How to Rent a Car at Age 19

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To rent a car at 19, you'll likely need to be a government employee or a resident of a certain state, but some companies offer less strict age restrictions. You can rent a car when you're under 25 years of age, even at age 19 in some cases – depending on the company, location and other factors.

The notion that you have to be at least 25 years old to rent a car may be widespread, but that doesn't mean it's entirely true. Can you rent a car at 19, or possibly even younger, in the United States? The short answer is yes, you can, but that answer comes with a fair share of somewhat longer caveats.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

You can rent a car when you're under 25 years of age – even at age 19 in some cases – but access varies depending on the rental company, the location and a few other factors.

Why the Age Limits?

In the United States, there's no federal law that prohibits car rental companies from renting cars to people under the age of 25. At least not as of 2019, anyway. While some states do impose their own laws pertaining to car rentals, the choice ultimately comes down to the car rental company itself. For the most part, the age threshold boils down to the liability factor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,433 American teens were killed and 292,742 were hospitalized for motor vehicle-related accidents in 2016 alone.

As the CDC notes, teen drivers are more likely to engage in dangerous driving habits, like speeding and tailgating when compared to older motorists. These poor habits and others led to an estimated $13.6 billion in costs toward teen-related motor vehicle injuries in 2016, a price tag many car rental agencies don't want any part of.

How It Works

Despite the associated risks, all hope is not lost if you're looking to rent a car at age 19 in the U.S. In addition to the age-related policies laid out by individual rental car companies, some universal exceptions apply.

Employees of the U.S. government, including active military personnel, are typically allowed to rent a car at 18 years of age, although the renter may request a copy of official military orders. (Bonus: federal government renters usually enjoy reduced rates.) The states of Michigan and New York mandate that anyone over the age of 18 is able to rent a car, though rental companies may charge them additional "young renter fees," which can range from less than $20 to nearly $60 per day, depending on the company and the age of the driver.

If you meet the requirements, the actual process of renting a car at age 19 works just like it does at age 55 – you'll need to present a valid driver's license and an approved form of payment, sign the contracts required by the rental agency and you're off to the races – not literally, please. Of course, no matter how old you are, rental companies may disqualify you from hiring a car due to violations on your driving record, such as reckless driving, seat belt violations, accidents, driving with an invalid license or driving under the influence.

Where to Rent Cars at 19

So now that you know it's possible, where can you rent a car at 19? Here's a noninclusive list that breaks down the age-related rules at various major rental car companies, as of their 2019 policies:

  • Alamo: Ages 21 and up are eligible to rent most vehicles, with fees for those under 25; 18 and up for government employees and those in New York and Michigan.

  • Avis: Ages 21 and up are eligible to rent most vehicles, with fees for those under 25; 18 and up for government employees and those in New York and Michigan.

  • Enterprise: Ages 21 and up are eligible to rent most vehicles, with fees for those under 25; 18 and up for government employees and those in New York and Michigan.

  • Fox Rent A Car: Ages 19 and up are eligible to rent regularly, with fees for those under 25; 18 and up for government employees and those in New York and Michigan.

  • Hertz: Ages 20 and up are eligible to rent most vehicles, with fees for those under 25, with exemptions for some AAA members; 18 and up for government employees and those in New York and Michigan.

  • National:

    Ages 21 and up are eligible to rent most vehicles, with fees for those under 25; 18 and up for government employees and those in New York and Michigan.

Locally owned rental agencies also make their own policies, so don't forget to call around if the big rental corporations aren't serving your needs.

References

About the Author

As a freelance writer and small business owner with a decade of experience, Dan has contributed legal- and finance-oriented content to diverse sources including Chron, Fortune, Zacks.com, Motley Fool and MSN Money, among others.

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