The saying “No good deed goes unpunished” doesn’t have to apply to renting a car for someone else. There are several reasons you might need to rent a car for someone else, and it’s important to know if it is allowed and what the process will look like.
You may be helping out a friend or relative. You may be giving a car rental as a gift to someone as a surprise or to reduce their travel stress. You may be renting a car for another employee at work. Whatever your reason, being adequately prepared before you start will make it easier for you and the other person.
Technically speaking, you cannot rent a car in your own name if someone else will pick it up and drive it. The main reason for this is that the car rental agreement is a legal document. Like all legal documents or contracts, each party needs to be honest and of legal age to rent a car according to state law.
Since it is a binding agreement, your car rental company will request that whoever is making the reservation be the person to pick it up because that is the person entering into the legal agreement with the company. For liability reasons, it is perfectly understandable.
First, cars are expensive, replacing them is expensive, and legally, car rental companies need to know exactly who is behind the wheel in their vehicles. If the person behind the wheel is not the person in the rental agreement, things can get complicated from an insurance perspective.
The policy in place among car rental companies that requires the renter to be the person who picks it up protects the rental company, of course, but it also serves as protection for you.
So, can you still rent a car for someone else? Can you be thoughtful or helpful and still be protected? Can your good deed go unpunished? Sure, but you have to do it correctly. Here’s how.
How to rent a car for someone else
Add them as an additional driver
If you want an easy and straightforward solution, then this is the best option to have someone else driving the rental car other than you. You will be considered the main driver, and the alternate driver will be secondary.
As the main driver, you still have responsibilities and obligations. You will need to be present to pick up the car. You will still sign the rental agreement. You will also be using your credit card to make the security deposit. You will be considered the primary driver, but you won’t be required to drive at all if you choose not to.
The additional driver will be able to drive the car with no restrictions. As their name is also in the rental agreement, they should have no problems when driving the rented vehicle. As long as your additional driver meets the age requirements for renting a car and has all the documentation needed to operate a vehicle where the car will be driven, you’re all set.
You will want to check with your rental agency for their discretion on age requirements.
Another thing to be aware of when you choose this option is the possibility of an additional driver fee. This varies from company to company, but most of the time, there is some fee to have another driver added to your rental agreement.
Factors that can affect this fee are the company you choose, the pickup location for your rental, the drop location for your rental, the car rental category, and more, so you must do your research and make the choice that’s right for you, your situation, and your budget.
Rent a car online
If the additional driver option isn’t suitable for your situation and you know the person’s information, you can set up the car rental online for someone else. This helps the other person by freeing up some of their time while they plan other aspects of their travel, and it keeps you from being the responsible party for the rental.
At Advantage Rent-A-Car, you would need their first and last name, email address, and phone number to begin making a reservation. Other information helps to ensure the success of your efforts.
You will need to be aware of the other person’s preferences on options such as vehicle size, child safety seat needs, additional roadside assistance packages, supplemental insurance, etc. It’s important to know these choices before placing a reservation for someone else because you’re essentially spending their money for them and setting them up to enter a legal rental agreement.
If you want to nail down their reservation at that time, you may also need their credit card information to reserve the vehicle and the options they want for the dates they need. If it was your rental, you’d want to be as prepared as possible, so make sure you do the same for the other person.
As you can see, it’s possible to rent a car online for someone else, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily quicker or easier than if they did the car rental themselves. You just have to make the right choice for your situation.
When in doubt, send a gift card
When you don’t have a way to make the rental yourself, you can turn to gift cards. If you know roughly the day rate and the number of days they will be renting the vehicle, it may be possible to guess the car rental’s overall cost and purchase the gift card for that amount.
In this instance, you would give the other person the gift card or monetary gift for the rental cost. This may not be the ideal solution you were hoping for, but it will get the job done.
The other person may have to do their own legwork, but your gift will still give the gift you originally intended. So, when you’ve weighed your options, don’t be afraid to choose what’s right for you and your situation.
Use a business account
If you’re a company that wants to allow employees to drive rental cars, you’ll want to consider setting up a business account. Business accounts allow for employee rentals to be billed to a single company credit card. Using a business account can make the rental process much smoother if you have many instances where employees need to rent cars for trips.
If you don’t qualify or it doesn’t occur frequently enough to necessitate a business account, consider giving the employee a company credit card to use when setting up their rental reservation and picking up the car.
Finally, you can allow the employee to pay for their rental and have the company reimburse them after they have paid for the expense. Simply ask the employee to keep their receipt and submit it with an expense request.
There are ways to rent a car or at least assist in renting a car for someone else. What works for you and your situation may be different from other people, so you must do your research and know your options.
Remember that to take care of someone else, you must first take care of yourself. The liability you face is not worth the risk of allowing another driver to drive a vehicle you’ve rented in your name. You should consider the options to add an additional driver, set it up online on their behalf with their information, or give them the financial means to pay for it.
If you are a company, you understand that every business decision comes with a cost and a process. You will need to assess your needs and choose the process and cost that’s right for you. Do you need a business account, provide the employee with a company credit card, or simply reimburse them? The frequency of your needs, your qualifications as a company, and your budget will all play a part in your decision, and you have to choose what’s best for your business.
Whatever your situation, when you know what you have to do, you can be better prepared to make the choices that work for you.