Renting a car in the USA: our tips

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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  • Why rent a car in the US?
  • When it is NOT convenient to rent a car
  • Is it mandatory to have a credit card?
  • Minimum age to drive in the USA
  • Insurance
  • Know the American Highway Code
  • The costs for car rental: how to save with a low cost rental
  • Major car rental companies
  • Where to rent the car

Why rent a car in the US?

Every year more and more tourists decide to rent a car to discover the United States of America. This solution allows travelers to move freely and to cover large spaces using the large ones Interstates, which go straight for miles and miles and which are one of the characteristics of this beautiful country.

In the collective imagination it is thought that the car is used almost exclusively by those tourists who love travel on the road, but in reality car rental is also very useful for those who choose to visit some big cities (such as Los Angeles) in which without a car the movements would be much more complicated.

The car is also the best way to discover the suggestive American natural wonders, such as the Great National Parks, which are much more difficult to reach by using public transport. In any case, it is always advisable to rent a car in advance, but only when you are absolutely sure of your travel itinerary.

When it is NOT convenient to rent a car

Il car rental in the United States it is not to be taken into consideration when planning a visit to a chaotic and busy city, such as for example New York, where in addition to the difficulty in moving you must also do the account with thevery high cost of parking. Furthermore, in the Big Apple, as well as in other cities such as Boston and Chicago, it is possible to take advantage of a comfortable and efficient subway network that would make it unnecessary to rent a car. The same goes for most of the American cities, including Philadelphia, Washington and San Francisco, where there is an excellent public transport network and where you can get around very well on foot.

Obviously, in order to drive a car in the United States, you need to have one with you valid driving license. In most of the 50 US states it is possible to drive the car using the Spanish driving license, provided, however, that it has been achieved for at least one year; in the main states for on the road (California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada) an international driving license is not required.

In order not to be caught unprepared, it is advisable to consult the websites of the American motorization of the various states, where it is indicated whether an international driving license is mandatory or only recommended. It is possible to deepen the discourse on the driving license in the article "International Driving License", where it is very well explained what it is, where it is needed, what validity it has and how to obtain it.

Is it mandatory to have a credit card?

When picking up the car from the car rental, it is also necessary to have a passport with you, valid as an identification document, and a nominative credit card (not to be confused with debit cards and prepaid cards). The credit card is for the security deposit, with which a certain amount is blocked on the credit card as a guarantee for the car that has been rented.

It's important that the credit card you present to the agency for the collection of the car is the same with which you made the reservation (if you have prepaid the reservation) and therefore in the name of a person present at the time of collection.

Rent a car without a credit card

In the United States it is very difficult to be able to rent a car without giving your name credit card as a guarantee. Even when the car rental is paid for in advance, it is necessary to have a credit card as a guarantee.

The alternative, which, however, is not accepted by all car rentals, is to pay a cash advance as a deposit when you collect the car (which will be returned upon return), but keep in mind that it is usually several hundred dollars. To avoid the risk of nasty surprises, it is always better to contact the car rental before departure, inquiring about this contractual aspect.

Minimum age to drive in the USA

To be able to drive a rental car in the United States you must be 21 years old, but some companies rent certain types of vehicles (such as SUVs, SUVs and minivans) only to those who are at least 25 years old. The rental cost for those under 25 is slightly higher as it includes a surcharge due to "inexperienced driving" and the consequent higher cost of insurance.


When booking the rental car you must also specify the type of . (which is mandatory) to be included in the package.

There are two types of insurance coverage: the Loss Damage Waiwer (LDW) I'm Liability Insurance Supplement (LIS).

The LDW is an insurance that in the event of an accident with fault covers the damage done to your vehicle and which also includes the guarantee against theft, but which however does not cover any damage caused to third parties. For this reason it is always advisable to also include the LIS extension, which covers up to a million dollars for damages done to others. There is a further additional insurance package called roadsafe, which includes tow truck assistance and other additional services.

Know the American Highway Code

Before traveling it is necessary to know the main ones American rules of the highway code, also because in the States the penalties for offenders are very severe.

The use of the seat belts, and it absolutely is it is forbidden to pass a school bus parked with flashing lights on, because it indicates the presence of children crossing. It is also mandatory to stop for a few seconds at each stop sign, while at intersections the first one who arrives has priority, while in case of arrival of two or more cars at the same time, priority is given to the right. To learn more about the subject, we advise you to read the article "driving in the USA".

The costs for car rental: how to save with a low cost rental

Car rental in the United States is a fairly common practice, which is why it costs a little less than in Europe. Prices vary not only according to the car rental company, but also and above all according to the car category and above all by the options that are included, such as satellite navigation, child seat, additional driver and vehicle return.

The rental of an economy car, collected at the Los Angeles airport, with the addition of a child seat and GPS, costs about $ 70 per day. The rental of a family car, with the same options and always collected at Los Angeles airport, on the other hand, costs about 90 dollars per day.

La return of the vehicle to a different place from the one in which it was collected, it has an additional cost called Drop Off charge, and has a cost that varies from 100 to 500 dollars depending on the location.

Major car rental companies

Here are some of the major car rental companies operating in the US.


It is a particularly active company in the United States and Canada, which offers users mid-level cars with unlimited mileage and all-risk insurance without excess. It is one of the best choices and the one with the highest rating for user feedback.


If you are looking for a low-cost solution, Budget almost always offers the best price for any car category.


It is undoubtedly the best known car rental not only in the USA, but all over the world. It offers a great variety of cars, with new models full of options, and includes unlimited mileage and free second driver in the price.


The US company is one of the historic car rental companies in the US, offering excellent service and always new cars. It allows unlimited mileage and offers the possibility to register a second driver for free.


One of the most famous car rentals in the world, which thanks to its 3-step booking system allows users to save on bookings, with new cars that have an average age of 6 months and are equipped with all comforts.


Low cost company which offers a good quality / price ratio for the rental of their cars, which always have an average age of less than 18 months.


The low cost company in the States offers a wide range of rental cars with unlimited mileage, excellent insurance coverage and 24-hour roadside assistance throughout the country, to always travel in total peace of mind.

Where to rent the car

The best solution for rent a car at the most advantageous price is to make the reservation online. In this way it is possible to make your choice by taking advantage of the online car rental comparators, thanks to which it is possible to compare the prices of the various companies. The comparators allow you to select different options such as the type of car, manual or automatic transmission, the presence of the satellite navigator and much more.

The best comparators

- Rental Cars: the site is very clear and simple to use and is part of the Priceline group, which includes, among others:, Kayak, Agoda, etc ...

  • 1. Select the pick-up country: USA
  • 2. Select the city: eg. Los Angeles
  • 3. Select the pick-up office: airport
  • 4. If you need to return the machine to another location, select the option and enter the drop-off location
  • 5. Select the pick-up and drop-off dates
  • 6. Now the page with the comparison of the prices of the various companies will open
  • 7. Now you have to choose which car category you want to rent
  • 8. Click on the price and it will show you all the details.
  • 9. If you need extra accessories such as baby seats, booster seats, gps, etc…) click on “CLICK FOR EQUIPMENT, ACCESSORIES AND EXTRAS” and the window will open where you will select what you need.
  • 10. At this point click on book, enter your details and that's it!

Auto Europe does not require no fees for cancellations or changes up to 48 hours before the collection of the car.

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