How Old Do You Have to be to Rent a Car in California

Renting a car from any car rental company anywhere in the US and Europe and even the world at large comes with a lot of responsibilities, and many of these responsibilities are the types that can only be managed by mature, stable adults with a sense of responsibility.

This is why governments in different states and rental companies take it upon themselves to regulate the age range of people who can rent a car. So, the question is, how old do you have to be to rent a car in California?

You must be up to 21 years old to rent a car in California.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Rent a Car in California?

For you to be a car renter in the state of California, you have to be at least 21 years old.

However, that age doesn’t even work for much larger rental companies as they would not rent their car to a renter who is below the age of 25.

This is because many researchers already established that the younger a driver is, the more likely they are to be involved in a road accident, and it won’t be a pleasure for car rental companies to have their cars get involved in a road accident.

Also, the younger a driver is, the higher the chances are that he or she could drive under any influence, be arrested on a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated/Impaired) Charge, and have a rented car seized and impounded by the police.

As a result, many rental outlets shy away from renting their cars to a very young driver, talking less of a teenager.

However, regardless of the fears associated with renting a car to young ones, a 21-year-old in California can rent a car at companies like Budget, National, Thrifty, Avis, Dollar Advantage, and Enterprise car rentals.

Any age younger than that, there are going to be huge bottlenecks when it comes to renting a car in California not to talk of driving the rented car out of state.

Can an 18-Year-Old Rent a Car in California?

No, an 18-year-old individual cannot rent a car in California. The minimum age-acceptable of a car renter in California is 21-years-old, and even with that, only a few rental companies are inclined to rent out a car to people aged between 21 and 24.

However, you should note that a 21-year-old will have nil problems renting a car in California.

An 18-year-old, although now considered an adult at that age isn’t deemed secure enough to rent a car in California. Such a person is regarded as a high risk where road accidents are concerned.

Can a 19 Year Old Rent a Car in California?

No, a 19 year old is not allowed to rent a car in California.

Just like it applies to 18-year-olds. They are considered to have a higher proclivity to road accidents, car wrecks, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, getting weary with the pressure of a very busy road, distractions, driving and texting, and several other actions that can cost the rental company a great deal.

Rental companies would rather place their bet on 21-year-old and above drivers as they believe that the older a driver is, the more mature and responsible he or she will be behind the steering wheel.

Can I Rent a Car in California at 17?

No, you can’t. The least age you can be to rent a car in California is 21-years-old. Although, as a 17-year-old, you are allowed to drive a car in California as the least age you can be to drive is 16-years-old, it doesn’t mean you can rent a car from a car rental outlet at 17.

According to statistics, the younger the driver is, the more likely he is to get the car impounded for one reason or the other, especially individuals younger than 21. This is why rental companies in California would rather not take a chance of registering a loss in form of a damaged car.

Why Can’t an Underage Rent a Car in California?

As reiterated earlier, younger drivers are more likely to cause accidents and damage the rented car than much older drivers.

Car rental companies understand the risks in the business. The calculated risks range from:

  • The tendency to cause accidents to distractions
  • Pressure
  • DUI charges
  • Car impoundment by the police
  • Abandonment and
  • Even sheer lack of a sense of responsibility by renters can come in form of flouting the policies of the rental company they got the rented car from, and statistically, most of these risks are more likely to be prompted by younger drivers than older ones.

No rental company wants to rent a car to underage human who would go ahead smoking in the rented car and doing other things that can cause harm to the car.

No rental company wants their rented car windshield to be cracked upon return. So, these are the major reasons why underage drivers cannot rent a car in California.

Can an 18-Year-Old Drive a Rental Car as an Additional Driver?

No, an 18-year-old cannot act as an additional driver for a rented car. The same policy that applies to a renter also applies to the driver of the car itself.

There will be consequences if an original renter who is above the acceptable age transfers the possession of a rental car to a person who is under 21.

Once such a scenario is caught, it is well within the rights of the car rental company to take legal steps.

What States Let You Rent a Car at 18?

Although you can only rent a car in California when you are 21 years and above, it doesn’t mean that it is the same for every single state in the United States.

There are two major states where it is completely legal to rent a car once you are 18 and above. They are New York and Michigan.

Other states let 18-year-olds and above rent cars, but they usually include additional deposits from these young drivers as a way of insurance.

Also, they require that all the proper documents are in check, such as proof of insurance document, and also a credit card deposit, apart from the additional deposit initially made, that will pay for any damage to the car.

Some of these states include Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Colorado.

Final Thoughts

It is usually difficult to rent a car in any state when you are below the age of 21. Even in states that accept renters below 21, there are still many challenges these young renters encounter before they can rent a car.

Challenges such as the excess deposits they have to make, the insurance documents as some of these young folks don’t even have insurance, and then the proof of a huge credit card that shows they can pay for any damage done to the car.

The only time a person below the age of 18 doesn’t have any issues renting a car in any state is when such a person is an active military officer and is on active duty.

Asides from that, you have to be 21 years old and above before you can rent a car in California, and in many other parts of the country.