When you’re taking a California road trip, you probably want a little help with the task of driving. After all, California is huge! And you want to see the sights too.
Even if you’re just cruising around a big city, anyone driving for a few hours in a city with traffic like LA will most certainly need a break. But when you go to rent a car for your road trip, there’s often an additional driver fee associated with adding an extra driver to the contract. Sometimes it can cost you $10 a day or more. And on a week-long road trip? That adds up fast.
That extra cost makes it pretty tempting to just do away with it altogether. But if that unlisted driver gets into an accident, you could incur some pretty hefty fees. In other words, it’s definitely not worth the risk.
Luckily, there are a few ways to waive the additional driver fee. Here’s a look at some of the best tactics.
That’s right! By law, rental companies are not allowed to charge an additional driver fee in California. It doesn’t matter if your additional driver is related to you or not, it’s totally free. As long as they have a valid driver’s license and you list them in the contract, you and your driving buddy are good to go cruising through LA and onward.
Not all states waive the additional driver fee like they do in California. But many states don’t charge the additional driver fee if the driver is a spouse or domestic partner. For example, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin don’t charge extra for spouses or domestic partners.
Looking to head to New York City? New York actually caps their additional driver fee at $5. So if you’re driving with someone who isn’t your partner, the max you will pay is $5 a day. Nevada also caps their additional driver fee, but the price is different every year based on inflation.
Certain memberships can help you avoid additional driver fees in states outside of California. AAA, for example, often waives additional driver fees as long as you book with their rate and let the rental company know you’re an AAA member. Keep in mind that both you and the additional driver have to be AAA members in order to receive the discount.
AARP, Costco, and USAA memberships can also help you avoid additional driver fees, depending on the rental company. However, if you book with USAA, the additional driver also has to be a member of USAA, or at least be a spouse of a member.
If you are a member of any of these organizations, it’s a good idea to check the membership conditions. You’ll need to determine which rental companies they partner with, and what other fees you can avoid when renting a car or adding another driver.
There are a few other ways to avoid additional driver fees when renting a car.
If you’re renting a car for work with a business discount code, you may be able to add other colleagues to the contract free of charge. You’ll need to check with your company’s policies and their specific agreements with the rental car agency.
Travel credit cards often partner with rental companies too. Even if they can’t totally waive the additional driver fee, you may be able to receive a discount on the rental.
It’s also a good idea to do your research on each individual agency. With some rental companies, it’s free to add a spouse or domestic partner to the contract, regardless of your location. Certain agencies also offer discounts if you sign up for their elite membership programs.
Rental car fees add up fast. There’s extra insurance coverage. Or a hidden upcharge on the car model. And then, there’s this additional driver fee you have to consider.
Luckily, you won’t get hit with any additional driver fees in LA or California. But if you’re renting a car anywhere else in the country, try booking with Avail. There are no additional driver fees, no matter the state or the vehicle. The extra driver creates a profile on Avail and adds their driver’s license. Then the borrower who made the reservation calls our customer service line or emails firstname.lastname@example.org to get the driver authenticated. Once the borrower accepts the terms in writing we will add a note to your booking and they’ll be covered too!