Is It Cheaper to Rent a Car at the Airport?

When it will come to preserving funds on rental vehicles, there’s no scarcity of information. Some propose skipping mainstream companies and using a vehicle rental alternate, like a peer-to-peer car-sharing support. Others market offer discounts by means of on the net travel businesses like Expedia. And then there’s this tips: Hire via a rental motor vehicle company’s downtown place, somewhat than at the airport.

So how a great deal do you definitely preserve by reserving an off-airport car or truck rental? Are airport rental vehicles extra high-priced? Turns out, it’s about 26% much more expensive to hire a car at the airport vs . at its downtown counterpart.


Which is according to a NerdWallet assessment done in March of 360 rental auto price ranges (like taxes and service fees) throughout America’s 20 most significant airports. The analyze when compared the selling price of a weeklong rental at eight significant motor vehicle rental organizations versus the price to lease at their close by downtown counterparts.

How considerably funds you in fact help save with an off-airport motor vehicle rental

NerdWallet found that weekly motor vehicle rentals for downtown destinations have been, on ordinary, $126 less costly than airport destinations. That is, you can be expecting to expend about 26% far more for an airport rental when compared 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 for a longer period than one week, be expecting even more discounts.

Why are airport car rentals so a great deal additional high priced?

The price tag variation may possibly not just be the car or truck rental firms trying to acquire gain of weary air travelers. Generally, the vehicle rental firms aren’t even the ones pocketing most of the 26% excess.

Most airports cost rental motor vehicle corporations to function on their website. Service fees fluctuate by airport, but they are typically meant to deal with charges that the airport fronts, these types of as shuttle, cleaning and stability products and services. Sometimes, airports simply say this fee addresses the right to do enterprise.

For illustration, San Francisco Intercontinental Airport fees rental automobile operators 10% of gross receipt revenue from airport consumers. SFO also rates a $16 transportation and facility cost for every signed rental automobile deal.

In addition to airport-imposed expenses, some states levy tourism service fees on vehicles rented from hotel and airport places (which does not essentially implement to vehicles rented at stand-by itself places).

Most rental motor vehicle providers go these expenditures on to renters.

Advantages of booking a rental motor vehicle off-web-site (past price savings)

Personal savings on the sticker rate are not the only explanation to guide a rental motor vehicle off-web page.

You may possibly preserve time

Just mainly because a rental vehicle is shown as “on-site” at the airport doesn’t normally suggest you can wander straight from your gate to the rental car or truck counter. Some airports have a shuttle journey to the rental vehicle facility. At the time there, you could be greeted by a extended line at the rental vehicle counter, specifically if a number of large flights just landed. If shuttle frequency is restricted, it could possibly be quicker hailing a taxi and renting downtown.

You will spend only for the times you will need a car or truck

Depending on the mother nature of your vacation, you may possibly want to lease a auto for only a handful of times. Say you are headed to Colorado, the place you program to invest a couple of days downtown in Denver right before driving out to the Rocky Mountains.

If you are flying into Denver Worldwide Airport, you could spend $10.50 to get the Denver airport rail to Denver Union Station. Say you had been keeping at The Westin Denver Downtown, which is just a 10-minute wander from Union Station. It prices $35 per day for parking (and $46 for valet).

By picking up your rental car downtown the early morning that you generate off to the Rockies, you could not only keep away from spending for pointless rental auto days in what is if not a rather public-transit-friendly and walkable metropolis — but you could keep away from parking prices, also.

You can optimize rideshare special discounts on days you do not have to have a complete rental auto

If you go element of your trip sans motor vehicle — or you end up having a rideshare to an off-internet site rental car spot — in this article are strategies you can save on rideshares (or at minimum make some rewards).

Lyft has partnerships with Delta Air Lines and Hilton, the place you can make either Delta SkyMiles or Hilton Honors points centered on your fare’s expense. Fork out for your Lyft with specific Chase credit history playing cards and get paid up to 10x reward points or as a great deal as 5% hard cash back.

Meanwhile, selected American Express cards present a month-to-month Uber Hard cash gain, which can be made use of toward Uber rides or U.S. Uber Eats orders. Terms use.

When to skip the downtown rental

Irrespective of the personal savings, scheduling vehicles off-site may well not generally make feeling. Currently being equipped to decide up your auto straight away upon landing could be extra easy — and ease could simply be truly worth the extra expense. Below are a couple of other causes to skip the downtown rental:

  • Some downtown places have restricted several hours. While airport areas are normally open 24/7, it’s not unusual to see the downtown site closed on Sundays, or with less functioning hrs (this kind of as a closing time of 4 p.m.).
  • You still have to have to locate a way downtown. If there is no free lodge shuttle or easy community transit downtown, then you may possibly also have to pay back for a taxi or rideshare, which can try to eat into your savings. NerdWallet’s research also analyzed regular Uber and Lyft fares in between airports and downtown. The regular Uber fare was $28.21 every single way, when the normal Lyft fare was $22.86.
  • Downtown locations aren’t always less expensive. While they’re normally less costly than their airport counterparts, the pattern is not generally genuine. If your journey is flexible, examine costs prior to reserving.

How to uncover a low-cost airport rental auto

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

  • Appear to the lowest priced rental car businesses. A further NerdWallet analysis of prices by rental vehicle firms found that Enterprise, Funds and Hertz round out the best 3 most affordable rental car businesses, on ordinary.
  • Test scheduling at the very last moment. Even though a bit more of a gamble, procrastinating can sometimes preserve you dollars. NerdWallet found that rental car or truck rates tend to be more affordable when booked a single 7 days in advance of the reservation day vs . three months in advance.
  • Glimpse to rental automobile loyalty courses. Most significant car rental businesses have accompanying loyalty systems that can earn you free of charge rentals and updates. For illustration, while National is amongst the most costly rental automobile businesses, its Nationwide Automobile Rental Emerald Club is among the the ideal, with added benefits like a absolutely free automobile rental day for each and every five skilled vehicle rentals built by associates with Emerald Club Government Elite Status. They also acquire added benefits like complimentary private airport delivery.

JT Genter and Sam Kemmis contributed to this report.

Katherine T. Burrows

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