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What Are The Requirements to Get a Rental Car?

Renting a vehicle always starts with understanding what requirements you must meet to get a car. However, criteria may vary depending on the rental service. Therefore, before making a reservation, we recommend you read a certain company's policies to determine its specific requirements. Below are just a few basic ones that are more likely to be used by most US rental car agencies.

What Common Requirements Should I Meet to Rent a Car?

Let's start with the basics. If you want to rent a car, you typically need to have a valid driver's license and reach the age of 25. At the same time, many companies also accept drivers who are between 21 and 24. However, they typically charge underage fees for each day of the rental period. These fees may be between $20 and $30.

Additionally, renters who are between the ages of 21-24 may not be allowed to access certain types of vehicles. For example, you may not be permitted to rent luxury cars, mini vans, 12-passenger vans, specialty vehicles, full-size SUVs, or premium SUVs. Also, borrowers who are under the age of 25 are usually not allowed to use a debit card for a car rental deposit.

However, age requirements also depend on the state. For example, in Michigan and New York, the legal age for rental is 18, provided that you have a valid driver's license and credit card and are ready to pay an extra per-day underage fee. Keep in mind that the fee for those who are 18-21 years old may be even higher than those applied for drivers from 21 to 24.

Most car rental agencies also require a driver to provide a refundable car rental deposit. This is typically a fixed amount that is charged to cover potential damages that may occur within the rent time. Car rental deposits usually are usually around $200, but each company may set its amount. Also, the cost may be higher for some luxurious vehicles. Some rental services may also set an amount of a deposit in a percentage of the whole rental cost.

Also, keep in mind that the company may check your driving history, so it's better not to have any unsatisfactory driving records in it. If you bring a secondary driver, they should also meet the requirements and provide the needed documents.

What Documents Do I Need to Provide to Rent a Car?

Just like with eligibility requirements, there's no unified document set. Below are some basic documents that you may be asked to provide to rent a car:

  • A driver's license;
  • A valid ID with a photo;
  • A credit card (drivers over the age of 25 can sometimes provide a debit card);
  • A current car insurance card (even if it's not required by the company, it's required by law, so we highly recommend you not to neglect this rule)
  • Recent utility or cell phone bills or their copies (may be required for cash rent to verify your current address).

Also, keep in mind that a rental company may require a driver to undergo a credit check through major credit reporting bureaus. Such a check can drop your credit score by a few points.

Will a Rental Company Check My Driving Record?

There's no common rule for this. A driving record check is an optional procedure. However, most huge rental companies contact the issuing Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in order to perform a driver's license verification. This check may be made for both primary and additional drivers. Below are some factors that may result in a rental denial if they reveal in your driving history:

  • Providing invalid, suspended, or revoked licenses;
  • At least one conviction for reckless driving within the last 48 months;
  • One DUI, DWI, or DWAI conviction within 48 months;
  • Failure to report an accident or leaving the scene of an accident within 36 months;
  • Possession of a stolen vehicle or use of a vehicle in a crime;
  • Expired driver's license
  • Three or more convictions for moving violations within 24 months (some companies may exclude seatbelt violations);
  • Two or more accidents within 36 months, and more.

Is It Possible to Rent a Car If I Have Traffic Infractions?

If you have a bad driving record, it doesn't necessarily mean that you will be denied a rental. Many companies don't check your driving history at all. However, some of them make a deep screening in order to protect themselves from bad drivers.

In most cases, you will be denied if you have a recent DUI or an interlock system on your vehicle. If you have some bad records in your driving history, it's important to choose a company that doesn't perform deep checks. Here are a few of them:

  • Enterprise
  • Alamo
  • National
  • Hertz
  • Dollar
  • Thrifty

The only rental car company that always does an in-depth scan of your driving record is Avis Budget Group.

Please, keep in mind that a driver is also responsible for paying off all the traffic fines and related fees they get in a rental car. If you don't pay your tickets and fines in time, the company may put you on a blacklist called the "Do Not Rent List." This way, you may be denied a rental by all the car rental companies, even if you have a good driving history.