baby driving Reader mail: If youre under 25, how do you rent a car without huge surcharges?

Reader Kristin writes:

My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Alaska this summer and realized we’d save a lot of money in our travels by renting a car once we get there (the Alaska railroad is *expensive*). The only problem is that we will both be under the age of 25 when we’re there (he’ll be 24, I’ll be 23) and every rental car agency I can find would charge us a huge daily fee. We both have impeccable driving records (not even so much as a parking ticket between us), good car insurance, and AAA. Is there anything we could do to get around this fee, or any company out there that trusts us under 25s?

This is a tough one. For the most part, rental car companies aren’t very flexible with the surcharges for under-25 renters, unless you’re renting your car as a government employee. You can be the greatest driver in the world, but that’s not going to matter here. Your age means higher rates. Sorry.

There are some minor exceptions, so it’s important to shop around. But don’t get your hopes up.

Check the local rules. Most national chains, perhaps with a whiff of irony, will charge $25 per day for an under-25 renter. But those policies are national guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. Many local outlets of major chains will charge less than the maximum. Others, such as those in New York, will charge more. For example, a quick search shows me that National Car Rental charges only $10 per day surcharge at its Anchorage Airport location. It’s still a fee, but it’s less than they could charge, and less than their peers are charging.

Try mom-and-pop shops. Another option is to call (instead of surfing the web) to contact smaller, local providers. Find them in the yellow pages (or an online directory) and then work the phones. These shops might not rent the newest or nicest vehicles — ten years ago, I rented a crappy little Ford Fiesta for a few days from a no-name local rental company on Kodiak Island. But these local companies may be more forgiving with the under-25 requirement. This may take some legwork, but it could save you a bundle. Mentioning your clean driving record might have more influence on a family-owned one-shop rental joint than on a global corporation’s local representative or franchisee.

Work your memberships. Finally, if you’re a member of any organization that has a group discount code with a car rental company, see if you can use that affiliation to waive the surcharge. It depends on the terms of the umbrella agreement that the association negotiated. Again, you might need to use the phone to get the straight story. I get little cards for car rental discounts from my insurance company (USAA), my credit union, my alumni association, professional associations, and even my gas bill. Check your member benefits, and see if something works. You may need to show a member card when you show up at the rental counter.

If you reserve via the web, print copies of everything, including the general rental policies. Many rental chains won’t give you the under-25 surcharge up front, but will bury it in their FAQs. Look carefully, and print a record of it.

Also, print a copy of your personal auto insurance policy and take it with you when you travel. Having proof of insurance could assuage a nervous rental agent.

Bottom line: When it comes to car rentals, being under 25 stinks. You’ll need to work harder to get a deal, if you get one at all. But if it’s any consolation, you still have your youth.

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pixel Reader mail: If youre under 25, how do you rent a car without huge surcharges?

85 Responses to “Reader mail: If you’re under 25, how do you rent a car without huge surcharges?”

  1. Kristin Says:

    Thanks for the good advice! Now to start hitting the phones ^_^

  2. Smail Says:

    Good luck Kristin, underage fees were the bane of my existence for years. Made turning 25 that much better!

    Also, I don’t know where you’re going in Alaska, but if you’re heading north of Fairbanks, make sure to check that the rental agency allows their cars on the Dalton Highway. Some companies charge an extra surcharge if you’ll be driving on it, others won’t allow their cars on it at all.

  3. Britton Says:

    I don’t understand why this isn’t illegal. Isn’t it pure age discrimination? How can they get away with this behavior, why aren’t we seeing the same outrage as we would if a car rental company refused to serve a particular race or gender?

  4. Jane Says:

    if there’s anything worse than being under 25 and wanting to rent a car, it’s being under 21 and wanting to rent a car outside of like…well, maybe New York’s the only state in the US that has a law requiring rental places to rent to 18 year olds.

    Some mom and pop car rental places are willing to rent to people 18-21 who aren’t on government business, but virtually nobody will rent to someone under 21 otherwise.

