Whether you book a vehicle online, over the phone, or in person, there are several items you’ll need to bring with you to the checkout counter before you can drive away with your rented vehicle. In addition to your driver’s license, you’ll typically need proof of insurance and a credit card in your name — but not always. In this article, we discuss in-depth the different requirements to rent a car under different situations with different major companies.

And because nearly everyone likes to be the exception to the rule, we also consider if any of these rules can be broken.

In This Article:

  • Meeting Minimum Requirements to Rent a Car

  • Purchasing Rental Car Insurance

  • Signing the Rental Agreement

  • Car Rental Requirements for 17 Major Car Rental Companies

Meeting Minimum Requirements to Rent a Car

Though different agencies may have different rules, most companies enforce the same minimum requirements. Here is what you typically need to rent a car:

A valid driver’s license. Virtually every rental agency will require a government-issued driver’s license with your photograph. The license must not expire for the duration of the rental period. If you are visiting from another country, a valid license from your home country should suffice.

Learn more about driver’s license requirements for renting a car here.

A credit card in your own name. Most car rental agencies will require a security deposit paid with a credit card in your own name. Select companies permit debit and select companies are okay with cash deposits, but may charge a fee and require additional documentation.

No, a credit card is not necessary to rent a car. Though because a debit card is linked to a bank account and thus has limited funds, a car company will charge a deposit. They know they may not be able to get the funds from your account should something happen.

See the deposit amounts of the major rental companies here.

Proof of insurance. Before renting a car, check with your current auto insurance to find out if your policy covers rental cars. With many insurance plans, the coverage and deductibles you have on your own car will extend to a rental vehicle, as long as you’re using it for personal and not business use. You should also check your credit card benefits, as many credit card companies offer varying levels of rental car insurance if you pay for your rental with your card. Be prepared to show proof of insurance when picking up the vehicle. If you don’t have existing protection, you will likely need to purchase rental car insurance.

No, you don’t need to buy insurance when you rent a car. And most people have insurance without having to go through the rental company.

Minimum age. Many major agencies require customers to be at least 25 to rent a car. (Note: if you are renting a car in Michigan or New York state, you may rent a car from any company at age 18.) In addition, there are several major agencies that rent cars to drivers as young as 21, and even 18.

But can you rent a car for someone who’s younger than the official age requirement as long as you are the primary driver? No. There are no exceptions to this rule. All additional drivers must be minimum age requirements as well.

Learn more about age requirements for renting a vehicle under 25 here.

In-person pickup. In most cases, you must visit the agency in person to pick up your vehicle. If you made a reservation online, your credit card information must match your driver’s license, so you typically can’t have another driver pick the vehicle up in your stead. Though if you’d like many car rental companies will pick you up and drop you off for free.

Learn more about renting a car for someone else here.

Purchasing Rental Car Insurance

If you don’t carry comprehensive car insurance, you can purchase coverage at the rental counter. Here are the car rental insurance options available to you when renting a car:

  • Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). This relieves you of financial responsibility if the vehicle is stolen or damaged. If you don’t currently have collision damage coverage, this type of insurance is a must.
  • Liability insurance. Liability insurance covers damages to other vehicles, other individuals’ property, and the medical bills of other drivers/passengers related to your negligence. If you don’t have liability insurance, you should purchase this type of coverage.
  • Personal accident coverage. Personal accident insurance covers medical bills for you and your passengers. Personal accident coverage may be unnecessary if personal medical bills are covered under your current health or life insurance policy.
  • Personal effects coverage. This covers theft of possessions inside your rental car. Personal effects coverage may be unnecessary if personal items stolen from your car are covered under your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.

In order to determine what type of insurance to purchase and skip, we suggest reviewing your current policies and credit card benefits before picking up your vehicle.

Signing the Rental Agreement

When you pick up your car, you will be asked to sign a rental agreement. Rental agreements generally include the following:

  • Identity of contracting parties
  • Additional authorized drivers, if any
  • Vehicle rented
  • Rental term with estimated start and end date
  • Daily rate
  • Scope of use (the renter will only use the vehicle for personal or business use, only drive on properly maintained roads, etc.)
  • Condition in which vehicle must be returned
  • Mileage allowances
  • Fees (for late returns, failure to fill up gas tank, drop off at different location, etc.)
  • Security deposit
  • Option to purchase insurance

Car Rental Requirements for 17 Major Car Rental Companies

Although agencies generally share the same basic rental requirements, specifics may vary from one company to the next. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a closer look at specific policies of different car rental agencies:

1.   Advantage Rent a Car

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent or temporary license
  • Age requirements: 21. If you are under 24 you may be charged an underage driver fee of $25 per day.
  • Payment method(s): Major credit or debit card
  • Deposit amount: May vary by branch location. If you use a major credit card, you will typically be charged a deposit in the amount of the estimated total, plus 35%. If you use a debit card, you will typically be charged a deposit in the amount of the estimated total, plus $200.
  • See Advantage Rent a Car´s rental requirements.

2.   Alamo Rent a Car

  • Driver´s licenses requirements: Valid permanent or temporary license
  • Age requirements: 21.  If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee of $27+ per day.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card or debit card with Visa, MasterCard, or Discover
  • Deposit amount: $200
  • See Alamo Rent a Car´s rental requirements.

