The true minimum age to rent a car is 21 in most of the US and Canada, but young drivers are restricted to a few car categories and must pay an additional fee.
How old do you have to be to rent a car?
The common wisdom about the minimum age to rent a car in the US that you must be at least 25 years old. Car rental companies want to reduce their liabilities, and the consensus is that older drivers are safer and less prone to accidents. If you’re age 25 or over, and you’ve had a valid license for over two years, you can comfortably rent a car from any rental car company and rent in any of the car categories.
However, the true minimum age to rent a car nationally in the US and Canada is actually 21. With that said, most providers will charge a “young renter fee” or “young driver surcharge” if you’re between the ages of 21 and 24, which varies based on the rental location. The average cost you can expect is around $20 per day. Young renters are also restricted to fewer car categories like small and medium-sized cars and are not permitted to rent luxury cars or larger vehicles like minivans and SUVs. This is true of Avis and Thrifty, for example.
There are exceptions to the 21-year-old minimum in Michigan and New York state, where the minimum age is only 18 years old, but renters between 18 and 20 are expected to pay a higher fee. The average cost you can expect is over $40 per day. Rental agreements with young renters are more likely to require inclusive insurance, rather than a basic rate or insurance that’s bundled with some credit cards. US government employees on orders can also rent a car at 18 years old by showing their official orders. The requirement of having a valid license for at least two years still applies to drivers younger than 25, so keep that in mind when deciding to rent a car.
There is no maximum age restriction for seniors in the US or Canada, so older drivers don’t have to worry. However, an upper age limit is more common abroad. Some countries impose a limit between 75 and 80, so renters over the age of 70 should check with the rental agency before booking.
As with most car rental policies, the exact terms and conditions vary widely between providers both domestically and internationally. For example, there are different age requirements across many countries in Europe, where the minimum ages for renting in France, Greece, and Switzerland are 18, 21, and 19, respectively. You should always check for these differences if you’re renting abroad.
This post is part of our Car Rental Guide. Thinking about renting a car but have questions? We get it. Find the answers on our comprehensive guide.