Am I Able To Rent a Car at 20 Years Old?

Car rentals are important for many young Americans, whether for commuting to work, going to school, or taking a cross-country trip with their friends. However, renting a car at 20 years old can be tricky, especially since many rental agencies have strict minimum age policies.

So, can you rent a car at 20 years old, or do you need to come up with a different transportation solution? Let’s answer this question and more below.

Age Minimums for States

In a nutshell, the majority of states require drivers to be 18 or older before they can rent a car or sign any other kind of financially important contract. Some states, including Michigan and New York, require agencies to rent their vehicles to drivers if they are over the age of 18.

However, some states may impose additional age minimums that agencies must then follow. For example, a state may require that drivers be 21 or older to rent a car. Then, even if an agency wanted to rent a car to a 20-year-old, it would not be able to in that state.

Age Minimums for Rental Agencies

More commonly, drivers are prevented from renting a car at 20 years old because of the agencies themselves. Basically, rental agencies have age minimum policies ranging from 18 years old to 21 years old to 24 years old all the way up to 25. The majority of rental agencies require you to be 21 or older to rent a car regardless of what the minimum age is for their hosting state.

For example, if a state has a 20-year-old age rule for signing a rental contract, an agency in that state could still require drivers to be 21 instead. That’s because it’s usually up to agencies themselves to determine who gets to rent their vehicles. Agencies with age limits include Alamo, Enterprise, Hertz, Budget, Avis, and more.

Advantage Rent-a-Car also has a minimum 21 years or older rule. Therefore, you can’t rent a car from us if you are only 20. Other common rental agencies have minimum ages of 25, 20, and 24. It all depends on the agency, their state, and their policies.

Why Aren’t Drivers Allowed To Rent at 20?

It’s a bit complicated, but it all boils down to risk.

You see, younger drivers are statistically more likely to get involved in accidents. That’s partially because they are more likely to be risk-takers compared to older adults. But it’s also because young drivers, especially those aged between 18 and 20, don’t have a lot of driving experience. They’re more likely to make critical mistakes or bump into another car on the road.

Because of this, rental agencies know that renting to younger drivers represents a bigger financial risk than renting to older drivers. If a rental agency rents to younger drivers more frequently, they will inevitably have to deal with more damaged cars and accidents, which increases their costs.

To solve this, lots of rental agencies simply don’t let drivers rent a car at 20 years old. They require renters to be 21 or older or sometimes even 24 or 25. Car insurance companies follow the same logic; that’s why you’ll pay more money as a young driver for your insurance premium and monthly rate than you will when you turn 25.   

Note that there are a few exceptions to these rules. For example, young government employees can often rent full-size or other vehicles without the underage fees. They just need a valid driver’s license. However, they may still be subject to the state age limit or other age requirements. They’re also not usually allowed to put additional drivers on their contracts.

Should You Rent a Car at 20 Years Old?

That depends on your goals and how much money you have to spend! Generally, it will be more expensive for you to rent a car at 20 years old than it will be to rent a car at 25. That’s because of a few key factors.

Young Driver Fees

For starters, the majority of rental agencies that do rent to younger drivers also charge young driver fees. Young driver fees are surcharges added to a rental total, usually anywhere between $25 per day to another $100 per day for a driver under the age of 25.

So, if you try to rent a car for $20 per day at the age of 24, you could end up paying a rental rate of $120 per day instead! The young driver fees are intended to offset the increased risk the agency faces from renting a car to a young driver in the first place.

Limited Selection

On top of that, younger drivers oftentimes face limited selections from rental agencies‘ car fleets. They may not be allowed to rent luxury or exotic vehicles, big trucks, or other expensive cars from a rental company until they are 24 or 25.

Again, this is an instance of the rental company minimizing its risk. Most companies don’t want to rent out their most prized vehicles to young, higher-risk drivers. If a hypothetical young driver gets into an accident with a Lamborghini, for example, the rental company then has to pay to replace the car even if the driver has insurance.

That oftentimes isn’t something rental companies aren’t willing to risk, so they limit young drivers‘ car selections to basic sedans and trucks in the majority of cases.

Higher Insurance Costs

Lastly, young drivers typically have higher auto insurance costs as mentioned above. They will pay more money for their monthly rates, plus more money for their premiums if they are involved in accidents.

Should a young driver decide to go with the insurance provided by a rental company, they’ll find higher prices waiting for them there, as well. This is more common among young drivers who need to rent a car because they don’t own a vehicle of their own.

All of these factors combined mean that renting at the age of 20 isn’t often worthwhile unless absolutely necessary. Instead, it might be a better idea to get a parent to drive you someplace, take public transportation, or come up with a different transportation solution.

Limited Payment Options

Most rental agencies want you to pay with a credit card, but some will accept cash. This isn’t the case for underage drivers. On top of young renter fees, car rental companies often require renters to pay using credit cards only. You can’t use dollars, debit cards, or other payment options.

This may limit your choices if you need a rental car fast but are lower than the average car rental age.

Summary

Renting a car at 20 years old might be tough, but things certainly get easier once you hit 24 or 25. If you’re already passed this benchmark and you need a great rental vehicle, Advantage Rent-a-Car can help.

Advantage Rent-a-Car’s rental locations are convenient for pick up and include diverse fleets of vehicles, ranging from SUVs to sedans to trucks to minivans and more. Our drop-off car rental locations are also placed for convenience above all else. Contact us today for more information!

Sources:
How to Rent a Car When You Are Under 25 | USA Today
How to Avoid Paying the Under 25 Car Rental Fee | NerdWallet
Teen Drivers: Get the Facts | Motor Vehicle Safety | CDC Injury Center