Minimum Age – It seems like a simple question: how old do you have to be to rent a car? or What is the age to rent a car? There is often confusion about these policies. I want to try and clear up some of the fuzzy areas about underage car rental. The minimum age is the age at which you must be (or older, of course!) to rent a vehicle. For any rental company, you must meet the age requirement on the day of pick up.
The general rule of thumb is that:
Renters must be 25 years of age to rent a car
without any additional fees associated with age.
Companies WILL rent to customers under 25 also, but with restrictions (and fees!).
Companies that allow renters younger than 25 usually charge an underage fee for each day of the rental. This fee (and the minimum age allowed – it can range between 18 and 21) varies by company and often by location.
There are exceptions to this general guideline, and common restrictions with regards to the age to rent a car; most commonly:
There are currently two states that mandate a lower minimum age to rent a car: New York State and Michigan State. Car rental companies in these states must allow renters between 18 and 21 to rent cars (assuming they still meet the driver’s license requirements) but NOTE that the car rental companies still charge an extra underage fee in these states and that the fee is even higher than the underage fee charged for those 21-24.
Fees will vary by company, city, and car size. You would need to check specific rate quotes for your desired company, vehicle, and location in New York or Michigan to determine the exact extra fee that will be charged.
Vehicle Type and Size
Many companies will restrict a renter under 25 to certain size categories and restrict certain types of vehicles (example minivans). Check with the rental company on these car rental age and vehicle restrictions.
You must show an acceptable form of Credit Identification. While a lot of companies now accept Debit Credit Cards, an underage renter must usually show a major charge card in their own name. Renters under 25 may not be allowed to use a debit card, but must have a regular credit card in their own name… check with your preferred auto rental provider for their policy.
Exceptions for Underage Fees
Rental car companies generally charge underage fees to renters under 25 years of age, to rent a car. (There are some exceptions, listed below)
Since underage car rental fees, restrictions, and permissible vehicle types vary by location and sometimes by company, it’s best to research the exact underage requirement in the city where you are renting prior to picking up your rental car.
Note: Rules at licensee-owned locations are often different with regard to car rental age. It’s always best to check the terms and conditions of your selected rental location.
Note: Minimum age requirements may be different for additional drivers. Check with the car rental company. Most require all additional drivers (anyone other than the primary renter, to be 25 or older).
Other Age Exceptions
Insurance Replacement Car Rental
For car rental companies that provide it, you may be able to rent at a lower age while on an insurance replacement rental. Some car rental companies only deal with certain insurance companies. Check with your insurance provider to find out which car rental company they partner with.
Many companies have corporate accounts with various car rental agencies that lower the minimum age requirement and often, waive the underage fee that normally would apply. Check with your company’s Human Resources Manager. The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits any child under 18 years of age to operate a motor vehicle as a term of employment.
Many car rental companies allow Federal Government (military and civilian) Personnel to rent at a lower age and without an extra fee. Sometimes the age requirement and the underage fee waiver may depend on whether your rental is for government business or a leisure rental.
Note: In doing some research, I’ve found that Rent a Wreck offers a minimum age of 18 or over at many locations; they would be another option to check
There are maximum age restrictions that are enforced by some car rental companies in some countries.
Note: Car rental companies can modify the policy at any time