Rent A Car Under 25 Without Massive Surcharges?

Upgrade: Travel Better says most car rental places will charge drivers under 25 an additional $25 per day, but there are a couple of things you can do to reduce the ding.

Shop around: Some branches of big name places will charge less than the national “going rate.”
Try local shops: Mom and pops might cut you a break, especially if you mention and bring in a copy of your spotless driving record.

Really, though, there’s not much you can do, except get older. — BEN POPKEN

If you’re under 25, how do you rent a car without huge surcharges? [Upgrade: Travel Better]
(Photo: dtkindler)

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  1. techgeekwill says:

    This would have been helpful last year. I needed one for my honeymoon, but I couldn’t face paying an extra $200 just because I was under 25.

  2. mantari says:

    How does one produce a credible copy of one’s own driving record?

  3. Aston14 says:

    I took a vacation down to Miami a few years back, and I found a big name renter that was out of the way ( far away from the airport). All told, I paid less with the fees than if I had rented at the airport without the fees. It pays to shop around a bit.

  4. spacehaven says:

    You can also try waiting a few years. That usually works.

  5. benwellington says:

    For those in manhattan over 18 but under 24, car rental express has no fees. It is awesome and the rates are half of what the national brands cost on top of that.

    http://www.carrentalexpress.com/rez/action-car-rental/prof

  6. bambino says:

    @mantari: You can usually order one from your DMV or municipal court for around $10.

  7. I wonder if being a ZipCar renter would make this a moot point.. as long as you aren’t visiting BFE.

  8. dhenryrmu says:

    I’m 24, and I rented a car from Enterprise without underage fees. Why? With Enterprise, you have to be 21 to avoid charges with them, instead of 25. It was very nice.

  9. NoctisEqui says:

    Here’s a tip that worked for me when I was renting a car last year at age 24.

    Typically, if you rent a car for work purposes using a company account, they won’t charge you a surcharge for being underage- I think they assume that since you’re on business and gainfully employed, they can trust you with a rental car. My company had an agreement with National for them to be the exclusive car rental partner, so I had rented with them for work several times before needing to rent a car for a personal vacation I took. I made the reservation with National and when I got to the counter, I very nicely asked them if I could have the underage surcharge waived since I had rented through them for work before without being charged a penalty. The rental agent looked up my company name in their database, saw they were a preferred client, and when I showed her my business card she agreed to waive the fee. Score! I was able to use the company affiliation to get a no-penalty rental that I paid for on my personal credit card.

    Major props to National for saving me tons of money on my vacation- the reservation agent was unbelievably nice. However, I think the key here was that I asked very, very nicely and wasn’t demanding or divaish about it. I wasn’t name-dropping the company name to try and impress them, I just used it to demonstrate that they could trust me.

  10. TinaB says:

    Here in Arizona, I’ve rented a car through Enterprise a couple times with no extra fees.

  11. thrillhouse says:

    Really, though, there’s not much you can do, except get older.

    And when you get older, give the middle finger to those rental companies who would even rent to you based on your age. They didn’t need your business then, and they don’t need it now.

  12. Youthier says:

    @NoctisEqui: That’s worked for me as well…

    But it pisses me off that a number of states/rental agencies tack on these fees. I’m 24, I graduated college, I hold down a full time job, I pay my bills on time but if I go on vacation, I have to pay $50 extra bucks a day to drive a Chevy Cobalt?

  13. noorct says:

    The neighborhood locations of enterprise have never charged me a surcharge. I highly recommend them. On the enterprise website, it will list the fee if there is one to be charged. All of their airport locations charge, though, so you are better off taking a cab to a location away from the airport and avoiding the charge!

  14. slapstick says:

    The corporation I work for has a deal with Enterprise where employees under 21-24 do not incur fees. If you work for a larger corporation, check the employee discounts section of your website, or just ask when you’re on the phone.

  15. @thrillhouse: Word.

    I was able to rent from a Hertz at a (very) small airport without the fee. I’m thinking they don’t normally get a lot of business.

  16. Baz says:

    The Corporate account really helps. I have also had luck via “social engineering” – by chatting up the sales agent, talking about business, prior excellent service at that branch, etc. agents have waived the surcharge for me.

  17. acambras says:

    @thrillhouse:

    I agree. It’s been a long time since I turned 25, but my memory isn’t gone yet.

