The workaround to avoid under 25 rental car fees
As my 25th birthday approaches (it’s May 17 in case you want to send me something special), I realized that there’s nothing really quite special to celebrate. In fact, when I Googled: “Is your 25th birthday a milestone?” I found this:
“andUknowTHIS says: I went to the Bodies exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry this weekend in Chicago and one of the displays stated that once you hit your mid 20s your body essentially hits its peak and it's all downhill from there… so there's always that.”
I can’t even argue. I tried working out four days in a row last week and it resulted in me going to bed at 9:30PM both Friday AND Saturday night. #65yearoldManStuckIna24yearoldGirlsBody
But there is one thing I always used to say…
“I can’t wait to be 25 so I can finally rent a car!”
Because that would be super cool, I guess?
Well, turns out it was super cool when you moved to Chicago straight out of college without a car and have no way to get home (because your parents raised you in a cornfield with a pack of wolves eating salami and pickles out of mason jars… just kidding, but my home town really doesn't have any direct form of transportation from any budding metropolis nearby or far away.)
My brother told me I could rent a car even though I was under 25 (which blew my mind), but that I would just have to pay fees and they added up quickly!
I learned this the hard way after missing an Amtrak train ride from Chicago to a “nearby” town during my first Thanksgiving here, thanks to my uber-terrible Uber driver.
After crying in a Starbucks (not even in the bathroom – literally just sitting at a table. No. Shame.)
I wiped away my tears and walked to the Hertz—conveniently located around the corner. Beautifies of living in a giant city. Or was it the universe…?
I got my car and paid out the rear-end to get home.
That’s when I started to do my research.
After that instance I learned a fascinating workaround, and I think you all are going to love it— whether you’re under 25 or not. I’m talkin’ some sweet deals on rental cars, no matter your age, but an added bonus of an eliminated under 25 fee, if that’s the prob. (If you just look under 25 and people won't serve you, I can't help with that. But I do feel your pain.)
The Magic Formula Solution
First things first, I can’t take credit for this. I learned how to access this awesome tool from this blog post over at MillionMileSecrets.com (yes, I’m super into travel hacking too — more to come on this in the future!) and this trick actually ended up saving me boat loads of money for the remainder of my “peaked body period” of my 20s.
The tool is to sign up for a USAA account.
USAA is a Fortune 500 financial services company offering banking, investing, and insurance to people and families that serve or served in the U.S. military.
USAA also offers some of its products to non-military individuals. So, if you or your family member have never served in the military, you can still utilize USAA for their products in investments (receiving financial guidance to make informed decisions), life insurance (to get coverage at competitive rates), and to take advantage of their shopping and discounts as a member of the platform.
You don’t have to set up an investment account or get life insurance to get the shopping and discounts benefits, you just have to create an account, enter your email and fill in your details.
You’ll receive a password and a pin number and with this special magic formula, you can navigate to their “Travel Deals” under their “Shopping & Discounts” section of the “Products” tab and take a gander at the great deals you can get when renting a car through your USAA account.
If you’re under 25, the fee will be eliminated, but you can also get up to 25% off some of the most popular rental companies, and choose the car of your dreams to drive around for a week, like you own it.
USAA is an amazing company providing wonderful benefits for military members and their families and extending some of their great offerings to non-military persons. This offering helped me enormously in my early 20s when I needed to get home and didn't want to pay out the arse in young driver fees because some of my fellow 20-ish-year-olds were pumping up the risk factor on the road. (Rando Facto: I'm a stellar driver and I can parallel park like a boss. Not to toot my own horn… whoa, see what I did there?!)
If you already have USAA, then hopefully this is a new enlightening benefit you may not have known about and now have a way to save some extra dough the next time you need to hit the road.
Remember, you should probably have a license if you're going to rent a car… just saying.
P.S. I recommend joining the rewards programs for the major car rental companies you will be renting from. It’s free, you can accumulate points, and this will allow you to pick up your cars without having to go to the desk, where there’s often a long line. (Cue: people piling out of the airport shuttle bus to get to the front of the line just to yell at the person at the counter for giving them a black convertible instead of a red one!)
P.P.S. A lot of rental companies will try to sell you insurance for the rental car, but if you already own a car and have a business or personal insurance policy for your own auto, as well as a credit card with primary or secondary rental car insurance, you can waive this added cost. Make sure to call your credit card company to ask if they provide primary or secondary rental car insurance protection.