from rebecca last update 2. October 2020
If there is one place in the world where there is so much to see, it is undoubtedly the United States. To get to know all the facets of the country, which could hardly be more diverse, it makes sense to book a rental car in the U.S. So it is possible to explore the country flexibly and to see a lot of things.
Whether it’s new york city, san francisco, los angeles, las vegas or perhaps a round trip, with a rental car travelers are completely independent and can explore all these breathtaking places at their own pace. the following guidebook explains the best tips and tricks to keep in mind when doing this.
Traveling through the USA in a rental car
Use car rental comparisons
If you want to book a cheap rental car, you should definitely use the price comparisons of the different car rental companies. This is not only inconvenient and time consuming on the spot, but especially online within a very short time possible. There are many good comparison portals on the Internet. Here you specify the desired rental period, the location and the vehicle category. In the following the prices for the rental cars of different car rental companies are listed. This makes it easy to choose the best deal and save a lot of money in the process. cheaper-rental-car is especially recommended.De*.
Basically: the earlier the reservation is made, the cheaper the rental car will usually be. It can usually be canceled up to 24 hours before the start of the rental, so travelers remain flexible. The best deals are usually available from three months before the booking date. Finally, it is always advisable to book your rental car for the USA from home. On the one hand there is more time for a careful check of prices and services and on the other hand there is usually a German-speaking contact person.
Choosing a rental car
Which rental car class should be booked is of course an individual decision. Consideration should also be given to the passengers, luggage and itineraries selected. Apropo route: the providers should be compared especially carefully if a one-way rental is chosen. this means, for example, that the car should be picked up in san francisco and dropped off in las vegas.
For two people, a compact class to mid-size is usually sufficient. those who prefer something larger can opt for the "intermediate" or a "fullsize class". Mid size is usually enough for two adults and one child. If a teenager joins the party, a full size is the better choice and mandatory for four or more people. For groups of five or more, it is advisable to choose a minivan, station wagon or SUV. An off-road vehicle such as a jeep is the ideal choice for rough terrain. An SUV can be selected in midsize, standard or fullsize class. For a round trip through the USA lasting several weeks, it is advisable to select the full-size vehicle category or the SUV categories from the following. The size of the trunk should be checked carefully, as it is often smaller than expected in the U.S.
It is recommended to pick up the rental car at a major airport station rather than in the city. There is usually the possibility of exchanging it for another car in the same category if necessary. Some rental companies also offer so-called choice lines, where you can choose between different models that are available.
What to look for when choosing a rental car – in a nutshell:
- Passenger capacity
- Storage space
- Economy (small car)
- Compact (compact class)
- Mid-size (middle class, usually just above golf class)
How to avoid hidden costs?
How many kilometers are included?
It is advisable to choose the option "unlimited mileage" to be able to drive as much as you want or as little as you want. Avoid high additional costs. Extra kilometers are expensive afterwards. In another case, the number of included kilometers should be compared with the planned travel route.
Beware of extra costs also applies to the one-way rental mentioned above. In principle, the vehicle does not have to be returned to the place where it was picked up. With this one-way rental, however, there are additional costs that are usually not included online. The amount of additional costs depends, for example, on the distance from the pick-up station to the return station. In other tariffs the repatriation fee is already included.
What do extra drivers cost?
An additional driver usually costs 5 to 15 euros per day with many rental companies. However, for insurance protection reasons, it is important to specify each driver of the rental car. This point should be considered when comparing, because perhaps another offer is cheaper, where the additional driver is included.
There are different regulations, with which tank filling the car is taken over and must be delivered again. The best way to book the car is with a full tank, because this is usually the cheapest way. This means that the rental car for the USA will be picked up with a full tank of gas and will also be full when you drop it off. Other options, where the first tank of gas is paid for by the rental company, are not recommended due to the often higher costs.
Consumption of the vehicle
Refueling in the USA is associated with a number of special features. The consumption of the vehicle is not given in l/100 km as in germany, but in miles per gallon in the USA. 1 gallon means 3.785 liters. The higher the value, the more fuel-efficient the car is. By the way: when refueling, payment is usually made in advance. There are no separate fuel pumps for the different fuels, so the type of gasoline usually has to be selected in advance at the pump. In some states, such as oregon, self-fueling is prohibited. Then a gas station attendant takes care of it.
Car rentals in the USA for drivers under 21
For drivers younger than 21 or 25 years of age, some rental companies charge a young driver fee. The additional fee can be 10 to 20 euros per day. There are also offers in which the additional costs are included in the price.
