How to Rent a Car for Someone Else As a Gift

by Jason Unrau

Renting a car involves completing a legal contract with the rental agency. The driver commits to return the vehicle in the same condition it was received, and at the agreed-upon time listed on the contract. There are a couple options for renting a car on another person's behalf, or as a gift.

Authorized or Additional Driver

The simplest way to proceed is to rent the car yourself as the primary driver and add the gift recipient as an authorized or additional driver. List the person as an authorized driver if she is a spouse or domestic partner. By contrast, an additional driver would be any other party who meets the criteria of a renter. In both cases, both you -- the primary driver -- and the authorized or additional driver are allowed to drive the car. The responsibility for the rental car rests on you -- the primary renter.


There may be an extra charge for additional drivers to be added to the rental agreement.

Gift Cards and Certificates

Gift cards and gift certificates are available for many of the major rental car companies. This is the easiest process for providing payment for a car that you want to rent for someone as a gift, but this method leaves the onus on the recipient for extra charges and legal obligations. The recipient completes the rental agreement as the primary renter and uses the gift card or certificate as a partial or whole payment.

You can minimize the possibility of the recipient incurring extra charges by calling ahead to the rental agency and accounting for the cost of a loss damage waiver as part of the gift amount. This waiver -- which generally costs $20 to $30 per day -- protects the recipient from potential charges for damage to the vehicle or other issues.

Some rental agencies have gift cards that you can buy from an online retailer. Many major credit cards offer gift certificates for rental cars through their points-rewards programs.


Any primary renter as well as authorized or additional drivers must meet the requirements set by the individual rental company.

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