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INSIDER SECRET: An AAA membership isn’t free, but it could entitle you to a significant discount or even a waiver of the young-driver fee on your next car rental.
In some states you can obtain a driver’s license if you’re only 15 years old, but many rental car companies require you to be at least 20 or 21 to get behind the wheel. And even if are old enough to rent a car, you may still be faced with a young-driver fee if you’re under 25.
That’s because driving statistics from the NHTSA show that younger drivers are more likely to be involved in a car accident. The young-driver fee, which can be as much as $60 a day, is designed in part to account for that added risk.
Here are what a few rental car companies charge for young drivers, as well as their minimum age requirements.
|Minimum Rental Age||21 Years||21 Years||21 Years||21 Years||20 Years||21 Years||20 Years|
|Young Driver Daily Surcharge under 25||$25||$27||$27||$20||$27-$30||$25||$15-$35|
|Michigan Daily Surcharge (18 to 20 years old)||$40||$41||$41 (corporate locations)||$40||Varies depending on location||$40||Varies depending on location|
|Michigan Daily Surcharge (21 to 24 years old)||$25||$20||$28 (corporate locations)||$25||Varies depending on location||$25||Varies depending on location|
|New York Daily Surcharge (18 to 20 years old)||$57||$52||$52 (corporate locations)||$57||Varies depending on location||$57||Varies depending on location|
|New York Daily Surcharge (21 to 24 years old)||$20||$35||$35 (corporate locations)||$20||Varies depending on location||$20||Varies depending on location|
The good news is that even if you are younger than 25, there are ways you can save money on a car rental.
Fee Waivers for Members of Select Groups
If you belong to one of the following groups or organizations, you could have the young-driver fee waived. You’ll want to check your eligibility before paying the additional fees, but this can save you a significant amount of money.
- Military and government
- AAA members
- USAA members
- Business travel
Military and government
Many car rental companies will either offer a discount or waive the young-driver fee altogether for government and military personnel.
Alamo’s policy, for instance, is to not charge any underage- or additional-driver fees for government and military personnel on official travel. They also provide discounted rates for those traveling for leisure.
If you believe you are eligible for this discount, make sure you see the discounted rate reflected on the final order screen online.
If you are a member of AAA, Hertz will waive the fee for those between the ages of 20 and 24. Besides the Hertz waiver, AAA membership also provides a number of services:
- Towing benefits
- Fuel delivery
- Locksmith service
- Battery and jump-start service
- Float tire service
- And more
AAA membership can be relatively inexpensive. For instance, memberships for AAA of Southern California start at just $51 per year. Young-driver fees can run as much as $50 a day.
If you’re a member of USAA and you are in the military or are a family member of a qualifying person in the military, you’ll be eligible for the following fee waivers:
- Avis: $27 per day for young drivers ages 18-24
- Budget: $27 per day for young drivers ages 18-24
- Enterprise: $20 per day for young drivers ages 21-24
- Hertz: $30 per day for young drivers ages 18-24
If you aren’t in the military nor a family member of someone who is in the military, you will not be eligible for these discounts even if you’re a member of USAA.
If your company requires you to travel for business, check with either your company or the car rental agency to see if they have a corporate account or another business arrangement that can waive the young-driver fee.
Some companies negotiate a fee schedule with the rental agency that excludes any young-driver fees or surcharges.
Other Ways to Save Money
If you don’t belong to any of those organizations, there are still ways you can minimize the cost of renting a car.
- Mind your gas usage
- Don’t rent at the airport
- Book a car rental with miles and points
Mind your gas usage
Car rental companies may offer you the option to prepay for gas. This may be convenient, but could cost you more.
By prepaying, you’re paying for a full tank of gas. If you bring back the car with any gas left in the tank, you won’t be entitled to a refund.
Even if the rental company is charging less than the average cost of gas for the area, you can always find a cheaper gas station on your own. Plus, you can save even more money by paying at a gas station with one of the best gas credit cards.
Don’t rent at the airport
If you want to save money, don’t rent a car at the airport. Instead, rent it from a company that’s at least a few miles away from the airport.
Renting a car at the airport may be convenient, but you’ll often pay more for the convenience.
In addition to charging more for their convenient location, the rental companies themselves are charged more for leasing the building space at the airport and pass the costs on to you.
Book a rental with miles and points
Booking a rental with miles and points is another good way to save. Here are three ways you might accomplish this:
- Rental-car rewards programs
- Credit card rewards
- Airline programs
Rental-car rewards program: Many rental car companies have some sort of loyalty program, which typically offer discounts or even free rental days once you pass certain milestones.
You can find rewards programs with many of the top rental car companies, such as:
Credit card rewards: With a good rewards credit card, you can redeem your cash, miles, or points for a car rental. Credit cards that earn miles and points can often be more valuable than a cash back credit card, but either way, you’ll save.
Airline programs: Because some car rental companies have partnerships with certain airlines, you might be able to score a discount on your car rental if you book with a particular airline.
As one example, Budget car rental has partnered with Southwest and from now until Jan. 31, 2020, you can earn up to 2,400 Southwest points (4x the standard 600 points) and save up to 30% on qualifying Budget rentals.
Many car rental companies charge a young-driver fee if you’re below the age of 25, but if you know where to look, you can get the fee waived or reduced.
Being a member of groups like the military or AAA can automatically qualify you for discount and fee waivers. Or if you travel for business, your company may have a corporate agreement that waives young-driver fees.
If all else fails, you can look into redeeming miles and points or joining a rental car company’s loyalty program.
What do you think? Let us know any strategies you’ve found successful in saving money renting a car as a young driver.
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