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Age has its privileges — such as grandkids, retirement, a lifetime’s worth of passport stamps and, of course, those enticing senior discounts. But older travelers could find themselves facing a few unpleasant surprises as well. As we caution in International Car Rental Tips: “Be aware that many countries have a minimum and maximum age for renters. Drivers under the age of 25 or over the age of 70 may face surcharges or not be permitted to rent at all.”
Here in the U.S., the idea of a maximum rental age is nearly unheard of. But if you’re a senior traveler headed overseas, it’s important to check ahead.
For example, Auto Europe’s Web site states that renters in Ireland may not be over age 75, and that those over 70 may be subject to additional fees. (Editor’s Note: An Auto Europe spokesperson tells us that this maximum age does not necessarily apply to all of the company’s suppliers.) On Budget Rent a Car’s Web site, we found maximum ages of 75 in Aruba, 65 in Jamaica and just 60 in Morocco. Apollo Car Rental in Australia permits renters over the age of 75, but only with a doctor’s note.
Seniors can often evade these restrictions by shopping around, as terms and conditions vary widely from company to company. An 80-year-old traveler looking to rent in Ireland can try booking with Hertz, which permits renters over 75 as long as they’re willing to jump through a few hoops. “Customers aged over 75 can rent with specific conditions,” says a pop-up on the Hertz Web site. “You must drive on a regular basis, you will need to provide to the counter a letter from your doctor to state you have been in good health for at least 12 months and a letter from your insurance company to state you have not had an accident within the last 5 years, that you hold a current policy of motor insurance with them and that you are currently driving.”
Never book a car without reading the fine print. If you’re traveling with a younger companion, you can save money and avoid hassle by naming that person as the driver on your rental contract. If all else fails, look into guided tours or local public transportation instead.
Older travelers, have you ever had trouble renting a car overseas?
– written by Sarah Schlichter