Cheap Car Rentals: Part 12 – Do You Know How To Get The Lowest Price For Drivers Under 25 Years Old?

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[Disclosure:  Emily and I may get a commission if you use the USAA links in this post.  As always, thanks for your support!]

Rental car companies charge more for drivers who are under the age of 25 than those over the age of 25.  And drivers under 21 years find it very hard to rent cars by themselves.  Blame it on the statistics!

Statistics show that drivers under the age of 25 have more accidents.  So car rental companies charge more for drivers 25 years or younger.  You also have to be at least 21 years to rent a car from most companies, except in Michigan and New York where state law bans this practice.

NOt Paying

She’s Happy Because She Didn’t Pay Extra Fees For Renting a Car!

But young drivers pay for the privilege of renting a car by paying surcharges ranging from $14 to $73 a day!

Using the USAA discount code is the secret to getting low prices for car rentals for underage drivers and to rent a car if you’re between 18 to 25 years old.

The USAA discount code also waives additional driver fees so it could be useful for folks who aren’t below 25 years as well!

Cheap Car Rentals Series:

Young Driver Surcharge Fees

Drivers between the ages of 21 to 24, can rent from Advantage, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty by paying a $14 to $73 extra fee per day.  US government or military personnel traveling on official business are exempt from young driver surcharges.

Some car rental companies have restrictions on the types of cars which folks under 25 years can rent.  Here’s a table outlining all the fees and restrictions if you didn’t read Million Mile Secrets and know how to get around them!

 
National
Minimum Rental Age21 Years21 Years21 Years21 Years21 Years20 Years (21 years in Mississippi)21 Years21 Years
Vehicle Rental RestrictionsNoneNo full-size & premium SUVs, Minivans, Passenger vans, Signature SeriesNo luxury cars, minivan, passenger vans, speciality vehicle, full-size & premium SUVsVaries depending on locationNoneNo Prestige Collection or no Adrenaline Collection carsVaries depending on locationNo premium, luxury, SUV, speciality, minivan, van, wagon, convertible, or pickup
Young Driver Daily Surcharge under 25$25$27 $27Varies depending on location$20+$15$25Varies depending on location
Michigan Daily Surcharge (18 to 20 years old)$26$41$41 (corporate locations only)Varies depending on location$26$20 to $41$26Doesn't indicate
Michigan Daily Surcharge (21 to 24 years old)$14$28$28 (corporate locations)Varies depending on location$14$20 to $25$14Doesn't indicate
New York Daily Surcharge (18 to 20 years old)$66$52$52 (corporate locations)Varies depending on location$66$20 to $41$66$73
New York Daily Surcharge (21 to 24 years old)$24$35$35 (corporate locations)Varies depending on location$24$20 to $25$24$35

I don’t like how vague Dollar and Thrifty are about their underage driver fees.  I would avoid renting from them because I’d want to know approximately how much I would pay before getting to the rental counter.

As you can see from the table, Hertz allows drivers as young as 20 to 21 to rent cars, allows for more car choices, and offers the lowest underage driver fees.

Comparing Underage Rental Car Surcharges

Here’s a table comparing rental rates for drivers 25 years or older and drivers under 25 renting an economy car in Charleston from September 6, 2013 to September 8, 2013.

I tested rates for the ages of 20, 21, and 24 & the underage driver rates were the same.  It didn’t matter how underage you were or how close to the age of 25 you were.  You still had to pay the fee.

2 Day Weekend Rental, Charleston, September 2013
Over 25 Years
Under 25 Years
Budget$157$224
CarRentalSavers$85(No option to indicate age.)
Costco$87$219*
Hertz$221$259
Ultimate Rewards Mall$79(No option to indicate age.)
USAA$50$50**

CarRentalSavers and Ultimate Rewards  don’t let you specify your age when you make a booking, so an underage driver might be surprised when the bill at the counter is more than the rate shown online.

*Underage drivers using CostcoTravel have to call Costco and are transferred to either Avis, Budget, Dollar, or Enterprise.  The agent confirms your Costco membership number and quotes you a price.

**There are no young driver fees when renting from Avis, Budget, Enterprise, or Hertz for USAA members.

Budget

Let’s see how much extra an underage driver would pay.