    The irony is that my mom, who sucks at driving and has only driven a car maybe half a dozen times in the past year doesn’t have to pay as much and can get pretty much anything she wants vs. me, who, like Kristin, didn’t even so much as get a parking ticket in 3 years of excessive almost-daily driving tens of thousands of miles all over LA and Southern California and I can’t rent in 99% of places, and in the 1% that do, I have to cough up unbelievable surcharges.

  5. Jane Says:

    Erk, on a sidenote, some car sharing companies aren’t that crazy about age minimums and let people 21+ sign up for memberships. I think Flexcar’s minimum age was 21..so you might want to see if there are such services available up in Alaska, sometimes they’re cheaper than renting (particularly with the aforementioned surcharges).

  6. Jason Says:

    The underage surcharge is legal because it follows the same statistics as insurance companies use to calculate the premiums for young drivers. Though honestly not much of a calculation the $25/day keeps most younger drivers in smaller less-expensive cars rather than the $40k luxury vehicles.

    Something that you can try in some situations (but this comes with a BIG warning) is to have a friend or family member rent the car for you and then pay them back. You save the $25/day. However the BIG warning here is that if you are in an accident you will void the collision/damage waiver since you are not the renter. This leads to another possible downfall. When you return the car, if the rental agent suspects that the car was driven primarily by an under 25 driver the car often goes through a much tougher service check and it will be notated in the file of your friend or family member, meaning future action might be possible by the rental company.

  7. Tom Says:

    If you happen to work for a mid to large company that does any sort of travel, check to see if there is a corporate account. Most of the big companies will allow an under 25 to rent at the normal corporate rate without surcharge (as you are technically renting for business).

  8. Rent A Car Under 25 Without Massive Surcharges? | LifeParticles Says:

    [...] If you’re under 25, how do you rent a car without huge surcharges? [Upgrade: Travel Better] (Photo: dtkindler) [...]

  9. Brent Says:

    UHHHH what the hell? How is this even a suggestion? Get someone over the age of 25 to rent the car for you? Wow! Did you come up with that one all by yourself? Horrible idea – get in an accident and you’re screwed.

    Being under the age of 25 myself and renting cars on a regular basis here is the best thing I was able to come up with that is a million times better than just biting the bullet with all the fees:

    Get an Executive membership at costco. The cost is 100$ but you get the membership right away and it’s worth it.

    Then rent a car from Budget Car Rentals.

    The executive costco membership waives the 21-24 underage driver fee (savings of 25$/day), allows you a free upgrade in car categorey, so basically if you’re going to get a full size vehicle, you only pay for what a mid-size would cost – and finally they also waive 10% for being a costco executive member.

  10. Jason Says:

    Actually it was a real world example from my time as a rental agent. We saw it quite a bit, especially around Prom and graduation time. And yes, as I said, if you are in an accident you are liable for the full replacement cost of the vehicle. However, that fact did not deter a lot of parents and friends from doing it anyway and legally all we could do was inform the renter of the liability if they let another person drive the vehicle.

    Next time, be a bit nicer when replying, your insinuation of ignorance or stupidity wasn’t appreciated. Cheers.

  11. Mark Ashley Says:

    Brent,
    While your Costco suggestion is good, your tone with Jason’s comment isn’t. Please be civil.

  12. Jake Says:

    USAA members get the surcharge waived at Avis, along with a decent discount. I wanted to rent a car over spring break and this saved us a nice chunk of change.

  13. Kristi Says:

    Hi Kristin,
    I work for the Alaska Railroad and saw your mention that it’s expensive. I wanted to let you know we have specials all through the summer, including one for half off to Denali.
    And, we offer discounts! Military and Alaska Residents get 20% off -and they are allowed to book travel for visiting family and friends, even if they aren’t traveling with the visitors. If you are a University of Alaska Fairbanks or Anchorage student, you get 1/2 off the rail price with your student ID.
    We have “Web Specials” & “Deals for Alaskans” pages on our website at http://www.alaskarailroad.com/passenger and an RSS feed on the site to announce new specials. You can subscribe to this feed for automatic notice when we post a new discount or special.
    Finally, there is also a 2 for 1 coupon in the Northern Lights coupon book sold by Great Northern Publishing & Alaska Travel Discounts. (alaska-discounts.com)
    I hope this will help you as you plan your Alaska vacation. :)

  14. Rent A Car Under 25 Without Massive Surcharges? at LifeParticles Says:

    [...] If you’re under 25, how do you rent a car without huge surcharges? [Upgrade: Travel Better] (Photo: dtkindler) [...]

