Why Do You Have to be 25 to Rent a Car?
You wait your whole life as a kid and a teenager to be an adult. When you reach 18, you are considered an adult. You can vote, and you can legally do so much more than you could before that magical birthday.
One of the first things you might want to do with your newfound adulthood is set off on a road trip. On your own or with a group of friends, you want to rent a car, choose a destination, and just go see the world on your own.
It can be frustrating to realize that 18 isn’t the magical age you always thought it was and you have to wait 7 more years to have your exciting road trip in a rental car.
Why do you have to be 25 to rent a car? Is there any way to have your rental and your road trip too before you are halfway to thirty? Either way, it’s important to know how to rent a car for the first time too.
How To Rent A Car
Renting a car is one of life’s milestones, and in order to fully enjoy it, it helps if you know what to expect before you rent your first vehicle. Here are some important things to remember and to have on hand when you’re ready to rent a car.
A Valid Driver’s License
If you’re going to rent a company’s vehicle, they’re going to want to verify that you can legally drive it away. Your license must not be expired, and it must be a valid state-issued driver’s license. It can’t be a learner’s permit, and it has to be the physical license and not a copy.
A Rental Car Company
If you’re planning to rent a car, you’ll want to choose a company that fits your budget, offers clear guidance on their rules, and works with your trip’s schedule.
One of the first things you’ll be asked when making your reservation is when you need your rental car and when you will return it. Having an idea of when you want to travel will help you make your reservation process much easier.
A Valid Form of Payment
You typically need a credit card to make a rental car reservation. Although it is possible with some companies to use a debit card, you’ll most likely need either a debit card or a credit card as a form of payment in order to make your reservation.
A Type of Car in Mind
Besides your dates, you’ll need to have in mind what type of car you want to rent in order to make your reservation. The rental car company will want to ensure they have the vehicle you want ready, so they need to know what you have in mind in order to secure your rental for you.
When you’re ready to rent and have everything ready to make your reservation, you may want to double check if you’re a young driver that your rental car company will work with you, especially if you’re not yet 25.
The 25 Rule
You can’t do everything an adult can do when you turn 18. There are plenty of minimum age requirements you must reach to do certain activities. For renting a car, the minimum age is 25 according to the Federal Trade Commission.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there is a higher rate of occurrence of car accidents in younger drivers up to the age of 25. So, the minimum age requirement is designed to keep young drivers safe.
As a young driver, drivers have less experience on the road, and they typically have less experience with different types of vehicles. When you rent a car, there’s a strong chance that you’ll be renting a vehicle that’s unfamiliar to you.
Unlike some rules, the minimum age rule for renting a car can be bent. It is possible to rent at an age younger than age 25, but with that rule bending comes exceptions.
So, technically, you have to be 25 to rent a car, but you can still rent a car as a younger driver with exception. It all depends on where you are and who your rental car company is.
In two states, Michigan and New York, drivers as young as 18 years old can rent a vehicle if they meet certain qualifications and have a safe driving record. In other states, safe drivers that are between the ages of 20 and 24 can also rent vehicles.
Considering the potential risk to the young driver, other drivers and passengers, and the rental car company’s assets in the event of an accident, it would make sense if companies were hesitant to rent to younger drivers at all, but it would be really frustrating as a younger driver to be completely denied the opportunity to prove that you’re a safe, qualified driver capable of renting and returning a vehicle.
Many companies will make exceptions to allow young drivers the opportunity to rent, but this exception does not come free. Be prepared to pay a “Young Drivers Fee” if you are younger than 25.
As the primary driver, you’ll still be required to provide the standard information:
- Valid driver’s license
- Valid form of payment
- Meet the age requirement for your rental car company
In addition to paying a fee to rent a vehicle at a young age, you may also find that you are limited in the car classes you are allowed to rent. It’s essential that you talk with your rental car company on what their policy is regarding young drivers to ensure that you’re prepared.
Knowing you can still have the road trip of your dreams in your early twenties is great, and all you have to do is find a company that’s willing to work with you and be flexible enough to meet their requirements.
Remember that you’ll need insurance. If you already have car insurance, you may already be covered, but you’ll need to verify that your insurance company will cover a rental car for a young driver for the same reason you have to make sure your rental car company will accept you as well.
When you’re young, sometimes things just don’t seem fair. You wait your whole childhood to be an adult and finally do what you want only to learn that you’re still not allowed to do everything you thought, but with the right rental car company, you don’t have to wait under the right circumstances to rent a car.
With the proper documentation and perhaps a small fee, most rental car companies will accommodate a young driver before they reach the age of 25, but as always, verify before you buy. Asking ahead and preparing before your rental can put you at ease with the process and have you on the road for your first road trip to make the memories you’ve been waiting to make.
Renting a Car | FTC Consumer Information
Addressing the Safety Issues Related to Younger and Older Drivers | nhtsa.gov
Vehicle Rental Laws: Road Blocks to Evolving Mobility Models? | Michigan Law Journal of Law and Mobility