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How old do you have to be to rent a car?
December 6, 2022

How old do you have to be to rent a car?

If there is any myth out there worth busting, it’s the one that has young drivers believing they have to be 25 years old to rent a car. The fact is, that’s simply not true. What follows are a few important things you need to know if you’re under 25 and want to get behind the wheel of a rental car. 

First, car rental age limitations are determined by either the rental company or the state where you’re renting the car. Second, age minimums and restrictions on car rentals are a direct result of car accident statistics. Here’s why: road traffic accidents are higher among younger, less experienced drivers — typically under 25 years old. Like any car owner, car rental companies must have insurance. And when a car rental company gets a policy for its fleet of vehicles, its rates increase if it rents out to a high-risk group, such as drivers under 25. To reduce insurance rates, many — but not all — car rental companies tack on surcharges for those under 25, on top of the daily rental rates. 

Some rental companies may even put restrictions on the types of cars under-25 drivers can rent. Bad news if you were planning to take a luxury car out for a spin or pile a bunch of your friends into a big van for a cross-country road trip. 

Whether or not it’s aimed at discouraging young renters, the 25-to-rent rule is a common misconception. You can rent a car before you’re 25, though it can get expensive. The good news is that even if you are a few years away from turning 25, there are ways you can rent a car without spending extra.

So, what is the minimum age to rent a car? 

That again depends on the state you rent in and the rental company providing the car. For example, you can rent a car at most traditional car rental agencies in New York and Michigan at 18. In fact, any car rental company operating in these two states is required by law to rent to licensed drivers 18 and over, even if their official car rental age is higher. Unfortunately, there is no law preventing companies from charging young renters extra fees. In New York, for example, the surcharges for 18-and-over drivers can exceed $50 per day in addition to daily rental rates. Those numbers can put a real dent in your travel budget.

On the other hand, a company may set its minimum car rental age at 18, but if you are planning to rent in Alabama or Nebraska, the minimum age is 19. When it comes to the rest of the country, car rental age minimums fall between 19 and 21, although some companies make exceptions for 18-and-over drivers. 

At Avail, if you’re 21 or older, you can book any car at our locations across Chicago and Denver without incurring additional fees, provided that you have a clean driving record. 

One thing is set in stone, though, whether you’re 21, 25 or 45: All prospective renters must have a valid driver’s license in good standing. Keep in mind, however, that some rental companies won’t rent to drivers who have had their license for less than a year. 

Are there exceptions for underage renters?

Absolutely! There are several ways that you can avoid underage renter fees. U.S. military personnel and government employees 18 and over on authorized government travel seldom incur young driver surcharges at most agencies. USAA members and their families can likewise avoid young renter fees.

Some car rental companies servicing major cities waive underage surcharges for local residents. Kyte, for example, allows Boston-area residents ages 21 to 25 to rent cars without any additional fees. Kyte also rents fee-free to students under 25 in California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington and Washington, D.C., provided that they can show proof of a .edu email address. 

Likewise, Avail doesn’t tack on hefty fees for younger drivers at any of our locations — all drivers 21 and over pay the same.

If you’re a AAA member, Hertz is among several companies that don’t charge young renter fees. In case of emergencies, Enterprise, whose minimum car rental age is 21, will rent a car to anyone 18 and older if the rental is an insurance replacement while their car is in the shop for repairs.

Ready to hit the road? Try Avail

Bottom line: Cruising down a winding road in a rental car if you’re under 25 is possible. But because younger drivers are considered high-risk, car rental companies incur higher insurance rates and sometimes charge additional fees to young drivers as a result. This can make renting a car before 25 feel prohibitive, but it doesn't have to be. There are companies supporting young drivers as they make their way in the world. 

Avail never charges extra fees to drivers under 25 years of age — and that’s in addition to reasonably priced daily rates. You can hit the road in one of our cars as soon as you turn 21, no matter which of our locations you borrow from. And, to give you peace of mind as you explore the vast world out there, our upfront pricing includes insurance coverage from Allstate, roadside assistance and 24/7 customer support.