Cheap Car Rentals – 5 Ways to Add an Additional Driver for Free

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[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!
You Have to Wade Through a Lot of Fine Print to add an Additional Driver for Free!
You Have to Wade Through a Lot of Fine Print to add an Additional Driver for Free!
Cheap Car Rentals Series:

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:

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, AARP, and USAA have slightly different additional driver policies:

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

California law allows an additional driver for free when renting in California.

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.

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.

Bottom Line

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.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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