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How Car Rentals Work for Young and New Drivers

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Did you know that you don’t have to be 25 to rent a car? It’s true. It used to be accepted as gospel that new drivers under the age of 25 were prohibited from renting cars, but that’s a thing of the past. Many car rental companies like Hertz are now open to renting to younger drivers.

Some rental companies of the past were not so accommodating. I had to rent a car when I was 21, because my own car was in the shop.

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“Oof, you’re under 25,” the salesperson said. “I’m not allowed to rent you a four-door… or a two-door….” I wound up driving out of the lot in a rectangular, neon sedan with a grand total of three doors (one on one side and two on the other).

Fortunately, a lot of rental companies have done away with arbitrary renting rules like these. The times they are a-changing. It’s easier than ever for young and new drivers to hit the road on rented wheels. But renting a car can still be mysterious and intimidating to new drivers.

What do you need to know? And how much money exactly are you going to need to fork over? Find the answers to these questions and more with these helpful tips for young renters and new drivers.

Why would I even rent a car in the first place?

Why would you rent a car when there are so many other ways to get around? You could bother your siblings, you could bother your parents, you could bother your friends and you could even bother total strangers with the help of ride-sharing apps. The great thing about renting a car is that you don’t have to rely on anybody else for your transportation. You can go at your own pace, see the things you want to see, and the car doesn’t go away after you reach your destination.

Renting a car on a vacation lets you be self-sufficient and adventurous. Rather than parachuting into a new place and getting mindlessly chauffeured around, you’re free to explore and find your own way.

How old do you need to be to rent a car?

Every rental car company has their own policies on how old someone needs to be to rent a car. Most companies rent to drivers age 20 and older, though some states have special rules. The state of New York, for instance, allows new drivers to rent cars from 18 years of age. Michigan also allows 18-year-olds to rent vehicles.

Hertz rents to drivers age 20 and older. When you come to rent your car, remember to bring a valid driver’s license and a credit card in the driver’s name.

Is there an extra fee when renting under 25?

Yes, there’s usually an extra fee when renting a car under the age of 25.

At Hertz, for example, the Young Renter Daily Fee is a fee on top of the rental cost. Fees like these protect the rental car company from high-risk drivers. Drivers from 18 to 24 years of age are an especially risky driving demographic, so even if you have a squeaky-clean record, you can expect to be charged extra fees based on your age alone.

However, if you’re renting from Hertz and you’re a AAA member, Hertz will waive the Young Renter Daily Fee. Just make sure to bring your AAA Membership card with you.

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Do I have to get special insurance to rent a car?

Yes and no.

You don’t have to get the optional rental insurance when you’re renting a car, but it is strongly recommended that you have personal auto insurance already. Before you go out to rent a car, contact your insurance agency to double-check that they cover rentals.

However, if you don’t already have personal auto insurance, it is strongly recommended you get the optional liability insurance when renting a vehicle. You should not drive a car without having liability insurance. Ever.

What happens if the car gets damaged?

You are responsible for all loss or damage to the rental car.

If you want to avoid getting billed for any damage that might be done to the car, you should look into purchasing a Loss Damage Waiver. A Loss Damage Waiver is not insurance, but rather a contractual waiver of your responsibility for loss of or damage to the rental car. As long as you weren’t using the vehicle in a prohibited way, you won’t be held responsible for any damage to the car.

What kind of cars can new drivers even rent?

You probably won’t be stuck driving a minivan (unless you’re into that sort of thing) if you’re under 25. But you might not get the sportiest or most luxurious car on the lot either. Usually, a few sports cars are available to new drivers, but expensive luxury vehicles are most likely off-limits. Very few rental companies want to let a 20-year-old behind the wheel of their shiny new Lamborghini.

At some car rental companies, the fee for young renters could be greater for more valuable cars, so keep that in mind when you’re picking out your wheels.

How should you treat a rental car?

For new drivers, it can sometimes be difficult to get used to a different car, so you should definitely take it slow in the beginning. Remember to drive responsibly in your rental car. After all, it doesn’t belong to you. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in your own car, and don’t take any unnecessary risks. The renter of any rental car is responsible for any parking or traffic violations.

Many car rental companies are completely non-smoking now, so refrain from lighting up in the car, even if it doesn’t have a “no smoking” sticker on the window.

Do you have any tips about renting cars? Let us know in the comments below!

Are you ready to hit the road? Head on over to Hertz and enjoy their special discounts for members of AAA.


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