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QHow Old Do You Have to Be to Rent a Car?

AThe minimum age when renting a car is 25 years old. However, most car rental companies allow drivers below 25 years old to rent a car with an underage fee. The youngest legal age to rent a car is 18 and varies by location.

girls in yellow car

Some rental companies will also have a maximum age restriction in place, so renters over 70 should check with the rental company if a surcharge is applied or if they are allowed to get a rental at all.

Rental cars are available to those under the age of 25 through most rental providers if these drivers can provide the required documentation and a credit card. They are, however, usually required to pay a young-driver surcharge when renting a car and may only be allowed to rent lower class or smaller cars.

stack of dollar bills

How to Rent a Car If You’re Under 25

While many rental companies will allow younger drivers between the age of 21-24, they will almost always require drivers to have held a valid driver’s license for a certain period of time, to ensure they have the experience to safely drive their cars, and there will usually be a surcharge to cover the cost of additional insurance. Statistically, drivers under the age of 25 are at a higher risk of being in an accident, so this fee compensates the car rental providers for the extra risk.

Rental car sizes can also affect age restrictions since many companies will not allow younger drivers to rent luxury cars or larger vehicles, even when paying an additional fee. For example, Avis and Thrifty will not allow drivers under 25 to rent full-size or premium cars, SUVs, minivans, or passenger vans, while this varies depending on the location when renters get a car with Sixt or Dollar.

When browsing for your rental, our advice is to check the age restrictions for the location you are renting and driving in, as some car rental companies do not charge a fee for young drivers in certain countries. It’s also worth noting that the young-driver fee may be waived for renters who are members of AAA or USAA and U.S. government employees who are renting whilst on official government business.

Rental Car Types: What Can I Book?

A wide variety of well-known brands and rental car types are on offer, so you’ll be spoiled for choice when picking your perfect mode of transportation. Whether you’re after a compact, an eco-friendly vehicle for zipping around on your city trip, or a sturdy SUV for those epic road trips across scenic locations, there are vehicles to suit all kinds of jaunts.

woman packing SUV

The type of vehicle you select will come down to a number of personal factors, including:

  • The number of people you’re traveling with;
  • Whether you’ll be driving across smoothly urban or ruggedly rustic terrain;
  • The kind of trip it is;
  • Whether your age restricts you from hiring premium and luxury rental vehicles;
  • Your travel budget.

You might opt for a luxury car if you’re on a special, romantic city trip and have set aside the budget to really indulge. Or, if you’re taking a panoramic drive along a coastal road, a convertible could really make the trip all the more memorable. Meanwhile, minivans will come in handy for families or groups of friends on a big, exciting vacation.

Rental Car Sizes

Your budget and party size are crucial factors, which will influence your choice. A wide range of rental car sizes are available across a varied price range. Here are some of the most popular options to choose from.

hand picking a car

Compact

Heading on a city trip with your significant other? Consider a compact car. Its size means you can zip around busy urban areas and slip into tight parking spaces. It will also have enough space to store a few suitcases comfortably. And, the fact it has a smaller engine and lighter frame means your fuel costs should be lower, too.

Economy

If you’re keeping an eye on your spending during your trip, but don’t want to sacrifice too much legroom and luggage space, an economy car might be ideal. You’ll have the reassurance of fuel efficiency, meaning you’ll save when filling the tank, while also being able to comfortably accommodate a family or small group of friends for short and long trips alike.

Mid-size

If you’d like something a little bigger than an economy car, but don’t want to go too large, then a mid-size car rental should be considered. What you’ll get here is the best of both worlds: satisfying legroom and more space to store luggage, as well as good fuel economy. It ticks the boxes for city jaunts and leisurely country drives alike.

Full-size

Traveling with a group, and have an extended itinerary in mind? Full-size rental cars may be right for you. Offering plenty of space for all passengers to relax in, these kinds of vehicles are particularly suited for road trips, whether you’re embarking on a big family adventure or a business trip across different cities. They’re also good for groups with young kids, providing ample room for a child seat.

Whatever you’re tempted by, you notice that different rental car types have specific codes associated with them. These are known as ACRISS codes, and are used by rental companies to categorize vehicles depending on their characteristics.

This is helpful because you generally won’t be able to request a specific car model when making your booking with a rental company. Instead, you’ll select a specific category of vehicle at the time of booking, and you will then be provided with a vehicle with that ACRISS code.

man driving car

Each ACRISS code is made up of 4 digits. These designate the following:

  • Category, for example E for Economy, and P for Premium;
  • Type, for example B for 2-3 door, and T for a convertible;
  • Transmission, for example M for manual, and A for automatic;
  • Fuel/Air conditioning, for example H for hybrid/air, and C for electric/no air.

To give a real-life example of how this works, let’s say you were to opt for a “Vauxhall Corsa or similar” vehicle through the car rental company. Upon arrival at the pick-up point, you might not necessarily be provided with a Vauxhall Corsa. However, the rental company will endeavor to provide with a vehicle with the same ACRISS code, which in this case is ECMR, meaning an Economy car with 2-4 doors, manual transmission, and air conditioning. This means, whether you’re weighing up an economy vs. compact car, or are considering various different rental car sizes, your eventual decision will secure you a set of wheels that meets your specific requirements.

The information provided in this guide was accurate at the time of publication but is subject to change at any time. Please check your car rental company’s terms for the latest information.

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