When you decide to rent a car for the first time in your life, you will need a lot of practical information that can make the process much more comfortable for you. It is crucial to know where to go and what to do to simplify the entire procedure. Even though rental requirements in different rental agencies may vary, all of them will demand the same basic things.
For example, you must be old enough to rent a car in the US. Plus, you need to have the necessary documents to confirm that you know how to drive a car and can pay for the service. In any case, you should check their policies before renting a vehicle. Let’s take a closer look at what do you need to rent a car.
What Do You Need to Rent a Car?
1. The Age Requirement
If you want to rent a car in the US, you must be at least 21 years old. However, a lot of car rental companies, especially the biggest ones, allow younger drivers to rent their cars if they pay the underage driver fee. In any case, the youngest acceptable age is 18 in New York and Michigan, where the state mandates it.
For example, the companies, such as Hertz, Alamo, Thrifty, Dollar, and National will allow you to rent a car in those two states if you have a driving license and pay an additional fee.
- The fee is $26.00 per day for drivers 18 to 20 years of age in Michigan and $57.00 per day in New York State.
- The fee is $13.00 per day for drivers 21 to 24 years of age in Michigan and $20.00 per day in New York State.
However, you always need to check that fee in the agency in advance since it can be lower or much higher, depending on the rental location.
The company with the lowest renter fee for teenagers in the US is FOX Rent A Car. They will charge you just $25 per day if you are at least 19 years old.
An exception is government employers and US military personnel older than 18 years. They don’t need to pay an additional charge when they want to rent a car for an authorized government trip.
Be prepared that you can’t rent a larger model of vehicles if you are younger than 25. On the other hand, there is no upper age limit for drivers who want to rent a car in the US if they have a valid driving license.
2. Driver’s License
If you want to rent a car in the US as a resident of this country, US Territories, and Canada, you will need to present a valid driver’s license.
It needs to be issued by the government, to be valid for the entire rental period, and to contain your photograph. Be prepared that rental agencies won’t accept a digital license.
An exception is every member of the US Armed Forces on active duty. He or she can present an expired home state license under certain conditions, which may vary by state.
3. Active Credit Card
Before making a reservation, you should inquire about the car rental agency’s policy regarding the payment method. Most of them will reject you if you haven’t got an active credit card, no matter if you have a valid driver’s license. The name on both documents needs to match.
Many rental agencies won’t accept debit cards, as well. They need your active credit card due to the required deposit. The agency usually puts the credit card on hold in case it needs to activate the insurance. Keep in mind that that amount of money will reduce the spending limit on your card until you return the vehicle.
If you don’t have a credit card, you can solve that problem by naming the secondary driver as the primary one. If he or she has a credit card that matches their driver’s license, you can rent a car on their name.
If the rental agency accepts debit cards for payment, you should be aware of the special conditions that apply to this payment method. They may ask for a valid passport, current utility bill, or insurance card, as well.
Most rental agencies don’t accept cash payments for security reasons.
4. Car Insurance
The rental agency may offer you auto insurance as a part of your rental, but it is optional. However, in most states, car insurance is required by law. Plus, it is highly recommended, especially if your personal auto insurance policy doesn’t cover rental vehicles.
Some agencies accept a debit card or cash instead of a credit card. In that case, you will need to pay a deposit of at least $200 to cover possible incidents. The agency will refund that money when you return the vehicle undamaged.
When you need to rent a car for a business purpose, it will be smart to consult with your employer before choosing the optional coverage. Otherwise, you will be financially responsible if the employer’s policy doesn’t cover the possible damage.
Car Rental Tips in the US
In the US, car rental is at your disposal daily, weekly, or monthly, but this service doesn’t include a driver. You will be a driver. Depending on your wishes, you can rent the car at airports or somewhere in the city or at hotels. The first option will cost you more money.
You can book the car online, over the phone, or at the rent-a-car office.
If you plan to pick up a car at one location and leave it at another, you should specify this in advance. Keep in mind that you need to pay extra charges for that.
As for fuel, you will usually get the vehicle with the full gas tank, and you should return it in the same condition. Otherwise, if it is half full or 3/4 full, you will get a document confirming this, and you should return the car with the same fuel level.
Always make it clear if you want to use the vehicle within the state where it is rented or in another one, as well. Also, count on the different prices of renting, depending on the type of car, weather, weekend, season, holiday, and GPS navigation. If you want to use coupons, always mention that when making a reservation.