Equipment of the rental car
The equipment of the cars corresponds to the american standard. Mostly equipped with automatic transmission, air conditioning, electric windows and central locking system. Other special features are determined by the type of car rented. In case of an online booking, the desired equipment can be set via appropriate filters. In addition, it is usually possible to rent accessories on site, such as a GPS navigation system or a child safety seat. A special feature is the so-called tracking system, which many vehicles have. In case of theft or emergency it is very helpful, because it gives information about the location and the route. There is no ashtray in the vehicles in the USA, as smoking is not permitted in the car. Consequently, if smoking causes damage or an accident, the insurance will not be liable. Child seats and navigation devices are usually not included and must be booked separately.
Things to know about the driver’s license and minimum age
First of all, the minimum age for renting a car in the U.S. is 21 or 25, depending on the state and the rental company. However, there are also some countries where the rental car can be booked from 18 years onwards.
Some rental companies also require that drivers have held their license for one year. A German driver’s license can also be used for a rental car in the USA if the traveler stays in the country for a maximum of one year and the driver’s license is translated into English.
In case of a longer stay, the driver’s license has to be changed. In some cases, depending on the state, a theoretical and practical test is required. If you want to be on the safe side, you should carry an international driver’s license in addition to the national document. This is issued in Germany. If the police want to take away the driver’s license, the international document should be handed in and the national driver’s license should be kept.
When renting a car in the USA, a good liability insurance is already included in the price with many providers. The offers differ especially in the amount of coverage and the own contribution. Offers without deductible are recommended. They often cost only a little more. The liability insurance should cover 7.5 million euros to be sufficiently covered (even better unlimited amount). It covers the costs of the various damages caused by the driver to others. A fully comprehensive insurance cover is also often included as standard. Other rental companies charge additional costs in this respect. The fully comprehensive insurance also covers the damage to your own vehicle, as well as in case of a self-inflicted accident. The theft insurance will cover the costs if the car is stolen. It is usually included in all offers, but often with a deductible.
What to consider when picking up the rental car?
When the car is picked up in the USA, the driver’s license, ID card and credit card must be presented. The passenger’s credit card is not sufficient. If there is a second driver, he often has to be present as well. At least you must have your driver’s license and your identity card.
You must also bring the confirmation of the booking or the voucher issued. The car should be checked for scratches, dents, glass damage, etc. before you drive it. To be checked. In addition, the brakes, windshield wiper system, lighting and fuel level should be checked. Tires should also be checked for tread depth and damage. Travelers have some miles to go in the USA. Good tires are one of the key requirements for a carefree drive. It is important to make a note of any damage or defects in the handover report so that you are not held responsible for them later on.
What to consider when returning the rental car?
The return of the car is usually simple. The car can be returned in person during opening hours. It is advisable to get a written confirmation that the car has been returned in perfect condition. You should fill in this form yourself, as it is not available at the rental agency. This prevents you from being held liable for damage to the car at a later date.
In other cases, the car can be parked in the designated parking area. There is a mailbox for the keys and papers. It is important to keep to the agreed time when returning the car, otherwise you will be charged for another day. If no one is present when the car is returned, photos of the car can be taken.
What traffic rules must be observed?
Traffic rules in the U.S. depend on the state. This specifies, for example, the maximum speed and the blood alcohol limit. Therefore, it is important to find out in advance exactly which regulations apply. At intersections where there are four stop signs, the driver who arrives first has the right of way. However, it is advisable to use hand signals to communicate briefly with other road users.
If school buses have their hazard warning lights on, they may not be overtaken by either passengers or oncoming cars. On the highways in the USA it is allowed to overtake on the right and not only on the left, so that special care is required when changing lanes. When using the highways, tunnels and bridges, you often have to pay a toll, which is usually paid in cash or by credit card at fixed toll booths, for example some roads in florida and san francisco’s golden gate bridge. The different states set the exact amount individually.
A bridge toll usually costs two to four USD, with tolls for highways being calculated according to length and section of the route. Fees can range from 25 cents to a few dollars. It is advisable to ask for the toll card (sunny card) when picking up the car. Then a sticker is scanned on the disc and the toll amount can thus be attributed to the specified credit card. This is the easiest. driving on unpaved roads is forbidden and therefore not insured.
Tips for parking with your rental car in the USA:
- Red: no stopping
- Yellow/black: loading zone
- White markings: parking is allowed for five minutes during business hours.
- green markings: parking is allowed for ten minutes
- Blue: disabled parking
It is best to book your car rental for the USA in Germany. It is very important to compare the providers. Prices are usually much cheaper when you book early. The desired vehicle category such as mid-size car or SUV or. The size of the vehicle and trunk as well as the equipment depend on the passengers, the luggage carried and the individual requirements and wishes. When choosing a rental car, fuel consumption should also be taken into account. In addition, it is advisable to book unlimited miles and the full-full fuel regime. Not only on a round trip you usually drive more than planned. It is also important to have comprehensive insurance coverage. Fully comprehensive insurance with no deductible guarantees a worry-free drive with the rental car in the USA. Unregistered drivers are generally not insured.
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