Car Rental

Tips for Renting a Car in the US

Traveling by car is very convenient for Americans and tourists alike. After all, most states are accessible via the interstate highway system. That’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise that the car rental revenue in the US reached $36.1 billion in 2022, its highest year-over-year gain.

While renting a car in the US is relatively easy, some tips can make the process flow more smoothly and help you in the long run. Before renting a car, remember these tips:

Check the State’s car rental requirements

Most car rental companies require a person 21 years or older to rent a car since they’ll also be responsible for the vehicle. However, these rules can vary per state. Car rentals in California, for example, ask that you’re at least 25 years old, have a valid driver’s license, and own a credit card. You also need to present a passport if you’re a non-US citizen. On the other hand, you only need to be 18 years old to rent a car in New York.

Foreigners are also asked for a valid state-issued driving license, a foreign driving license, or an international driving permit. Certain states or rental agencies also ask that you register a person who may be driving the car as an additional driver for safety and legal purposes. Check each state or agency’s requirements to ensure you can meet them to rent a vehicle.

Rent a car at the airport

Although you can visit car rental companies in different places, getting your car at the airport can be more convenient. It allows you to begin traveling as soon as you land and return your rental right before your departing flight. This can be especially handy for tourists in states like Hawaii and Alaska, as you need to arrive and leave by plane.

In these cases, providers go the extra mile to make renting easier. Take car rentals at Honolulu Airport, for example. You can book rentals through its CONRAC Consolidated Car Rental Facility, which houses multiple companies like AVIS Car Rental and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Such facilities also allow you to rent at unbeatable prices—especially in tourist-heavy areas where companies apply higher markups on rental costs.

Consider getting car rental insurance

If you’re renting a car for an extended period, consider getting insurance. Depending on your policy, this can cover accidents, damage, and theft costs. If you already have car insurance, ask your agent if it covers rental cars so you don’t have to get a separate one.

However, our article “Full Coverage Car Insurance Guide” notes that insurance prices and coverage are other things that can vary per state. Hence, it’s critical to check and know how much you must pay. For example, the gap between minimum and full coverage car insurance is more significant in Wyoming due to rural landscapes and harsher weather conditions that can result in more car damage or accidents. You can minimize costs by researching insurance prices in your destination before renting a car.

Return your car on time

Even if you’re only a couple of hours late, car rental companies will charge you a full day’s rent or a late fee if you don’t return the car on time. This can take a chunk of your budget or savings, so bring it back on the agreed time.

If you can’t rent a car at an airport, book with providers along your exit route to avoid late fees. You can also set an alarm to remind you what day to return your car. Finally, check what traffic conditions will be like on that day. Try to return your car a couple of hours earlier than the agreed time if you believe you’ll run into traffic on your way to return it.

Renting a car in the US is great for travelers and people who need temporary vehicles. Make the process easier by following the tips above.

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