are you planning an extended road trip through america and are you now looking for a suitable and cheap USA rental car?? You are surely asking yourself with which car rental company we have (alamo, national, hertz, sixt etc).), which tour operator (TUI cars, dertour etc.) or rental car agencies (sunnycars, cheap-car-rental.De, ADAC etc.) you it is best to rent a car in the USA and which services you have to pay attention to.
Then you are exactly right here on our feel4nature travel blog, because all those important questions we want to answer you in detail in our following article around the topic car rental USA and a lot of important tips and our personal experiences about tolls on american roads and bridges, one way rentals in the USA, fuel regulations and insurances for the rental car which we have collected on our numerous round trips by car through the USA.
As a permanent traveler and nature enthusiast hiker we travel every year for several months by car in the USA and have explored all american states with the rental car on our own. From florida to maine on the east coast the USA, the route 66 over to the west coast to california and even across through canada up to wild alaska have our extensive road trips with the rental car already led us.
As experienced long term travelers we have a lot of car rental USA tips at hand.
Our best tips for your USA car rental
On our numerous USA road trips we have meanwhile rented more than 150 cars.000 miles covered and have been able to gather countless experiences over the years renting a car in the USA. That’s why we now know exactly how to find a cheap rental car for you and what you should pay attention to when renting a car in the USA.
That’s why we want to show you in the following article now our best tips& tricks around the suitable rental car for your personal USA roadtrip reveal and give you the most important information about insurance, one way rentals, road tolls in america and other important things around a cheap car rental in the usa.
But we make the beginning with the somewhat "non-transparent" rental car market of car rental companies, tour operators and rental car agencies to rent a car in the USA and the question, where you can get the best conditions for a cheap rental car for your trip through the USA.
numerous car rental companies in the USA offer special vehicles.
The best providers to rent a car in the USA
If you have ever had a look at the various offers for a rental car in the USA, you have surely noticed that there are, besides the major car rental companies such as alamo, national, enterprise, budget, dollar etc., where you can rent a car directly for their respective stations in the USA, also various other providers of cheap car rentals for the USA exist.
agents of rental cars and various tour operators like for example sunnycars, cheaper-car-rental.De, TUI or ADAC, offer cars from different american car rental companies at partly very favorable conditions, with unlimited miles and solid insurance benefits at.
The car rental USA we do almost always through car rental agencies.
tour operators and car rental agencies
Major USA tour operators and rental car agencies take advantage of their large number of rental vehicles and their independent marketing and conclude very favorable car rental contracts at very good conditions with the american car rental companies. Also therefore they often offer advantageous additional insurances to reduce the deductible or an additional insurance of glass, tires and underbody on.
Therefore the renting a car in the USA for tourists and private persons through a tour operator or a rental car agent, who negotiates contracts at good conditions with the local car rental companies, usually by far the cheapest to rent a car in the united states as a tourist.
in addition you have to not with the peculiarities of american car insurance (CDW = collision damage waiver, LDW = loss damage waiver, liability car insurance etc).) and the associated deductibles, if any and you can rent a USA rental car through an agent or tour operator also to the usual rental car conditions in germany.
The most important thing is to be aware of take a close look at who you rent your US car from and under what conditions, and who provides what services in the event of a claim, because it can happen that rental car agencies offer a rental car through a major USA tour operator or vice versa. For example, you can rent a USA car online at billiger-mietwagen.De book a car from alamo through sunnycars.
We booked this premium SUV rental car with alamo USA in atlanta.
The best car rental companies in america
The respective the car rental company in the united states is ultimately the one that provides you with the rental car on site at their rental car station. The most common car rental companies at the major airports in the USA are alamo, national, enterprise, budget, dollar, avis, thrifty – but in the last few years there has also been an increase in the number of car rental companies trendy car rental companies with fancy vehicle offers like SIXT increasingly present at many locations.
At the end of the day as a rule of thumb, the cheaper a provider is, the older and less maintained the local fleet is – but of course there are exceptions and you can get a nearly new or a very well maintained car at a cheap car rental in the USA.
According to our personal experience with dollar, thrifty and budget it can always happen that you get a relatively old car – however, these car rental companies often offer the cheapest rates as well. At enterprise, alamo and national the vehicles are usually very clean, well maintained and relatively new, so the price-performance ratio with these providers is excellent from our personal point of view.