A driver 25 years or older renting an economy car from Budget for a weekend in Charleston would pay $157.

Over 25 Driver Pays $157 For A Weekend Rental From Budget

Over 25 Driver Pays $157 For A Weekend Rental From Budget

Underage drivers would pay $224 or $67 more dollars!

Underage Driver Pays $224 For A Weekend Rental From Budget

But an Underage Driver Pays $224 For the Same Rental From Budget

Costco

Drivers above 25 years pay $87 for an economy car for a weekend in Charleston.

Over 25 Drivers Pay $87 For A Weekend Rental Through Costco

Over 25 Drivers Pay $87 For A Weekend Rental Through Costco

While younger drivers must call 877-849-2730, select from Avis, Budget, Dollar, or Enterprise, confirm their Costco membership, and get a quote.  The phone call can take a long time.  It took almost 30 minutes for Budget to give me my quote.

Rates vary depending on the underage driver surcharge assessed by each company and rental location.

Under 25 Drivers Pay $219 Or More For A Weekend Rental From Costco

Under 25 Drivers Pay $219 Or More For A Weekend Rental From Costco

USAA

The best way to reduce costs for folks under 25 is to sign-up for USAA membership (it is free).

Using the USAA discount code waives young driver fees when renting from Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz so an underage driver would only pay $50.

Under 25 Drivers Pay $50 For A Weekend Rental From USAA

Under 25 Year Old Drivers Pay Much Less ($50) For A Weekend Rental From USAA

1.   Use USAA TO SAVE MONEY FOR UNDERAGE DRIVERS

Link:   USAA.com

USAA is a Fortune 500 company which provides banking, financial services and other discounts to the military and their families.  Anyone can join USAA and you don’t need to be associated with the military to join and receive certain discounts.

However, USAA restricts certain products and services only to members with military affiliation.  USAA members who’ve served longer may get better offers and discounts.

The good news is that USAA discounts for car rentals are available to anyone!

“Our investment products, most checking and savings products, credit cards, life insurance, and shopping and discounts are available to other individuals.”

USAA Membership Benefits For Other Individuals

You Don’t Have to be in The Military to Get Car Rental Discounts From USAA!

You can join USAA by calling 800-531-8722 or by registering online.

USAA Member Discounts On Shopping, Home Security, Cars, And Travel

USAA Member Discounts On Shopping, Home Security, Cars, And Travel

Here’s another example of the low car rental rates using USAA, this time using a different city and a different rental car company.

A driver under 25 would only pay $67 through USAA for a rental in Providence.

Under 25 Driver Pays $67 For A Weekend Rental From USAA

Driver Under 25 Years Pays $67 For A Weekend Rental From USAA

But that same driver would pay $271 – or $202 more – without the USAA discount!

Under 25 Driver Pays $271 For A Weekend Rental From Avis

Under 25 Driver Pays $202 More For The Same Rental Without USAA Discount!

Note that if you’re between 18 & 20 years old you can use only the USAA discount code for Hertz.  The discount codes for Avis, Budget and Enterprise require you to be at least 21 years old.

Other Benefits of USAA

The USAA discount code also gets you these benefits:

  • Discounts of up to 25% off Avis or Hertz and 20% off Budget and Enterprise
  • No additional driver fees for spouses and USAA members
  • Primary liability coverage.  Coverage with some rental car companies is limited to the state minimum coverage, though.

How To Use USAA To Rent Cars

Step 1 – Log In To Your USAA Account

Enter your Online ID and password to log on to your USAA account.

Log Into Your USAA Account

Step 1 – Log Into Your USAA Account

Step 2 – Enter Your PIN

USAA is big on security (no surprise) so this is the first of two security steps!

Add Your PIN

Step 2 – Add Your PIN

Step 3 – Answer Your Security Question

Answer your security question.

Answer A Security Question

Step 3 – Answer A Security Question

Step 4 – Click On “Our Products” Menu

Click on the “Our Products” dropdown menu.

Under-25-Car-Rental20

Step 4 – Click On “Our Products” in the top Left Part of the Screen

Step 5 – Select “Travel Discounts”

Click on “Travel Discounts” in the menu under “Shopping and Discounts” on the right of the page.