  15. Aviatrix Says:

    I’ve seen under-21 pilots unable to rent a car at destination. “I FLEW here in a rented AIRPLANE, and you won’t rent me a CAR?!”

    It’s funniest when it’s a 20-year old FO who has just climbed out of a jet.

  16. Jess Says:

    Brent,

    To use the executive membership to get the 21-24 underage fee, do you have to call Costco Travel?

    I did not see anything on their website.

    Thanks,
    jess

  17. anonymous lawyer Says:

    Interestingly, I called Costco Travel and Budget and both say that the underage

  18. Foreigner Says:

    Did anyone find out whether and how that Costco/Budget deal actually works? Would be interesting to know as I will also be needing a rental car in LA this summer.

  19. Mark Ashley Says:

    FYI, an update from a reader:

    I called Costco Travel and Budget and both said no dice. I might end up trying it anyway for lack of better options and if it is sucessful, I’ll let people know. For the record, I only spoke to front-line customer service reps at Costco Travel and at Budget — no management level types.

  20. Sandy Says:

    Thrifty has a discount code – HT14004112 – that waives the additional charge for under 25 drivers or additional drivers. It worked for my son.

    Good luck!

  21. Chris Says:

    Are there any considerations for CDL holders under 25? I can drive a 75′ long, 40 ton truck through any major city and average 120k miles a year accident free, but still can’t rent a tiny car without a surcharge? I’ve wondered about that for a couple years now.

  22. Elon Says:

    Thanks for the suggestion about the Costco membership. Just saved me $122!!! Love this site!

  23. Rick Says:

    I just saw a discount code from sandy, it does waive the under 25 fees but do you have to show prove that you worked for hawaiian vacation rentals or is it fine doing it online. If anyone could reply to my message that would be great.

  24. Rick Says:

    Also is there a military code waiver for any rental companies

  25. Alex Jochheim Says:

    Hi my name is Alex and I would like to share with you that I have created a special product for car hire South Africa,for not only under 25 but for under 19 under 20 or under 21 car hire South Africa. There are no strings attached and the car can be taken to the following Southern Africa countries Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique and of course throughout South Africa. The cross border letter costs you only 10$ and the insurance is full comprehensive with no excess to pay. The only rule that applies is that you need to have had a valid drivers licence for two years. Visit http://www.driveafrica.co.za for all the details.

  26. Helen Says:

    Hi!
    I wanted to ask about the costco/budget deal.
    What would I exactly have to do in order to waive the underage surcharge with a costco membership?
    That would be a huge help, as I could not find any information online.

    Thanks,
    Helen

  27. Hannah Skyler Says:

    I’m 21 and I used the corporate code for Ticket Attack Consulting with Dollar and it waived the underagee fee and the additional driver fee.

    The code is BR0706. They don’t ask for ID, I’ve used it a bunch of times. Also, it takes 5% off the lowest rate they have on the website.

  28. Philip Says:

    I called Budget in San Diego as well as their national reservation number. The national number told me that there was no such discount, and San Diego told me I had to call the national number to make a reservation and see if it was possible.

    Can whoever successfully rented a Budget car using the Costco Executive membership to waive the under-25 surcharge please post a detailed explanation of what he or she did? And where? Thanks!

  29. Philip Says:

    Updated to my earlier post…I called Budget and they verified that they have a partnership with Costco Executive Membership that allows the under-25 fee to be waived, but only at corporate locations (San Diego is private). She even read me the actual policy. So there you go..it’s confirmed!

    Good luck!

  30. Philip Says:

    Also, I found that UC Berkeley alum can use the Corporate Discount (UCBALUM) then type in (Cal) for the confirmation, and the Cal Alumni discount (which waives under-25 fee as well applying a 10% discount!) will be applied.

    For those who have actually graduated from another college, check with your alumni association to see if they have similar discounts. If the location actually checks for ID, using your own alma mater’s discount code is probably better.

