Car Rental for Under 21′s

A commonly asked question concerns renting cars to ‘under age’ drivers. That generally means drivers under 21 but could be under 25 or 23 in some countries. As most countries allow young people to pass a test and drive at 17 or 18 years old, it would seem logical that it would also be easy to rent car and drive abroad at this age. Unfortunately thats not usually the case.

Contrary to popular belief though, it generally isn’t illegal to rent a car under the age of 21. The fact is that rental companies see young drivers as more of a risk and therefore often choose to apply a blanket ban on young drivers.

Don’t despair though. Its often not impossible to rent a car abroad, it will just be more difficult and will undoubtably cost more. I first rented a car in Spain when I was just 18 and had passed my test only 5 months before. The car was an old fiat panda rented from a small back street company but it served its purpose for myself and 4 friends crammed into it!

Some hints and tips –

  1. Though generally its always a good idea to book your rental car before your trip, this may not be possible for young drivers. Its likely you’ll have more chance with a ‘walk in’ booking, particularly at quiet times when the company may be more likely to take a risk on a young driver than have cars standing idle. This is especially true in holiday resorts where there are often multiple small companies competing with each other who may be desperate for some business.
  2. Try smaller companies rather than the big internationals. A small ‘one man band’ can make his own rules and isn’t tied to regulations set by head office. Most of the big companies seem to have an ‘over 21’ policy, though Hertz seem more flexible than the others at some locations and often have an ‘over 20’ policy.
  3. Look at specialist brokers who may be able to help search out a company who will rent you a car. The rental companies who rent to young drivers will change regularly but these brokers maintain contacts with the relevant companies so will save you making multiple enquiries yourself.(See list below)
  4. Go for the smallest, cheapest car available. Companies are more likely to take a gamble on a car which is worth less to them.
  5. Expect to pay more for insurance – you may have to take 3rd party insurance only. Check the small print carefully and make sure you have the minimum insurance required by law. Remember you’ll need a credit card to cover a deposit, but if using a small company they may want you to leave cash.
  6. Check out whether someone could rent the car for you eg your company, college or a parent, and name you as an under age driver.

These are companies who can help arrange rental for young drivers-

In Europe, I’ve found the AutoEurope broker site is often able to locate a rental company for young drivers in many countries.

This company say they can arrange vehicles for under 21s in USA, UK and most major European countries-

http://carrentalscout.com/under-21-car-rental

This company can arrange self drive for under 21s in South Africa-

http://www.driveafrica.co.za/car-hire-under-21

This company cover New Zealand-

http://www.nzrentalcarhire.com/under-21-rental-car-newzealand.html

These companies cover most US States

http://carrentalpilot.com/under-21-car-rental

http://www.e-zrentacar.com/

This company rent cars and campervans in Australia and specialise in renting to backpackers and have a minimum age of 18.

http://www.travellers-autobarn.com.au/campervan-rental-car-hire-australia

in May 2013 Hertz had a promotion aimed at students over 19 years of age, so obviously they do rent to under 21′s in some locations.

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28 comments


  1. soufian

    Hello,

    I am looking to rent a car in Girona (Spain) between the 11th of June and the 19th of June 2013. As i am 18 years old i can’t seem to find any company that will offer me a car. I had my license since the 20/09/12 and been driving since then. I just wanted to ask if there is anything that you can offer me or anything that you could suggest me.

    Kind Regards,

    Soufian

    • Driver Abroad

      Hi Soufian

      I searched on Car rental scout link above http://carrentalscout.com/under-21-car-rental and it brought a few options up for an age 18 driver. I didnt click right through and check all the booking conditions but suggest you make that your first stop. If the small print excludes under 18s you may need to chance it when you arrive and approach some small local companies.

      Good luck

      Matthew

  2. Andrey Miroshnik0v

    Dear Matthew,

    First of all, thanks for your site. I am sure it’s very usefull for a lot of people.

    I have the following situation. Me and my girlfriend are going to cyprus this summer and the problem is that I don’t have a licence, but my girlfriend does. She is 20 years old. I can’t find any car rental possibilities and I am really in dispair.

    If you could help us out I would be really glad.

    Kind Regards,
    Andrey

    • Driver Abroad

      Hi Andrey

      There are some sites which specialise in locating companies who will rent to an under 21 year old. I’d suggest contacting Car Rental scout via the link above first. However I have looked at a few companies and they say that the minimum age to rent in Malta is 21.If thats actually the law rather than company rules, it may nit be possible to rent at age 20. If Car Rental scout can’t help I’d suggest going on a Malta forum on a site such as Trip Advisor and asking if anyone knows a local company who may rent you a car. Failing that, you may need to wait till you’re on the Island and ask around when you’re there. Good luck!

