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Car Rental: Matching Companies and Drivers

Rental car companies are eager to serve their customers, but also want a safe bet. Companies that rent cars want to know if the customer has good credit, a driver’s license, and the maturity to insure a low risk of accidents. Most companies therefore look for the following in their renters: 1) a major credit card; 2) a valid driver’s license; 3) and a minimum age of 25. There are companies that will rent cars to customers who are younger than 25 or without a credit card, but it often takes a little extra cash and a little extra hunting to find and purchase the service.

Picking the Right Rental Car Company

For the customer who has a major credit card and is over the age of 25, most national and international companies have automated reservation services available on the internet. Enter your pick-up and drop-off dates and times, the size of the vehicle you want, and any amenities you need -- child seats, in-car navigation systems, hand controls, etc. -- and you can pick up your car at the local storefront without hassle. Rental car companies also give you the option to purchase liability and collision insurance if you don't have a policy already.

Car rental is also a great way to test drive multiple vehicles. Pricing, of course, is based on the size and curb appeal of the vehicle, so reserve ahead of time for the luxury sedan or the sports car. Another useful option is pick-up and drop-off. Enterprise, for example, offers the service for free. Some companies also offer one-way rentals when the pick-up and drop-off locations are different.

Finding a rental car company does get a little more difficult when you are in your early twenties. You can still rent if you are between the ages of 21 and 25 and have a credit card, but you may be required to pay a surcharge. Call ahead to learn about a specific rental car company's policies.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 20 or don't have a major credit card, you will not be able to rent from most national companies, but that does not mean that you are out of luck. Rent-A-Wreck does business with both classes of drivers. Another option is to try calling some of the local mom-and-pop operations.

Last, but not least, rental car companies really do verify your age and the validity of your drivers license when you sign the initial paperwork, so make sure you have everything before you pick up the car.

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