How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 13, 2018

When traveling long distances by car, some people prefer to put the miles and wear-and-tear on someone else’s car rather than their own.

Renting a car can solve this problem.

Renting a car can also be useful when traveling by plane so that you will have a car to drive when you arrive at your destination.

The price of the car you rent will depend on the type of car you wish to rent (sedan, SUV, van, truck, etc.), the duration of the rental, the day of the week and time of the year, and sometimes the miles projected to be put on the car.

Hertz Car Rental shuttle by Atomic Taco, on Flickr
Hertz Car Rental shuttle” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Atomic Taco

How much does it cost to rent a car?

The average car rental price will fall anywhere between $10 to $175 per day.    Your smaller sedans will be closer to the $10 to $30 per day range, while larger 14-passenger vans could cost more than $150.  To get an exact quote for your upcoming rental, we highly recommend CarRentals.com.  This search engine compares all of the top car rental agencies and shows the price of each company on an easy-to-read chart.

Refer to our chart below for the charges we saw.  These were the lowest prices we could find when we did a three-day search through the year.  Remember there are many factors that affect the cost of a rental car such as the demand, the time of year, the type of car, the rental car agency, if it’s an airport location and if premium add-ons are added.

An economy car will cost about $30 to $55 per day, and these tend to be the least expensive and smallest car available on the lot.

The intermediate cars, which are a step above the economy car, will cost about $45 to $75 per day.  These cars could include a Toyota Corolla or Chevrolet Cruze.

A standard car, or also known as a full-sized car, can cost about $55 to $80 per day.  These cars offer more room and are larger such as a Chevrolet Impala.

Luxury cars, which are similar to your Lexus or sports cars, can cost more than $100 per day.

Lastly, minivans and larger work trucks tend to be the most expensive, costing about $120 per day on average.

According to MyFlorida.com, the average cost for an Avis rental car was anywhere from $171 per week for a subcompact to as much as $258 for a minivan.

Car Rental CompanyLocationType of VehicleTotal fees for three days
BudgetPhoenix AirportFull Size$108
EnterprisePhoenix AirportMini Van$227
PaylessPhoenix AirportCompact$56
AvisSeattle Non-AirportEconomy$47
AlamoSeattle Non-AirportSUV$134
NationalSeattle Non-AirportPick Up Truck$176
BudgetDes Moines AirportEconomy$88
DollarDes Moines AirportStandard$86
ThriftyDes Moines AirportMini Van$257
AlamoOrlando Non-AirportFull Size$101
EnterpriseOrlando Non-AirportSUV$101
SixtOrlando Non-AirportLuxury$157
E-Z Rent-A-CarDetroit AirportEconomy$77
FoxDetroit AirportSUV$128
ThriftyDetroit AirportMini Van$257

What are the extra costs?

Many car rental services offer insurance that covers the car in case of an accident.  This insurance can cost an additional $10 to $30 per day, and when you sign up, you will avoid all liabilities related to the car, provided you’re not guilty of negligence.

Most rental car companies have an extra fee for drivers who are under the age of 25.  This fee varies from company to company, while some companies do not even allow drivers under 25.

If there is any damage done to the interior or exterior of the car, you will be responsible.

Most rental companies require the car to be returned with a full tank of gas unless you prepay before taking the keys.

Renting a car from the airport location can often incur surcharges.

Dropping the car off at a different location can lead to additional charges.

Adding additional items, such as a GPS or car seat, can be another $5 to $25 per day.

With some companies, adding an additional driver can cost extra.

Tips to know:

If you don’t care where you’re going to get the car rental from, consider using aggregator services that allow you to compare rentals all in one place. This will save you time from going from one website to another.

Avoid renting a car at the airport.  Airport locations are going to be the most expensive location.  Look for locations that are 10 to 20 minutes away from the airport.

When renting a car overseas, consider using the foreign version of the car rental agency, rather than the domestic version.

Know about all the fees up front.  If you have any type of travel-related credit card, you may find that the card will cover insurance costs and more.  Talk with your credit card company for more information.  Also, be sure to know your coverage in terms of what is going to be covered by your policy.

Get a breakdown of what the costs are going to be.  Car rental agencies are notorious for having hidden fees and restrictions.  Always get everything in writing.

How can I save money?

Booking your trip in advance is the best way to save money.  The earlier you reserve the car, the cheaper it will be.

Use services such as Priceline to find the best price for you.  You can also name your own price with their unique service.

There are many companies that offer coupons and discounts if you book directly through them instead of through a web service.

Check out the 7 ways to save on a car rental.

How to Find Deals

Look for Specials and Discounts

Most major car rental companies often give specials.  To find these specials, they can be found in many ways.  Some of the most common ways to find these specials include joining their email newsletter or even liking a Facebook fan page.  Most of these specials are going to have restrictions and qualifications, so don’t forget to read the fine print.  Specials can include deals such as free weekend days, a certain dollar amount off or even a group discount.  Besides specials, ask the rental car agencies if they accept AAA, CAA or AARP discounts.

Search for Coupon Codes

Those that have their hearts set on a certain rental car company can often find coupon codes floating around on the Internet.  A great way to find these coupon codes is by using a search engine such as Google.  The trick here is to make sure that the most recent results are used.  By using the most recent results, users can often find the freshest coupon codes that haven’t expired yet.  By using a search such as the company name followed by rental car deals or coupon codes can yield some decent results.

Compare with Aggregators

The Internet is a great place to compare a lot of rental car companies all at once.  Long gone are the days of calling up a travel agent’s office to get the best deal.  Checking rates couldn’t be easier online.  Boot up a car rental comparison website and check the rates for a date.  Browse through the many companies to see who’s offering the best rate at the time.  Before a reservation is placed, be sure to look for special offers and blackout dates.

NOTE:  Just because the car rental prices are cheap on a third-party website, it doesn’t mean that this will be a finalized price.  There are many extra charges to be aware of.  These extra charges can include collision damage waiver fees, fuel charges, taxes, additional driver fees, out-of-state charges, and the list can go on.  It’s important that these charges are known before showing up to a place.

Start Reservations Early

While waiting until the last-minute can often pop up some great deals, it isn’t a guarantee.  Start bargain hunting as soon as possible to make sure that plenty of time is available to find that deal.  Those that want to be advanced with their search are encouraged to keep notes and rental car information to keep track of the deals.

Avoid Airports

Car rental agencies that are located within the airport often charge 20 to 30 percent more than those located five miles away.  If traveling to a popular city that has rental car companies outside of the airport, highly consider taking a taxi to this site and not book through the site within the airport.


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