives the young renter fee (typically $19/day) for AAA members age 20-24, along with up to 30% savings on the base rate1 and other AAA member benefits like a free additional driver.2

Book a Hertz rental car

3. You can rent most (but not all) kinds of vehicles

Renters under 25 are typically allowed to rent “standard” rental car classes: compact, mid-size, and full-size cars; compact and mid-size SUVs; and minivans. Many brands have other vehicle classes that are only rented to those 25 and older, such as luxury or high-performance cars and full-size 3-row SUVs, as well as specialty vehicles like large 12- or 15-seat passenger vans.

4. You need to make sure you’re insured

Just like in any other car you drive, you’re liable for property damage and bodily injury you might cause to others while driving a rental car, as well as damage to the rental car itself.

When you pick up your rental, you have the option to buy 4 kinds of add-on rental car insurance: a collision damage waiver, which covers damage to the rental car; supplemental liability insurance, which adds substantially more coverage for injuries or damage to others or their property; as well as personal accident insurance and personal effects coverage. You can accept or decline each of these coverages.

If you already have car insurance, the coverages on that policy generally apply when you drive a rental car. Make sure you know what specific coverages you have. If you don’t carry comprehensive or collision coverage on your personal policy, for example, you won’t have those coverages for your rental car either unless you buy the add-on collision damage waiver from the rental company.

RELATED: Does your car insurance cover you when driving a rental car?

If you don’t have your own car insurance (like if you don’t have your own car), the rental company will provide the legal minimum of property and bodily injury liability coverage.

Keep in mind that liability coverage only covers damage to other people’s property, not the rental car, and the legal limits are typically low. If you were found at fault in a crash that totals your rental car and another person’s car, and you only had the legal minimum insurance, you could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket to replace both cars.  

5. Bring your driver's license & a credit card

Once your rental is booked, you’ll need your driver’s license and a form of payment to pick it up. The name on the driver’s license and payment card should match the name on the reservation—if somebody else books it for you, ensure they don’t do so in their own name unless they’re also picking up the car.

Rental companies generally prefer credit cards as payment. If paying with a credit card, they may place an authorization hold on the card for the estimated cost of the rental.

Some brands also accept debit cards, but this can vary by location, by the type of vehicle you’re renting, and other factors, so a credit card is usually simpler. Either way, the name on the card should match the name of the person picking up the vehicle.

AAA members save on Hertz rentals & get the young renter fee waived

Save on your rental with up to 30% off the base rate1, and enjoy other member benefits like no young renter fee for drivers age 20-24, a free child seat, and a free additional driver.2

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