Rental Cars

Avoiding Car Rental Additional Driver Fees

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A few months ago I was planning a roadtrip and looking for the cheapest rental car. Not just the cheapest daily rate, but also the company that would charge me the least for additional drivers. After all, leaf peeping in New England isn’t nearly as fun if you’re the one having to drive 6-8 hours in one go.

Ideally I would have been in an area with Silvercar, which does not charge for additional or underage drivers at any of their locations, but alas. And not surprisingly, many companies aren’t putting additional driver fees on their websites, so it was looking like I was going to have to call or wait til I got to the rental car desk. Both potentially a big waste of time.

Fortunately I found an article on AutoSlash with tips for avoiding additional driver fees.

What I found most interesting are the states where additional drivers are free.

If you rent cars only in the state of California, you can probably stop reading now since we have some great news for you. There are no additional driver fees in California at all by law. This goes for all companies, regardless of whether the additional driver is a spouse or someone unrelated to you. (You still need to list the additional driver on the contract, though.)

In addition to California, where all drivers are free, state law in Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin allow the spouse to be an automatic authorized driver without a fee.

And if you’re wanting to add a spouse or domestic partner as your second driver in the United States, these rental car companies don’t charge:

  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Fox
  • Enterprise
  • Hertz (Hertz #1 Club members only)
  • National (Emerald Club members only)

Unfortunately none of this helped me as I was traveling with friends through New England.

But according to the AutoSlash article, various memberships can also cover or defray the costs of additional drivers. AAA, AARP, and Costco all offer free additional drivers at select rental car companies when you book with their rate.

I wound up booking the AAA rate at Hertz to get a free additional driver which was close to the lowest rate I’d found on their website. The only catch was you need to let them know up front that you’re using the AAA rate to get the free additional driver. Announcing the additional driver and assuming they can see the AAA code on their end won’t get you the discount.

So to recap, here are five ways to avoid the additional driver fees when renting a car in the United States:

  • Rent with Silvercar
  • Rent in California where all additional drivers are free
  • Rent in Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin where spouses and domestic partners are free
  • Rent with Avis, Budget, Fox, Enterprise, Hertz (Hertz #1 Club members only), or National (Emerald Club members only) to add your spouse or domestic partner for free.
  • Book through AAA, AARP, or another membership to get free additional drivers at select companies.

Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

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