Driver SOS (UK)
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Under 21 Car rental
The soonest you can get your driving licence here in the UK is 17 provided you're lucky enough to have passed both the theory and practical test just after your seventeenth birthday. Not everyone can afford to buy a car and sometimes it makes more sense to just rent one but how easy is it for young drivers to hire a vehicle? To be honest, if you're under 21 and looking to rent a car, then chances are you're looking for a needle in a haystack.
How to rent a car when you're under 21
Currently there's only one company which rents to 20 year olds. So if you're younger than that, bad luck for you. However the conditions are tough:
- You need to have held your driving licence for 3 years (so you must have passed your test at 17!)
- You shouldn't have any convictions or points
- You need to pay a surcharge of £39 per day for the first 10 days but after that this fee is waived
Beware of the company trading under Burton Car Hire Ltd, BCH Rentals and HBC Rentals as they've been featured on Rogue Traders for scamming under 21s to hire old bangers.
Why the fuss with rental agencies for younger drivers
Most rental car companies require all drivers to have a good clean driving history of at least 3 years. Even if you are under 21 with a clean driving history, you are seen as high risk. This is mainly because you do not have enough driving experience to convince the car rental company that you'll be returning the vehicle in as good condition as you're going to take it. Of course there's rental car insurance for circumstances when you're involved in an accident but claiming on insurance policies are likely to increase premiums thereafter and chances of a young driver claiming are very high. This is why it's hard to rent a car even for short term periods when you do not meet the minimum age requirement.
If you go abroad to places like France, Spain and America you will be able to drive a car legally in the country but at the moment, it's just not possible in the UK. There is a huge demand for it but until companies insure rental cars for under 21's, this won't be changing anytime soon.
The alternative, though not recommended!
One way that is not advised but done by many is to get someone like a friend or family member who is 21 or over to get the vehicle for you. So the paperwork is in their name but really, you the young driver, will be driving it. In a perfect world, this solves your problem but in reality you will be driving the vehicle illegally and if you get caught you will be fined and tried for fraud. You could even have your licence taken away from you so think carefully before resorting to desperation.
There's a big reason companies do not rent to under 21's.
I work for a hire company and completely agree with the terms we have in place.
Over 70% of damage to our vehicle's iscaused by under 25's!
How stupid is this country!!!!! I am 20 and I drive a 4 tonne ambulance on emergency conditions on a daily basis as part of my job! So I am a good enough driver to do that but not good enough to drive a 1.2 engine rental car!!! And how about those that have their cpc qualification and can drive articulated lorries at 18? What about the young members of the military that drive tanks and lorries risking their lives? I am fed up of insurance companies stereotyping young drivers! It is discrimination to treat a driver differently based on their age alone! I am an adult, I pay national insurance, income tax, VAT and council tax! Why can't I turn around and say, sorry I am under 21 so I don't feel mature enough to pay this!!! I am sure these companies are operating illegally but who is going to stop them?