    A little OT but somewhat related – open note to those car insurance companies that would not consider writing me a policy when I was under 25:
    I’m now 35 and have two cars and a spotless driving record. But I remember how your employees blew me off (one of them very rudely, I might add). Now you actively solicit my business, but I remember how you treated me. So go f*** yourselves.

  18. SupaNeo says:

    Just as an FYI, Military members 21 and older don’t incur any additional fees. Just show your military ID and they wave it. Some places even have special federal discounts available as well.

    Working for Uncle Sam does have a few perks, not many, but a few.

  19. BMR says:

    you really can’t fault a company (or industry) for using statistics to make a general rule. They have stockholders they need to answer to you know. Yeah it is a gross generalization, but all rules of this sort are.

  20. acambras says:

    @BMR:
    you really can’t fault a company (or industry) for using statistics to make a general rule.

    Sure I can. When I’m spending my money (vs. my employer’s money or taxpayer money), I can use whatever criteria I want, no matter how unreasonable.

    Seriously, if they hadn’t been such asshats to me (before I was 25), I would probably be more inclined to deal with that company.

  21. fourmajor says:

    I use this page to find the best rates for the area that I am in. I rented a Chevy Cobalt with a $15 instead of $25 under-25 fee for today and yesterday. http://www.bnm.com/uage2.htm

  22. mrosedal says:

    Last year I had to face the music and pay the fees for my honeymoon. Unfortunately I had to pay the fees because we were staying in the middle of nowhere. I shopped for hours trying to find either the cheapest fee or for no fee. It was absolutely wrong that they charge that fee. I missed 25 by 2 months. I mean I am sure it is insurance purposes, but magically when I turn 25 I am no longer a risk? Come on this should be changed.

  23. KopyKat says:

    If you are a college student, your school might have a deal with a local rental office as well. When I was in college, there was one Hertz location in Milwaukee that would rent to Marquette students without the youth tax. Maybe the manager was a grad and felt sorry for us, who knows.

  24. BMR says:

    @acambras:
    I am ALL for blacklisting companies, for whatever reason you choose, that is not my point. While not in the habit of defending crappy corporate policy, I am simply saying that there are reasons and you happened to fall into their grouping. I don’t see it is a matter of bad treatment, no matter how unfair it may seem. Now if they were rude or nasty to you while overcharging you…that is another story.

    You know at a certain age you can’t even rent a car – what do you make of that? Again, companies can’t decide each rental on a case by case basis – then everyone would be complaining that they had to wait in line too long.

  25. InsaneNewman says:

    @mantari: I have a copy of my record courtesy of our favorite company, ChoicePoint, from when I had to call to correct some erroneous data on my record. However, you may be able to request a copy of the report they have on you for free under the Fair Credit Reporting Act… not positive, but the menu options seemed to allude to that.

  26. xredgambit says:

    Just use your place of work to see if they have some sort of agreement with a company. If you work for a company you can rent a car under 25. It doesn’t have to be on business. Just show a pay stub or a work id of some sort. It’s all you need if your under 25. Or unless its an insurance replacement.
    I used to work for budget reservations. So I know its true for them not sure for the other guys, but I assume it’s similar.

  27. techgeekwill said:

    This would have been helpful last year. I needed one for my honeymoon, but I couldn’t face paying an extra $200 just because I was under 25.

    So what did you do instead, take the bus?

    Signs you may be too young to be getting married: you can’t afford the extra $25 a day to rent a Dodge Neon for your honeymoon.

  28. thedcsleeper says:

    Thanks for posting on this. You didn’t respond to my two main issues though! (I’m 19 with a clean driving record, by the way.)

    1. When I first called Enterprise, they told me they couldn’t rent to me. New York Law mandates that rental companies MUST rent cars to anyone over 18 (It’s General Business Code, Article 26, Section 391-G.)

    2. They are only allowed to pass along any “actual extra insurance costs.” They told me I would have to pay $62.50 per day to rent from Enterprise. According to this, their insurance would have me pay over $22,000 annually MORE than someone 25 years old. It is preposterous that this is an actual extra cost. If it is, it would seem like they’re colluding with the insurance company to mandate higher charges so they don’t have to rent to people under 25.

    To anyone in NY State under 25 years old: Please file a complaint with the NY Attorney General.

