Don’t want the hassle of dealing with a car rental agency on your next trip? No problem! These days, there are so many ways to get around the city that it can be tough to narrow down the best option for your plans. Whether its public transportation, ridesharing services or micromobility programs, each option has its own benefits and drawbacks. Let’s explore some of the best car rental alternatives.
1. Public transportation
Most big cities have robust public transportation systems to help residents navigate their daily lives. As a visitor, you can take advantage of these services to hit everything on your must-visit list, too.
Best for: Patient, budget-focused travelers who don’t mind putting a little effort into navigation for a more authentic local experience.
- Incredibly affordable
- Generally safe
- Efficient means of transportation
- It runs on a schedule, not on demand
- You may need to transfer between different lines or modes of transportation
- You may need to walk a bit from the station to your destination
2. Ridesharing services
Ten years ago, ridesharing was almost unheard of. Now, taking an Uber or Lyft is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to get around. Ridesharing services can be great if you don’t really need a car all that often, or you’re mostly traveling shorter distances. Although they are the two most well-known providers, there may be other alternatives to Uber and Lyft to consider in your area, too.
Best for: Busy business travelers or those whose itineraries only involve a few rides.
- Usually the quickest option
- Door-to-door transportation
- Low effort, with the ability to take in sights and sounds
- Costs can add up quickly, especially with surge pricing and tipping
- It can take a long time to secure a ride in busy areas
- There’s no guarantee that the car will be clean and well-maintained
3. Scooter & bike sharing
We’ll be honest: This is probably the most fun of the car rental alternatives. On a nice day, nothing beats zipping around bustling city streets with the wind in your face. Companies like Lime, Bird, Citibike and Divvy offer scooter and bike-sharing options in neighborhoods throughout big cities. Before your next visit, a quick internet search should help you determine what’s available.
Best for: Able-bodied travelers with quick reflexes, for a day trip around the city to explore hidden gems or travel short distances.
- Fun, unique way to see the city
- Affordable subscription and single-ride options
- Available on your schedule
- Higher risk of injury
- Limited range of distance
- Designated pick-up and drop-off locations limit flexibility
4. Car sharing
Car sharing allows you to borrow a car when you need one, or share your car with others to earn money. It’s the most similar alternative to renting a car: You’re borrowing a car from a local in the community instead of a fleet vehicle from a traditional car rental agency.
Best for: Larger groups, travelers with busy, multi-stop itineraries or those looking to leave the city.
- Flexibility for your schedule
- Door-to-door transportation
- Generally cheaper than renting a car
- You’re responsible for driving-related expenses, like gas and tolls
- It can be difficult and expensive to find parking in the city
- Traffic can have an impact on your travel time
With Avail car sharing, there are no fees to add a second driver or to modify your booking. You can also expect:
- Convenient neighborhood locations for self-service pick-up and drop-off
- A clean car at an affordable daily rate
- Allstate insurance protection options
- 24/7 roadside assistance
The bottom line
So, which is the best car rental alternative? It depends on your budget, comfort level with the various modes of transportation and whether you plan to move about within or outside of the city. To determine the best options for your trip, you can start by narrowing them down based on your plans:
Staying in the city? Your best bets are:
- Public transit. Best for budget-conscious travelers.
- Ridesharing services. Best for low-hassle, door-to-door service.
- Bike/scootering. Best for self-exploration as an alternative to walking.
Looking to get out & explore? Your best option is:
- Car sharing with Avail. It’s a flexible and affordable way to get out of the city without having to deal with the annoyances of traditional car rental.
All of the above are great options for big-city travel, but keep in mind that not every car rental alternative is available in all U.S. cities. Do some research for your destination so you can plan ahead by downloading the necessary apps, creating an account and reserving in advance, if needed.