Avis, SIXT and some other vehicle rental companies are usually a bit more expensive, but do not necessarily offer newer or better car models at all locations, instead, there is more often the possibility to rent a special vehicle at a relatively low price, instead of booking only one vehicle class.
To get to one of the start trek locations, it is worthwhile to rent an SUV in the USA.
Important services& insurances for the USA rental car
When we rent a car in the USA we personally always make sure that all driven miles, as well as important services without deductibles and additional costs are included in the contract. Because this way you will not experience any unpleasant surprises with the rental car during or at the end of your trip to america.
As already mentioned for tourists from the european area it usually makes sense to book the rental car in the USA through an agent or tour operator, any deductibles or missing services from the provider on site via a favorable additional insurance policy (increase of liability, reimbursement of the SB and insurance of tires, glass and underbody) covers according to german conditions.
With a USA rental car is always worth a fully comprehensive insurance without self-involvement.
comprehensive insurance without deductible
In concrete terms this means, that in your rental contract with the respective local car rental company you may be able to still have a deductible for various damages to the vehicle registered, for which you are liable with your deposit for the rental car in the USA, usually paid by credit card.
You should have an accidental damage on your rental car during your USA trip or if your rental car should even be stolen, your deposit will be retained up to the excess and you will then be reimbursed promptly by your rental car agency or the insurance company behind it.
You can cover a stone chip in the windshield with a rental car glass insurance.
insurance of underbody, glass and tires
The great advantage of such a reinsurance, which covers the deductible, is also that you can you can often insure at a reasonable price damages or liability benefits that are normally very expensive or not available at the car rental companies in the USA. Especially if you are on vacation with the rental car in the dusty southwest of the USA on the road, a glass, underbody and tire insurance is immensely worthwhile.
Just once you are not paying attention, a big truck overtakes you and you are already with a little bit of bad luck it can happen to you that an unfortunate thrown up stone the windshield of your rental car is damaged and it gets a stone chip.
This has happened to us in the USA and canada a few times on a road trip and the damage, or more precisely the amount deducted from the deposit, was always settled immediately and without any problems by the german insurance company. Therefore, we personally always make sure that our cheap car rental USA rates also include a glass insurance without deductible.
When renting a car in the USA, you should pay attention to good fuel regulations and fill up the tank yourself.
Favourable fuel regulations when renting a car in the USA
When fuel regulation on the other hand, in most cases it is not worthwhile to pay for the first fill-up of the rental car in the USA. usually you will find a cheap gas station in the vicinity of the rental stations, so that you can return the rental car with a full tank of gas without any problems.
Only if you don’t feel like it or if you are in a hurry when leaving and returning the car, you should book the fuel service option right away with the first tank of fuel or pay for it at the counter when you pick up the rental car. because this is usually much cheaper than having to pay for the missing fuel in the tank after returning the rental car from the car rental company in the united states.
when renting a car around san francisco you have to pay tolls on bridges.
Passes for road tolls when renting a car in the USA
Measured by the size of the country There are relatively few toll roads and bridges in the U.S. so far,which you can often avoid. Therefore, you should think a little about your route in advance and decide if you are at all concerned about tolls with your rental car or if you can’t avoid driving on toll roads in the united states.
The tolls in the USA will affect you especially in florida on the way to key west and around san francisco, because here for example for the golden gate bridge you have to pay a toll when entering the city, which can only be paid electronically.
Should you traveling in regions where some roads and bridges are subject to tolls, so when driving you should use apple, google maps or any other navigation with a prepaid USA SIM card on your smartphone, because it will usually show you all the toll roads or you can even exclude them in your route.
Many car rental companies offer a cheap toll pass in the corresponding regions or charge a surcharge for the tolls incurred, since the current conditions change again and again, you should inform yourself about the possibilities and costs of tolls before booking your USA rental car with the respective provider.
Las vegas is a popular end point for one way rentals by usa car rental.
One way renting a car in the USA
The most of the classic road trip routes through the USA can be planned as a round trip, but nevertheless there can be some reasons for a "one-way" trip with the rental car and therefore for a one-way rental car. It is important to know that many providers of cheap car rentals in the united states currently offer no one way rentals within california, florida and hawaii calculate.
Likewise falls with most car rentals no one way rental between california and nevada, nevada and arizona, and between california and arizona at. for example you could organize a road trip starting in san francisco and returning from las vegas without extra costs for one way rentals.
