Question: Can I Add Another Driver to My U.S. Rental Car Contract?
Yes, but it might cost you – plenty.
Not too long ago, you would have expected, perhaps, to pay a fee to add an "additional authorized driver" to your rental car contract, unless that extra driver happened to be your spouse or domestic partner. Companions to disabled renters were also exempt from additional authorized driver charges.
Unfortunately, things are a little more complicated today. Actually, they're a lot more complicated. Some rental car companies allow renters to include spouses and domestic partners to their contracts free of charge. Others charge for domestic partners but not spouses or companion drivers. A few rental car companies charge to add even spouses as additional authorized drivers – except in certain states.
Confused? The best way to avoid paying for additional authorized drivers is to do your homework early, well before you go to pick up your rental car. You can get information from the rental car company's website or call and ask, hoping you'll receive an accurate answer. The only true way to know what you'll be charged, however, is to read your rental car contract carefully before you sign it. Because rental car company policies vary from state to state and even from office to office, you will want to take the time to review your entire contract.
Let's take a look at the major U.S. rental car companies' additional authorized driver policies. (Note: All information, while current as of this writing, is subject to change without notice. Consult your rental car company for location-specific policies and fee information.)
- Alamo's website says that a fee "may be charged" to add an additional driver to a U.S. rental contract. On my last rental from Alamo, I had to pay $10 per day to add my husband; I was told this was Alamo's standard policy. Loyal reader Chip wrote to tell me that members of Alamo Insiders do not have to pay for an additional driver.
- Avis does not charge a fee to add spouses, domestic partners, employers, employees or companion drivers for disabled renters to your rental contract.
- Budget does not charge a fee to add spouses, domestic partners, employers, employees or companion drivers for disabled renters to your contract. This policy may not apply at licensee-owned rental locations.
- Dollar does charge a fee to add spouses and domestic partners to contracts as additional authorized drivers. Companion drivers for disabled renters do not have to pay a fee. Local policies may also apply, so it's important to check with your rental car office for more information.
- Enterprise does not charge to add spouses or domestic partners to rental contracts, but may charge a fee to add other authorized drivers.
- Hertz has extremely complicated policies. In most cases, you will pay a fee to add an additional driver to your contract. However, you need to check the "Qualifications and Requirements" section of the "Reservations" page for your rental location to determine which policies apply to you. Typically, employers and employees of renters qualify as authorized renters. Spouses of renters whose contracts originate in New York, California or Iowa also qualify as authorized renters and do not have to pay a fee to drive the car. Hertz does not charge Additional Authorized Operators a fee in California. You can also avoid paying the daily fee if both the renter and the additional driver are AAA, USAA or AARP members and identify themselves as such when the booking is made. Be sure to check Hertz' policies for your location when you book your rental car to avoid last-minute surprises.
- National's website says that a fee "may be charged" for an additional driver. Since National, Enterprise and Alamo belong to the same parent company, contacting your local rental office for up-to-date fee policy information will help you make the best rental decision.
- Thrifty charges a fee to add additional authorized drivers, including spouses, to rental contracts. Companion drivers for disabled customers, government personnel traveling on orders and corporate employees renting on their companies' rate plans are exempt from this fee.
The Bottom Line
If you think you will need to add an additional authorized driver, spouse or otherwise, to your rental car contract, investigate before you make your reservation. When you pick up your rental car, carefully review your contract before you sign it.