Hiring a rental car is often a luxury while on holiday, and you want to visit places outside of the usual tourist spots or plan to travel around to many different locations. You may also need a rental car while traveling on business to get around the city easier.
Whatever the case hiring a rental car can be expensive, and knowing the average rental car cost and which rental car companies provide the best prices can save you a bunch of money during your trip.
How Much is the Average Cost of a Rental Car?
The average cost to rent a car in the US is around $67 per day in most locations. While you can get a rental car for $14 per day in some cities, other cities may charge you $90 per day for a similar car.
There is a wide range of rental car companies in every city and prices always vary even if you get the same type of car. Often it comes down to how much demand each company has for its fleet of rental cars available.
In some cases, you may not be able to get a rental car at all from certain companies in different cities, while others have a huge supply still available during the same time.
Rental Car Price Breakdown
The cost to hire the cheapest Budget rental car for one day in Los Angeles is $35.09 plus $19.40 in taxes for a total of $54.49 per day that must be prepaid, or you pay more. However, you’re then driving with no insurance, GPS, and no other people can drive the car.
|Pay Now||Pay Later|
|Cover Your Liability||$14||$14|
Typically prepaying for your rental car will save you a few dollars a day; compare $35.09 prepaid vs. $38.99 if you pay when you arrive to pick up your rental car.
Rental Car Insurance
When you hire a rental car, you have the option to buy additional insurance, and you have a few different options that start to increase the price drastically.
However, without at least some insurance from the rental car company or your own personal insurance, the costs are considerable if you cause any damage to the car or other people and their property.
In our example above, to cover the car for any damage that you cause will cost you $23 per day, so on a 7-day trip, that adds $161 to the overall price, but if you don’t buy it and damage is done to the rental car then you’re personally liable for the costs.
You also have the option of insurance if you personally have any injuries for $9.95 per day, such as a car accident that somebody else causes and you need to go to the hospital.
Most tourists should already have personal injury insurance, but check what you have prior to renting your car.
The third type of insurance is if you cause injury to someone or their property while driving the rental car. You can get insurance to cover you for that situation at $14 per day.
Overall for a 7-day trip, you’d pay $161, $69.65, $98, for a total of $328.96 which is a significant amount when added on top of the actual rental car.
Rental car companies are not going to include a GPS system for free unless there is no way it can be removed or disabled from the car. For $16.99 per day, Budget will provide you with a GPS to help you get around the city; over seven days, that will cost you $118.93.
While you may consider using your phone as a GPS, many cities have made it illegal to touch or look at your phone while driving. So even if you are not making a call, you could get a fine for driving while using a phone which has an additional cost to your trip.
Other Additional Services
Budget and most other rental car companies will have many other services you can buy so they can get some additional money out of you.
Things like baby seats for $14 per day which may be a requirement if you didn’t bring something suitable on the plane
You may also be offered things like unlimited toll crossings for $11.99 per day, but you should check if there are any tolls that you’d need to pay and how much those tolls are per day as it’s unlikely unless you’re moving between cities that you’d need such services.
Cheapest Rental Car Companies
Overall, Budget has the best prices in any city of the major rental car companies; it averages $54.81 per day for the cheapest vehicle option in each city.
Three of the great things about Budget are that they’re in almost every city, have high availability, and the cars they provide are reasonable and easy to drive.
|Company||Cost Per Day|
Hertz has an average price of $63.46 per day, which is in the low to mid-price range for the major rental car companies.
They are available in every city with a good range of cars available and the actual vehicles provided are extremely high quality and comfortable.
Advantage has an average price of $49.82 per day, and while that is a cheaper price than Budget, the major issue is that Advantage is not available in a big enough range of cities to make them reliably the best option.
In the cities they do operate, they can provide amazing prices like $14 per day in Miami. They also can have lower prices than Budget, but not in every city, so you need to double-check.
