Sign Up for a Free USAA Membership to Save on Car Rentals (and Underage Fees)

Until about two weeks ago, I had been watching rental car prices for an upcoming two-day trip during Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately, my usually trusty Hertz was not giving me the bargains I’d normally get; instead it was telling me that I had to settle for an all inclusive rate of ~$120 for two days.

A quick look on carrentals.com showed me that Budget was offering an all-in rate of ~$80; a quick Google search for Budget coupons led me to a random working discount code marked for “25% off.” I had no idea what that coupon was for, but it gave me an all-in rate of $42.22 (base rate of $12/day)! I could also cancel the booking any time, should Hertz decide to redeem itself.

The Budget confirmation email came, and I realized that the discount code was for USAA members. I have never rented a car from Budget before; do I have to show proof of a USAA membership? Instead of letting myself feel a bit uneasy and hoping for the best, I went on the official USAA website. The short and quick conclusion is that you DON’T have to be associated with the military to become a USAA member. Getting a membership can be done online for free in just a few minutes!

How to Sign up for Your Free USAA Membership

(1) Go to usaa.com and click on “About USAA” and then “Join USAA.”

(2) Choose “No. I need to establish online access with USAA.”

(3) Enter your personal information as required.

(4) On the Eligibility page, answer all questions truthfully.

(5) Agree to the “Online Legal Agreement,” and you will have been assigned a new USAA membership number.

(6) Print a copy of your online enrollment or email confirmation showing your membership number as proof for your next car rental booked with a USAA discount code.

USAA Car Rental Discounts/Benefits

One final note: a few days after I booked the Budget rental, the USAA discount code was no longer giving the same deep discount. The best rate was ~$120 (10% off only from publicly available Budget rates). Therefore, we can conclude that the % discounts vary across markets, depending on availability, demand/supply, and seasonality/days of the week.

[Update: You can earn airline miles by renting with Budget, even though the reservation process might not suggest so. Check this list out and give your frequent flier numbers at the time of rental.]

Let me know what you think! I respond to all comments.

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  • Scott

    +1.  I have USAA from military association.  In most cases the USAA rates are the best I can find.

    • http://www.travelbypoints.com/ Jimmy @TravelByPoints

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with USAA, Scott!

  • Fanfoot

    Don’t know about this.  In order to apply you have to give them VERY sensitive information like your social security number, passport, register alien USCIS number, etc. If there were ever a breach of this database by hackers, the potential for you to have your identity stolen could be quite high.  Not sure its worth the risk.

    • http://www.travelbypoints.com/ Jimmy @TravelByPoints

      Thanks for letting us know, Fanfoot! I did not know that all the additional information was required for non-US citizens. I agree with you completely, if that makes you uncomfortable.

    • frugalwanderer

      I have some friends that work there and they take security VERY seriously. Moreso than any other company I’ve ever had experiences with. Each guest into their building must be accompanied by a guide at all times, even for trips to the bathroom. All their security makes sense, since they have so many members who are/were members of the military and they don’t want others getting information on where key military personnel live.

  • Megan

    Awesome! Just saved over $50 on a Budget rental AND joined Hertz Gold Rewards for FREE because of this USAA membership. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.travelbypoints.com/ Jimmy @TravelByPoints

      You are welcome, Megan. Glad to hear that the post helped save you money!

  • Minerva

    I don’t see anywhere to enter the code on car rental. Are you booking directly thru the budget website?

    I’m looking for a one wk rental over Christmas in Nassau & cannot find anything under $350 for an economy car! I’ve googled coupons to use, but most expire b4 my rental dates or are not valid for rentals outside the U.S. Do you think it’s too early to book? Any other ideas to help me find a lower price?

    Thnx for a great post!

    • http://www.travelbypoints.com/ Jimmy @TravelByPoints

      Minerva, yes, you have to enter the coupon codes on Budget’s site (not the carrentals site, as it is just an aggregator of quotes).

      As for your Christmas rental, the rates are high probably because of the holidays. If you book directly with car rental companies, you can cancel your bookings any time. So, it does not hurt to book now and just keep monitoring the rates. Good luck!

  • KK

    In addition to general discounts, it’s also a great membership for those of us under 25. Their discount codes waive the young driver fee, too!

