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Easier, cheaper car rentals for under-21s

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  July 25, 2011 12:28 PM

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Under 21 and a traveler? Your life just got a little easier.

Car rental agencies favor customers 25 and older, charging much higher rates to those who are younger. And if you're younger that 21, for the most part you can just forget it.

Fox Rent A Car, a discounter with shops at a dozen US airports, mostly in the West (including San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Seattle) has announced that it will rent to drivers as young as 20. And, while Fox, like its competitors, does levy a surcharge for younger drivers, its fee is significantly lower than most.

The big guys like Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Thrifty generally require drivers to be at least 21 to rent, according to the Budget Travel blog. These companies make some exceptions under special circumstances -- like for on-duty military personnel, who can usually qualify to rent at age 18, and in a couple of states like New York and Michigan, where local law requires that drivers as young as 18 be allowed to rent. One notable exception is Hertz, which regularly rents to drivers as young as 20.

The vast majority of those companies who rent to drivers under-25 sticks them with surcharges of as much as $52 per day, with youngest drivers getting hit hardest. Hertz typically levies a daily charge of $15-$25, but currently is offering a deal through Sept. 30 in which they will waive that fee for those who use the promotion code 144314 when reserving their cars. Fox, on the other hand, charges all younger renters a flat $14 per day surcharge and combines it with rental fees that tend to be lower than the major rental companies. Worth checking out.


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