    Go Bears!

  31. Lacey Says:

    Hey I know this is an old post, but did anyone find out of Thrifty or Dollar required proof of employment when you use those corporate codes?

  32. Shaun Says:

    I used the code for Dollar last year in December and no proof of employment was required.

  33. Josh Says:

    Hello,
    My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to Virginia to look for teaching jobs. Of course we are trying to rent a car but since we’re 24 we will have to pay almost 300 dollars in extra fees. I have tried both codes listed above for Thrifty and Dollar but neither of them worked. Does anyone know if Costco will still wave the fee?
    Thank you

  34. KB Says:

    The Thrifty code works (make sure you put it in the corporate box, not the promotional box), but it also doubles the rate for the week, almost nullifying the savings of not having to pay the under 25 fee.

  35. Josh Says:

    I’ve been finding that often the promotions or coupons are actually worse than paying the regular rate. I’ve enterd coupons for twenty dollars off or a free day and the rental car price goes up by 15-20 dollars a day.
    I contacted Costco and their travel agency. They will not wave the under 25 fee. I called each of their rental car companies and after many frustrating conversations, they all told me that they would not wave the fee even with a Membership.
    Well, the Costco thing didn’t work, codes aren’t working, anybody else have a suggestion?

  36. Laura Says:

    I agree with josh… i’ve tried all the codes and called costco and nothing seems to work… please i am planning a trip with my boyfriend to fort lauderdale and we are both 24 years old… can anyone please help us cause we do not want to pay so much money just cause we should have been born 11 months earlier. Thank you

  37. Laura Says:

    ok guys… so i have checked around… if you are going to rent in fort lauderdale… go to ablerental.com…. they are the cheapest by HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS… and they do not charge u for being under 25 years old

  38. Barb M Says:

    I’m 20 and want to rent a car in Anchorage. Does anyone know who will do this?? Thanks. Barb

  39. Alex Says:

    Hi there myself and my girlfriend are coming over to Las Vegas in June for a small roadtrip down to LA,i am 24 so these horrible surcharges also affect me (my b’day is 40 days after we rent the car!) and i am wondering if anyone had any more suggestions on this?

    Thanks from London
    Alex!

  40. Heather Says:

    Hi all,

    I am taking a trip to Dallas, TX during June and I’d like to rent a car. I will be 22 at that time and I’m a missionary so I’m trying to find an inexpensive deal. I am also trying to find the cheapest flight from Detroit/Flint/Chicago. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

  41. josh Says:

    my fiancée and i are trying to rent a car in seattle for our honeymoon in june. anyone know how i can get the under 25 fee waived? the costco thing sounds like a bust, although my future mother in law has an executive membership that we could use…

  42. Dillion Says:

    Great post, thanks for the info

  43. David Says:

    Hey all,

    Why not try Toyota rent-a-car? On their site it doesn’t say anything about a surcharge to those under 25 and they will rent to those 21 and over.

    http://www.toyota.com/rental/

  44. Josh Says:

    Hey,

    I am trying to rent a car in Ft. Lauderdale as well. Laura do you know if this company will allow you to reserve a car over the internet or do you need to call. And I also noticed that they require cash deposits of $400. How does this work?

  45. EA Says:

    I tried to reserve a car using the Ticket Attack Consulting code, but when I go to finalize the booking, it says “INCLUSIVE ITEMS ARE AGE24,DRIVR”. I take this to mean that the minimum age is 24 yrs old, and not 21 as someone had posted earlier.

    Can anyone confirm that the code has changed? Will they charge me the underage fee? (I’m 23)

    Thank you

  46. Steve Says:

    I’ve rented from Thrifty a couple times using my company’s corporate code and it has the same “INCLUSIVE ITEMS ARE AGE24,DRIVR” line, but it apparently just means that under 25 is okay. I’m 23 and haven’t had a problem.

  47. diana Says:

    hi, im 21 and me and my boyfriend will be renting a car from the san francisco airport (for 2 weeks) and dropping it back off at the los angeles airport. i dont want to use a big company with huge fees, anyone have any ideas or suggestions of smaller companies we could use?