      Matthew

  3. Shaun

    Hello,

    I’m desperately trying to find somewhere on the island of Menorca which will allow a 19 year old to hire a car or even be an additional driver on a rental. I have had no luck so was hoping you may be able to help.

    Many Thanks

    Shaun

    • Driver Abroad

      Hi Shaun
      As I’m sure you’ve found out, its not easy to locate a car rental online for under 21′s. I had a quick look on Car Rental Scout who have a page on Under 21′s and drew a blank. You could chance your arm when you arrive on the Island and try some smaller, local firms. They may be prepared to take a chance on a young driver if thye have cars available but check the insurance small print carefully. Another option is to go on a Menorca forum on Trip Advisor or similar and ask on there. This one may be a long shot but this firm are English owned and operate on Majorca. You could ask if they know anyone on Menorca who would rent to you. Could be worth a try?
      http://www.terryscarhire.com/

      Good luck anyway..Matthew

  4. Bob

    I was looking to rent a car from Sydney Australia. I am 50 and would like to have my son who is 20 as an addtional driver. Are there any companies that you can recommend?

  5. Holly Johnson

    Hi!
    I need a car for a week in Salzburg, Austria and there are 3 of us from the UK who are all 21 and under. Do you have any suggestions on cheap car hire there?
    Thanks very much!
    Holly

    • Driver Abroad

      Holly

      I don’t think finding a cheap car rental company will be the main consideration -if you’re all under 21 you may have to accept what you can get. I searched on the AutoEurope website (follow link above on page) and they were able to arrange rental for 20 year olds in Salzburg -wasn’t sure of your age or dates, but give them a go.

      Good luck!

      Matthew

  6. Sam Berling

    Hello Matthew!

    Thank you for this website. But I need some help. I’m an 18 year-old from the US, and my friend and I would like to rent a car in Santander, Spain for about 4 days, but I can’t seem to find anything. Is there anything you can recommend/find? We want to be able to do this later this week if possible, so anything you can find would be great. Thanks! :)

    • Driver Abroad

      Hi Sam

      It can certainly be a problem locating a rental car in Europe if you’re under 21. You basically have two choices – one is to search all the broker sites like Auto Europe, Argus etc plus all the big international companies and see if any of them will rent to you. I checked Auto Europe and they didnt have anything available, nor did Car Rental scout who often advertise under 21s rental. The other option is to wait till you’re in Spain then dig out the yellow pages and start calling local firms. At this time of year, if they have vehicles sat doing nothing, they may be willing to take a risk on a young driver – if you use a company like this, be sure to check the insurance details carefully.

      Sorry I couldnt be of more assistance, but option 2 may be your best bet.

      Good luck

      Matthew

  7. Scott

    Hi,

    Thanks for the info. I have been planning a 2 week holiday in Banff, Canada with 3 of my friends. We were looking at WickedCampers as they allow 19 year olds (we’re all 19) to hire their campers and it would be quite cheap. A camper would be good for us as we plan to stay at a campsite and travel during the day quite a bit. However i have read a lot of bad reviews about the company in Australia, but i cant find much information about them in Vancouver, unless they have only recently started there.

    Have you heard if they have improved or do you have any alternatives you could recommend?

    Thanks a lot,
    Scott

    • Driver Abroad

      No not heard anything Scott- suggest you try some forums such as Lonely Planet Thorn Tree or Trip Advisor for Canada, see if anyone has up to date info.

      Matthew

  8. Josh winch

    Hi

    I am looking to rent a car from the 21st June to the 1st July. I’d like to collect it from Los Angeles and then return it in San Diego. At this time i will be 19 and have had my UK license nearly 2 years. Is there any way that this will be possible?

    Thanks in advance

    Josh

    • Driver Abroad

      One of the brokers mentioned above who specialise in Under 21 rentals are your best bet Josh. Try someone like Car Rental pilot. Their site indicates that they can arrange rental for under 21s in California.

      Good luck!

      Matthew

  9. Louise

    Hi,

    I am looking to rent a car in Spain this summer, around the Murcia location. However I am only 20 and understand that restrictions apply, however I have had my driving licence for 2 years now. However, I am travelling with my boyfriend, who is 21 who does have a full licence, but he has only had it for a few months. He did have his provisional for a while. So he still has 2 years driving experience. What I was wondering is if the ’2 years driving experience required’ that some companies request is based on 2 years driving on a full licence, rather than a mixture of a provisional and full licence?