Avis is one of biggest car rental companies and has an average cost of $61.99 per day, which puts them right in the middle price range for all major car rental companies.
The advantage of Avis is they’re available in every city with a big range of vehicles to choose from that are going to be easy to drive and newer than some other companies.
Alamo has an average daily rental car price of $73.39, which puts them in the higher end of rental car costs, but it’s important to take a look at their per city rental costs as they’re much lower than other companies in certain southern cities.
Alamo has some of the best prices in more southern cities close to their home base. For instance, the daily car rental cost in Dallas is $57.89, while most other companies are $70 – $80.
One downside to Alamo is that their cheaper vehicles are often larger trucks or utes, so it can be challenging to drive in the city or if you’re not used to big vehicles.
Enterprise has an average daily rental car price of $79.62, which puts them as the second most expensive overall car rental company.
They are consistently in the higher end of cost for renting a car in any city checked, and their availability wasn’t as good as most of the other companies.
Enterprise has no major redeeming features or benefits that should make you want to use them unless no other options are available.
National Car Rental has the highest average daily rate to rent one of their cars at $81. It’s consistently the most expensive car rental company in any city checked.
The other significant issue with National is that you need to book months in advance to get any kind of car, let alone the cheapest option available. That goes for the airport or any locations in the city that you’re checking.
For Seattle and Dallas, National had absolutely zero availability in the entire city at the same time that all other companies had availability either at the airport or at least in the city.
Rental Car Cost Comparison by State
Among the major cities checked, Miami had the lowest overall average price for a rental car at $48.28, averaged among all rental companies available. Advantage even offers rental cars in Miami for $14 per day.
|Seattle||Los Angeles||Dallas||New York||Miami|
|Average In City||$82.11||$61.38||$79.72||$64.26||$48.28|
The most expensive city of those checked was Seattle which averaged $82.11 to rent a car for one day. One of the biggest issues with Seattle was that most rental companies didn’t have a big enough supply of cars at the airport, and pickups were needed in downtown Seattle.
Dallas had a similar issue with most car rental companies needing you to go into the city or simply having no supply of cars unless you booked months in advance.
New York and Los Angeles have great prices overall on rental cars and a huge supply available at the airport, making the price plus convenience must better there.
Rental Car Cost Comparison by Year
Numerous news stories have indicated that the pandemic has drastically increased prices across the US for rental cars, with estimates ranging from 31% – 90% increases between 2019 and 2022.
Detailed below shows the cost for some of the major rental car companies for one day in Chicago in 2019, 2021, and 2022. The increases don’t seem to be for every city or every company.
|1 Day Rental 2019||1 Day Rental 2021||1 Day Rental 2022|
While it’s challenging to find all of the information for each car rental company across the years in specific cities, the average costs to rent a car for one day appears to be going down overall or fluctuating around the same prices.
Budget is the cheapest car rental company based on the data in this article; in 2019, 1 day of renting in Chicago cost $59, and in 2022 it costs $52.99. 2021 even had a significant decrease in cost that appears to have now been rectified as people start traveling again.
Truck Rental Price Comparison
Home Depot charges $129 per day to rent one of their trucks (F250) to move equipment and supplies around, while Budget Car Rental can rent you a Toyota Tacoma for $40.49 per day.
|Ford F250||Toyota Tacoma|
|Cost Per Day||$129||$40.49|
|Maximum Volume||3,000 LBS||1,095 LBS|
|Towing Capacity||12,500 LBS||6,400 LBS|
Depending on your requirements and the size of what you need to move, you may find Budget a cheaper option than many of the truck rental companies on the lower end of the size.
The Ford F250 is clearing the bigger and stronger option but do you need to carry more than 1,000 lbs for all of your jobs at a significantly higher price?
Benjamin is a certified financial advisor, with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is knowledgeable about various business and financial topics, such as retirement planning and investment management. Ben has been recognized for his work in the financial planning industry. He has also been featured in various publications.