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Avoid Young Driver Fees on a Car Rental — Here’s How to Save Money If You’re Under 25

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Avoid Young Driver Fees on a Car Rental — Here’s How to Save Money If You’re Under 25

Million Mile SecretsAvoid Young Driver Fees on a Car Rental — Here’s How to Save Money If You’re Under 25Million Mile Secrets Team

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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.

AlamoAvisBudgetEnterpriseHertzNationalThrifty
Minimum Rental Age21 Years21 Years21 Years21 Years20 Years21 Years20 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)$40Varies depending on location$40Varies depending on location
Michigan Daily Surcharge (21 to 24 years old)$25$20$28 (corporate locations)$25Varies depending on location$25Varies depending on location
New York Daily Surcharge (18 to 20 years old)$57$52$52 (corporate locations)$57Varies depending on location$57Varies depending on location
New York Daily Surcharge (21 to 24 years old)$20$35$35 (corporate locations)$20Varies depending on location$20Varies 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
If you’re under the age of 25 and looking to rent a car, you can avoid paying a young-driver fee if you belong to certain organizations, like the military, USAA, or AAA. (Photo by Maksym Povozniuk/Shutterstock)

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. 

AAA members

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.

USAA members

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.

Business travelers

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:

  • National
  • Hertz
  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Enterprise
  • Thrifty

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.

Bottom Line

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.

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more money-saving tips for your travels.

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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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This is a misleading article. I have no military background in my family but went ahead and signed up for USAA anyway based on the content of this article entirely to have the underage driver fee waived – only to be met with this statement when I try to book a car. “Waiver of underage driver fee is limited to USAA insurance eligible members only.” Non-military USAA members are not eligible for insurance and therefore not eligible to have the underage driver fee waived. It would be nice to see this article updated to save others from having the same frustrating experience.

I’m not military and it applied the fee waiver for me. Keep in mind that the discount is applied at checkout and different locations have different prices for the same car. The article is on point; the locations make the pricing difficult to predict and justify.

Who did you book with?

I rented a car from Turo on my trip to Maui. Would never find a better deal from the rental companies. Basically people rent out their own cars, like Airbnb but with cars. https://turo.com/c/ilyab32

Usaa no long allows free members to waiver the under 25 fee. You must be an usaa insurance policy holder

It says USAA Insurance “eligible”, I don’t believe you actually have to hold the policy

Yeah, I just got the fee waived even though I don’t hold an insurance account. The discount is just automatically applied when you checkout. I think it also depends on where you’re picking up from, too. I checked two places and for the same rental one cost around $25 and the other was $75.

Thanks for this info! It did waive my underage fee, BUT they are smart. They won’t give you unlimited mileage, they will charge you for that when the discount is applied. And since I’m doing a roadtrip from Denver to LA, it will be almost as high as the underage fee.

I feel like unlimited mileage applies when you’re staying within a city. I just booked mine (under 25) and I’d be picking up and dropping off at the same place and I have unlimited mileage.

Not able to join USAA….no military affiliation….20 years old, U.S. citizen trying to rent a car in France

I used this numerous time at Enterprise and it worked great. Went to use it at Hertz at an airport and the clerk was rude and said I had to show him my USAA bank card. I said I don’t use them for banking and he said then he would have to charge me the fee, even though I showed him my member number.

I said never mind, stepped two feet away, booked an AVIS reservation on my phone in front of him and walked away with keys in 5 minutes. I checked with hertz after and they said that no one should have to show a USAA debit card. Not sure why that guy was on a power trip.

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