Is it cheaper to rent a car at the airport or in the city?

(NerdWallet) – When it will come to saving dollars on rental autos, there is no scarcity of advice. Some recommend skipping mainstream businesses and utilizing a automobile rental alternate, like a peer-to-peer car or truck-sharing service. Some others endorse deal bargains via on the web travel agencies like Expedia. And then there’s this guidance: Rent as a result of a rental automobile company’s downtown area, somewhat than at the airport.

So how significantly do you genuinely help you save by reserving an off-airport car or truck rental? Are airport rental vehicles a lot more high priced? Turns out, it’s about 26% far more costly to lease a vehicle at the airport as opposed to at its downtown counterpart.

That’s according to a NerdWallet analysis done in March of 360 rental car costs (which includes taxes and expenses) across America’s 20 largest airports. The research in contrast the price tag of a weeklong rental at 8 significant vehicle rental businesses towards the expense to rent at their nearby downtown counterparts.

How substantially money you truly preserve with an off-airport car rental

NerdWallet uncovered that weekly vehicle rentals for downtown spots were being, on average, $126 cheaper than airport locations. That is, you can count on to shell out about 26% additional for an airport rental when compared to a downtown rental.

For rentals for a longer period than one particular week, count on even much more cost savings.

Why are airport car rentals so considerably far more high priced?

The price tag variance may well not just be the car rental corporations making an attempt to acquire advantage of weary air tourists. Commonly, the auto rental firms aren’t even the kinds pocketing most of the 26% excessive.

Most airports cost rental auto providers to work on their web site. Expenses differ by airport, but they are normally supposed to protect prices that the airport fronts, this kind of as shuttle, cleansing and security expert services. Often, airports simply just say this rate handles the ideal to do organization.

For instance, San Francisco Intercontinental Airport expenses rental motor vehicle operators 10% of gross receipt profits from airport clients. SFO also costs a $16 transportation and facility price for every signed rental motor vehicle deal.

Apart from airport-imposed charges, some states levy tourism service fees on cars rented from lodge and airport areas (which does not automatically implement to cars rented at stand-by yourself areas).

Most rental car corporations move these prices on to renters.

Rewards of scheduling a rental car off-site (beyond personal savings)

Personal savings on the sticker selling price aren’t the only reason to ebook a rental motor vehicle off-web page.

You could possibly preserve time

Just simply because a rental car or truck is detailed as “on-site” at the airport does not often suggest you can wander straight from your gate to the rental car or truck counter. Some airports have a shuttle ride to the rental automobile facility. Once there, you may be greeted by a prolonged line at the rental automobile counter, especially if various huge flights just landed. If shuttle frequency is minimal, it could be speedier hailing a taxi and leasing downtown.

You are going to pay back only for the days you have to have a car or truck

Based on the nature of your journey, you could want to lease a car for only a few days. Say you’re headed to Colorado, wherever you plan to devote a pair of times downtown in Denver ahead of driving out to the Rocky Mountains.

If you are traveling into Denver Global Airport, you could pay out $10.50 to consider the Denver airport rail to Denver Union Station. Say you were being keeping at The Westin Denver Downtown, which is just a 10-moment walk from Union Station. It charges $35 for every working day for parking (and $46 for valet).

By buying up your rental auto downtown the early morning that you push off to the Rockies, you could not only steer clear of shelling out for avoidable rental automobile days in what’s otherwise a pretty general public-transit-welcoming and walkable town — but you could stay away from parking expenses, too.

You can optimize rideshare discounts on days you don’t have to have a entire rental motor vehicle

If you go component of your journey sans car — or you close up getting a rideshare to an off-web-site rental vehicle spot — listed here are techniques you can conserve on rideshares (or at least generate some rewards).

Lyft has partnerships with Delta Air Strains and Hilton, wherever you can earn both Delta SkyMiles or Hilton Honors points dependent on your fare’s cost. Spend for your Lyft with sure Chase credit score cards and gain up to 10x bonus details or as considerably as 5% income again.

Meanwhile, certain American Specific playing cards offer you a month to month Uber Cash profit, which can be made use of towards Uber rides or U.S. Uber Eats orders. Terms use.

When to skip the downtown rental

In spite of the discounts, booking cars off-site may well not usually make feeling. Currently being in a position to decide on up your automobile immediately upon landing may possibly be a lot more easy — and usefulness might simply be truly worth the extra expense. Below are a several other causes to skip the downtown rental:

  • Some downtown spots have constrained hrs. While airport spots are generally open up 24/7, it is not unusual to see the downtown site shut on Sundays, or with fewer functioning hrs (this kind of as a closing time of 4 p.m.).
  • You still need to have to uncover a way downtown. If there is no free lodge shuttle or easy community transit downtown, then you may possibly also have to pay out for a taxi or rideshare, which can take in into your financial savings. NerdWallet’s review also analyzed regular Uber and Lyft fares in between airports and downtown. The ordinary Uber fare was $28.21 each and every way, while the typical Lyft fare was $22.86.
  • Downtown destinations are not often much less expensive. Although they are frequently more affordable than their airport counterparts, the pattern is not usually accurate. If your vacation is flexible, assess rates before booking.

How to uncover a cheap airport rental motor vehicle

If you are going to e book a rental vehicle from the airport, there are a few tips:

  • Glance to the most economical rental motor vehicle corporations. Another NerdWallet investigation of rates by rental auto providers discovered that Organization, Budget and Hertz round out the prime 3 cheapest rental vehicle businesses, on ordinary.
  • Test scheduling at the final moment. Whilst a little bit a lot more of a gamble, procrastinating can sometimes preserve you income. NerdWallet identified that rental vehicle prices have a tendency to be much less expensive when booked one particular 7 days in advance of the reservation day as opposed to a few months in advance.
  • Search to rental car loyalty plans. Most big car or truck rental firms have accompanying loyalty programs that can get paid you cost-free rentals and updates. For instance, although National is amongst the most expensive rental car or truck organizations, its National Car or truck Rental Emerald Club is amongst the best, with added benefits like a no cost vehicle rental day for each individual five certified car rentals created by customers with Emerald Club Government Elite Position. They also obtain gains like complimentary non-public airport supply.

JT Genter and Sam Kemmis contributed to this report.

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