While I am personally over 25, I know that many people under 25 run into issues when trying to rent a car in the US for a decent price (that’s if the company will even let you rent). While age shouldn’t necessarily be a variable in determining ability to drive, statistics do not work in the favor of younger drivers from a risk perspective (more accident-prone, for example), so that’s why rates extended to younger drivers are super expensive!
General info for drivers under 25:
To start with some basic information about car rentals in general, you have to be at least 18 to rent a car in the US; however, some car rental agencies won’t let people under 21 rent a car (except for NY and MI because their state laws ban that practice). Avis and Budget will let 19 year olds rent a car in many states.
After doing some research, I came to some interesting conclusions. The good news is that Hertz will rent you a car in any state if you’re 18. Enterprise will also rent you a car when you’re 18 in NY and MI.
Just as a suggestion, I recommend paying for the rental with a credit card that offers primary car rental insurance like the United MileagePlus Explorer card. It is important to remember that this coverage only protects the car and not property, vehicle, or people and their injuries. Contact your car insurance provider to see if you’re covered.
If not, all car rental agencies will gladly sell you their coverage, just make sure to decline the CDW or LDW insurance when paying with a credit card that offers coverage. You can also find a third-party that offers it cheaper than the car rental company would.
How to still receive cheaper rates for drivers under 25:
I recently learned a work-around for younger drivers to rent a car without such a hike in price with a free USAA membership. While playing around with dummy bookings, I found that age wasn’t a determining factor for the rates offered.
Most of the time, the rates were the same across the board for an 18 year old driver and a 30 year old driver.
1. Join USAA
If you don’t already have a USAA account, go on over to USAA’s website and click “Join USAA”. You DO NOT need to be in the military or affiliated with anyone to join. When creating your account, just be 100% honest. You don’t need to lie about your affiliation with the military, you can still create a free account to access the car rental discounts.
2. Log into Your USAA Account & Click on the “Products” Tab, then “Travel Deals” Button
Once you create an account, go ahead and log in with your information. After clicking the “Travel Deals” button it will bring you to a USAA Discount travel page.
3. Click on “Car Rentals” & Enter Car Rental Information
Just enter your car rental information and USAA’s search engine will bring up the cheapest options from Hertz, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise. You can also click on the “Show Advanced Search Options” button and change details based on your preferences.
Please note that since the search engine by USAA is relatively new, it can become buggy sometimes and display “No locations found for your Pickup Location, please select a different Pickup location.” If that happens just click on “Car Rentals” on the top left of the screen.
Once you click on “Car Rentals”, it will bring you to USAA’s old page to search for cars. The percentage taken off from each company is available under their name. You can also sign up for each respective rewards program, if they have one.
In order to search for the best deal, create a new tab of each company and input your details. Just because Enterprise is “only” 5% off doesn’t mean it’s the most expensive option. You may also steer towards one company if there’s a promotion (example: Hertz giving bonus United miles) if the prices are all very similar.
If you’re younger than 25, definitely sign up and take advantage a free USAA membership for discounted car rentals. Even if you’re not a US citizen, you can take advantage of these rates as long as you have an acceptable drivers license.
If you’re 25 and over you might not need to take advantage of USAA’s travel deals when you can shop through Costco or Autoslash for discounted car rental rates, but it never hurts to try!
What are your experiences renting under 25? Have you ever used USAA for discounted car rental rates?