How Old Do You Have To Be To Rent a Car?
We all need to rent a car sooner or later, whether it’s because our primary vehicles are being repaired or because we’ve taken a long flight and don’t want to rely on Uber or taxis to get around. But while most adults can simply reserve a car ahead of time, younger adults may run into age limits.
Specifically, many rental locations don’t rent out vehicles to young adults aged 21, 20, or even 19, even if you have a valid driver’s license. So how old do you have to be to rent a car and what limitations will you face if you rent a car as a young adult? Let’s answer both of these questions and more in detail.
Minimum Ages for Renting a Car by State
In the US, it’s down to individual states to determine the minimum ages for car rentals (just like it is to determine the minimum ages for receiving a driver’s license). However, most states require drivers to be at least 21 years of age or older to rent a normal vehicle like a sedan or pickup truck.
There are two exceptions: New York and Michigan, both of which allow car rentals as soon as you’re 18. However, keep in mind that individual car companies or locations may have different policies from the state minimums; a car rental company in New York could decide only to rent cars to those 20 or older, for instance, even if the state minimum is still 18.
Government Employee Exception
Alternatively, you may be able to rent a car at the age of 18 in any state if you are a state government employee and require the car for government travel. For example, if you work for the state governor at the age of 18 but your car is in the shop, you can rent a car to commute to work even if you live in Massachusetts or California.
But you have to present proof of ID and proof of your need for the car rental agency to accept your request. In other words, you can’t rent a car at the age of 18 for fun or for vacation, even if you are government personnel.
What Kinds of Cars Can You Rent Under the Age of 25?
Generally, rental car companies don’t allow young drivers to rent every vehicle in their lots or catalogs. Your typical spread of personal vehicles like sedans, compact cars, SUVs, economy cars, and pickup trucks will be available at any rental agency that rents to your age group.
However, more specialized vehicles or larger vehicles, such as bigger SUVs, premium cars, specialty vehicles, luxury cars, full-size SUVs, or vans may be off-limits for young renters. You also won’t be able to rent sports cars or luxury vehicles until you are 25 or older, as these cars and premium SUVs are more expensive for the rental company to repair or replace.
Still, this shouldn’t prevent you from getting a reasonable set of wheels if you need a car to commute to work while your personal vehicle is in the shop.
What Happens if You Rent a Car at a Young Age?
If you try to rent a car at a young age (typically determined as below 25), you might have a harder than average time paying for your rental or might face several limitations.
The first and most important of these is the young driver charge, which can be named “early driver’s fee” or something similar depending on your rental company. This is an extra fee charged on top of the normal daily rental rate for your rented vehicle.
For example, many car rental companies in Michigan add another $40 young renter fee on top of the daily rental rate for drivers between the ages of 18 and 20. Then it goes down to $20 extra each day for drivers between the ages of 21 and 24.
On top of the extra young driver fee, you may be required to sign up for rental car insurance, may have to submit to a credit check, and may have to present more forms of ID to rent a car under 25 than you would if you were 25 or older.
Why Are There Limitations on Car Rentals?
The restrictions are all based on statistics.
In a nutshell, new drivers under the age of 25 are statistically more likely to be involved in an auto accident, even if it isn’t their fault. This is just because of an experience. As you spend years on the road, you learn to anticipate and avoid hazards, so you’ll be involved in fewer accidents if you are a safe driver.
Young drivers haven’t had the opportunity to gain this experience. So they are more likely to cost insurance companies and rental car agencies in terms of vehicle damage or wrecked vehicles.
To offset this statistical cost, rental car companies charge young drivers extra and may require additional ID to ensure that they’re covered in case of an accident.
How To Rent a Car as a Young Adult
If you still have to rent a car and are willing to put up with the young driver surcharge and insurance requirements, renting a vehicle is still fairly straightforward. But it’s a good idea to do your research ahead of time so you aren’t turned away at the rental company’s desk due to age restrictions when you arrive.
- First, call the rental company’s specific location and ask about their age policies. The company might have a flat age limit, such as 18, but the location nearest to your home might be a little more relaxed and may rent to young adults aged 20 or higher, for example
- Make sure that they have available vehicles for your age group. This includes basic sedans, trucks, and SUVs. It won’t do you any good to drive down to a rental car company only to find that they don’t have any cars available for 20-year-olds
- Then ask about their fees and extra requirements. They may ask you to bring two forms of ID instead of just one and they may require you to use a credit card rather than pay in cash or with a debit card. By asking about their fees ahead of time, you’ll know how much you’ll really have to pay for the rental in total
With all this information, you can then choose the ideal rental company for your needs.
To recap, you need to be at least 18 in order to rent a car in New York and Michigan, and you need to be 21 or older to rent a car in other states and at most commercial car rental agencies. However, it’s usually a better idea to hold off on rentals until you are 25 or older so you don’t get charged extra money and so you can access rental companies’ entire selection of vehicles.
But what if you need a car fast, especially one to take you from the airport to your destination? In that case, you’re in luck: Advantage Rent a Car offers car rentals to drivers under the age of 25 in various states. Check out our fleet of rental vehicles or contact us today for more information and age limits at specific Advantage locations.
6 Reasons Why Auto Insurance Costs More for Young Drivers (Rates + Discounts) | Autoinsurance.org
How Age And Gender Affect Car Insurance Rates | Forbes
Is a Credit Check Required to Rent a Car? | Experian
Age Requirement to Rent a Car | USA Today