There are many circumstances in life when you need transportation but don’t own a vehicle. Some of these situations include:
- You need to get around while you’re traveling away from home
- You need a reliable vehicle for a road trip
- Your car is being repaired
- You have family visiting and your vehicle isn’t large enough for everyone
- You need an extra vehicle for a special occasion such as a wedding
Rental cars are an excellent way to get temporary transportation for any of these purposes. In many places you must be 25 or older to rent a car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), accidents occur at an exponentially higher rate for drivers under the age of 25. The accident rate decreases dramatically after 25, and continues to drop as age increases.
Drivers below the age of 25 are a higher risk for car rentals, and are treated accordingly, but renting a car under the age of 25 is still possible. So how do you go about getting a rental car if you’re under the rental agency’s age limit?
Part 1 of 3: Determine if you are eligible for a rental
Many American rental agencies have an age policy when it comes to renting vehicles. That doesn’t automatically preclude you from getting a rental car, but it can limit your options.
Step 1: Check policies online. Research the rental policies online for each major car rental company in your area.
The most common car rental agencies include:
Locate the rental age restrictions on their website or perform a web search such as “Hertz renting to drivers under 25.”
Read the information to discover if rentals are allowed under the age of 25. Some companies, like Hertz, rent cars to drivers in the 18-19, 20-22, and 23-24 age brackets.
Step 2: Call your major local rental car companies. Find the phone numbers of rental companies near where you need to rent and ask an agent if you are eligible to rent a car.
Most rental agencies will rent cars to those 20-24 with some restrictions or added fees. Typical restrictions include:
Limited vehicle choices
No luxury vehicle rentals
Extra “under-25” fees
Tip: Extra fees are usually not that expensive, with some rental car companies not charging an extra fee at all.
Step 3: Mention if you are part of a special group. Some large corporations or special interest groups have agreements with rental car companies that waive the extra charges for under-25 drivers.
- Military, some Fortune 500 companies, and federal government staff may be exempt from the under-25 restrictions altogether.
Part 2 of 3: Rent a car while you are under 25
Step 1: Book your rental car ahead of time. It is especially important to make a reservation if you are restricted to the type of rental car you can drive.
- Give the rental agent the information they need to complete your reservation including your credit card information if required.
Step 2: Show up to your reservation on time. If you are late for your reservation, you run the risk of your rental car being rented by someone else.
- Tip: As a higher-risk rental for the car rental agency, they will be more at ease if you are on time and pleasant.
Step 3: Provide your driver’s license and credit card to the rental agent.
- You may be subjected to a credit check or a driver’s license inquiry as you are under the age of 25.
Step 4: Complete the rental contract with the rental agent. Make careful note of any existing damage and the fuel level.
Because you are under 25 and you’re an added risk to the rental company, you will be under extra scrutiny.
Make sure all dents, scratches, and chips are noted on your rental agreement.
Step 5: Purchase extra rental insurance. It is an excellent idea to cover yourself from any damage that could possibly occur while the rental car is in your possession, even if it isn’t your fault.
- As an under-25 renter, you may be required to take the extra rental car insurance.
Step 6: Sign the rental agreement and drive away. Make sure you familiarize yourself with all the controls and have the seat in a comfortable position before you leave the lot.
Part 3 of 3: Use the rental car responsibly
Step 1: Drive with care at all times. Be aware of traffic around you to avoid collisions and damage.
Drive responsibly and within the speed limits.
Traffic violations the rental company receives at a later date will be assessed to you.
Step 3: Call if you’re going to be late. If you’re going to need the rental car longer than your rental agreement, call and advise the rental agency.
- If your rental isn’t returned on time, you can be assessed extra charges or even have the rental reported stolen.
Step 4: Return your rental car at the agreed-upon time. Bring the rental car back in the same condition as you received it and with the same amount of fuel.
- Any problems with your rental car or your dealings may prevent you from getting a rental in the future.
Renting a car when you’re young, especially if it’s to go to a fun event with your friends, can be a great experience. Follow the steps above and drive carefully to make sure you return your rental car in the same condition it was when you found it. This will make for a pleasant experience for you, the rental company, and for other under-25 year olds who want to rent a car in the future.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Know if You're Old Enough to Rent a Car and was authored by Jason Unrau.