Do you have doubts about what you need to rent a car? You’ve come to the right place. Here’s a list of car rental requirements so you can book your car knowing you’re doing the right thing.

What do you need to rent a car?

Renting a car is a lot like preparing for a road trip – it’s exciting, liberating, and a bit of an adventure. But, as with any journey, there are some essentials you’ll need to have in place before you hit the road. In this guide, we’ll explore what it takes to rent a car, so you can embark on your four-wheeled adventure with confidence.

1. How old do you have to be to rent a car?

It’s important to know that most car rental companies have an age requirement of 25 years old. This rule is often based on data that suggests younger drivers are at higher risk for accidents. However, if you’re under 25 and need to rent a car, many rental agencies do offer options for young drivers, although with a few additional requirements.

2. Driver’s license and other documents

If you’re American and you’re renting a car in the US, you need a valid driver’s license held for two or more years.

Now, if you’re renting a car abroad, other than a valid driver’s license held for two years or more, you’ll also need a valid passport. Some countries may also ask for an International Driver’s Permit.

Please note that car rental companies usually ask that the name on the driver’s license and other documents such as the passport be the same.

Other Forms of ID

Companies might request for additional forms of identification if you opt to book a car using a debit card, alongside, of course, the driver’s license and the debit card. Here are some of the  documents that are typically accepted to comply with this requirement:

  • Airline Ticket or Travel Itinerary: If you are renting a car at an airport location and arriving or departing on a flight, a round-trip airline ticket, e-ticket, or travel itinerary that shows your return date and your name can be used as a valid third form of identification.
  • U.S. Passport or Military ID: Your valid U.S. passport or a current U.S. military identification card can be used as a third form of identification.
  • Vehicle Insurance Card: If you have a current vehicle insurance card, it’s often accepted as an additional form of ID.
  • Bills and Statements: Recent copies (dated within the last 60 days) of your cell phone bill, home telephone bill, bank statement, or utility bill can also be used to fulfill the requirement.

ID When Renting Internationally

Getting behind the wheel of a rental car in a foreign place can be a thrilling experience. But before you hit the road, you’ll want to make sure you have the right documentation in hand. Here’s the lowdown on what you typically need for international car rentals, with a few exceptions to keep in mind:

1. Essential Documents: Always carry your driver’s license and passport: This combination is your golden ticket to international adventures.

2. European Union (EU) Driving License Perks: If you’re an EU resident, you’re in luck! You have the flexibility to drive in other EU countries using either your EU driver’s license or an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with your regular driver’s license.

3. No IDP Needed (Sometimes): In some cases, when you’re traveling, you might not need the International Driving Permit. However, it’s always better to have it just in case. You know, it’s like carrying an umbrella on a sunny day; you never know when you might need it.

4. The Non-Roman Alphabet Twist: If, eventually, you have a driver’s license that isn’t in the Roman alphabet, you’ll need to show off your International Driving Permit rather than your license. It’s all about smooth communication on the global roadways.

5. Credit card

The credit card is used by the rental company to make a security deposit. It must be issued under the renter’s name and have enough funds to cover for the security deposit.

Read more about how car rental safety deposits work.

3. Credit or Debit Card for Deposit

Security Deposit Hold: Upon picking up your rental car, some companies will temporarily hold a certain amount on your debit or credit card. This hold covers estimated rental charges and an additional buffer. Keep in mind that this hold can temporarily restrict the available funds in your account linked with the card.

Payment Methods: Most companies accept major credit cards. Debit cards may also be accepted in some locations, but be prepared for a potential credit check or an additional ID requirementD.

Debit Card Exceptions: In the US you must use a credit card for rental transactions if you’re under 25 years old; debit cards won’t be accepted. However, in New York, if you’re 18 or older, you can use a debit card for rentals. Remember that some locations may not accept debit cards for the initial  deposit but may allow them for payment upon returning the car. A credit check may be conducted to verify eligibility.

Rental Extensions: If you need to extend your rental period, simply contact the car rental company before your scheduled return date. Most companies can usually accommodate your request for an extension, but a small service fee may apply.

4. Clean Driving Record

At certain rental locations, they may verify your driving record with the DMV to ensure that  you and any additional drivers have a clean driving history. Don’t worry, this measure is in place to promote safety and responsible driving

One thing to note is that most rental companies reserve the right to deny rental requests if your driving record indicates a pattern of risky behavior, such as excessive speeding, car theft, license suspensions, or multiple accidents within the past three years.

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How to Pick Up and Drop Off a Rental Car?

As you embark on your car rental journey, here are some important things to keep in mind to make the experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Inspect the Car: When you pick up the car, take a few moments to thoroughly inspect it. Check for any damage, both inside and outside, including the undercarriage. If you spot anything out of sorts, take pictures and make sure it’s documented on the rental agreement. This can save you from potential disputes later on.

Understand the Terms: Take the time to carefully review the rental agreement’s terms and conditions. Pay close attention to the fuel policy to understand whether you are required to return the car with a full tank, or if there is a different arrangement. Familiarize yourself with the insurance coverage and any additional charges that might apply, so you’re not caught off guard.

Safe Driving: Always adhere to traffic laws and practice responsible driving while operating the rental car. Reckless driving can not only compromise your safety but also lead to financial penalties for traffic violations.

Returning the Car: When it’s time to return your rental car, make sure you do it at the designated location by the agreed-upon time, as late returns may incur additional charges. Also, follow the specified fuel policy guidelines you agreed to when booking your rental.  

In conclusion, now that you’ve learned what’s required to rent a car, you’re ready to hit the open road. Remember, the key essentials are: age requirements, a valid driver’s license, and a credit or debit card for the security deposit.. 

That’s it! That’s everything you need to rent a car. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comment section below!

Attention! All efforts were made to validade the information published in this blog at the moment they were written, however, does not take responsibility for inaccuracies or future adjustments that can happen as a result of different offers and conditions. The posts here published, as well as the eventual comments from its readers, are merely informative and it is the client's duty to confirm with and/or suppliers any content that may affect their vacation plans.

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