Finding a Cheap Rental Car at Under 25 years old (or anyone!)

I’ve recently had several occasions to acquire a rental car and have been amazed at the cheap prices I’ve been able to get with a few small tricks, despite being under 25 years old. Most under-25 folks pay $20-30/day extra as an underage surcharge.

Here’s a step by step to get an awesome rate:

  1. Sign up for USAA. Anyone is eligible and it’s free.
  2. If you’re under 25, sign up for Hertz #1 Gold Club for free at http://hertz.com/goldfamily to get the Gold Family CDP (which gives some discounts (generally not as good as USAA, but may be better at times) and waives the under 25 fee) otherwise sign up at the normal site.
  3. Go to the USAA Rental Car discounts page which offers discounts of 20-30% off Hertz, Avis, and Budget car rentals plus waiving of underage fees for 18+ (Hertz) and 21+ (Avis, Budget). The Avis discount code (AWD) is A177232, the Budget discount code (BCD) is Y126501, and the Hertz discount code (CDP) is 77694. (DO NOT USE THESE CODES unless you first sign up for USAA as noted above. Otherwise there is a very real possibility of being denied the rate you reserved and being charged the full underage driver fee. Since signing up for USAA is free, there is no reason not to.)
  4. Click through to the Avis and Budget sites and search for your locations/dates making sure the above discount codes pop in.
  5. Go to AutoSlash.com and search for prices with your locations/dates and make sure to enter your Hertz #1 Club number and your CDP of 77694.
  6. Book through AutoSlash.com if Hertz has the best price or book with Avis or Budget directly if they have the best price, but be sure after booking with Avis or Budget to go back to AutoSlash.com to track your reservation.

(One thing to keep in mind with Hertz is that they have a meaningful “frequent renter” program that gives you a free rental day for every $500 spent, while Avis and Budget do not (as far as I’ve been able to discover). If you figure conservatively at $30 for the free rental day, that’s a 6% rebate, though if you use that free rental day at an expensive NYC location it’s more like $90/day. In any case, if Hertz is less than 6% more it may make sense to go with them instead. I’m just discovering frequent renter programs, so feel free to chime in with additional considerations.)

The amazing thing about AutoSlash is they track your rental and every day check to see if a better price has come along or a new coupon has been issued that applies to your rental or if another rental company offers a lower price. If they find a better deal (with the same company) they automatically rebook you or (with a different rental company) email asking if you want to switch.

Let me give you my most recent example. I need to pick up a car from Washington National/Reagan and drop it off at Washington Dulles for a two day rental. The best price that popped up on Kayak.com (an excellent comparison shopping engine) was $85 plus any underage rental fees which would be an additional $20-30/day, bringing the total to $125 for an economy car. Using USAA discount codes, I found a deal for an full-size car (a Chevy Impala with ~30 MPG) for $75.95. (It was about $10 more for a full-size instead of an economy car.) The rental is for a few days from now and just today I received an email from AutoSlash that they had found a coupon that dropped to price to $53.51 and that they had automatically rebooked it for a savings of $22.44! (That’s pretty amazing since the best price I’m finding searching on AutoSlash right now is $66.17 for a compact.) To summarize, following the steps in my post above saved (conservatively) about $75 for a 2-day rental. To put it another way, I would have paid 2.5 times as much for my rental car if I had not followed the above steps.

Another example is a two day Hertz rental for $41.52 at Harrisburg that I booked using the above steps. The best price on Kayak was also $41, but would have an extra $40+ in underage fees. Plus there’s still a chance AutoSlash will find a coupon or a better price between now and July.

So next time you’re interested in a rental car, do the above. I get no commissions and have no interest in you following the above steps, except seeing you save money. =)

Bonus Tip: It makes it easier for you if you add your USAA Hertz CDP to your Hertz #1 Club account by going to My Account–>Membership Details (Edit)–>Add another CDP.

  • mogwash

    Seriously awesome. Thanks for the info!

  • Chelseawatkins

    This is AMAZING!!! Thanks so much! I’ve been looking around the internet for months nowu00a0trying to find ways around those charges and now all my problems are solved! :) I dou00a0have a question though – the price I received after searching on Hertz through USAA is $50 LESS than searching Hertz through autoslash.com (and entering my Hertz member#+CDP code). Why is that? Also, all websites still say there will be an underage surcharge at the time of rental… will the people at the desk know not to charge you the additional fees just because you’re an USAA member?

  • Chelseawatkins

    Nevermind! Scratch that last post :) looks like I got a little ahead of myself on the hertz website (through USAA) and wasnt factoring in the localu00a0taxes – which arent applied until the final step before confirmation.

  • Anonymous

    @Chelsea:disqus: That’s strange that AutoSlash gave higher prices than Hertz. What are your dates and airports/locations and let me take a look. (I’ll also try to get ahold of AutoSlash and see what they say; they seem to be a small company very open to feedback and questions.)nnAs for the underage fee waiver, as long as your Hertz Gold # and your USAA CDP are in the reservation, there will be no underage fees. When I picked up my car at Washington National, the Hertz rep instantly knew the details of the USAA rate and that it included additional free drivers (if they’re USAA members) and had no underage fee. YMMV (your mileage may vary) whether you get as knowledgeable Hertz reps, but in any case as long as you know where to go online to show the Hertz reps the details of the USAA CDP, you will be able to insist that they don’t charge the underage fees if you do run into trouble.

