[Disclaimer: Rental car terms and conditions and state law changes constantly. Please do your OWN research on additional driver fees before renting a car.]
Rental car companies such as Budget, Avis & Enterprise allow you to add a spouse or domestic partner for free when you rent in the US. Other rental car companies such as Thrifty, Dollar, National, Hertz and Alamo charge you to add an additional driver. However, you can avoid the fee at Alamo, Hertz, & National by enrolling in their frequent rental programs and then booking a car rental which has your frequent rental number.
Update: Alamo no longer waives the additional driver fee for Alamo Insiders Members who enrolled after May 11, 2014. But if you enrolled May 11, 2014 or earlier can still add another driver for free. Thanks to reader Alan W. for pointing this out!
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 – Do You Know How To Get The Lowest Price For Drivers Under 25 Years Old?
- Using Airline Miles for Car Rentals
- Using Hertz Coupons & Discounts
- Using Airline Discount Codes & Earning Miles for Rentals
Usually the fees to add an additional driver are ~$10 per day. So in some cases, it could be well worth it to pay more to rent from car rental companies which allow you to add an extra driver for free if you like sharing the driving with someone else. I
am a control freak like driving so Emily rarely drives the rental car, but having her as an additional driver is useful when we visit family.
It may be tempting to not pay the additional driver fee and have someone else drive the car, but you would be liable for damages in case the additional driver got into an accident and was not an authorized driver on the rental contract. So don’t have someone else drive if he or she is not authorized to drive the rental car!
Ways to Add an Additional Driver for Free
Note that while you can avoid additional driver fees, you may have to pay underage fees if your additional driver does not meet the age requirements (usually 25 years or older).
1. Rent from Budget, Avis & Enterprise
Budget, Avis & Enterprise do not charge a fee for an additional driver who is your spouse or domestic partner. And if you are renting under a business discount code, you may be able to have business colleagues as additional drivers. But the policy at each appears to be slightly different. Here’s a link to:
- Budget’s policy for additional drivers
- Enterprise’s policy for additional drivers
- Avis (I can’t find a stand-alone link, but the terms and conditions appear in the last page when you book a car rental at Avis.com)
2. Costco Travel
Booking through Costco Travel usually lets you add an additional driver for free at Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise.
3. AAA, AARP & USAA
- AAA lets you add an additional driver (has to be a AAA member) with Hertz for free. Spouses or domestic partners (of AAA members) don’t need to have AAA membership to be an additional operator
- AARP lets you add an additional driver with Alamo & Hertz
- USAA lets you add your spouse or other USAA family members as an additional driver with Hertz, Avis, Enterprise & Budget
Note that just being a member of these organizations is NOT enough. You have to use their discount code and contract number while renting to get the additional driver benefits.
4. State Law
5. Loyalty Program Membership
Some rental car companies which charge fees for additional drivers may waive them if you are a member of their free loyalty program.
- Alamo waives the fee for 1 additional driver ONLY if you were an Alamo Insider member (free to join) May 11, 2014 or earlier
- Hertz waives the fee for a spouse or domestic partner if you are a Hertz Gold Plus member (free to join)
- National waives the fee for a spouse or domestic partner or immediate family members who shares the same address as you if you are a National Emerald Club member (free to join)
Note that you usually need to have your loyalty program number on the reservation to get the additional driver fee waived, so this may not work if you book the rental through a third party like the Ultimate Rewards Mall or Priceline.
Renting a car with Avis, Budget or Enterprise will let you add your spouse or domestic partner as an authorized driver for free.
So it could make sense to rent from those companies, even if they charge higher rates to save on paying extra fees for an additional driver elsewhere.