Is it cheaper to rent a car at the airport or in the city?

(NerdWallet) – When it involves saving cash on rental automobiles, there’s no scarcity of recommendation. Some recommend skipping mainstream corporations and utilizing a automotive rental various, like a peer-to-peer car-sharing service. Others promote package deal offers via on-line journey businesses like Expedia. And then there’s this recommendation: Rent via a rental automotive firm’s downtown location, reasonably than on the airport.

So how a lot do you actually save by reserving an off-airport automotive rental? Are airport rental automobiles dearer? Turns out, it’s about 26% dearer to lease a automotive on the airport versus at its downtown counterpart.

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That’s based on a NerdWallet evaluation carried out in March of 360 rental automotive costs (together with taxes and costs) throughout America’s 20 largest airports. The research in contrast the value of a weeklong rental at eight main automotive rental corporations in opposition to the price to lease at their close by downtown counterparts.

How a lot cash you truly save with an off-airport automotive rental

NerdWallet discovered that weekly automotive leases for downtown areas had been, on common, $126 cheaper than airport areas. That is, you possibly can count on to spend about 26% extra for an airport rental in comparison with a downtown rental.

For leases longer than one week, count on much more financial savings.

Why are airport automotive leases a lot dearer?

The value distinction may not simply be the automotive rental corporations attempting to make the most of weary air vacationers. Generally, the automotive rental corporations aren’t even those pocketing a lot of the 26% extra.

Most airports cost rental automotive corporations to function on their website. Fees range by airport, however they’re usually supposed to cowl prices that the airport fronts, akin to shuttle, cleansing and safety companies. Sometimes, airports merely say this charge covers the correct to do enterprise.

For instance, San Francisco International Airport costs rental automotive operators 10% of gross receipt income from airport prospects. SFO additionally costs a $16 transportation and facility charge per signed rental automotive contract.

Besides airport-imposed charges, some states levy tourism charges on automobiles rented from lodge and airport areas (which doesn’t essentially apply to automobiles rented at stand-alone areas).

Most rental automotive corporations go these prices on to renters.

Benefits of reserving a rental automotive off-site (past financial savings)

Savings on the sticker value aren’t the one motive to e-book a rental automotive off-site.

You would possibly save time

Just as a result of a rental automotive is listed as “on-site” on the airport doesn’t at all times imply you possibly can stroll straight out of your gate to the rental automotive counter. Some airports have a shuttle journey to the rental automotive facility. Once there, you is likely to be greeted by a lengthy line on the rental automotive counter, particularly if a number of massive flights simply landed. If shuttle frequency is proscribed, it is likely to be sooner hailing a cab and renting downtown.

You’ll pay just for the times you want a automotive

Depending on the character of your journey, you would possibly have to lease a automotive for just a few days. Say you’re headed to Colorado, the place you intend to spend a few days downtown in Denver earlier than driving out to the Rocky Mountains.

If you’re flying into Denver International Airport, you may pay $10.50 to take the Denver airport rail to Denver Union Station. Say you had been staying at The Westin Denver Downtown, which is only a 10-minute stroll from Union Station. It costs $35 per day for parking (and $46 for valet).

By selecting up your rental automotive downtown the morning that you simply drive off to the Rockies, you may not solely keep away from paying for pointless rental automotive days in what’s in any other case a reasonably public-transit-friendly and walkable metropolis — however you may keep away from parking costs, too.

You can maximize rideshare reductions on days you don’t want a full rental automotive

If you go a part of your journey sans automotive — or you find yourself taking a rideshare to an off-site rental automotive location — listed here are methods it can save you on rideshares (or at the least earn some rewards).

Lyft has partnerships with Delta Air Lines and Hilton, the place you possibly can earn both Delta SkyMiles or Hilton Honors factors primarily based in your fare’s value. Pay in your Lyft with sure Chase bank cards and earn as much as 10x bonus factors or as a lot as 5% money again.

Meanwhile, sure American Express playing cards provide a month-to-month Uber Cash profit, which can be utilized towards Uber rides or U.S. Uber Eats orders. Terms apply.

When to skip the downtown rental

Despite the financial savings, reserving automobiles off-site may not at all times make sense. Being capable of decide up your automotive instantly upon touchdown is likely to be extra handy — and comfort would possibly simply be value the additional value. Here are a couple of different causes to skip the downtown rental:

  • Some downtown areas have restricted hours. While airport areas are sometimes open 24/7, it’s not unusual to see the downtown location closed on Sundays, or with fewer working hours (akin to a closing time of 4 p.m.).
  • You nonetheless have to discover a means downtown. If there’s no free lodge shuttle or straightforward public transit downtown, then you may additionally must pay for a taxi or rideshare, which might eat into your financial savings. NerdWallet’s research additionally analyzed common Uber and Lyft fares between airports and downtown. The common Uber fare was $28.21 every means, whereas the common Lyft fare was $22.86.
  • Downtown areas aren’t at all times cheaper. While they’re usually cheaper than their airport counterparts, the pattern isn’t at all times true. If your journey is versatile, examine costs earlier than reserving.

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How to discover a low-cost airport rental automotive

If you’ll e-book a rental automotive from the airport, there are a couple of tips:

  • Look to the most cost effective rental automotive corporations. Another NerdWallet evaluation of costs by rental automotive corporations discovered that Enterprise, Budget and Hertz spherical out the highest three most cost-effective rental automotive corporations, on common.
  • Try reserving on the final minute. While a bit extra of a bet, procrastinating can typically prevent cash. NerdWallet discovered that rental automotive costs are usually cheaper when booked one week upfront of the reservation date versus three months upfront.
  • Look to rental automotive loyalty packages. Most main automotive rental corporations have accompanying loyalty packages that may earn you free leases and upgrades. For instance, whereas National is among the many costliest rental automotive corporations, its National Car Rental Emerald Club is among the many greatest, with advantages like a free automotive rental day for each 5 certified automotive leases made by members with Emerald Club Executive Elite Status. They additionally obtain advantages like complimentary non-public airport supply.

JT Genter and Sam Kemmis contributed to this report.

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