  • Anonymous

    u00a0@502dc1c1455481a6dc45182b2f6796b4:disqusu00a0Ok, great! :-D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565326123 James Webb

    this is awesome, you just saved me over $200! thank you!!!

  • http://mennodeals.com/2011/07/hot-deals-of-the-day/ HOT! Deals of the Day | MennoDeals

    [...] HOT! $20 for $40 gift certificate to Avis! Stack with USAA discounts/waiver of underage fee for cheap rentals and you have a killer deal! I just finished a two day rental at Harrisburg for $10/day including [...]

  • Briedis Vilks

    Do you have any idea what can I write in USSA.com registration process in the field of Social Number or Tax ID Number if I am not US citizen and I am living in Europe? Thanks

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  • Knoxvillejohnny

    I’m interested too.. How did you solve it?

  • Briedis Vilks

    I did not. I beleive you have to have investment in US more than 10k in any property or assets. This is wild guess.

  • Pred

    What do I need to show for a prove of USAA member? I applied online and haven’t got any card.

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  • YUP

    I use avis awd z652297 gives me great rates and waives the underage fee

  • User

    Do we need present au00a0militaryu00a0service card at the time of the rental?nnOne of my friend went andu00a0inquiredu00a0with Enterprise, they said that we need to present the miltary service card to get this deal..nnWhat about Avis, Budget u00a0and hertz? Any Idea? Replies are much appreciated. !

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  • Eric

    WOW, i just booked a full size car from budget for 240 bucks in SFO for 11 Days! waiving the underage fee with USAA worked out perfect! and they have another coupon for one day free when renting more than 7 days and pay now option.nAWESOME! I just saved like 200 bucks – THANK U SO MUCH!

  • Amit_sharma

    This is so good. Saved me a lot! thanks

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, there is no membership card to show. However, if the rental company asks for a USAA membership card, tell them:n1. USAA doesn’t have themu00a0n2. Signing up for USAA is freen3. If they still want proof, they need to give you a computer with internet access and you can login to your USAA account to show them that you have membershipnnAlternatively, you could print the confirmation email (Subject: Welcome to USAA) you received when you signed up or you could print the page from the USAA website by clicking “My Profile”>”Update Personal Information” which is:u00a0https://www.usaa.com/inet/ent_personalinfo/CustProfSummarynnI’ve used the USAA rates many, many times and never been asked for proof of membership.nnThe only time I had any stress is a Budget agent not believing me that the USAA rate allows free extra drivers if the extra drivers are USAA members. However, she disbelieved me but didn’t make a move to stop me–she just said, if you get into an accident, you’ll be in trouble. Obviously she was totally wrong. To combat that, I’ve started printing out the page that shows the table of Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, and Budget terms on the USAA website (u00a0https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/rental_cars_mainu00a0) to show to reps in case they have questions.

  • Anonymous

    Nope. It is not necessary to present a military service card. This is for all USAA members, not just military personnel. USAA specifically asks when you’re signing up if you’re a military member because SOME of USAA’s deals are only for military members. It then only shows you the offers that you’re eligible for. I’m not a member of the military and it shows me the Hertz, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise deals on the USAA website which means that all USAA members are eligible. I’d suggest printing out the three following documents to take with you if you’re afraid you might have trouble utilizing this rate:n1. Your “Welcome to USAA” emailn2.u00a0https://www.usaa.com/inet/ent_personalinfo/CustProfSummaryn3.u00a0https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/rental_cars_main

  • Anonymous

    Which code is that for? There are many great codes out there which you’re really not supposed to use unless you’re a member and the possibility exists of being denied and charged a higher rate unless you’re legitimately eligible to use that code. If you want to roll the dice, you’ll probably be successful and I’m not here to stop you. However, fair warning.nnThat’s the great thing about the USAA code: 0 risk. 100% legit and great rates and benefits to boot!

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    u00a0THANK YOU SO MUCH for the tutorial!!!u00a0 If you would set up a bitcoin address I would donate some coffee money ;-)

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    That’s very generous of you! Here you go:u00a018nUivJquYdWRxz1HEEi3kVzFH9ZTo5eZJ

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  • Alex Box

    YES! I wish I knew this so much sooner! I got a little confused when it asked if I am a member of the armed services but you can still say no and get the benefits. Thank you SOOO much!

  • CaliBound

    What exactly is USAA? I’m justu00a0leeryu00a0about signing up for something I’m not sure of.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a military support organization. However, you don’t need to be related to the military at all to join.

  • Lynn

    u00a0Hi, i wonder if they asked for anything to prove ur USAA membership when you rented the car. such as the USAA debit card or sth.

