What Do I Need to Rent a Car?

Rental requirements in the United States vary from rental agency to rental agency. Some companies have more requirements for rental than others. Smaller companies, for instance, may generate less revenue from rentals. They may require more from renters to ensure their rental vehicles are protected when out of their possession. Larger rental agencies may require less in some areas and more in high risk areas, where there are a larger number of accidents and thefts. Consumers must review each agency’s policies to determine their requirements.

The Basics for Vehicle Rental

In general, consumers should have a valid driver’s license, major credit card and car insurance to rent a vehicle. Car insurance is not always required by the rental agency, but is required by law in most states and is highly recommended. Some car rental agencies will accept cash payments or debit cards in lieu of credit cards. These companies will usually request a deposit of $200 or higher to cover any incidentals. If the vehicle is returned undamaged, the deposit will be refunded.

Most rental agencies also have a minimum age requirement for vehicle rental. In many states, the minimum age requirement is 25. However, in some states the minimum age is 21. The age requirement depends upon the rental company and the state where the rental originates.

Cash Rental Requirements

Some companies accept cash payment for rentals and others do not. Companies that rent to cash paying customers may require more than the basics to rent a vehicle. To rent a vehicle with cash or a debit card, companies may require a flight itinerary to rent from the airport. If the vehicle is a local rental, the company may also require a recent utility bill or other type of bill to verify a current address. Some companies may require a credit check to determine the risk of the customer.

A deposit is typically required for cash or debit paying customers. Rental agencies will also strongly recommend purchasing insurance to cover the vehicle if an accident or theft occurs. Insurance purchased at the counter will also cover the daily charges that accrue while the vehicle is being repaired or replaced. Personal insurance may or may not cover this cost.

Verification protects the company from high risk renters that may damage the vehicle. Companies must protect their fleet to keep prices low for consumers who follow the rules and take every precaution to protect the vehicle while it is in their possession.

Secondary Drivers

Travelers driving on a long trip may consider a secondary driver for relief. This person must also present valid identification. Only one person in the party is usually responsible for insurance, credit card and credit check. A surcharge is typically assessed for a secondary driver. Consumers who are credit challenged or that are under age may secure a primary driver to assist with car rental. The primary driver serves as a "co-signer" for the secondary driver listed.

Discounts

Renters with coupons must present them during the reservation process or at the rental counter. Inquire to determine the company’s preferred method. Always print the promotion or have the code available for verification at the time of rental. This will ensure the discount is applied and deducted from the total rental amount. Miscommunication and confusion may be avoided if consumers remain prepared to provide verification of the rental and discounts used at the time of reservation.

Car Rental Express (CRX) provides discounts to consumers that use their website to compare independent rental agencies. The coupons may be printed and presented at the counter or the code may be entered to receive credit in an online reservation.