Is It Cheaper to Rent a Car at the Airport?


When it comes to saving cash on rental cars, there is no lack of suggestions. Some propose skipping mainstream companies and utilizing a car rental choice, like a peer-to-peer motor vehicle-sharing service. Others advertise package deal deals by on the net travel businesses like Expedia. And then there is this assistance: Rent as a result of a rental vehicle company’s downtown spot, instead than at the airport.

So how substantially do you seriously preserve by reserving an off-airport automobile rental? Are airport rental cars more pricey? Turns out, it’s about 26% more pricey to lease a car or truck at the airport versus at its downtown counterpart.

That is in accordance to a NerdWallet evaluation carried out in March of 360 rental automobile price ranges (such as taxes and fees) across America’s 20 biggest airports. The analyze as opposed the cost of a weeklong rental at eight main vehicle rental organizations towards the price to hire at their close by downtown counterparts.

How considerably funds you actually help you save with an off-airport car rental

NerdWallet found that weekly automobile rentals for downtown destinations were being, on average, $126 cheaper than airport spots. That is, you can assume to spend about 26% more for an airport rental 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 lengthier than a single week, be expecting even much more personal savings.

Why are airport vehicle rentals so much extra highly-priced?

The price tag distinction may well not just be the motor vehicle rental companies making an attempt to just take gain of weary air travelers. Usually, the automobile rental firms are not even the types pocketing most of the 26% extra.

Most airports cost rental car providers to work on their site. Charges fluctuate by airport, but they are typically meant to protect expenses that the airport fronts, this sort of as shuttle, cleansing and safety expert services. Often, airports merely say this payment addresses the correct to do business.

For case in point, San Francisco Intercontinental Airport costs rental automobile operators 10% of gross receipt profits from airport buyers. SFO also prices a $16 transportation and facility price for each signed rental vehicle contract.

Moreover airport-imposed fees, some states levy tourism service fees on autos rented from hotel and airport locations (which doesn’t automatically utilize to cars rented at stand-by itself areas).

Most rental car businesses move these expenditures on to renters.

Gains of scheduling a rental vehicle off-web site (beyond personal savings)

Cost savings on the sticker value aren’t the only reason to e book a rental car or truck off-website.

You may well save time

Just mainly because a rental car is stated as “on-site” at the airport doesn’t always mean you can walk straight from your gate to the rental car or truck counter. Some airports have a shuttle ride to the rental auto facility. After there, you may possibly be greeted by a prolonged line at the rental vehicle counter, primarily if a number of significant flights just landed. If shuttle frequency is restricted, it might be quicker hailing a cab and leasing downtown.

You will shell out only for the days you need to have a vehicle

Based on the character of your vacation, you may possibly need to have to hire a car or truck for only a couple times. Say you are headed to Colorado, the place you plan to spend a couple of days downtown in Denver before driving out to the Rocky Mountains.

If you’re flying into Denver Worldwide Airport, you could pay back $10.50 to choose the Denver airport rail to Denver Union Station. Say you were being keeping at The Westin Denver Downtown, which is just a 10-minute wander from Union Station. It fees $35 per working day for parking (and $46 for valet).

By selecting up your rental auto downtown the early morning that you generate off to the Rockies, you could not only avoid shelling out for avoidable rental automobile times in what’s usually a rather general public-transit-friendly and walkable metropolis — but you could prevent parking expenses, much too.

You can improve rideshare reductions on times you really do not need to have a complete rental vehicle

If you go part of your trip sans vehicle — or you finish up using a rideshare to an off-web-site rental automobile locale — listed here are methods you can preserve on rideshares (or at least get paid some rewards).

Lyft has partnerships with Delta Air Traces and Hilton, where you can receive either Delta SkyMiles or Hilton Honors details primarily based on your fare’s price tag. Fork out for your Lyft with selected Chase credit playing cards and gain up to 10x bonus details or as much as 5% hard cash back.

In the meantime, sure American Express playing cards offer a month-to-month Uber Income profit, which can be used toward Uber rides or U.S. Uber Eats orders. Conditions implement.

When to skip the downtown rental

Even with the financial savings, booking vehicles off-website could possibly not constantly make perception. Being able to pick up your vehicle straight away upon landing might be a lot more effortless — and convenience may conveniently be value the added price. Listed here are a few other causes to skip the downtown rental:

  • Some downtown places have minimal hrs. While airport destinations are generally open up 24/7, it is not unheard of to see the downtown locale shut on Sundays, or with much less functioning hours (these types of as a closing time of 4 p.m.).
  • You even now need to have to locate a way downtown. If there is no no cost resort shuttle or easy community transit downtown, then you may also have to fork out for a taxi or rideshare, which can eat into your price savings. NerdWallet’s research also analyzed common Uber and Lyft fares among airports and downtown. The normal Uber fare was $28.21 each way, even though the ordinary Lyft fare was $22.86.
  • Downtown places are not normally less expensive. Though they are typically much less expensive than their airport counterparts, the development is not constantly true. If your travel is flexible, review charges just before reserving.

How to obtain a affordable airport rental motor vehicle

If you are heading to ebook a rental car from the airport, there are a number of tips:

  • Appear to the least expensive rental car or truck organizations. A further NerdWallet assessment of prices by rental vehicle businesses discovered that Organization, Budget and Hertz round out the best three most inexpensive rental vehicle providers, on typical.
  • Test booking at the past minute. While a bit far more of a gamble, procrastinating can in some cases conserve you money. NerdWallet identified that rental car price ranges are likely to be cheaper when booked one particular week in progress of the reservation day versus a few months in progress.
  • Glance to rental motor vehicle loyalty plans. Most key automobile rental providers have accompanying loyalty plans that can make you totally free rentals and updates. For illustration, when Countrywide is between the most pricey rental car or truck corporations, its Countrywide Vehicle Rental Emerald Club is amid the finest, with gains like a free car or truck rental working day for each 5 certified car or truck rentals created by customers with Emerald Club Executive Elite Status. They also acquire benefits like complimentary personal airport delivery.

JT Genter and Sam Kemmis contributed to this report.


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