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How to rent a car if you’re under 25

Age is just a number, except if you want to drink, vote, or rent a car. For high school grads moving to university, or heading out on epic summer road trips with friends –  getting a car rental under 25 in Canada is possible, but it may be cost-prohibitive. 

Do you have to be 25 to rent a car in Canada? 

Car insurance gets cheaper after the age of 25 because the industry views anyone under 25 as a higher risk based on statistics. Accident rates decrease substantially after the age of 25. For car rental agencies, it’s the same. If you’re trying to rent get a car rental under 25 in Canada, yes, you can do it, but there are surcharges for the privilege. 

How old do I need to be to rent a car?

To rent almost any car you typically need to be at least 20 years old. But, it varies by the car rental agency. Each company has their own policy – some are based on state or provincial regulations. In Michigan and New York the minimum age to rent a car is 18 years old, but in Mississippi, you need to be 21. In Canada, so long as you have your g2, you can rent a car, but there are stipulations including only one other passenger under the age of 19 for the first 6 months and no driving between midnight and 5 am. Other agencies set their own standards for young renters.  All agencies will need a valid driver’s license and credit card in the renter’s name. 

How the different agencies handle car rentals for drivers under 25 

The rental rate you pay will be the same as everyone else, but there will be a surcharge on top of the base rate. The average daily car rental under the age of 25 surcharge is $20 per day, but more if you’re under 21. Below, we break down how each agency works with young drivers.

Hertz under 25 fee

Hertz will rent you a car if you are at least 20 years old. The additional fee for a car rental under 25 is between $27-$30. However, it can climb to as high as $50 per day if you’re under 21. In New York and Michigan, state laws mandate that a car rental is available if you’re at least 18. You won’t be able to access their prestige collection of rental cars to rent. 

The good news if you want a car rental under 25 is that the fee may be waived if you’re a member of AAA\/CAA. If you’re 21, you can sign up to their loyalty program and forego the underage fee. 

Enterprise under 25 fee

The minimum age to get a car rental under 25 at Enterprise locations in Canada is 21. A young renter free may be applied to your rental if you are between 21 and 24 years of age. The average cost is $20. Again, in New York or Michigan, where you can rent as young as 18 years, the additional daily fee is $57.  You can only rent economy and up to full-size cars – no big trucks or luxury automobiles. 

Avis under 25 fee

The minimum age to rent a car from Avis is 21 years old. To get a car rental under 25 you’re looking at about $27 per day, but could climb as high as $52 in New York or Michigan. You can ren sedans, crossovers, and small SUVs, but not anything bigger than that.  If you’re a member of the military, they’ll waive the fee with your CFone card

Budget under 25 fee

Avis and Budget are under the same umbrella and both have similar policies. Again, you’ll need to be 21 to rent, the daily surcharge is $27, and your car selection is limited. 

Alamo under 25 fee

Alamo wants you to be at least 21 to rent one of their cars, and even then your only options are sedans. No SUVs, vans, or other full-size vehicles. The underage fee is $25 but could climb to as much as $40 in Michigan and New York if you’re under 21. 

Thrifty under 25 fee

Thrifty and Dollar are the same company and have similar policies. You’ll need to be at least 21 to rent a car and the daily rates will fluctuate between $15-$35. In other words, the range goes from the cheapest per day surcharge to the most expensive. Your car selection is limited, though. No premium, luxury, SUVs, specialty, minivans, or pickups are allowed for young drivers. 

National under 25 fee

You can only rent economy through to full-size sedans to get a car rental under 25 years old. They want you to be at least 21 years of age. The daily premium is $25, or up to $48 in New York and Michigan. 

Should I buy the rental car insurance if I’m under 25? 

There are 4 types of rental car insurance – Loss Damage Waiver/Collision Damage Waiver, Liability, Personal effects coverage, and personal accident coverage. 

If you have a great travel credit card (or cashback credit cards), you can avoid paying the LDW and CDW since your credit card has you covered. LDW and CDW cover you for theft of the rental and damage to the rental car usually up to $65,000. However, you need to reject their coverage and pay for the rental car with that credit card in order for the card to cover you. 

Personal effects coverage protects your valuables from theft – like laptops, phones, or jewellery. If you have home insurance or renter’s insurance, you can opt-out of this coverage, since it will cover your personal items. If you don’t, you can still opt-out to save money, but your valuables are at risk. 

Personal accident coverage protects you and your passengers if you’re hurt in an accident. If you have your own personal car insurance, it’s known as accident benefits and it’s mandatory across Canada, so you can opt-out. If you don’t have your own car insurance, pay for the coverage to protect yourself. 

Liability – this is the big one. This is coverage if you damage someone else’s property and if you injure them due to an accident. No, your credit card doesn’t cover you. Your personal car insurance covers you, but depending on your policy, it may be limited. The mandatory minimum liability insurance is $200,000, and $50,000 in Quebec. Check your policy, if you have at least $1 million, you can opt to waive this coverage. If you don’t, buy this insurance. 

If you’re listed as a driver under your parents’ insurance, you can ask them if it’s ok to rent a car and use their auto insurance to avoid paying personal accident coverage and liability. Ensure they have OPCF 27 endorsement on their Ontario car insurance policy which gives you coverage for non-owned automobiles in Canada and the US. 

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What is the cheapest way to rent a car under 25?

There are a couple of different options to avoid the underage fee. If you are a card-carrying member of the Canadian or American Military, they’ll often waive the fee.  The underage fee could be waived if you become a member of CAA or AAA as well.  

If you’re travelling for work, or if you book through your company’s corporate plan, they may waive the underage fee. You can always rent with Hertz – by signing up with their loyalty program, they will waive the fee. 

Can I drive my rental across the border? 

Be upfront, most of the time you can cross without worry. Don’t try to lie to the rental agency, the cars generally have GPS trackers and you could face a hefty fine. Pay attention to your km count, if you run the risk of going over, what might be the cost? 

Carry your agreement with you, often times they have checkboxes on them stating if you can cross into the US. If it’s not checked, you can’t cross. The border guard may ask for it, so keep it handy. 

Also, be wary of any promos you use. Sometimes they explicitly state where you can and can’t drive. 

Can you rent a car with a g2 in Ontario? 

The short answer is yes, but it depends on your age. Prepare to pay the surcharges. 

The bottom line

Because Hertz waives the fee if you sign up with their loyalty program, rent with them. Saving around $25 a day could outweigh most discounts you find online, especially if you’re on a longer trip. The Hertz Gold program is free, but you’ll need to be 21. While you can vote and drive at 18, it may be better to learn about public transit and other forms of transportation despite having a g2 license.