    • http://www.travelbypoints.com/ Jimmy @TravelByPoints

      Yep, I referenced it in the title and towards the end of the post. Hertz has been offering the underage fee waiver to AAA members, too. Use Hertz coupon code 144314.

  • Emma

    Do you have to be an american citizen to become an online member of the USAA? I am British and could really use this underage fee waiver! Thanks.

    • http://www.travelbypoints.com/ Jimmy @TravelByPoints

      Emma, you don’t have to be a US Citizen. Fill out the online sign-up form truthfully and see what happens. Good luck!

      • Emma

        When I say I don’t have a social security number it asks for a tax ID number, I don’t think I have one of these either! Unfortunately it won’t let me continue without it. Thanks anyway! 

        • http://www.travelbypoints.com/ Jimmy @TravelByPoints

          Sorry to hear it did not work out, Emma. Check the Hertz site for a promo offer waiving underage fees. Good luck!

    • Amrith

      If you call their helpline at +1-800-531-8722 you can sign up without an SSN or TaxID.

      Pro-tip, the person I spoke to wasn’t aware that USAA has products for non-military affiliated people. So I had to take the lady on the phone to their website and on the “Why Join USAA” page under the “Who can join?” tab, there’s a small questionnaire that goes through asking your military affiliation. After you’ve answered no to all of them, you’ll get a message that says “Although you don’t have any military affiliation, we can still offer you a variety of products and services. The following products are available to you: Investments, Life Insurance, Shopping and Discounts”.
      They require the SSN due to banking regulation in the US and it’s probably needed for the investment stuff. Just explain that you only want the shopping and discounts and they’ll sign you up.

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  • Chaimyw

    they are asking me for a membership card which i dint have?

    • http://www.travelbypoints.com/ Jimmy @TravelByPoints

      Chaimyw, when you first apply for the membership, you should reach a screen telling you what your membership number is. You can just print that out. Alternatively, you can always print out the email confirmation, or log into your account and print out your profile page that includes your membership number. Good luck!

  • Alexander

    they ask you for your social security number? is that really necessary? i feel iffy about submitting my social security number

    • http://www.travelbypoints.com/ Jimmy @TravelByPoints

      Alexander, I felt the same way but still signed up. USAA needs it to verify identity. Good luck!

      • Alexander

        do you trust them with your ss#?

        • http://www.travelbypoints.com/ Jimmy @TravelByPoints

          Alexander, do what you feel comfortable with.

  • Callum

    What is the proof of membership have to be? I am a UK citizen and I have signed up for USAA hoping to get the discount (main thing is the young drivers waiver!) What proof do I need at the store for rental to waive the fee?

    • http://www.travelbypoints.com/ Jimmy @TravelByPoints

      Just the membership confirmation email that contains your membership number. That being said, you do need a US social security number to apply for it. Good luck. If this doesn’t work, check the discounts section of Hertz. They have a promo code that waives the underage fees.

  • Hashi

    Thanks for the great info, i was just wondering if you need to have military affiliation to receive the underage waiver. I’m 24 and half and looking to rent a car the end of the summer with Budget or Enterprise but the underage fee the car rental agencies charge are exorbitant. So please let me know thanks

    • http://www.travelbypoints.com/ Jimmy @TravelByPoints

      No affiliation required. Good luck!

    • Brandon

      No affiliation required BUT, if you are 20 and under, you can only use the Hertz discount!

  • Justinn

    I dont have neither SNN nor TAX ID number.. National Insurance Number does not fit in this case. What shall I do? I am a UK citizen and I cant sign up. Do all of you guys have you SNN even if you are not Americans?

  • martin

    Are you 100% sure i am eligible to recieve all benefits even if I am not in the military the reason i ask is because usaa offers liability insurance for car rentals this would save me a ton of money but i need to be certain thanks

    • sri

      I have the same doubt. But, I’m also worried that if i use this.. and something bad happens like an accident.. usaa might reject the insurance because i dont have an active insurance account with them and my personal insurance will also not cover because i used USAA coupon and they should be covering…
      I’m not sure of this.. Can someone please confirm that the USAA covers insurance or if they don’t.. it won’t effect me in any way to use my personal car insurance..