Older drivers often claim they are discriminated against with measures such as more expensive insurance premiums and the fact they have to renew their licences every three years once they hit the age of 70. Most say that people age in different ways and they feel they are perfectly capable of driving safely and without endangering other road users.
Hiring a car at 70, or worse still at 75 years old, can be a bit of a minefield. In the UK, hire firms note their age and other restrictions under their terms and conditions, but some do not show maximum ages as they might be accused of ageism. Renting abroad can be a little more complex and hirers need to check the limitations carefully.
One older customer said her car hire provider was perfectly happy to let her hire vehicles in the UK at the age of 79. When she took a Maltese holiday, the counter-clerk at the rental depot would not let her drive the vehicle away. The woman said she was more than a little annoyed that her friend, who was 69 at the time, was allowed to drive it without any questions asked.
Car and van rentals suppliers are in business to see customers use their vehicles. They are reluctant to refuse both young and elderly drivers alike, but blame insurance companies for not offering cover on the vehicles. To avoid disappointment, we have searched through the policies of major UK and international car hire companies to see which ones are most friendly to older drivers.
As is the case with drivers under 25, rental companies sometimes tack a surcharge for renters over the age of 69 to cover the cost of the increased insurance premium. CarRentals UK is a leading consolidators for vehicle hire. With one search you can find vehicles that match your age and other stipulations including dates, location and desired size.
Like other renters, those over 75 will have to show their driving licences and, if it is one issued by the UK’s DVLA, a code for the office clerk to access Share my Driving Licence. Drivers are required to have held full licences for 12 months too, although this is sometimes increased to three years in the case of UK expats or international visitors with overseas issued driving permits.
Alamo does not apply an upper age limit in either the US or the UK. The company’s US terms only list surcharges which are levied on young drivers from 18 upwards.
The Avis-Budget Group does not impose an upper age limit on its rentals in the UK and the US. Budget’s website does say restrictions may apply in other selected countries and hirers need to check the terms and conditions pertinent to the location. Avis’s conditions note that limitations for over-75s renting in Ireland apply and that drivers should have had a full licence for a minimum of two years.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car says there is no upper age limit for renters in the UK and just specifies a minimum age of 25 years old.
Europcar rents all models to licence holders above 30 years old and has no upper age limit. Europcar depots in seven locations in the west of the UK require drivers to have held their licences for two years, although this will not affect 99 per of those over 75. The pick-up locations are Aberystwyth, Pembroke, Carmarthen, Llanelli, Taunton, Exeter and Plymouth.
Interrent is a Europcar affiliate and rents vehicles to people 22 and above in the UK with no maximum age limit specified.
Green Motion’s low carbon footprint vehicles are available for hire to drivers from 21 to 75 years old. The company’s website says the standard upper age limit at all its global outlets is 75, but there are exceptions and hirers should check with national suppliers.
Hertz locations in the mainland UK and the US operated by the company itself have no maximum age for renters. At depots run under franchise the rules vary by country. This applies to Ireland and the Isle of Man. In a few of these places, drivers can rent when they are over 70 or over 75, but might a need a doctor’s note stating their health is good.
National Car Rental’s UK branches only specify drivers must be over 30 to hire the full range of vehicles including MPVs. In the US, the same applies but in Ireland the maximum age is 70.
Sixt Rent-A-Car is only concerned with the risk of young drivers and slaps a £36 a day fee on those between 21 and 24 in the UK.
Thrifty outlets in the UK add a £12 per day VAT-inclusive surcharge to rentals to cover the increased cost of insurance for drivers who have passed their 70th birthdays. This is a little less than half of the £25 daily licence holders aged between 21 and 25 pay.
Thrifty and Dollar stations in the US also apply extra fees on rentals for seniors, but it does vary with locations. At their European outlets, the average surcharge seems to work out to around €17.
As a final note, it does pay to shop around and read the small print if you are a driver outside the 25 to 69 age group. Some companies impose local restrictions on the fees they charge for people who do not meet the insurance companies’ desired age groups. Other car hire suppliers in the same city or at the same airport or railway station may be able to give you a better deal.
Furthermore, ahead of your planned pickup it’s wise to double-check and call the depot of your rental company (usually available through a simple google search) to double check that their policy is not inconsistent with the corporate international policy. Sometimes they get it wrong on their website.