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What Do You Need to Rent a Car?

Posted by Auto.com Staff | Jan 4, 2019

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Boris79/Twenty20

Renting a car can be a great way to get around. Whether you are driving across town or across the country, a car rental might be a great option for your travel plans. However, renting a car can feel a little intimidating – especially if you have never rented a vehicle before. Let’s take a look at some of the basic requirements involved in securing a rental car.

First and foremost, you will need to have a valid driver’s license in order to rent a car. This ensures that you are legally allowed to drive a vehicle in the United States. A valid driver’s license also establishes that you meet the minimum age requirement for renting a car. Different rental companies have different age restrictions and fees when it comes to renting a car, so you will want to make sure to check with the agency you plan to rent from prior to making your reservation. If you are driving with friends, and plan on letting any of them be the driver for any amount of time, they will also need to provide a valid driver's license and have their name added to the rental agreement.

When renting a car, it would be wise to make sure you have insurance on it. This holds true for any additional drivers you may have in your group. Some auto insurance policies will include coverage for a rental car, but you should check with your insurance provider to make sure. If your policy does not cover rental cars, you can usually pay for an insurance policy through the car rental company. Talk to the agent or the reservation associate to find out what kind of coverage options they provide. Some rental car companies also offer roadside assistance. Cars have bad days too, so you’ll want to make sure to ask about details on what you should do in the event of a breakdown.

As the renter, you will most likely need a credit card. While some rental car companies will accept a debit card under very specific circumstances, using a credit card will make the process go much smoother. Because of the liability involved in renting a car, some rental agencies will want to put a hold on funds while you have the rental. Talk to the reservation agent to see what their exact policy is and whether they take credit or debit cards.

While the cheapest rent deal may not always be the best, there are also options for trying to lower your car rental costs. In addition to online deals, you can take a look inside your wallet. Some credit cards offer points or discounts with specific rental car companies, so check with your credit card company to see if you are eligible for any such offers. It is important to know that the name on the credit card will need to match the name of the primary driver renting the vehicle.

Different states have different laws regarding rental cars and fees. Likewise, different companies have different rules and restrictions about just where you can take your rental. Some cars restrict mileage, others don't. Some rental vehicle companies don't allow out-of-state travel, some do. When making your reservation, tell them about your travel plans – things like where you are going and how long you will need the car. It is important to ask questions and make sure you understand the terms of the rental agreement. With good planning and preparation, your rental experience can be a positive one.