The one way rentals between other states and cities are usually calculated according to distance (for example with sunnycars up to 500 miles (ca. 805 km) ca. 150 $ USD, up to 1.000 miles (ca. 1.609 km) approx. 300 $ USD, more than 1.000 miles 500 $ USD), so that you should consult a USA tour operator or rental car agent if necessary, whether a "one-way" trip on the planned route is worth it at all.
Often the question comes up, if there are also one way rentals between alaska and the rest of the states? But this possibility does not exist with the rental car with the usual car rentals as a rule.
Who wants to know if you are planning a "one-way" trip from the "lower 48" to alaska, you should have a look at the various offers of the camper rental companies, here some providers offer cheap one-way rentals to alaska and back. Sometimes you can even get lucky and get a special low rate for an end of season vehicle repatriation from alaska to south or back.
dream for america fans: with the ford mustang US rental car on highway 1.
Ford mustang, van or SUV as a USA rental car?
Which is the model of vehicle to rent in the U.S. often depends on personal preference and the respective destinations on the route through north america from. So is the driving a ford mustang convertible, a chevrolet camaro convertible or dodge challenger along an american highway or along highway no. 1 for many USA fans a real childhood dream.
What many travelers to the USA like to forget is the fact that when choosing a rental car for a multi-week road trip through the USA, you should also consider some practical considerations and moreover with most providers only one rental car class and no fixed vehicle can be booked, so that you only find out at the pickup which car model you will get as rental car in the end.
So we have already often see travelers despairing at the rental car station because instead of a ford mustang convertible, there was only a VW beetle convertible left or the luggage in the form of huge hard shell suitcases of course did not want to fit into the rented ford mustang. others found out on the way that they had to some of the beautiful stretches in national parks& co. could not drive with a low lying US muscle car or that driving with an open convertible top at 40 °C and in the blazing sunshine in the deserts and steppes of america is not always fun.
As a rental car in the USA, an SUV offers plenty of storage space for luggage& co..
The space available and the storage space in the rental car
Therefore one of the most important questions when choosing the right usa rental car, how much storage space you need for you and your belongings. If you have big suitcases with you, you want to drive long distances and enjoy the view during the drive? Then you should think twice about whether a sleek, low sports car is the right rental car for you in the USA.
Therefore convertibles and sports cars as rental cars are usually only worthwhile for USA travelers with relatively little luggage (it is better to use flexible travel bags instead of hard shell suitcases) commute between major metropolitan areas. Such a "small" sports car has only little space and comfort to offer on long stretches of road and on poorly maintained or unpaved roads there is always a risk of accidentally damaging such a vehicle.
A full-size SUV is our rental car favorite when traveling in the U.S.
Which rental car class is the best for the USA??
Far from the personal preferences in a rental car a larger SUV outside the big cities offers many advantages on a USA road trip. Especially in the "far west" of the USA the driving days are always long and from a high-sided SUV on big tires you can enjoy the passing scenery here during the drive you can observe very well and very comfortable.
In addition, there is the fact that there are often stretches of road in the national parks and natural landscapes where the roads are not in particularly good condition, which is why an SUV or off-road vehicle is a much nicer and more comfortable way to travel more remote areas, which are still something like a real USA secret tip, and with a generous suspension you will be comfortable even on bumpy roads.
car camping with a rental car: sleeping in a car is quite common in the USA.
Car camping, staying overnight in a car
If you are on the road in the USA with a small budget, if you are into camping in unforgettable places and you like to dive into remote areas, then you should look for a bigger SUV, in which you can also sleep for one night. For most europeans, car camping is completely new territory, but in the USA, many travelers and outdoor enthusiasts spend the night camping in their cars.
Our best tips for free camping and boondocking with a rental car in the USA – you can find it here:
With many large SUV or van models that you can rent as a car in the USA, the backseat can be folded completely flat, so that you can also sleep wonderfully in the car with a camping mat. With the addition of an outdoor gas stove, cookware, and some lightweight camping furniture, you’ll be ideally and really affordably set up for camping with a rental car in the united states. That you If you treat your rental car with care and keep it clean, even while car camping, should go without saying – after all, the rental car is not your property.
as a "normal" tourist you don’t really need a 4×4 jeep with all wheel drive.
Do you need a USA rental car with all-wheel drive?
