5 Tips For Renting a Car in the US

If you are like me, you like to save money where you can but also get the most out of your vacation. There are a few variables that matter when deciding to rent a car. Think first about what all you would like to do. Are you going to take a road trip from one state to the next? Are you going to just stay local? Are you going to just stick around the area your hotel is in? Or will you be leaving on a cruise but just need the car to get you around a couple days? In this post, I will tell you all my tips and tricks about renting a car that I have learned over time.
If you pick a city where you know you will spend a lot of time in, you do not have to rent a car depending on a few variables. If the city has a subway, bus, or train system you can save money taking those instead. When I went on my first vacations, I did not rent a car. I walked everywhere I went. This helped keep the pounds off from all the great food I was eating. When I went to Minnesota for a few hours, I took an Lyft to get to the Mall of America. I found out after I took the Lyft that they have a train system. This could have saved me the money I spent on using Lyft. Using Lyft or Uber is another option for getting around.

One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn as an adult is that there are deposits for everything. This is the same concept for renting a car. Many companies will ask you to pay a deposit. Most deposits range from how much the total bill of the rental car is to around 300 dollars. Make sure you research this before going with a specific rental car company. There are plenty of different car companies, which I will cover later. I learned the hard way about deposits while on one of my first trips I took. I brought one credit card to use for the whole trip. When I got to my destination, the rental car cost a certain amount. This would be taken out once I returned the car. The rental car company also required a deposit of around 300 dollars. That was most of my spending money for the trip. I had to limit my spending due to this and was not able to do everything I wanted to do. Most companies will return the deposit within 24 to 72 hours of you returning the car. I have experienced a company not returning the deposit for up to two weeks.

I am the same as some people, I would love to rent a luxury car while on vacation. This in my budget is simply not something that can happen. I would rather spend money on exploring than a nice luxurious car. When looking into cars make sure there is one that fits your needs the most. Each company stocks various types of cars, trucks and SUVs. I typically rent compact cars because they are the cheapest. From time to time using Expedia, I find that compact and midsize can be the cheapest. Sometimes midsize will be cheaper than compact, so keep an eye out for that. You will get more leg room and comfort in the midsize, but most of the time compact is cheaper. Always be on the look out for better rental car deals, even if you booked a month ago. I notice that prices are always changing with rental cars.

I started traveling when I was 19, although I did not need to start renting cars till I was 22. When I tried to rent my first car, I found out that there are age restrictions. Thankfully my husband was there, we did not have to deal with the age restrictions. Most companies want you to be over the age of 25. Although they will rent you a car if you are under the age of 25. Most car companies will charge you a driver fee on top of the price to rent a car. This fee could be anywhere from 10 to 20 dollars a day. Some companies do have upper age restrictions also. Make sure to research the fees before you decide to rent a car.

Through renting a variety of different cars I have learned a lot of various things. If you are taking a car from one location to the next, the rental car will be more expensive. If you get the car and return it in the same location it will be cheaper. Rental car companies will accept cash, debit and credit cards. Some are moving away from accepting cash, so do your research before you decide on which payment to use. When turning in the car, make sure you turn it in on time. Some companies will charge you by the hour or the day for bringing the car back. Another trick is to just gas up the car before bringing it back. They charge more to fill up the gas tank than what the gas station would charge. There is generally always a gas station before you get to the return location. All rental car companies do a driving record check before you leave with their vehicle. Be sure to have your license available for them to check. If you are wanting to take the car across US boarders into another country, check the rental car companies policy on taking their car across borders. Some car companies are fine with it, others have a strict policy of not taking their cars across boarders.

A list of 5 rental car companies that I have personally used:
1.) Budget
2.) Avis

3.) Enterprise

4.) Hertz

5.) Thrifty

I have had a great experience with each of these companies. Budget was by far my favorite company to work with, as everything went smoothly. When you call them on the phone or go in the checkout line, the customer service is top notch. Enterprise is usually always willing to take you to where you need to go or pick you up from a location to get your car. I hope you enjoyed all my tips and tricks to renting a car in the US. I hope I shared with you something that you did not know. Stay tuned soon to learn about Texas.

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  1. Good tips – and it’s too bad you didn’t realize about the light rail in Minneapolis – the airport is only a couple stops from Mall of America!

    1. I know right. I learned it while I was taking my Lyft back to the airport. Next time I will definitely do it!

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