  48. leanne Says:

    bingo: if you are traveling in san diego or los angeles, “atwest” or @west rental car company charges 5 dollars a day to 21-24 year olds. They are very understanding.

  49. Alex Says:

    That special from Hertz has expired.. Anyone have other ideas?

  50. Kim Says:

    it says that hertz offer is valid till 9/09, but if you read the fine print your hertz location has to be ‘participating’. of course they don’t tell you which ones are.

  51. Kim Says:

    @Britton: It is total age discrimination, but how do they get away with prohibiting drinking alcohol until you’re 21? You can go to war and die, and still not legally consume alcohol in your own country? Ludicrous. Our government is not working for us….

  52. EA Says:

    I reserved for Dollar using the ticket attack consulting code in Miami Beach last weekend and they did not charge any underage fees. Additionally, when I was at the pickup location, I saw that they had a sign saying that drivers under 25 could only get up to an economy car, and they must provide proof of insurance upon pickup. I didn’t bring any proof of my insurance, but luckily they didn’t ask for anything. In fact, they even upgraded me to Premium ! (i had originally booked a Full Size but I guess they had run out or something).

  53. kay Says:

    I am 23, I just rented a car last week with HERTZ. I didn’t have a reservation but went to the desk and told them what i needed and for how long, then slid in the fact that i was only 23 and thought there was an extra charge for that and the associate i was dealing with didnt seem to care. I wasnt charged any extra fee for being under 25 and he even lied about the gas tank being full. Just try renting, i feel like if you go to the desk you’ll have better luck than if you make the reservation online. Seem willing to pay and the associates are mor likely to make your reservation in your favor. goodluck!

  54. Suzie Says:

    I used the promotional code for Hertz today, using the link provided by Jeff. The promotional code has not yet expired. I had to call 3 different Hertz and each of the locations would have accepted the code, however they did not have the cheapest rental cars available. It may not be a problem at all to find a Hertz location that is accepting the pomotional code.

  55. Rashelle Says:

    That hertz promo code only works in the US. i tried to use it in Europe and it was no go!

  56. Hertz waives surcharges for younger drivers | Upgrade: Travel Better Says:

    [...] – If you’re under 25, how do you rent a car without huge surcharges? – Before and After: Hertz to start photographing your rental car – Lousy domestic US car rental [...]

  57. raquel Says:

    EZ Rent a Car rents to anyone over 18, but a small fee still applies in most locations. At least they actually rent to renters under 21, that is quite uncommon.

  58. Isaiah Says:

    The Hertz offer is now VALID again, through February 6, 2010. Again, the link is:

    https://www.hertz.com/rentacar/specialoffers/index.jsp?targetPage=under25feewaived.jsp

  59. LC Says:

    The Hertz one is a rip off. Price before code $193.00. Price after code= $468.58 USD

  60. Wes Says:

    Hi everyone … trying to rent a car in KAUAI. Any advice to get out of the surcharge? hertz doesn’t operate on Kauai anymore

  61. Amber Says:

    For the Kauai one, use discountHawaiicarrental.com. They waive underage surcharge and actually give really good rates!

  62. laura Says:

    I found more info on line. EZ Rent a Car rents to people underage. See http://www.ez-rentacarusa.com. Only problem is they are in Florida and a few other locations but that sit.

  63. Patricia Says:

    I am 21 years old and am going to Florida in April where I want to rent a car. I’ve tried the different things mentioned on this reply but still having trouble finding anything that will waive the fee for being unerage. Anyone have anymore ideas as to where I could look?

  64. Jason Parker Says:

    Goto Hertz website and use the code 126884… I am also going to Florida in April and for 2 weeks it is costing me $400… Ive done my homework and this is the cheapest by a long mile and includes all the insurance / taxes etc…

  65. Paul Says:

    Dear Jason,

    Are you sure the Hertz offer is still valid in April? The fine print says “Offer valid for vehicle pickup through 03-31-10.”

    Thanks.

  66. Polly Says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I am from the UK and planning a trip to LA in October this year, i am only 22 and am trying to find any information about how i can get out of paying the underage rental fees, anyone have any recent coupon codes or suggestions??

