Why Do Rental Car Companies Charge For Extra Drivers? And Do You Always Have To Pay It?

You’ve gotten a sweet deal on a rental car (hopefully because you’ve read this article). You’ve figured out how much your toll charges are going to be, and you’re prepared because you know what you need to do about the insurance. You even know how to pay for your rental car by using your debit card. You get to the car rental desk and BOOM, you’re stuck with a daily fee so your spouse or friend can be an extra driver.

What’s up with that? And moreso, is there any way to avoid it? Funny you should ask…

First, why do they do it?

Why? For the same reason that luxury hotels charge for WiFi and cheap hotels don’t, and that hotels charge resort fees.

Because they can.

It’s just another way to eke a few (or more than a few) more dollars out of us.


Having to pay for another driver (or more than one driver) is a fee that’s sometimes overlooked when you’re planning the cost of a rental. It’s a hard cost to factor in though, since the rules change, not only from car rental company to car rental company, but even from state to state.

Here are the policies for additional drivers for the major car rental companies:

Alamo
Any additional driver (including a spouse or domestic partner) will pay a daily fee; this fee will vary and averages $12 a day.

Avis
Only the main driver is covered to drive one of our rental vehicles but any number of additional drivers can be added to your booking. The following individuals, if 25 years of age or older and in possession of a valid driver’s license, may drive the car with the renter’s prior permission and are exempt from Additional Driver fees: Renter’s employer (while on company business); Renter’s fellow employee (while on company business); Renter’s spouse or life partner; Disabled renters who have completed the non-licensed renter form

Budget
The fee for each additional driver is $13 per day with a maximum charge of $65 per rental. The following are exempt from the fee but must meet all other driver requirements: the renter’s employer or fellow employee when on company business and renting under a corporate account; the renter’s spouse or domestic partner; the companion driver of a renter with a disability who has completed the non-licensed renter form; for insurance replacement rentals, company employees or family members who are designated on the insurance policy.

Dollar
Charges per day for all additional drivers (including spouses).

Enterprise
This fee varies by region, but typically averages $12.00 per day per additional driver and applies to any additional driver except the following: There is no additional driver fee in the US or Canada for authorized drivers. Authorized drivers would be a spouse or domestic partner (either same or opposite sex), or for one surrogate driver for a mobility impaired renter who meets the location’s rental requirements.

Fox
Charges for additional drivers vary from city to city. There is no charge:
(1) at California locations
(2) for the renter’s spouse, same-sex spouse, or domestic partner, or for the companion driver of a renter with a disability who cannot operate the vehicle.

Hertz
There is a per day charge for all additional drivers, but if you are a member of Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, the fee is waived for a spouse or domestic partner.

National
There is a per day charge for all additional drivers, but if you are a member of National’s Emerald Club (which is free to join), the fee is waived for a spouse, domestic partner, or immediate family member who has the same address on their driver’s license as the Emerald Club member.

Silvercar
Silvercar doesn’t charge for any additional driver who meets rental requirements. They have a very customer-friendly policy, which is one of the reasons we love Silvercar (even though we never get to use them).

Sixt
There is a charge per day for all additional drivers (including spouses).

Thrifty
Charges per day for all additional drivers (including spouses).

Here are the states that have laws on the books that specify charges for additional drivers:

California: According to the law, there are no additional driver fees in California, and it doesn’t matter if the additional driver is a spouse or someone unrelated to you.

Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin: They all allow the main driver’s spouse to be an automatic authorized additional driver without a fee.

New York: According to NY State law, the additional driver fee is capped at $3 per day.

Nevada: Also has a fee cap for additional drivers, but it’s adjusted each year based on inflation.

Finally, if you have specific memberships, you may not have to pay for additional driver(s):

AAA: Members get a free additional driver at Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty (primary and additional drivers most both/all have AAA membership, which can include family membership for spouses and domestic partners of AAA members).

AARP: Members get a free additional driver at Budget.

Costco: For Alamo and Enterprise, the additional driver fee is waived for rental in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands and Spain. For Avis and Budget, the fee is waived for rentals in the U.S.

BJ’s: Members get a free additional driver at Alamo.

USAA: Members get a free additional driver at Hertz, Avis, and Budget.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

 

 

5 thoughts on “Why Do Rental Car Companies Charge For Extra Drivers? And Do You Always Have To Pay It?”

  1. You didn’t answer the important question — what happens if you don’t pay the fee? I’ve never understood when there would be consequences, and I would never pay this ripoff fee.

    1. Hmmm. TBH, I don’t know how you couldn’t pay the fee, since it would be a part of your bill, same as the taxes. You could ask/tell them to take it off and they could say no and then what? 😉

      1. Yeah but if you get into an accident and it’s the non-discloses driver, you’re talking about a whole lot of trouble.

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