Average Cost of Renting a Car

Renting a Car

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What is the average cost of renting a car? That’s like asking what’s the average price of an airline ticket: even if you could figure out the answer, it wouldn’t be particularly helpful in your actual life.

The cost of renting a car will depend on a lot of factors, including your age, the type of car you want to rent, your pickup location and the time of the week you rent. 

How To Get The Best Deal

To save money, book early, shop around, and do your due diligence! With a little know-how, you can save a lot of money. The top car rental companies according to Top Ten Reviews are Enterprise for Best Overall, Thrifty for Low Cost, and Hertz for Best Perks.

Average Cost of a Car Rental

Economy Car (1 Day/Week Rental) – Enterprise: $67/$288 ; Thrifty: $62/$276 ; Hertz: $93/$228

Compact Car (1 Day/Week Rental) – Enterprise: $68/$297 ; Thrifty: $64/$280 ; Hertz: $94/$234

Full Car (1 Day/Week Rental) – Enterprise: $76/$335 ; Thrifty: $74/$316 ; Hertz: $101/$291

Many factors contribute to the price of renting a car – here are the most important ones: 

Factors That Determine Car Rental Costs

When You Book: Renting a car is a lot like shopping for an airline ticket in many respects. The earlier you look for a car, the better of a deal you are going to get. If you need to book a car for the next day, you are going to pay a lot more money than if you allow yourself at least a week to shop for the best deal before you need to drive.

When You Drive: Most car rental services in small cities make their money primarily on the weekdays with business travelers who need a car to get around an unfamiliar city. As such, you are likely to get a better rate if you are renting a car for weekend travel than if you need it for weekday travel. However, if you are renting a car in a tourist location, such as NYC, rates might be higher during the weekend when tourists are more likely to be in town. 

Another great opportunity for rental car companies to make money is around the holidays. If you need a car right around Christmas or Thanksgiving, you’ll need to be prepared to spend more money. 

Where You Pick Up: Renting a car at the airport is incredibly convenient – and incredibly expensive. You’ll pay for convenience in car rentals, as with anything else. If you are flying into a large city that has convenient rideshare services or taxis, consider looking for deals in the suburbs near the airport. You might save much more than the taxi fee, and it might be worth your while. 

Where You Drop Off: Thinking of doing a road trip in a rental car, picking it up in one location and dropping it off in another state? You can definitely do this, but it will cost you. Even dropping off your vehicle at a different location across town can likely add additional fees that can escalate quickly, especially if you drop it off somewhere super convenient for you (like the airport).

How Long You Drive: Generally, the longer you book a car for, the lower your per-day rate will be. Keep in mind that most places will not let you rent a car for fewer than 24 hours, so even if you only need a vehicle for a few hours, you will still be required to pay for at least one full day of use. Additionally, if you cut your trip short, you may not necessarily save all that much money by returning your car early. 

Vehicle Type: Every car rental service has a different way of classifying the vehicles they rent, but in general, the fancier and larger the vehicle, the more you will pay. An Economy vehicle, usually a small car, is typically your cheapest option. A fancy sports car might cost as much as 50 percent more to rent, which you might have suspected. But surprisingly, even a minivan can cost nearly double to rent as a standard economy car does. 

Whether or Not You Refuel: It always pays to drop off your rental car with the same amount of gas it had when you picked it up. It is a pain for rental companies to refuel their vehicles – they have to send an employee to a gas station and waste time that the car could be out and about making money for them. Because of this, you will often pay double or triple the price per gallon than you would if you paid at the pump if you return a rental car with less gas in the tank

However, don’t think that you will get money back by being a good Samaritan and returning a tank with more gas in it – you likely won’t be rewarded monetarily for your efforts, meaning you just saved the company money after you already made them money! 

How Old The Driver Is: If you’re under 25 years of age, rental companies will charge you anywhere in the neighborhood of $20-$70 per day. Even if there’s another driver who is 25+, you will still have to pay if any of the drivers are under 25. 

Any Extras You Purchase: No matter where you rent, the company will try and sell you on extras to increase their profits. One of the most common is extra insurance – most major credit cards will cover you for a rental car you pay for using their card, and between this perk and your standard insurance, it’s unlikely that you actually need to purchase additional coverage. It’s a good idea to check with both your credit card company and insurance agent beforehand.

Article Sources

  1. Budget. "Helpful Information on Renting a Car With Budget." Accessed March 18, 2020.

  2. Enterprise. "Start a Reservation." Accessed March 18, 2020.

  3. Thrifty. "Thrifty Car Rental." Accessed March 18, 2020.

  4. Hertz. "Start Your Car Rental Reservation." Accessed March 18, 2020.

  5. Budget. "Why Are You Quoting Me a Higher Rental Rate Than the Last Time I Checked Prices for the Same Reservation." Accessed March 18, 2020.

  6. National Car Rental. "What Is a Car Rental Drop Charge." Accessed March 18, 2020.

  7. Budget. "How Is My Rental Rate Calculated." Accessed March 18, 2020.

  8. Enterprise. "Economy Car Rental." Accessed March 18, 2020.

  9. Enterprise. "Car Rental Fuel Options." Accessed March 18, 2020.

  10. Enterprise. "Can You Rent a Car Under 25 in the U.S. and Canada." Accessed March 18, 2020.

  11. Chase. "Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver." Accessed March 18, 2020.