You already realize…, we personally consider a larger SUV for most travelers the best option as a rental car in the USA and many travelers are even of the opinion that for your america round trip in any case a rental car with switchable all-wheel-drive (4×4) need. But as experienced travelers in the USA, we can not really confirm this from our numerous tours.
sure…, a rental car with all-wheel drive can never hurt and it is definitely worth asking for it at the rental car station without obligation, but even on remote gravel roads (check with ranger station) you can usually manage without all-wheel drive, you usually only have to be careful if it gets really sandy or wet on clayey surfaces.
Therefore don’t worry if you can’t rent a four wheel drive car in the USA at the rental car station. Even the majority of gravel roads in the american southwest can be easily negotiated with a high-slung vehicle (high clearance), like an SUV or pickup, without four-wheel drive.
on gravel roads there is usually no insurance coverage with the rental car in the USA.
On the road with a rental car on gravel roads
The common car rental providers in the USA, like alamo, national, enterprise etc., usually prohibit driving on roads that are not paved with concrete (dirt or gravel roads) and even close by name some particularly notorious highways (especially in the far north in canada&) alaska) in their rental contracts of the vehicles from.
Finally this of course only means that you will get on gravel roads (gravel roads) and in the rental contract excluded roads do not enjoy insurance coverage and you have to pay for any damage to the car completely by yourself. That’s why, if you ever drive on a gravel road in the USA, you should be especially careful with your rental car.
In practice, however, according to our personal experience, the following are the most common methods especially the americans are not squeamish about gravel roads with the rental car in the USA, since they are often well acquainted with the peculiarities of gravel roads. Therefore you don’t have to panic just because you drive a few miles on a well maintained gravel road somewhere in the USA.
We have also used a debit credit card to rent a car in the USA.
USA car rental tips about deposit and credit card
About sunnycars and other european car rental agencies and tour operators you can often pay the cost of the rental car by direct debit or even by paypal – in the USA itself you need a credit card to deposit the deposit for the rental car, except for very few exceptions.
Among USA travelers there is still the rumor that you can’t deposit the rental car deposit with a debit credit card, but in our personal experience, at least with alamo, this is not correct. We have meanwhile tried credit cards from two banks to deposit the deposit at alamo and both debit credit cards were also accepted for the deposit without any problems, if coverage was available.
some recommended credit card providers to deposit your car rental deposit and fuel in the USA – you can find here:
On the safe side you are of course, if you have a second full credit card with you despite debit credit card, but this is always valid in case of doubt, if a credit card is blocked or hacked. By the way, if you talk in the USA of debit cards, this is usually a "normal" giro-bank card with PIN meant, with most car rental companies you actually can’t make a deposit for the rental car USA.
at a car rental company USA like alamo with choice line you choose your car yourself.
Wide choice of car rental stations with choice line
If you like to drive your car in the USA with if you want to get hold of a certain model, such as a ford mustang convertible, a chevrolet tahoe SUV or a dodge challenger as a US muscle car, then you should rent your rental car in any case from a provider who offers a choiceline at your rental car station at the airport or in town.
With a choice station, such as those offered by alamo and national at mccarran international airport in las vegas, you can choose any vehicle from the currently available vehicles in your booked car rental class.
Especially at the airport in las vegas, we have often had the experience with alamo that the friendly staff will also organize your desired rental car if you ask nicely. Should this actually work out, it is appropriate to give a fair tip for your effort.
With the USA rental car you can cross the border to canada without registration.
border crossings to mexico and canada by rental car
If you are in the extreme north, south or southwest of the USA if you are traveling by rental car, you might plan a side trip to mexico or canada? With most car rental companies, you can drive your car to canada, all the way up to alaska, without having to register in advance – but you usually can’t drive south to mexico.
Some few car rental companies allow you to cross the border into mexico for a higher deposit, since the north of mexico near the border actually has some pretty "sketchy" areas in terms of security, you should only travel in mexico with a rental car from the USA if you know your way around and know what you’re doing.
You can rent a small camper from the age of 21 without any additional fees.
Car rental USA tip for drivers under 25 years of age
For the if you rent a car from a car rental company in the USA, you usually have to be at least 25 years old and have your driver’s license for at least 2 years. numerous car rental companies in america also offer special rates for drivers over 21 years of age for some vehicle classes, in the states of new york and michigan it is even possible to rent a car from the age of 18 for an additional fee.
In many cases the surcharges at the car rental companies on the rates for drivers under 25 years are so high, though, that a rental car for the USA trip is often not profitable for young drivers. Therefore renters under 25 years, but already 21 years old, look for a small motorhome or camper van (for example at escape campervans) look around, because here there are some providers who rent small motorhomes cheaply and without surcharges to younger renters over 21 years in the U.S.
