You’ve booked a vacation and plan to fly into your destination city. But you’ll need a car to get around during your trip, triggering the question of whether car rentals are cheaper at the airport. There are several factors to consider when choosing a rental car pickup location. Find out how to make the right decision, plus how to lower your overall costs when renting a car.
Is it cheaper to rent a car at the airport?
If you’re wondering, “Is it more expensive to rent a car at the airport?” you may discover that it does cost more than another location. Taxes are often higher, plus the car rental company may need to pay additional fees to the airport, which ultimately results in higher prices for renters.
The higher price, however, may be worth it if there’s a better selection of vehicles available. Plus, going to an off-site rental company can still end up costing more since you have to pay for a shuttle, taxi, or Uber to get there. Remember to consider the whole cost of your options—including your time—in order to make a truly informed decision.
5 ways to save money on airport car rentals
Even if it’s not cheaper to rent a car from the airport, there are several ways you can lower your costs.
1. Avoid paying for excessive insurance
When you get to the airport rental car counter, you’ll likely be asked if you want to add insurance to your rental agreement. Before you agree to the extra cost, check to see if you already have coverage from other sources. For instance, some credit cards automatically include insurance against damage or theft of a rental vehicle. Some personal auto insurance policies also cover your driving of a rental car. If you have comprehensive and liability coverage, check to see if that extends to any car you drive.
2. Compare multiple rental options
All rental car companies at the airport won’t charge the same fees. Prices fluctuate based on timing, inventory, and other variables. Shop around at multiple companies before making a decision. When you do find a price you like, see if you can make a refundable reservation. Then you can continue to track prices and switch to another rental if you find a price drop.
3. Fill up gas before returning
It’s your responsibility to refill the gas tank before returning your rental car. Otherwise, you’ll be charged a much more expensive rate for the refill after you drop off the car. You do have the option to prepay at a potentially lower rate. But then if you return the car with more gas in the tank than needed, you likely won’t be reimbursed for the difference.
Avoid the confusion and potential extra fees by checking your rental agreement to see how much gas the car needs to have by the end of the reservation. Then take a few extra minutes to head to a nearby gas station before you drop off your car.
4. Return your car on time
Being punctual can actually save you a lot of money when you’re renting a car. You may have a narrow window of a grace period (typically less than 30 minutes), but you’ll face a hefty fee if you’re late returning your car. And if you’re more than a few hours late, you may be charged for an entire extra day.
Avoid those budget busters by getting your car back to the airport rental counter on time. When you pair this advice with the other tips to avoid fees, you can make airport car rentals much more affordable.
5. Make a reservation with Avail car sharing
The best way to spend less money on your car rental is to use Avail car sharing rather than a traditional rental company. Anyone who is 21 years or older with a valid driver’s license can borrow a car from our locations throughout Chicago and Denver — and you won’t get hit with an extra fee just for being young.
And instead of tracking down your potential insurance coverage through your auto policy or credit cards, you can be protected by Allstate insurance any time you borrow a car through Avail. You’ll also save if you want to add a second driver: Instead of spending an extra $10+ per day like most other rentals, Avail has no extra fee for having two drivers instead of one. Change your mind about your trip? You can cancel for free at any time with Avail. Book your trip with Avail today!