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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.
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:
- Part 1 – Finding The MOST You Should Pay With Hotwire & Costco Travel
- Part 2 – Save Hundreds of Dollars by Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi Thank You Portal!
- Part 3 – Saving Money With the Capital One Travel Portal
- Part 4 – Southwest Airlines’ Car Rentals
- Part 5 – National Car Rental’s “Last Minute Specials”
- Part 6 – Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price”
- Part 7 – 5 Ways to Add an Additional Driver for Free
- Part 8 – Let Autoslash Do The Work
- Part 9 – American Airlines Car Rentals
- Part 10 – Why Everyone Should Sign Up For Frequent Car Rental Programs
- Part 11 – Save More With Car Rental Savers
- Part 12 – How To Get The Best Rates For Drivers Under 25 Years
- Using Airline Miles for Car Rentals
- Using Hertz Coupons & Discounts
- Using Airline Discount Codes & Earning Miles for Rentals
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!
|Minimum Rental Age||21 Years||21 Years||21 Years||21 Years||21 Years||20 Years (21 years in Mississippi)||21 Years||21 Years|
|Vehicle Rental Restrictions||None||No full-size & premium SUVs, Minivans, Passenger vans, Signature Series||No luxury cars, minivan, passenger vans, speciality vehicle, full-size & premium SUVs||Varies depending on location||None||No Prestige Collection or no Adrenaline Collection cars||Varies depending on location||No premium, luxury, SUV, speciality, minivan, van, wagon, convertible, or pickup|
|Young Driver Daily Surcharge under 25||$25||$27||$27||Varies depending on location||$20+||$15||$25||Varies 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||$26||Doesn't indicate|
|Michigan Daily Surcharge (21 to 24 years old)||$14||$28||$28 (corporate locations)||Varies depending on location||$14||$20 to $25||$14||Doesn'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
|CarRentalSavers||$85||(No option to indicate age.)|
|Ultimate Rewards Mall||$79||(No option to indicate age.)|
*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.
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.
Underage drivers would pay $224 or $67 more dollars!
Drivers above 25 years pay $87 for an economy car for a weekend in Charleston.
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.
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.
1. Use USAA TO SAVE MONEY FOR UNDERAGE DRIVERS
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.”
You can join USAA by calling 800-531-8722 or by registering online.
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.
But that same driver would pay $271 – or $202 more – without the 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.
Step 2 – Enter Your PIN
USAA is big on security (no surprise) so this is the first of two security steps!
Step 3 – Answer Your Security Question
Answer your security question.
Step 4 – Click On “Our Products” Menu
Click on the “Our Products” dropdown menu.
Step 5 – Select “Travel Discounts”
Click on “Travel Discounts” in the menu under “Shopping and Discounts” on the right of the page.
Step 6 – Scroll Down To Rental Car Discounts
Scroll down to the rental car discounts section and 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.
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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