Why Do Rental Car Companies Charge for an Extra Driver?

Sometimes travel just doesn’t make any sense, and looking for logical explanations is a fruitless task. Here we have David Friedman in search of an economic explanation for rental car companies charging extra for an additional driver.

Some car rental companies–including Thrifty at the Boston Airport, where we picked up a car yesterday–charge a significant amount if you want to have two different people allowed to drive the car. It’s hard to see why their cost is any higher if my wife and I take turns driving, instead of her doing all of it. And one might think the risk of accidents that damage their car would be less if we were free to have me drive when she is tired. So why the charge?

A vexxing question to a law professor and economist (son of the late Milton Friedman) who wrote a book chapter explaining why movie theatres charge so much for popcorn.

Any of y’all have an explanation?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It may be just a simple tax on people — like Professor Friedman — whose time is valuable and who don’t care to invest in figuring out how to get around this. It’s not at all difficult to get a “membership” in a car rental company “club” that allows the “member’s” spouse, partner, business associates, etc. to drive the car without an additional fee.

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