    Any help would be appreciated,
    Thanks.

    • Driver Abroad

      Hi Louise -yeah thats a strange one. You’re under 21 but have driven for longr than your boyfriend, however he’s a new driver but over the magic age of 21. As far as I know, most companies only stipulate that you have to be 21 with a full licence, I’m not sure how they’d know when you actually passed the test now that you have to re apply for a licence every 10 years. My licence doesn’t say when I passed my test. Therefore although you obviously have more experience that your boyfriend, I think they’ll rent him the car but not you. I suggest you book online before travelling and read the T+Cs carefully. If it doesnt say he has to have driven for x years on a full licence I think he’ll be fine.

      Matthew

  10. Amalie

    Hi
    My friend and I are going to Chicago this summer and we can’t find anywhere were they are retning cars to 18 years old and i was wondering if you could help us?
    Thank you!!

  11. Louise

    Louise again -

    The girl with the issue of being 20 with a licence fro 2 years, and a boyfriend of 22 with a licence of less than one year (Look above if you can’t recall!)

    I was wondering if you could suggest any companies to book with, as the main companies that I have looked at have all been quite unhelpful/unresponsive.
    They all stipulate that that years experience on his full licence must be met…. but he is just a few months short of the year come June time (when we want to go….)
    Any help would be so appreciated.

    Louise.

  12. Emma Hickson

    Hi there,
    I have only recently passed my test and am wondering if there are any restrictions or if new drivers are able to rent a car abroad? For example do you have to have been driving for a minimum time before able to rent?

    Thanks
    E x

    • Driver Abroad

      Not usually Emma – there are often age restrictions but I’ve never come across any restrictions on new drivers.

  13. Georgina Moore

    Hi,
    My friend and I are both 19 year old Australians and are looking to hire a car in the UK in August/September this year and are really struggling to find anything. Do you have any suggestions?
    Any help would be much appreciated.
    Thanks!

    • Driver Abroad

      It can be very difficult to rent a car under 21 in many countries Georgina. Your best bet is one of the brokers mentioned above such as car rental scout. Also some of the big companies rent to under 21s – see the Hertz student ad above. If all else fails you may need to try and rent from a smaller ‘non chain’ company once you arrive in UK. They may have special offers using older vehicles. Good luck and if you find someone who will rent you a car, let me know so I can add the details to the site.

      Matthew

  14. Georgina Moore

    Hi Matthew,
    Thanks for your reply. I have yet to find a real solution but have come across a few things that may be useful to other users.
    First of all I have tried that car rental scout but have received no reply. Also that Hertz promotion (above) is annoying as yes it says 19, but if you follow the link it goes straight to a site that says 23 plus… so it really is not helpful to anyone under 21. I have looked elsewhere on the Hertz site with no luck.
    One company in UK does hire to under 21s – Burton Car hire. However, I would not recommend anyone hire from them. The BBC did a quite damning article on them http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mg74/features/rogue-traders-burton-car-hire

  15. Georgina Moore

    Hi Matthew,
    Thanks for your reply. I have yet to find a real solution but have come across a few things that may be useful to other users.
    First of all I have tried that car rental scout but have received no reply. Also that Hertz promotion (above) is annoying as yes it says 19, but if you follow the link it goes straight to a site that says 23 plus… so it really is not helpful to anyone under 21. I have looked elsewhere on the Hertz site with no luck.
    One company in UK does hire to under 21s – Burton Car hire. However, I would not recommend anyone hire from them. The BBC did a quite damning article on them http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mg74/features/rogue-traders-burton-car-hire
    I then went to a UK directory online (Yell.com) and searched for car hire in Essex – as that is the area surrounding London. I then emailed all the smaller companies that came up. A lot were small family companies. However, most replies said their insurers would not cover them for anyone under 21, or even 25.
    Thus far no one has said they can hire to me. However, one or two companies suggested that if I were to arrange my own insurance they would be happy too hire to me. That is what I am researching now – exactly what type of insurance I need, and am trying to find a company that will insure me (once again given I am under 21). I will update if I come across any company that will, as this might be a really good way around the rental companies age restrictions.
    I hope this is helpful to others, and if you know anything about what insurance I need etc advice would be much appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Georgina.

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