Click On Travel Products

Step 5 – Click On “Travel Discounts”

Step 6 – Scroll Down To Rental Car Discounts

Scroll down to the rental car discounts section and click on “Learn More”

Click On Learn More

Step 6 – Click On “Learn More”

Step 7 – Choose A Rental Car Company

You can choose either Avis, Budget, Enterprise or Hertz and you will be redirected to rental car company to look up prices.  The USAA discount code will be automatically applied to your reservation.

There is no way to see the discounted rates for all four companies at the same time.  You have to search each rental car company one-by-one to find the best price.

Note that if you’re between 18 & 20 years you can use only the USAA discount code for Hertz.  The discount codes for Avis, Budget and Enterprise require you to be at least 21 years old.

2.   Use Corporate Discounts to Save Money for Underage Drivers

If you work for a corporation, you may be able to use your corporate discount for personal rentals and have the underage fees waived.  But this varies based on your employer, so check with your corporate travel department.

3.   Local Car Rental Agencies

Look for local car rental agencies in your college town which rent cars to students.  They usually will rent to folks below 25 years old and may have cheaper fees if you’re under 25 years old.

Bottom Line

Car rental companies charge high fees for rivers under the age of 25.

The minimum age to rent a car is 21, except in Michigan and New York where the minimum age required by law is 18.  US government and military personnel do not have to pay underage fees when renting cars on official government business.

But you can save LOTS of money by joining USAA and using their discounted rate for car rentals.

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These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

65 Responses to Cheap Car Rentals: Part 12 – Do You Know How To Get The Lowest Price For Drivers Under 25 Years Old?

  1. Thank you, for the entire series on car rentals. I am over 25 (thats good and bad), so this article did not apply. But I am glad I have learned about getting car rental through Ultimate rewards portal from previous post, which will save us a lot. There is always something useful, I am getting from this website.

  2. Great information. I’m under 25 so I’ve largely been ignoring the car rental series. It’s great to know there is a way to avoid the surcharges! The prices may not be as good as if the Citi Thank You portal or other options that require you to be over 25, but this option is a close second (and much better than I thought!)

  3. Sweet. A new low. Exploiting a company dedicated to serving those who have served our country in order to get a bunch of accident-prone drivers onto the road for cheap. Thanks for helping to erode the benefits for all of us!

    What’s the matter, nothing else to post about since Chase won’t let you write about the return of certain gift cards to OD?

    ….And MMS hereby becomes the 2nd blog ever taken off my reading list…

  4. @www.milesforfamily.wordpress.com @Daniel W – Thanks!

    @Lance – I don’t set policy at USAA. The website very clearly mentions that everyone can join USAA and apply for insurance/banking products and other discounts (perhaps you missed the screenshot and link in the post). If you don’t like that, take it up with USAA.

  5. Hi, is there a way to book a convertible/sports car through Ultimate Rewards Mall or SouthWest Mall? Both websites don’t have either car types listed there.

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  7. How would you rate USAA’s prices against the others (Ultimate Rewards, Costco, etc) for drivers over 25? They seem pretty good in your examples.

  8. Does this strategy only work for domestic car rentals, or does it also work for car rentals in foreign countries?

  9. Another question I have is that does this strategy only work if the underage driver is the primary driver of the rental car, or is there a way to add an underage person as an additional driver for no fee?

  10. As an under-25er, this was very helpful. Renting cars has always been a hassle because of this.
    As a side note, I’ve found Hertz is often running promotions for no under-25 fee. I’ve used those sometimes but it’s only helpful when Hertz isn’t too high on price.

  11. Whats going on? No mention of the Office depot cards?? Or are you re wording and making a plagiarized post from all the info from FT and FM?? Oh wait, is chase squeezing your balls on this?

  12. @Ali - I dont’ believe so.

    @Steve – It is certainly worth checking out, but I usually just check on Costco Travel, Ultimate Rewards, and Car Rental Savers. I’d add the Capital One portal and USAA if I have more time to search or the rates are high.

    @Brandon – I don’t believe the USAA discount applies overseas, but I haven’t tested it as yet.

    @Jamie – Hertz seems to the most friendly towards young drivers.

    @Ganta – Not all Office Depots have those cards yet and not all of them let you buy them with a credit card, so no point sending folks on a wild goose chase.