  • troll
  • Fdgdgf666

    i may be testing this out =) sounds promising

  • POM

    Hi!nYour tip seems great but I have a problem. I registered for USAA got a number, a confirmation email etc. I can log on their website but when I called them to know how to get the membership card they said I would never get one because I am not linked to the military and that I couldn’t get the discounts for rental cars. But I found an amazing deal with USAA and Enterprise. Do you think that they will rent me the car with my confirmation email from USAA where my name and member number are printed or is it too risky?nnThanks for your help!

  • Anonymous

    You don’t need a membership card to use the discount. Please scroll through the comments, I’ve thoroughly covered that in the comment section.nnnThe person you spoke with on the phone was misinformed to tell you that you need to be a member of the military to get the discount. That is not true. There are certain products that USAA restricts to members of the military, including some of their insurance plans. However, the website is very clear that rental car discounts are not one of the benefits that are exclusive to members of the military.

  • POM

    Thank you for your quick reply.nI had looked at the comments and answers but I just wanted to make sure once again because people at USAA and car rental companies always provide different answers!!nnHope I won’t have trouble with enterprise as I can save almost $1000 on a 2-week convertible rental compared to other companies with the underage fee!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sean-Do/624845855 Sean Do

    Hi I’m looking at slash website right now but “hertz” is only no longer an option. I’m sorry if I’m asking a stupid question but is there another way around this? Also I have been trying to search for rentals through slash for LAX but I am only coming up with results for “payless”. Do you have any suggestions on how to get better results? I’ve tried changing the time of pickup but to no avail. Thank you in advance

  • M

    I tried to sign up for USAA and entered in my correct phone number however, I keep getting this error;nnnDomestic: 8888888888By providing your phone number to USAA, you are giving permission to contact you at that number.Invalid area code. The area code entered is not valid for North America. Please check the number and re-enter it. (25:1201106)nDoes anyone know why this is happening? My phone number is a Canadian number, so I wonder if the membership is only valid for those in the States.

  • JoeShmo

    This worked for me. I rented two cars with Budget last week using this deal. My two experiences were a bit different.nThe first rental was at a small franchise location. Since this was my first time trying this I mentioned that the under 25 fee should be waived (wasn’t sure if it was automatic, turns out it was). The gentleman running the placed asked why and I explained I had USAA. He then asked for a membership card and I showed him the welcome e-mail which satisfied him and he put it through.nThe second rental was at a large airport location. This time (having seen the computer took the underage fee off automatically) I didn’t mention anything and just signed the paperwork and was on my way.

  • Holly

    I keep having this problem, did you manage to find a solution?

  • CN

    I dont know how you guys got a membership, but I called and you have to have been in the military, spouse in the military or parent in the military who had USAA auto insurance to qualify for any rental discount

  • Anonymous

    Don’t call. Just sign up online. They don’t know what they’re talking about when you called in or you asked the wrong question.

  • Anonymous

    Just skip AutoSlash. Book directly with Hertz. AutoSlash isn’t as good as it used to be. You can add your reservation to AutoSlash after you make it on Hertz.com

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  • http://www.frequentflyeruniversity.com/ Frequent Flyer University

    Here is a similar post (updated in 10/2012) on how to avoid under 25 rental car fees. Just used it in LA and Seattle and it saved me a ton. Hope it helps! nnnhttp://frequentflyeruniversity.com/blog/2012/11/6/how-to-avoid-under-age-driver-fees-on-car-rentals.html

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, yeah, Parag. Nice self-promotion there. ;-) nnI’m HansGolden, btw, the blog owner here.

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  • Naomi

    HinI’ve got a question. I have booked a car in budget before I saw this brilliant info, now there’s no place to enter code again. Is it possible that I present the proof of USAA to the stuff when I pick up the car and get the underage fee waived at the counter?

  • Anonymous

    No, the USAA membership does not waive any underage fees, it only waives the fee if your rental is the USAA rate. So you’ll need to make a new booking using the USAA code to be eligible.

  • Teresa G

    I have a few questions if anyone can answer them!? I need to book a car from Arkansas to NY.. Does Hertz offer truly unlimited miles? And also, with USAA, do I need to be part of the insurance programs to qualify?

  • Tom

    You just saved me about $400. You’re awesome.nTHANK YOU!

  • Emily Helling

    I have registered for both usaa and hertz gold family. I went through usaas site to try to book a rental to Miami and the prices were much higher than I got on Hotwire for example. Could I book a hertz rental car through Hotwire and have them still waive tags fee with being a usaa member?

  • Anonymous

    No.

  • Anonymous

    It will say on the cost breakdown whether you have unlimited miles on the one-way rental or not.

  • TT

    Will there be any future dilemmas I may encounter once I join USAA? Because they ask for my SSN…

  • Kevin

    Thank you for posting this awesome information!!

  • Emily

    I am using a USAA discount code to book a car rental cross country, starting in NY where it is legal to rent at age 18, and ending at LAX. I have confirmed my reservation already and it has saved me a couple hundred dollars. Seeing that this is an old thread, is this still acceptable?

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