How to Rent a Car in Nashville if You're Under 21

How to Rent a Car in Nashville if You're Under 21

Nashville is a stellar destination for music lovers and those looking to get a great taste of the south. With so much to do—from live music to museums to great food—it’s a city that attracts all ages, including people under 21. But if you’ve ever tried to rent a car on vacation and you’re under 21, you know it can be complicated and expensive. Nevertheless, your age shouldn’t keep you from hitting up such a fun city!  

So we’re answering the big question: How can you rent a car in Nashville if you’re under 21? Let’s find out. 

renting a car

Do your research 

When it comes to figuring out how to rent a car when you’re under 21, you definitely want to make sure you fully understand the rental company’s policies. 

Not every rental company has the same rules when it comes to renting to young drivers—every agency has their own policy, and it can even differ depending on the location. Some rental companies base their age minimum on state regulations, while others create their own rules. There are a whole lot of companies (and states) that require you to be at least 21 years old. That is, unless you’re in New York or Michigan, where the norm is 18 years old. 

Luckily for you, the state of Tennessee dubs 20 as the minimum age to rent a car. But do your research: not all agencies in Tennessee will rent to drivers under 21. And even if they do, it’s not all cut and dried. 

Be prepared for fees

Car rental agencies love to tack on additional fees, and renting to a driver under 21 is a golden opportunity to do so. Younger drivers have less experience behind the wheel and are statistically more prone to accidents. In order to protect themselves from these potential collisions, rental companies add an “underage surcharge” to make sure they don’t end up losing money with a potentially reckless driver. Essentially, they want to limit risks, limit costs, and make as much money as possible. 

The extra fee can be up to $35 extra a day if you’re 21-24, and even more if you’re under 21. 

Usually that fee still applies all the way up until you reach 25 years of age, when statistically accidents tend to decrease. Make sure you know the real total cost of your rental before booking. 

Find tricks to avoid fees 

It turns out there are actually a few tactics to help you avoid these young renter fees. Certain rental companies waive underage fees for American Automobile Association (AAA) members, and luckily, it’s a membership available to anyone and everyone. If you, or anyone in your family, is involved in the U.S. military, a United Services Automobile Association (USAA) membership might also help you get that fee waived. Or, if you’re simply on military or government orders, it’s likely you won’t have to pay the young driver fee either. 

Keep your driving record clean 

Rental companies aren’t too keen on renting to drivers under 21 (hence the surcharge). Which is why you need to have a pretty clean driving record to rent a car. You’ll need a driver’s license in good standing and without serious infractions—that means a full year of driving without any major tickets or suspensions. Otherwise, you could run into challenges renting. 

Know your limits 

If you’re hoping to take a road trip with a big crew or impress your coworkers with a fancy ride at the company conference, a rental agency may not be your best bet. A lot of rental companies won’t rent all their cars out to just anyone. They often put additional restrictions on special luxury vehicles or large vans and SUVS to keep young drivers from renting them. Most companies only allow you to rent economy and full-size cars, and not their premium vehicles.

Bring the right documents 

The rental company may ask for additional documentation if you’re under 21, so be prepared. When you book and go to pick up the vehicle, make sure you have: 

  • Your reservation confirmation
  • A driver’s license that’s at least a year old, without any serious infractions. Check to make sure it isn’t expired!
  • Full insurance on your vehicle, whether it’s through the rental agency or your own private insurance. If you have a personal car insurance policy, check to see if it extends to rentals. 
  • A passport (if you don’t have a U.S. driver’s license or ID)
  • An international driver’s permit (if you don’t have a U.S. driver’s license)
  • Enough money to cover the additional young driver fees 
  • A credit or debit card with enough credit to cover the temporary deposit charge 

WARNING! Some companies only take credit cards and will not accept a debit card. If you don’t have a credit card, you could easily lose your chance to rent a car.   

Keep in mind that each agency may require different information and documentation. So make sure you research the agency’s policies or call to clarify what’s needed. 

Discover Nashville with Avail 

Trying to rent a car in Nashville or anywhere else in the U.S. can be complicated if you’re under 21. If you don’t want to mess around with extra paperwork and extensive research, or don’t have the budget for hefty fees, a car share is your salvation. And Avail is the answer. 

Not only can you easily borrow any car (yes, any available vehicle) in Nashville with Avail if you’re 18+, you won’t have to pay those extra fees. All drivers over 18 pay the same! All you need is a valid U.S. driver’s license, a clean driving record, and a credit or debit card to book your reservation. You’ll also be fully insured with Allstate. 

Borrow a car with Avail and drive without the fees or the hassle of traditional car rentals.