Can My Wife Drive My Rental Car Legally in USA?

Author: Rohan Paulos
Updated On:

Here is one of many queries we receive in our editor’s box – can spouse drive rental car legally or without extra fees?

Well here is a straight, short answer: While you cannot rent a car for a third party, your spouse – your wife or husband – is one of the persons who can drive your rental car as an additional driver without incurring extra fees, but every time.

This is covered in the rental Authorized Driver Policy, which varies by companies and states in the US. This guide reveals what you need to know whether a husband or wife can drive a rental car, and its requirements for top rental companies in the US. 

Can Spouse Drive Rental Car? Any Requirements?

Even if your spouse was not present when you ordered a rented car, or even pick up a rental car, they are generally authorized to drive it at no additional fee.

They also do not have to be included explicitly in the rental agreement. However, certain other conditions must be met, such as:

  • License

Spouses must produce a genuine, unexpired government-issued driver’s license with their photograph. The driver’s license must be valid for the duration of the rental. Additional forms of government-issued identification may be necessary.

But several companies do not accept expired licenses, photocopies of driver’s licenses, learner permits, provisional or limited licenses, and temporary licenses.

Can spouse drive rental car?

  • Age

Spouses must be at least 25 years old to be permitted as drivers for rental cars. Spouses under 25 are, however, authorized with an age surcharge. Note, however, that these age limits and policies will differ depending on the state and the rental company.

Although there is no official maximum age limit for a spouse who wishes to drive a rental car, individual rental companies may set their own rental car age limit (most don’t allow 17yrs and below) at their discretion.

  • State

Charging an additional fee for a spouse is prohibited by some state laws, and for others, it is not. To prevent having to pay an excess fee, you must be aware of the policy for additional driver fees in the state where you are renting a car before or during renting.

Individual companies may have specific requirements for spouses as additional drivers and may charge a fee based on their policy.

Rare view of a female car driver

The top rental companies in the United States and their requirements are detailed below.

  • Budget: Budget does not charge an additional fee for spouses as additional drivers, but they must be certified drivers with a driver’s license and be 25 or older.
  • Avis: A spouse can drive a rental car at no extra cost with Avis if they have a valid driver’s license and are 25 or older.
  • Enterprise: At no extra charge, Enterprise requires spouses to meet the same age and driver’s license requirement as the renter.
  • Thrifty: All additional drivers, including spouses, are charged an additional driver cost by Thrifty. They must satisfy their minimum age requirement and have a valid driver’s license.  
  • Dollar: Dollar requires couples to present a current driver’s license and be at least 20 years old without incurring additional fees.
  • National: Spouses are not charged an extra driver’s fee by National, but they need to be of at least the minimum required age, have a valid driver’s license, and show up at the rental location with the primary renter. 
  • Hertz: Hertz requires the renter and their spouses to sign the rental agreement. They must have a driver’s license in good standing and be at least 20 years old. If the renter is enrolled in the Hertz gold plan reward program, the renter’s spouse won’t be subject to any additional fees.
  • Alamo: Alamo charges no additional fees for spouses who can provide a valid driver’s license and are of the same age as the renter.
Company Charges additional fees?
Budget No
Avis No
Enterprise No
Thrifty Yes
Dollar No
National No
Hertz No, if on Hertz gold plan reward program.
Alamo No

Are There States A Car Renter Spouse Become Authorized Drivers?

Yes, there are. Spouses of renters are permitted to drive rental cars according to several state regulations in the US at no cost.

And, even if they are not included in the renter agreement or present during pickup, as long as they have a license and are of legal age.

Nevada state law automatically designates spouses as “approved drivers” on all rental car agreements. California, Indiana, Iowa, Texas, Utah, Illinois, Missouri, Oregon, and Wisconsin are some other states in this category.

This also holds in New York, but there is an extra charge of $3 each day. Note that, in most cases, this is more likely to be a rental company policy than state law.

Spouses are automatically added as additional drivers by rental companies like Enterprise, National, and Alamo at no extra cost. You do not need to state that they will be driving explicitly. 

However, if an accident occurs and the spouse is not of legal age to drive (above 25 for a full-size truck, luxury automobiles, etc.), or they do not have a valid driver’s license, the contract is null and void just as if you were the one who did not meet the requirement.

Car key place on rent a car keyboard

Who Else May Be Allowed To Drive My Rented Car Free?

Aside from your spouse, specific individuals are pre-authorized to drive your rental car as an additional driver if they fulfill specific conditions.

Depending on the rental agency. They generally include:

  • Employee or employer: When the car is rented via a business account, the renter’s coworker, employer, or fellow associate can be an authorized driver by default.
  • Companion driver: The companion driver for a disabled renter who has filled out the non-licensed renter form is pre-authorized for rental cars.
  • Family: Members of the renter’s immediate family who live with the driver permanently are also permitted to drive a rental car.

Additional drivers in the above category are not charged and do not need to fill out any extra paperwork to drive the rental vehicle.

However, they must meet all age requirements, show up at the rental desk with the primary renter, and have a valid driver’s license.


Are spouses automatically entitled to drive rental car during emergencies?

Yes, they are. Under regular conditions, spouses are typically permitted to drive a rental car, and emergencies are no different.

Does Enterprise offer free 2nd driver option for spouses?

Yes, they do. Spouses of renters who meet the exact age and driving license requirements as the renter is free to drive the vehicle at no extra cost.  They are the only additional driver that Enterprise will allow for a paid rental with a debit card.

Can my spouse drive a car I rented from Budget?

Yes, your spouse can. If you rent using a company account, Budget automatically allows your spouse to drive your rental car at no additional cost. They must, however, be of legal age and possess a current driver’s license.

Summary of can spouse drive rental car!

Now, Can my wife drive my rental car or not? You and your spouse may wish to take turns driving a rental car.  While some states and rental firms automatically add the renter’s spouse to the list of approved drivers without necessitating their presence at the pickup time, it is not always the case. Ensure you’re aware of the state and company’s additional driver policy before renting to prevent paying more.

Young seats inside a parked car


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