3.   Avis

  • Driver´s licenses requirements: Valid permanent or temporary license
  • Age requirements: 21.  If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee of $27+ per day.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card
  • Deposit amount: $200
  • See Avis’ rental requirements.

4.   Budget

  • Driver´s licenses requirements: Valid permanent or temporary license. Additional photo ID may be required with temporary license.
  • Age requirements: 21.  If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee of $27+ per day.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card. Debit cards accepted at select locations.
  • Deposit amount: $200 or 25% of rental charge, whichever is greater, if paying with major credit card. Up to $500 if paying with debit card.
  • See Budget’s rental requirements.

5.   Dollar Rent-A-Car

  • Driver´s licenses requirements: Valid permanent or temporary license
  • Age requirements: 21. If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card or debit card with Visa, MasterCard, or Discover. At airport locations, you may be required to provide proof of a return flight and two pieces of government-issued ID if you pay with debit card.
  • Deposit amount: Typically $350 or 15% of the estimated rental charge, whichever is greater.
  • See Dollar’s rental requirements.

6.   Enterprise

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent or temporary license. Temporary license must include a photo; otherwise, additional ID may be required.
  • Age requirements: 21. If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card. Debit cards with Visa, MasterCard, or Discover accepted in select locations.
  • Deposit amount: As low as $200 if paying with a credit card; as high as $300 if paying with an approved debit card.
  • See Enterprise Rent-a-Car´s rental requirements.

7.   E-Z Rent a Car

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent license
  • Age requirements: 18. If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee of $20 per day. If you are under 21, you may be charged an underage driver fee of $35 per day.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card
  • Deposit amount: $200, or 30% of the estimated rental cost, whichever is greater
  • See E-Z Rent a Car’s rental requirements.

8.   Fox Rent A Car

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent or temporary license
  • Age requirements: 19. If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee of $20 per day. If you are under 21, you may be charged a fee of $25 per day.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card
  • Deposit amount: $150
  • See Fox Rent A Car’s rental requirements.

9.   Hertz

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent or temporary license
  • Age requirements: 20, at most locations. If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card or debit card with Visa, MasterCard, or Discover logo. You must provide proof of a return flight and two valid forms of government-issued identification if paying with debit card.
  • Deposit amount: $200
  • See Hertz’s rental requirements.

10. National Car Rental

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent or temporary license
  • Age requirements: 21. If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card or debit card with Visa, MasterCard, or Discover. Cash security deposits and rentals are permitted at select locations, but you must show proof of employment and pay an additional charge of $500.
  • Deposit amount: $200
  • See National Car Rental’s rental requirements.

11. Payless

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent license
  • Age requirements: 21. If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee of $25 per day.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card
  • Deposit amount: Varies by rental
  • See Payless’ rental requirements.

12. Rent-a-Wreck

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent or temporary license. Additional photo ID may be required with temporary license.
  • Age requirements: 21 at most locations. If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card
  • Deposit amount: $150
  • See Rent-a-Wreck´s rental requirements.

13. Sixt Rent a Car

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent license
  • Age requirements: 21 at most locations. To rent a car, you must have had your license for at least one year.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card or debit card. You may be required to provide two forms of government-issued ID, a return ticket, and two recent utility bills to rent a car with debit card. Debit card rentals are limited to economy class vehicles.
  • Deposit amount: $200
  • See Sixt´s rental requirements.

14. Thrifty

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent or temporary license
  • Age requirements: 21 at most locations. If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card or cash. Credit check required for every driver. You may not rent luxury vehicles with a cash deposit.
  • Deposit amount: $200
  • See Thrifty´s rental requirements.

15. Turo

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent license
  • Age requirements: 21. If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driving fee of $10 or 30% of the trip, whichever is greater. You may also be required to demonstrate two years of driving history in the US or Canada.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card or debit card
  • Deposit amount: Varies; only required on select rentals.
  • See Turo´s rental requirements.
  • Get $25 off your first Turo by using this link

16. U-Save

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent or temporary ID. Additional photo ID required with temporary license.
  • Age requirements: 21, at most locations. If you are under 25, you may be charged an underage driver fee between $15 and $50 per day.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card, debit card, or cash. You may be charged a $20 fee with a debit card deposit.
  • Deposit amount: $400 for cash and debit deposits.
  • See U-Save’s rental requirements.

17. Zipcar

  • Driver´s license requirements: Valid permanent or temporary license.
  • Age requirements: 21, or 18 for college students.
  • Payment method(s): Credit card or debit card
  • Deposit amount: No deposit required, but you typically pay a one-time application fee in addition to an annual payment. Annual payments vary depending on the type of plan you choose.
  • See Zipcar’s rental requirements.

In Summary

Now you know the requirements to rent a car. Though policies vary slightly, most car rental agencies enforce the same basic rental requirements, which include presenting a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance. With most companies, you’re required to be over the age of 21 or 25, and provide a security deposit with a major credit card. You will also be required to pick up the car in person and sign a rental agreement. Before picking up your vehicle, be sure to review your current insurance policy and credit card benefits to determine whether you need to purchase insurance. Once you´ve determined your coverage and gathered the necessary documents, you’ll be ready to drive.