  13. Hi! I know this is a bit older but I was wondering if I can use my USAA discount of ‘No underage surcharge’ plus redeem my citi points to get a renal car all together?

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  15. For future reference, USAA has now closed off memberships to non-military people. I won’t try to make any guesses why, but I’m really regretting not signing up when I had the chance.

  16. @Jamar0303 – You should be able to sign-up, but don’t get access to the financial products if you’re not in the military.

  17. THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! The USAA membership worked great. I just saved $125 for my whole trip. I am feeling so fortunate. All the searching has finally ended. Thank you so much for sharing this insider info.

  18. @jackelyn – That’s great and thanks for sharing!

  19. I tried to sign up on usaa as well and they rejected my attempts to join.

  20. Is using the USAA membership discount better than using Priceline and bidding on a car and just paying the extra fee/day for being under 25?

  21. @Dave – It depends on the rate you get with Priceline.

  22. Thanks much! Saved me $300 for renting a car for a week!!!!!!!

  23. @Thomas – That’s great and thanks for sharing!

  24. I do not believe you can join USAA anymore if you are not affiliated with the military

  25. Just used this to save ~$50 on an upcoming trip – awesome!

  26. Hi everybody. I live in South America, and I´d like to share my deception about USAA do get wave of underage fee for car rental. Well, I had just enrolled in the USAA membership and then booked a car rental with Budget for yestarday in MCO Airport . When a got to Budget I were asked to show the USAA affiliation card to get wave of the underage fee , but I didn´t got one any id card when I enrolled to USAA.. I tried to show an email of membership confirmation from USAA but it didnt worked. I also noticed that all car rentals companies also ask for the same USAA id. I emailed USAA asking how to get a identification card, and they answered that I would need to have a property or car insurance in US to get one. In others words, a regular affiliation to USAA will allow you to access the car rental page and also make reservation thru , but when you get to the car rental bancony, be prepared to show something that you didnt got. As I need to make additionals rentals, I would apreciate any help . Thanks

  27. the secret is easy – don’t use the rental agency’s insurance policy!
    seriously, this is the biggest money waster of all time. you can get a much cheaper one day policy (or however long) from outside agency’s like 4autoinsurancequote. this will cut your car rental costs in half (cause rental car companies make their most on insurance and charge an arm and a leg for it)

  28. Thanks for the help! You’re advice is going to save me an insane amount of money and time.

  29. Does this still work?. No car, no insurance, and under 25 is going to be pricey for me to have a weekend adventure!

  30. Will you be asked to show a USAA membership card at the counter when you pay for your car rental, as mentioned above by @Claudio? I would like to join USAA and get the underage fee waived, but I have no military affiliation and don’t want to get stuck paying much more than I expected when I pick up my car!

  31. @Foo – It still works within the US based on reader feedback.

    @ Hannah – It depends on the car agency and location, but some folks are asked for their USAA membership.

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  33. Planning to use USAA to rent from Hertz,
    Since I do not have car & insurance I will get Premium car rental protection
    and LIS from Hertz if possible.

    How does it sound? Would it be still covered by Amex? (heard It’s not eligible if I use coupon code or something)
    Thanks in advance!

  34. @Jason – I believe 100% of the rental must be charged to AMEX for their premium car rental insurance. But call to check the terms with them.

  35. Wow. Thank you so much for providing this information. I saved, like, 150 bucks because of this.

  36. I joined but if the counter asked for proof of USAA membership, what do i provide? Has anyone under 25 had this occur? please help

  37. Thanks so much! I used USAA trick to rent a car and avoid the underage fee. Saved about $100 bucks! You should add a paypal link or something. I’d definitely chip in to keep this blog going; you’ll probably have saved me a grand by the time I’m 25. Will tell my friends about this website.

  38. @Alex @Christian – Thanks so much for the feedback. Comments like this help keep the blog going!

  39. hi, i had done a few car rentals with hertz using “usaa”, but don’t try to use it in all locations, works the best when you are a hertz member, and @ the airport locations if you are a member you can avoid the counter by checking your car spot on the member sign outside the office and drive out (the gate man will check you out and he will let you go).

  40. Im going to San diego international airport. Has anyone had any luck here? If they ask to show proof of membership, what do i provide?? Please help. Im 20 years old so I can not join hertz (you have to be 21)

  41. Can someone under 25 who has actually used this promotion confirm whether or not they had to show their USAA card upon pick-up, and whether or not that was a problem?

