What are the rules for child seats in rental cars?

Noble Horvath

Planning on renting a car during your family holiday with the kids? You may need to use a child seat, depending on the age of your child and which country you visit. Using a car rental with child seats protects any children under a certain age. But rules for renting […]

Planning on renting a car during your family holiday with the kids? You may need to use a child seat, depending on the age of your child and which country you visit.

Using a car rental with child seats protects any children under a certain age. But rules for renting versus “bringing your own” depend on the company and country. Before you make a reservation, make sure to read through these rules for a rental car with car seats, to keep everyone safe while traveling (and save a little money, too).

Renting vs “Bring Your Own” Car Seat

Many car rental services require vehicle protection for children under a certain age, weight, and height. You may need to book this service in advance to ensure availability. In some cases, you must pay a fee for renting a car seat, which can add up for families traveling for a long period of time or with more than one child.

Keep in mind that many car rental services throw in a free car seat for babies under the age of two. If you know where to look, you may also find a car hire with baby seat options that waive the fee and make it easy to comply with local laws.

Renting a car seat means paying extra fees for daily rentals, fees that you can avoid if you BYO.

Benefits of Bringing Your Own Seat

The benefits of choosing to bring your own car seat over purchasing a rental car seat include:

  • Your child will have maximum comfort and safety throughout the entire journey, including the flight.
  • You, as a parent, will feel at ease knowing that your child remains secure in their own seat, and you understand the installation process.
  • You can avoid maximum rental fees.
  • For hygiene reasons, you will know that your child is the only person that has used this seat compared to the numerous users of a car rental child seat.

If you fly from the United States, US airlines allow passengers to bring a car seat on board for children under the age of 2. FAA guidelines state that a child under 2 may sit on the guardian’s lap during the flight, Otherwise, parents must secure the infant in a car seat strapped to the seat.

Child Seat Fees

Car hire companies understand the importance of child seats in rental cars and often charge extra for renting car seats with rental cars. These are seen as a profitable, yet essential, addition to the car rental.

Adding a car seat onto your car rental can increase the price significantly. With companies charging between $10-$15 per day, per seat—and that’s without tax!

For example, you could pay an Avis rent car seat for $13 per day. If you travel with more than one child, these fees can add up quickly. Even though a majority of companies will cap fees at a maximum per policy, you will likely save money by simply bringing your own.

Keep in mind that AAA members enjoy discounts on car seat rentals by providing a promo code at the time of booking. Hertz, for example, will waive the fee for one child safety seat for all AAA members who provide the code. With Silvercar, you enjoy complimentary car seats with all car rentals. Simply contact the Audi-owned company at the time of booking to request your free child car seat. (The offer is subject to availability.)

Child Seats in Rental Cars Rules in US & EU

When hopping from country to country, keep in mind that local laws vary. Safety standards for car rental child seats in the United States won’t necessarily match countries throughout Europe. Here’s what you need to know:

EU Car Seat Laws

  • All children must travel in a child seat, booster seat, or booster cushion.
  • Children between ages 3 and 12 must use an appropriate child restraint in the car if they are fitted with safety belts.
  • If there are active airbags in the passenger seats, rear-facing child restraints must not be used. However, for all other options, the air-bags must always be active.
  • Any child under 150cms or weighing less than 36kg must be restrained in a child restraint, appropriate for their height and weight.
  • If possible, the safest place to position a child is in the back seat of the car with the appropriate child restraint. Children who sit in the front seat require the appropriate restraint for their height and weight.

US Car Seat Laws

When traveling in the States, car seat laws vary depending on where you go. Most states require infants to stay in a rear-facing car seat until they reach 1 years old, or weigh 20 pounds. Some states require a harnessed car seat until age 3 or 4. However, parents can still find car seats available for larger or older children to ensure safety on the road.
To read more about your US destination, you can browse rules for each state here.
Top 10 Main Car Rental with Car Seat Companies
You can find reliable car rental services throughout the US and EU such as:

  • Hertz
  • Sixt
  • Avis
  • BMW On Demand
  • Enterprise
  • Europcar
  • Silvercar
  • Capps Van Rental
  • Priceline
  • Budget

When it comes down to it, keeping your children in a car seat will keep them safe, no matter where you travel. Planning in advance and bringing your own car seat can save you money.

Before you book a reservation, make sure you get the best deal. Compare car rental services to get quality service at the lowest rates.

This post is part of our Car Rental Guide. Thinking about renting a car but have questions? We get it. Find the answers on our comprehensive guide.

See the guide

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