  29. Justinh6 says:

    I’ve rented at the Buffalo, NY airport several times, with enterprise, and never paid the fee.

    I’m 24 years old, and have been renting since i was 22.

    Go on their website, and search for a rate when you say your 21-24, then 25 and over, its the same rate.

  30. There are some alumni associations (I think Berkeley and OSU are examples?) that partner with various companies to give their members perks. These perks include waiving the Under-25 car rental fee, iirc.

  31. Havok154 says:

    @BMR:
    If they’re going by statistics, then why don’t they charge more for people over a certain age. According to these stats, a driver from 20-24 is less likely to get into an accident, especially a fatal accident, then someone older.

    US Census:
    http://www.allcountries.org/uscensus/1045_age_of_driver_an

  32. acambras says:

    @Havok154:

    Yeah, they could also impose a surcharge for anyone driving in places they deem higher-risk (crime rates, etc). That’ll go over well.

  33. Havok154 says:

    @acambras:
    That’s what I’m getting at. I can almost assure you that if they said anyone over 60 would have the same charge as a 22yr old, they would cry “discrimination”, yet it’s perfectly acceptable to do the same to someone younger. Car insurance companies pull the same BS only because they can.

  34. Ran Kailie says:

    You know I never had this problem when I was under $25 with any agency. I always called the branch, talked to someone specifically and asked them about waiving the fee. In most cases they were always helpful I think I only have two people who weren’t helpful.

    It doesn’t hurt to call and ask, and always avoid the online reservation systems, always call and ask. I even had one company give me a complimentary upgrade and waived the fee for me because I called and asked.

    I also believe that Hertz has an agreement with AAA card holders regarding fees for under 25 as well.

  35. As a member of the military, a lot of the rental companies (as well as hotels), make exceptions. My wife and I both have rented cars and hotels without incurring security deposits and/or fees.

  36. acambras says:

    @Havok154:
    Yeah, if the companies tried to charge extra for people over 60, the AARP would be all over that shit faster than you could say “senior citizen.”

    @Ran Kailie:
    I think AAA has probably managed to negotiate some good deals for their members. For example, when I used AAA to rent a car from Hertz, not only did I get a substantial discount, but Hertz also waived the fee to add another driver to the car.

  37. BMR says:

    @Havok154:
    It is a good question. My only answer is that this is US Census, not rental car data. And accidents are different than damage – there are many ways a rental car can be damaged. Not all of them evident
    from the outside.
    @acambras:
    overseas they do charge more in Ireland if you are renting with the plans to drive to Northern Ireland – it is standard as far as I can tell.

    And by the way, I agree it stinks.

  38. acambras says:

    @BMR:
    overseas they do charge more in Ireland if you are renting with the plans to drive to Northern Ireland – it is standard as far as I can tell.

    Well that makes sense, seeing as how you’re crossing an international border to get from Ireland to Northern Ireland. I’m talking about a company saying “Oh, you’re driving to see your family in Compton? OK, that’ll be an extra $10 per day.”

  39. JakeW says:

    USAA members get the fee waived at Avis. You also get a general discount, which is nice. You can get discounts at a couple other rental companies, but Avis is the only one where they waive the underage fee.

    Being a reader of the Consumerist and a big Seinfeld fan I was a tad worried about being hassled when I went to rent a car for the first time – but they didn’t even ask me if I wanted insurance.

  40. sassafras says:

    USAA offers some deals with Hertz, Avis, and Budget to its members.

    I was able to find a good rate with Avis and had the fee for being under 25 waived, because I made my reservation through USAA.

  41. You can BE MARRIED. (Or appear married.) Most places give a discount to under-25 men who are married on the theory they’re more responsible. My husband ALWAYS got the over-25 rate once we got married or even just traveling together while engaged and the clerk ASSUMED we were married. I, however, still had to pay the under-25 rate.

    This is, of course, the same reason my husband gets a discount on his car insurance now for being married. And I don’t. Apparently being married has no effect on my responsibility level but BOY HOWDY did it clean up his act!

    (I sort-of don’t know how they apply this at the rental places, though — it’s not like they ask for a copy of your marriage license. I wonder if it would have worked if he was traveling alone, wearing his ring, and said, “I’m married,” instead of travelling with wife in tow. The car insurance company now? They wanted the marriage certificate as proof.)