    Thankyou!

  67. Chris Says:

    I started my job at 21 and had to travel a lot. So from 21-25 I had this problem, and got around it with my Hertz gold membership. Paid a little more than say booking through Priceline but no where near the $25 per day. If I remember correctly Enterprise also allowed this by being a member.

  68. rasky Says:

    i tried using Avis Awd z652297 and it waived the underage fee(21 and up ) and had great rates!

  69. mcguirrj Says:

    Rasky, when entering that Avis code online, how do I know that the fee has been waived? I haven’t gone through all the way to clicking on ‘Reserve’, but not having been prompted for a date of birth I don’t know that it will work…thanks!

  70. rasky Says:

    you can call up avis and they’ll ask you your age and ask them if theres a fee, just to confirm

  71. Nick Says:

    I know these posts are pretty old. I am traveling across the country from New York to California and back in May. I am 24 and don’t want to pay the underage fee.

    Does anyone know what still will work to get the discount.

    Thanks

  72. rasky Says:

    you could try using the code up top , just call to verify that theres no fee ,
    i used it last month out of jfk for a week , no underage fee

  73. James Says:

    The following Budget BCD waives underage fee: W275400

  74. chello Says:

    W275400, what is that for, am i allowed to use it?

  75. Aadesh Says:

    W275400, I called budget and they say that it is a corporate account which will waive of underage fee. But at the time of pickup I need to show them the proof of my employment. How does this work? is it something we can get off it?

  76. Heather Says:

    I’m having a problem with this too. If anyone is looking, Enterprise includes the young driver fee when you make your reservation, but none of the other national chains did when I checked. I had to call up every single one of them and ask.

    Also, this may be location specific, but Enterprise charges $10/day rather than the $25/day charged by nearly every other company (I think Avis or someone charged $13)

    I thought it was interesting that someone pointed out discrimination. When I complained to my friend, she said “well, it’s the insurance, insurance for young drivers is more expensive” what, because of statistics?

    Well why don’t I just make up some statistic that shows that black people have more accidents? Does that mean I get to charge black people more to rent a car? You can tailor any statistic to show any result you want.

    They need to make a law outlawing this and requiring companies to base the charges on the person’s driving record. Or, give under 25′s the option to go through the trouble and possible expense of sending in their driver’s records, since requiring all companies to pull it up themselves could result in extra costs passed on to everyone anyway.

  77. Anonymous Says:

    I’m split on the age discrimination issue. First I believe that companies should be allowed to discriminate as much as they want. Don’t want to serve black people or 21 year olds? Fine, their loss of profit. But at the same time if every company effectively excludes the 21-24 year old age range, then that doesn’t seem right. Hell when you’re 22-23 you’ve graduated from college, can drink, smoke, gamble, get married, join the military, vote, buy and conceal a handgun, etc etc. The *only* people that want to put a restriction on you is these car rental agencies. Job interviewing in different cities becomes difficult when they charge hundreds extra for you to drive around.

  78. S Jessica Deal Says:

    Hertz has a promo code to waive all surcharge fees for 21-24 year olds. Expires September 30, 2011. Some argue that it’s still cheaper to go with another company even after all surcharges are included, but for me, it saved about $200! It’s worth a try!

    http://www.hertz.com/rentacar/specialoffers/index.jsp?targetPage=save25dayyoungrenter.jsp&Category=W

  79. Theresa Says:

    After a lot of digging around, this website was very helpful in finding good codes. http://www.rentalcodes.com/hertz.html The only trick was that after I called Hertz to get the actual code for the deal, I still needed to reserve online to save any money. I guess booking online in and of itself saves about $200. Also, if you have AAA Hertz will take off an addition 10% ontop of this deal. Hope it helps!

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  83. B Says:

    Hey!

    So I did find that there is discount for costco executive memberships with budget.
    There are various discounts along with a FREE one car class upgrade at the counter, No charges for one additional driver, and No surcharges for primary driver 21-24 years of age.
    Here is the link http://www.budget.com/budgetWeb/html/bridge/assoc/costco_ca/exec_index.html
    hope it helps! :)

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