Is It Cheaper to Rent a Car at the Airport?


When it comes to saving money on rental automobiles, there’s no lack of assistance. Some recommend skipping mainstream corporations and utilizing a car or truck rental option, like a peer-to-peer automobile-sharing support. Some others endorse package bargains as a result of on-line vacation agencies like Expedia. And then there’s this tips: Lease by a rental car or truck company’s downtown area, relatively than at the airport.

So how much do you really preserve by booking an off-airport car or truck rental? Are airport rental autos additional high-priced? Turns out, it’s about 26% more pricey to hire a motor vehicle at the airport as opposed to at its downtown counterpart.

That’s in accordance to a NerdWallet assessment carried out in March of 360 rental car or truck costs (including taxes and fees) across America’s 20 major airports. The examine in comparison the cost of a weeklong rental at 8 big automobile rental companies from the expense to rent at their close by downtown counterparts.

How significantly funds you essentially help save with an off-airport automobile rental

NerdWallet identified that weekly car rentals for downtown destinations were, on average, $126 much less expensive than airport locations. That is, you can anticipate to commit about 26% far more for an airport rental in comparison to a downtown rental.

It is cheaper to rent a car downtown than at an airport by over $100 on average according to a NerdWallet study

For rentals lengthier than one week, count on even extra savings.

Why are airport car or truck rentals so considerably additional high-priced?

The selling price change could not just be the automobile rental companies making an attempt to get edge of weary air tourists. Commonly, the automobile rental organizations are not even the ones pocketing most of the 26% extra.

Most airports demand rental car or truck corporations to function on their site. Costs fluctuate by airport, but they are frequently supposed to include charges that the airport fronts, this sort of as shuttle, cleansing and protection companies. At times, airports simply say this payment covers the proper to do small business.

For illustration, San Francisco Global Airport rates rental car operators 10% of gross receipt income from airport prospects. SFO also prices a $16 transportation and facility price per signed rental automobile contract.

Other than airport-imposed service fees, some states levy tourism service fees on autos rented from lodge and airport locations (which doesn’t automatically implement to vehicles rented at stand-by itself destinations).

Most rental motor vehicle corporations pass these fees on to renters.

Positive aspects of scheduling a rental car off-internet site (outside of discounts)

Discounts on the sticker selling price are not the only cause to reserve a rental auto off-internet site.

You may possibly help save time

Just since a rental car or truck is stated as “on-site” at the airport doesn’t generally necessarily mean you can stroll straight from your gate to the rental motor vehicle counter. Some airports have a shuttle trip to the rental automobile facility. At the time there, you could possibly be greeted by a extended line at the rental car or truck counter, specifically if numerous massive flights just landed. If shuttle frequency is minimal, it may possibly be quicker hailing a taxi and renting downtown.

You will pay back only for the times you have to have a motor vehicle

Based on the nature of your excursion, you could possibly require to lease a motor vehicle for only a couple times. Say you are headed to Colorado, wherever you plan to expend a couple of days downtown in Denver in advance of driving out to the Rocky Mountains.

If you are flying into Denver International Airport, you could pay back $10.50 to just take the Denver airport rail to Denver Union Station. Say you ended up staying at The Westin Denver Downtown, which is just a 10-minute walk from Union Station. It charges $35 for each day for parking (and $46 for valet).

By buying up your rental auto downtown the morning that you travel off to the Rockies, you could not only stay clear of paying for unneeded rental auto times in what’s in any other case a quite public-transit-helpful and walkable metropolis — but you could stay clear of parking prices, as well.

You can maximize rideshare discount rates on days you really do not need a complete rental car

If you go element of your vacation sans car — or you conclude up getting a rideshare to an off-site rental car place — here are means you can preserve on rideshares (or at the very least make some benefits).

Lyft has partnerships with Delta Air Lines and Hilton, the place you can gain both Delta SkyMiles or Hilton Honors factors based mostly on your fare’s cost. Pay out for your Lyft with particular Chase credit cards and receive up to 10x reward points or as considerably as 5% dollars again.

In the meantime, certain American Categorical playing cards supply a every month Uber Funds benefit, which can be utilised toward Uber rides or U.S. Uber Eats orders. Conditions use.

When to skip the downtown rental

Inspite of the price savings, reserving cars and trucks off-web-site may possibly not often make sense. Being ready to decide on up your vehicle immediately on landing might be more handy — and ease may possibly very easily be truly worth the additional expense. Listed here are a several other reasons to skip the downtown rental:

  • Some downtown places have minimal hrs. While airport areas are usually open up 24/7, it is not unheard of to see the downtown area closed on Sundays, or with much less functioning several hours (these kinds of as a closing time of 4 p.m.).
  • You nevertheless want to locate a way downtown. If there’s no totally free hotel shuttle or straightforward public transit downtown, then you could also have to fork out for a taxi or rideshare, which can try to eat into your savings. NerdWallet’s study also analyzed common Uber and Lyft fares concerning airports and downtown. The normal Uber fare was $28.21 each individual way, while the average Lyft fare was $22.86.
  • Downtown destinations are not normally more affordable. When they are typically less expensive than their airport counterparts, the craze isn’t often true. If your vacation is flexible, evaluate rates just before booking.

How to locate a inexpensive airport rental vehicle

If you are going to e book a rental car from the airport, there are a couple tricks:

  • Seem to the lowest priced rental car corporations. A further NerdWallet analysis of price ranges by rental vehicle firms found that Organization, Funds and Hertz round out the top rated a few least expensive rental vehicle providers, on typical.
  • Try booking at the previous moment. Though a bit extra of a gamble, procrastinating can from time to time preserve you money. NerdWallet identified that rental automobile price ranges are likely to be less costly when booked 1 7 days in progress of the reservation date compared to a few months in progress.
  • Glance to rental motor vehicle loyalty systems. Most big motor vehicle rental firms have accompanying loyalty packages that can generate you free rentals and upgrades. For case in point, whilst National is amongst the most high priced rental car companies, its Nationwide Automobile Rental Emerald Club is between the most effective, with added benefits like a totally free automobile rental working day for each 5 experienced automobile rentals made by associates with Emerald Club Govt Elite Status. They also receive added benefits like complimentary personal airport shipping and delivery.

JT Genter and Sam Kemmis contributed to this report.


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