  42. i too would like to know if such a card is required for a smooth pick-up…

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  44. Folks who are bashing the author for “taking advantage of USAA” are themselves worthy of being bashed for not reading. It explicitly states on USAA’s website (as shown above) that some banking and investment products as well as USAA’s retail and travel discounts are available to anyone who signs up regardless of military affiliation.

    That being said, I am 23 y.o. and have rented numerous times with the USAA’s discounts (mostly with Hertz, once with Enterprise). Only once was I questioned, and it was with Enterprise. They claimed that the code was for people with USAA insurance who have been in an accident and their car is in the shop. I argued, but they resisted. I ended up paying the underage fee, but a quick call to customer service after I returned the car reversed the charge. I also highly recommend signing up for Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Service, and Budget FastBreak. Those programs (which are free) allow you to proceed directly to your car in the lot at most major airports and drive off without visiting the desk (you have to stop at the exit gate, obviously). This further eliminates the concern for being questioned to show proof of membership. But even if you do have to show proof of membership, you can just log in to your account and pull up your USAA number…

  45. Hey, I would really like to join the USAA to use their discounts but have not been able to. This is most likely because I am from Germany – so no U.S. Citizen. I would really appreciate some advice on how to become a member! Maybe there is someone who has some similar experiences to share…

  46. Can I rent a minivan when I am a USAA member, but under 25, in enterprise?

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  48. Marie Laure

    Hi ! I have a few questions :
    – Once we registrer with USAA, it is free right ? They are not going to ask me for an annual charge or something ?!?
    – Also, when they give the discount code for the rental company, they also provide some sort of insurance. I wonder how can they insure us if we do not pay a charge to them ?

    Anyway, thank very much for sharing all of your tricks with us !

    Best,
    Marie

  49. @Marie Laure – As of now, there is no fee for using USAA for rentals.

  50. Can you get the usaa discount and book the ultimate rewards?

  51. *through ultimate rewards using points?

  52. @Justin – Unfortunately not.

  53. What are your experiences with being asked for a USAA card and how should one deal with it?

  54. @Kristian – I’ve never been asked for a card.

  55. I don’t have a tax id number or ssn. is there any way i can use the code without being a member

  56. My 21 year old son reserved a car with Budget in Orlando with his USAA membership number. He has no USAA products. When he went to pick up the car they denied the rate and waiver of the underage surcharge because he didn’t have a USAA card. He did have a printed confirmation from USAA with his membership number on it. He followed all rental guidelines. He was using a major credit card and had a copy of his confirmed reservation. He also has a clean driving record and had a copy of his insurance DEC page. After talking to Budget and USAA they informed me that it should have been honored. There was no reason not to honor the reservation as confirmed. It was suggested that all that needed to be done was the agent at the Budget rental counter should have called USAA to verify his membership. He had to go to another rental agency in the airport and it cost him $200 plus more than his confirmed reservation with Budget.

  57. This did NOT work for me! To rent a car from Hertz they ask for a USAA membership card or other form of member ID. HOWEVER, USAA refuses to send a membership card to anybody who is not a military member or the child of a member. Even if you have a USAA account number, it is considered to be NOT ACTIVE unless you have some sort of military affiliation.

  58. Oh man, am I glad I decided to stumble upon this post and happy that I signed up with USAA forever ago. By reading this, I just saved about $200 in underage surcharges at Avis/Budget.

    Best day ever!

  59. Thank you for this advice. I forgot all about my USAA account benefits. Saved about $200 from underage fees!

  60. Does this apply if you are a British citizen wanting to rent a car for a holiday, my boyfriend is 24, 25 as soon as were back but the prices are so extortionate

  61. Is this only for Americans? Do you have any tips for discounts for foreigns in US ?
    Thanks !

  62. I just confirmed with USAA – no more business with non-military folks anymore. Too bad!

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  64. Celeste Corinne

    Thank you so much, you saved me so much money. I am glad I found this website.

  65. This site saved me $400 on my car rental… my husband and I were having to rent a car 1 week before he turned 25 and we were very frustrated at the fees for young drivers. I am so thankful for this post! Thank you!

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