There are many reasons to rent a car for a long period of time: your car is in the shop and you need a way to get to work, you’re working on a project where you need to haul stuff or you’re looking to take that month-long road trip across the country.
Maybe you’re thinking about buying a car but you’re not ready to take the plunge. Or, you’re in a transitional place in life and don’t want to make a lasting commitment like buying a car quite yet. Renting a car long term can be a great way to find the autonomy you need to get around. Here, we share what you need to know before you get started.
1. What’s considered a long-term car rental?
Most rental companies have a minimum number of days to qualify for long-term status. Some companies consider 28 days or more long-term, while others require at least 30.
In other words, you’ll only be able to get a long-term rate offer if you’re renting for around a month or longer. Check with the rental company to see how much it would cost to rent a car for a week versus a month, and pay close attention to the details. If you rent for less than a month, you’ll likely be charged the rental company’s normal daily rate, which can be pretty pricey.
2. How much does it cost to rent a car monthly?
Long-term car rentals can be expensive depending on the rental company, the rental period and the mileage you put on the car. One of the biggest advantages is the discount you can snag when you rent for an extended period.
Essentially, the longer you rent, the more you save on the daily rate. At most car rental companies, you need to rent a car for about a month to get a lower price, but you may be able to negotiate the terms and find discounts when you’re renting for extended periods.
In addition to the rental rate, you’ll also likely need to factor in a deposit, which you’ll get back if you return the car with no damage.
3. What kinds of cars can I rent?
Some companies may offer special cars, or even discounts on nicer cars, when you rent long-term. But at most companies, you’ll be able to select a car from their regular fleet. Either way, you’ll likely be driving a fairly new car, which is perfect if you love that new car smell. Some rental agencies may even let you switch out cars throughout your long-term contract, so you can find the vehicle that works best for your needs.
4. What are the rental requirements?
Every rental car company has its own requirements to rent a car, be it short- or long-term. However, all of them will require drivers to have a valid driver’s license.
Many companies require you to pay for the rental with a credit card and do not accept debit cards. This ensures that they’ll be able to fully recoup the costs if something happens to the vehicle. However, some companies may be more flexible with accepted payment methods and permit debit cards with a larger deposit.
Additionally, you may need to be at least 25 years old to rent a car, depending on the rental car company or state regulations. If you’re younger, you could see some young driver fees added to your reservation.
5. Do I need insurance?
Yes. We definitely recommend protecting yourself in case something happens to the vehicle while you’re on the road. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll be fully covered through the rental agency without paying extra. First, check to see if your personal auto policy or credit card member benefits extend the type of coverage you’ll need. Then, read the rental company’s policies to see what kind of insurance they offer.
Look for other alternatives, too, like insurance you may be able to get through any memberships you have, like AAA. You can also talk to a licensed agent about purchasing non-owner auto insurance, which can give you better long-term rates.
6. Am I responsible for any maintenance?
One of the great things about renting a car, instead of buying or leasing, is that you have less responsibility for the vehicle’s upkeep. Most companies include complimentary maintenance in long-term rental agreements, so you won’t have to pay for things like routine oil changes or new tires.
7. Is there a mileage limitation?
Some agencies put a mileage cap on their rentals. In other words, the reservation only includes a specific number of miles. If you go over this limit, you’ll likely be charged an extra fee per mile. Policies differ, so check with the rental agency and ask if they have a mileage cap before you make your reservation.
8. Are there other extra fees?
Just like with short-term car rentals, you may have to pay some extra fees during your rental period, depending on your needs. For example, if you want to add a second driver, there’ll probably be an additional driver surcharge. Or, if you want a larger or nicer car, you’ll likely be charged extra. Check the rental policy and ask questions before committing to a long-term rental so you know what to expect.
9. Are there other options for long-term rental cars?
Long-term car rental with a big company may not be for you — and that’s okay. Car sharing with Avail is even easier and comes with many more benefits. No matter how long your booking is, you can add a second driver without a fee, access roadside assistance 24/7 and modify your reservation for free. Avail also protects each trip with Allstate insurance to give you peace of mind. With more flexibility and no maintenance expenses, long-term rentals with Avail in Chicago and Denver are less stressful and more cost-effective than owning a car. Plus, we offer dozens of self-service pick-up locations around town, making it easy to hit the road fast and return the car just as quickly.