Short Answer — You can’t rent a car for someone else. However, you can add an additional driver to your rental agreement, and either you or the additional driver can drive or drop off the car.
Can I Rent a Car for Someone Else?
You can’t rent a car for someone else, and there is no straightforward way to pay for someone else’s car rental.
This is because one of the requirements to rent a car that most car rental companies enforce is the renter must show up, in person, to sign the rental agreement and provide a form of payment in their own name — typically a credit card, although there are some car rental companies that let you pay with cash.
The rental company probably won’t honor the reservation if you make a reservation online with your name and credit card but send another person to the rental company to sign the agreement and drive off in the rental car.
But there are other ways that you can involve other people in your car rental. Most car companies allow you to add additional drivers (also called authorized drivers) to the rental contract. Additional drivers must generally meet the same requirements as the renter and must show up in person to sign the rental contract.
Specifics vary by company, and some states require spouses to be automatically included as additional drivers. California, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin state law requires that spouses be included as additional drivers, so there is no extra fee associated with spouses as additional drivers in these states. However, the spouse must have a valid driver’s license and meet the rental company’s minimum age requirement.
Some states also regulate the additional driver fee that rental companies can charge. California does not permit any fees for any additional drivers, even those that are not included automatically and must be added to the rental agreement. The additional driver fee in New York is capped by law at $3 per day, per driver. Nevada law limited the additional driver fee to $10 per driver, per day, in 2007, but has been adjusting that price for inflation since 2008.
What Happens If an Additional Driver Gets in an Accident?
While you should always double-check with your specific rental company in your location, the general rule is that insurance treats accidents the same regardless of whether the renter or an additional driver was driving at the time of the accident.
If you chose to use the insurance provided by the rental company, it does not make a difference whether an additional driver was driving at the time of the accident. All of the companies we called told us there is no difference between the renter and an additional driver for insurance purposes.
However, if you are using your own outside car insurance to cover a rental, you should check with your insurance company. They may not treat the renter and additional drivers the same in the case of rental car accidents.
If Someone Else Pays for a Rental Car, Can I Drive It?
Yes, you can drive a car someone else rented, provided you are added to the rental agreement as an additional driver. There may be an additional fee associated with adding you on as an additional driver. Often, rental companies ask additional drivers to show a credit card in their own name when being added to the rental agreement. This is done to verify their identity.
If Someone Else Rents a Car, Can I Return It for Them?
Yes, authorized drivers are allowed to return the rental car, even if the primary renter is not present.
The following is a survey of additional driver requirements and fees for major car rental companies in the US.:
Note: We called Alamo customer service to confirm this information. Make sure to check with the location you will rent from, as the general information on their website is not always consistent with specific locations.
- Adding an additional driver: Additional drivers must meet the same renter requirements as the renter. Additional drivers may be added to the rental contract only at a rental location, and may be added or removed after the the car has been rented. When adding an additional driver, both the renter and the additional driver must be present at the Alamo location.
- Additional driver fees: There is a per day fee of about $12 for each additional driver, except where regulated by state law.
- Adding an additional driver: To add an additional driver, the renter and additional driver must appear at an Avis location to sign the agreement. You may add up to two additional drivers, and they must be 25 or older and have a valid driver’s license. The following individuals may drive the car with the renter’s prior permission and are exempt from additional driver fees: (1) renter’s employer (while on company business), (2) renter’s fellow employee (while on company business), (3) renter’s spouse or life partner, (4) disabled renters who have completed the non-licensed renter form.
- Additional driver fees: The additional driver fee is $13 per day per additional driver, with a maximum charge of $65 per rental per driver in all states except those in which law regulates this fee. In Nevada, it is $11 per day.
Note: You can find location specific additional driver policies by searching for and choosing a Budget location, and then scrolling to the bottom of the page and choosing “additional driver policy” under terms and conditions.
- Adding an additional driver: To add an additional driver, both the renter and the additional driver must be present to sign the rental agreement. Additional drivers must show a valid driver’s license and be at least 25 years old. Two additional drivers may be added onto a rental agreement.
- Additional driver fees: The fee for each additional driver is $13 per day, with a maximum charge of $65 per rental, except where regulated by state law. In Nevada, the fee is $10 per day, with a maximum of $65 per rental. Spouses and domestic partners are exempt from the fee, but must meet the regular requirements for adding additional drivers.
Note: While most of the information about Enterprise’s additional driver policy can be found online, we confirmed the rest by calling corporate customer service.
- Adding an additional driver: You can add an additional driver at any time during the rental. To qualify as an additional driver, you must (1) meet the same renter requirements as the primary renter, (2) appear at the rental counter with the primary renter, (3) present a valid driver’s license, (4) present a major credit card in their name at the time of rental, or meet the location’s cash qualifications requirements, and (5) be added at the rental location. The limit on how many additional drivers you can add varies regionally, so check with your local Enterprise.
- Additional driver fees: The additional driver fee averages $12, but it varies regionally. Underage driver fees may apply to additional drivers ages 21-24.
Note: We called Hertz, and they informed us that there are additional driver fees for spouses, even in some states where law requires that spouses be authorized drivers automatically, without fees.
- Adding additional drivers: To add an additional driver, the renter and additional driver must go to a Hertz location to sign the additional authorized operator agreement. The additional driver must present a valid driver’s license and a credit card in their own name, and they must be at least 20 years old and meet any applicable credit and driver qualifications. You can add up to four additional drivers per rental.
- Additional driver fees: At most locations, there is a per day fee for each additional driver that starts out at $13.50 and maxes out at $189 per driver, per rental. In Nevada, the fee is $12.22 per day. There are underage fees for additional drivers who are 20-24 years old. AAA members may be exempt from additional driver fees at some locations, so if you are an AAA member, be sure to inquire about possible discounts. Members of Hertz’s Gold Plus Rewards program are exempt from additional driver fees when the additional driver is a spouse.
- Adding additional drivers: To add an additional driver, the additional driver must (1) meet all renter requirements, which include presenting a credit card in their own name and being at least 21 years old, (2) appear at the rental counter with the primary renter, (3) present a valid driver’s license, and (4) sign the rental agreement.
- Additional driver fees: The additional driver fee averages $12 per day, but varies by location. If the additional driver is 21-24, expect to pay an underage driver fee.