Renting a car can be a more complicated process than it seems on the surface. Due to insurance and liability requirements, there are a number of rules regarding who is permitted to rent a car and under what circumstances. Depending on the driver's license or permit you have, your ability to rent a car may be restricted.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
If you have only a learner's permit, you will not be allowed to rent or operate a rental car. Car rental requires a valid driver's license.
Can You Rent a Car with a Temporary Driving Permit?
In the United States, you are allowed to rent a car with a temporary driver's license. If you have accidentally let your license lapse, or if it is lost or stolen, you are eligible to obtain a temporary license. Once you have the temporary license, most major car rental authorities will permit you to use it for your vehicle rental, provided it is valid throughout the entire rental period.
Can You Rent a Car with a New Driving License?
As long as your driver's license is valid and up-to-date, you should have no problem renting with a brand new license. Even if you just passed your road test a week before your rental, you will be allowed to rent a car.
If you are a new driver under the age of 25, however, you should be aware that many car rental companies will charge you a premium to rent due to your age. In fact, some car rental companies won’t rent to individuals under the age of 25, whether they have a license or not. In most cases, 21 is the absolute minimum age companies require of renters. Unfortunately, if you are under the age of 21, you most likely will be unable to rent a vehicle, even if you have a driver's license and are an excellent driver.
Can You Drive a Rental Car with a Learner's Permit?
You might think that if a licensed driver over the age of 21 rented the car and is in the car with you, it would be acceptable to drive a rental car with your learner's permit. After all, this is usually acceptable when you have a permit and are learning to drive or practicing for your road test. However, rental cars are a different situation entirely.
When you rent a vehicle, you must sign an agreement stating that you will be the only person to drive it. In the event that you wish for another driver to be eligible to operate the vehicle, you must declare that person at the time of rental. Her driver's license information will also be put on file. In some instances, you will also need to pay an extra fee to add a second driver to the rental agreement.
Since car rental companies require a licensed driver to sign the rental agreement, someone with a learner's permit would not be allowed to operate the car. Even if you attempted to add a driver with a permit to the rental agreement, it would not be permitted.
Can You Rent a Car with an International Driver's License?
In the United States, it is not required that you have a driver's license from the U.S. in order to rent there. In most cases, a valid driver's license from your home country is acceptable if you wish to rent a car. If you are a frequent international traveler, you could consider obtaining an International Driving Permit to avoid any potential confusion.
Rental agreements can be complicated, so be sure to ask questions before you sign them. If you are unsure of your rights as a renter, contact your auto insurer or the rental company ahead of time and get clarification.