Is It Cheaper to Rent a Car at the Airport?

March 24, 2022 3:42 PM Sally French Posted: March 24, 2022 3:42 PM Up-to-date: March…

When it will come to saving income on rental cars, there is no scarcity of suggestions. Some recommend skipping mainstream corporations and applying a car or truck rental alternate, like a peer-to-peer auto-sharing assistance. Others encourage package deal discounts via on the internet journey agencies like Expedia. And then there is this guidance: Rent by a rental auto company’s downtown locale, alternatively than at the airport.

So how much do you truly save by booking an off-airport auto rental? Are airport rental automobiles additional high priced? Turns out, it’s about 26% far more high-priced to rent a vehicle at the airport versus at its downtown counterpart.

Which is according to a NerdWallet investigation executed in March of 360 rental car prices (which includes taxes and service fees) across America’s 20 premier airports. The analyze as opposed the rate of a weeklong rental at 8 key car or truck rental firms against the price to hire at their nearby downtown counterparts.

How considerably income you essentially help save with an off-airport car rental

NerdWallet located that weekly vehicle rentals for downtown destinations have been, on normal, $126 less expensive than airport spots. That is, you can anticipate to commit about 26% far more for an airport rental when compared to a downtown rental.

For rentals more time than one particular week, anticipate even much more cost savings.

Why are airport auto rentals so significantly extra costly?

The price tag variation might not just be the vehicle rental providers attempting to choose advantage of weary air tourists. Typically, the vehicle rental businesses are not even the ones pocketing most of the 26% extra.

Most airports charge rental motor vehicle businesses to run on their site. Expenses range by airport, but they are frequently supposed to address costs that the airport fronts, these kinds of as shuttle, cleaning and security expert services. At times, airports basically say this payment covers the proper to do business enterprise.

For case in point, San Francisco Intercontinental Airport rates rental vehicle operators 10% of gross receipt income from airport consumers. SFO also rates a $16 transportation and facility price for every signed rental motor vehicle contract.

Moreover airport-imposed fees, some states levy tourism fees on vehicles rented from lodge and airport places (which does not essentially apply to cars and trucks rented at stand-on your own destinations).

Most rental vehicle firms pass these fees on to renters.

Benefits of booking a rental auto off-web site (past discounts)

Price savings on the sticker cost aren’t the only rationale to ebook a rental auto off-web page.

You may help save time

Just due to the fact a rental car or truck is outlined as “on-site” at the airport doesn’t generally indicate you can walk straight from your gate to the rental car counter. Some airports have a shuttle journey to the rental car facility. At the time there, you may well be greeted by a very long line at the rental car counter, specially if several huge flights just landed. If shuttle frequency is minimal, it may well be faster hailing a cab and leasing downtown.

You will fork out only for the times you will need a vehicle

Dependent on the mother nature of your journey, you might need to have to hire a car or truck for only a several days. Say you are headed to Colorado, exactly where you program to commit a pair of days downtown in Denver ahead of driving out to the Rocky Mountains.

If you are flying into Denver International Airport, you could spend $10.50 to choose the Denver airport rail to Denver Union Station. Say you had been staying at The Westin Denver Downtown, which is just a 10-minute stroll from Union Station. It costs $35 for every working day for parking (and $46 for valet).

By finding up your rental car or truck downtown the morning that you drive off to the Rockies, you could not only avoid paying for needless rental motor vehicle times in what is normally a quite public-transit-friendly and walkable town — but you could prevent parking rates, far too.

You can increase rideshare bargains on times you really don’t will need a whole rental car or truck

If you go portion of your trip sans car or truck — or you end up getting a rideshare to an off-web site rental car or truck area — listed here are techniques you can help save on rideshares (or at least get paid some benefits).

Lyft has partnerships with Delta Air Traces and Hilton, in which you can get paid either Delta SkyMiles or Hilton Honors details centered on your fare’s charge. Fork out for your Lyft with specific Chase credit score playing cards and gain up to 10x bonus points or as a lot as 5% hard cash back again.

In the meantime, particular American Specific playing cards give a monthly Uber Funds profit, which can be made use of toward Uber rides or U.S. Uber Eats orders. Terms utilize.

When to skip the downtown rental

Despite the cost savings, booking autos off-website might not always make feeling. Getting capable to decide on up your automobile straight away upon landing may well be more handy — and benefit could simply be well worth the further cost. Listed here are a few other explanations to skip the downtown rental:

  • Some downtown areas have restricted hrs. While airport locations are frequently open up 24/7, it is not unheard of to see the downtown spot closed on Sundays, or with much less functioning several hours (these kinds of as a closing time of 4 p.m.).
  • You continue to want to locate a way downtown. If there is no cost-free hotel shuttle or straightforward community transit downtown, then you could also have to shell out for a taxi or rideshare, which can eat into your discounts. NerdWallet’s examine also analyzed normal Uber and Lyft fares among airports and downtown. The common Uber fare was $28.21 each way, when the regular Lyft fare was $22.86.
  • Downtown locations are not generally cheaper. Though they are frequently less costly than their airport counterparts, the development isn’t normally genuine. If your journey is flexible, evaluate price ranges ahead of reserving.

How to come across a low cost airport rental auto

If you are likely to ebook a rental auto from the airport, there are a couple methods:

  • Glimpse to the most economical rental automobile businesses. Another NerdWallet evaluation of rates by rental auto companies located that Business, Price range and Hertz round out the major three most affordable rental vehicle corporations, on regular.
  • Attempt booking at the final minute. Though a bit more of a gamble, procrastinating can sometimes conserve you dollars. NerdWallet identified that rental car or truck rates are inclined to be more affordable when booked 1 7 days in advance of the reservation day vs . 3 months in progress.
  • Search to rental car loyalty programs. Most major vehicle rental corporations have accompanying loyalty applications that can make you free of charge rentals and upgrades. For example, even though Nationwide is between the most pricey rental car firms, its National Car or truck Rental Emerald Club is between the ideal, with benefits like a cost-free automobile rental day for each and every 5 competent motor vehicle rentals designed by members with Emerald Club Government Elite Position. They also get advantages like complimentary non-public airport delivery.

JT Genter and Sam Kemmis contributed to this report.

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