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How to Avoid Underage Fees When Renting A Car

Let’s get one thing straight – renting a car under the age of 25 is more often than not a pain in the butt. With daily costs of $25 or more, underage fees can really place a burden on young renters. However, it’s often a necessary evil, especially in places like Iceland or Canada where the most incredible sights are only accessible by car. Despite what you may be seeing when you try to book a car, there are ways to avoid underage fees when renting a car. From several years of experience of booking rental cars while underage, here are a few ways around that pesky fee.

Register Through USAA

Our Car and Vatnajökull
Photo Credit: Jonathan (Flickr)

If you’re hoping to get your underage fees waived, you can become an account holder with a fabulous bank called USAA. This bank historically only allowed registration if you are a relative of a current or retired military employee. However, recently, they’ve relaxed their membership requirements and now offer services for a variety of people.

In addition to their insurance/banking services, USAA also waives underage car rental fees for all of its members on most major car rental networks (Avis, Hertz, Budget, etc.). If you’re able to set up an account with USAA, you can take advantage of this benefit. Additionally, they reimburse ATM fees all over the world for all of their banking members (great for a Jetfarer like you!).

If You’re a AAA Member, Book With Hertz

If you happen to be a AAA member, or are thinking of becoming one, you’re entitled to an underage driver fee waiver with Hertz. Just provide proof of membership upon booking, and you can avoid paying the $25+ daily fee.

Rent With An Under 25 Friendly Company

Several car companies are beginning to target the under-25 demographic. Some, such as Zipcar, focus on single-day or per-hour rentals. Many college students and young professionals use Zipcar often for short-term car rentals or day trips with friends.

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Others, like Silvercar, Turo, and Getaround, are normal, multi-day car rental companies that typically don’t have fees. However, their prices do tend to be higher. Do some research on young driver rental companies if you want to avoid underage fees altogether.

Our Rental Car
Photo Credit: Scott Penner (Flickr)

Book Through Your Employer’s Portal

If you or your colleagues frequently travel for work, chances are your employer has a booking portal. If this is the case, you’ll likely be able to find deals and fee waivers on there. For my previous employer, we had an underage fee waiver and free insurance by booking on the portal. Be sure to check this out as a potential option if you’re looking to save some cash.

Call the Car Rental Company

If you’ve found a great deal for a car rental but can’t use one of the above options for some reason, call around and ask them about your options. Though this doesn’t have a super high success rate, there may be ways to lower the base rate of the rental through current promotions, points and miles, or other means.

Forget the Car!

If all else fails…just don’t bother with a car. There are loads of ways to get around without one, like using public transportation, bike shares, or simply walking places. Similarly, if you can find a friend to drive who is over 25, you won’t have to worry about paying egregious underage fees.

The Bottom Line

Attempting to rent a car under the age of 25 can be expensive with all of the added fees. However, if you do your research and join programs that can help you waive these fees, you’ll have a much smoother car rental experience. There’s always a way to get around them if you look hard enough.

Kay is a full-time media professional located in Washington DC who takes every spare day of time to travel the world. In the last year alone, she's visited over 10 different countries and taken a dozen short trips in between. You can typically find her wandering the streets of a city, taking ridiculous self portraits, or hiking a mountain somewhere. Connect with Kay: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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