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

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

by SharonKurheg

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 (excluding a spouse or domestic partner) will pay a daily fee;
Renter’s spouse or domestic partner who meets the same age and driver’s license requirements of the renter are authorized drivers at no additional charge. Any additional authorized drivers must appear at the time of rental and meet age and driver’s license requirements. An additional charge of $10 per day for each additional authorized driver will be added to the cost of the rental, unless other contractual conditions apply.

Avis
Only the main driver is covered to drive one of our rental vehicles but a maximum of 2 additional drivers can be added to your booking for $13 per day per additional driver in most U.S. states. 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
Their page about additional drivers is pretty lacking, frankly.

Enterprise
Any additional driver (excluding a spouse or domestic partner) will pay a daily fee;
Renter’s spouse or domestic partner who meet the same age and driver’s license requirements of the renter are authorized drivers at no additional charge. Any additional authorized drivers must appear at time of rental and meet age and driver’s license requirements. An additional charge of $10 per day for each additional authorized driver will be added to the cost of the rental, unless other contractual conditions apply.

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.
Furthermore, additional drivers are not available on cash rentals or debit card transactions.

Hertz
There is a per day charge for all additional drivers & you can have as many drivers as there are seats.

National
There is a per day charge for all additional drivers (except for spouses in specific states), This fee will vary and currently averages $12 a day. 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. The fee will also be waived for commercial (corporate) rentals when the renter’s business partner, employer or fellow associate, who has an assigned corporate contract with National and drives the car for business purposes and meet normal renter requirements, as well as rentals for/by disabled renters who cannot drive (one additional driver fee will be waived)

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.

Thrifty
Charges per day for all additional drivers.

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: Costco Travel rental car reservations include one free additional driver at U.S. locations with Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise. At Canada locations, reservations include one free additional driver with Alamo and Enterprise only.

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

USAA: Members get a free additional driver at participating locations in the U.S.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

14 comments

Christian February 26, 2019 - 4:32 pm

Super valuable information. Thanks.

Reply
Gene February 26, 2019 - 7:36 pm

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.

Reply
SharonKurheg February 26, 2019 - 7:38 pm

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? 😉

Reply
Gene February 26, 2019 - 8:14 pm

Easy, just don’t tell them there are other drivers.

Reply
SharonKurheg February 26, 2019 - 9:09 pm

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

Reply
David Shaheen February 3, 2020 - 3:58 pm

What about exemptions for mental health where the driver has mental health issues and needs someone to take over. I thought my wife was told that at one rental place.

Reply
SharonKurheg February 3, 2020 - 5:21 pm

It’s an interesting question and one that I don’t have the answer to (I did Google to see what I could find. I found nothing). I suspect the rpolicy would be different from car rental company to car rental company, so it would probably be best to ask whichever place one is renting from, preferably before they arrive at the rental desk.

Reply
martin henner March 7, 2020 - 7:04 pm

better check the benefits of Thrifty Blue Chip membership

Reply
SharonKurheg March 7, 2020 - 8:45 pm

I’ll do that. Thank-you.

Reply
jerry March 7, 2020 - 8:35 pm

I believe that Pennsylvania does not allow a fee for your spouse.

Reply
SharonKurheg March 7, 2020 - 8:45 pm

Thanks for the heads up. I’ll do some research and make the addition as needed

Reply
Scott March 8, 2020 - 3:19 pm

To get the AAA extra driver benefit, do you have to book the rental through AAA?

Reply
SharonKurheg March 8, 2020 - 3:21 pm

I’m not 100% sure, sorry. Probably something you could ask their rental car company, though 🙂

Reply
SO_CAL_RETAIL_SLUT March 8, 2020 - 4:39 pm

As far as the AAA discount with you DO NOT have to book with your local AAA club to have the additional driver fee waived. Any authorized travel agency and/or booking with Hertz direct.

The key here is that gou need to use the correct CDP discount for your club. In my case, The Automobile Club of Southern California, the CDP code is: 004. You can combine/stack most coupons with the AAA CDP number.

I book with Hertz direct almost all the time, and add my adult child at the counter without any extra fees/charges. Plus, she’s under 25 – no extra underage driver fees either!

SO_CAL_RETAIL_SLUT

Reply

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