With the right gadgets in your luggage, renting a car in the USA is even more fun.
Helpful gadgets for car rental in the USA
Before we now coming to our final conclusion, which car rental USA and which car rental company is the best for who, we would like to give you a short introduction introduce a few helpful gadgets that can really come in handy when renting a car in the USA and that can make your trip by car through america much more pleasant.
the we start with a USA SIM card, which should not be missing on any trip to the USA, because with an american SIM card you can surf for much cheaper in the USA& make a phone call than with a roaming tariff.
This is especially helpful around use google maps or another navigation system in the rental car, which helps you to avoid driving on toll roads with the rental car, among other things. This will also save you the trouble of renting a bulky navigation device with your USA rental car.
A detailed blog article on the topic of the best prepaid USA SIM card for america travelers – you can find here in our USA blog:
To get your to be able to use your smartphone in the rental car for navigation, a car cell phone holder and a charging cable are of course indispensable. Please note that in some states of the USA you are not allowed to mount devices on the windshield of your vehicle.
A solid smartphone holder for the air vents and sturdy charging cables for your mobile devices in the rental car – you can find here:
Most of the modern rental cars already have usb-connections, why you often don’t need an extra car charger for the 12V connection (cigarette lighter) of the car you need.
However Such a charger can still be useful for charging larger devices such as ipads or even laptops via modern USB-C ports. Some of the large SUV rental cars even have a power converter, so that you have a "normal" USA socket in the rental car, to which you can also connect German devices with an adapter.
A high quality car charger with USB-C for your car in the USA and a practical travel adapter for USA sockets – can be found here:
Many USA travelers use a locally purchased cooler in the rental car to keep food and drinks cool in the car, just throw them away at the end of your trip. This is of course not great for the environment. Therefore, you should get a foldable cooler bag with or without electric cooling for the rental car (ice for cooling is available at all gas stations and in hotels) and your own thermo cup for drinks (you can fill it at all gas stations) add.
Two wonderful cooler bag models for your rental car in the USA and an extremely well insulated thermo cup for hot and cold drinks in the car – you can find here:
With these little things you can do something for the environment while traveling in the USA with a cheap rental car and you will always have a cooler bag and a to-go cup ready for future travels and activities.
Since we love camping an SUV is for us the best rental car for the USA.
Our personal car rental USA conclusion
With this we should have the most important topics: "what you should look for in a cheap rental car in the USA!" discussed in our article. Now only missing our personal assessment of the ideal car rental class of the various american car rental companies and our personal recommendation, where in our experience you can book and rent a car for the USA as cheap as possible.
No matter if van, muscle car or SUV – we have been on the road in the USA with pretty much every type of rental car and finally end up with a larger SUV (rental car class: full-size or premium SUV) landed, which we rent meanwhile for our USA travels with distance in the dearest.
Since we are almost exclusively traveling in the USA and often sleep in the car when car camping in cold nights, a larger SUV in the full-size SUV and premium SUV classes is simply the best choice for us. The most common models for these classes are for example the chevrolet tahoe, nissan armada and ford expedition for the full-size SUV class and the chevrolet suburban and GMC yukon for the premium SUV class.
A great overview of the current SUV models you can get at car rentals in the USA – you can find here:
If you are not a hardcore fan of US muscle cars and you absolutely want to rent a ford mustang, chevrolet camaro or dodge challenger in the USA, then for most travelers a small or larger SUV is always the best choice from our point of view.
the generous amount of space and storage, plus the very good overview due to the elevated seating position and the possibility to drive a little on gravel roads without having to drive too far, make an SUV as a rental car USA from our point of view the absolute top model among the rental vehicles for the majority of america travelers.
With a rental car over sunnycars of alamo a damage was always fast regulated.
The best car rental for a cheap car hire in the USA
During our first trips to the USA, we often changed the provider for rental cars and the local car rental company and in the end we got "stuck" with it to book a vehicle through a reputable rental car agency in germany at alamo or national, with which we have made by far the best experiences over the years when renting a car in the USA.
As car rental in the united states we have found alamo and national to be by far the best car rental companies in the united states. The service was always good and the attempted sale of extra services by the staff of the car rental at the counter not particularly intrusive. The vehicles were always in a decent condition and often the staff at the alamo station "picked out" the car of our choice on request.
An overview of alamo’s current vehicle classes at car rental locations in the usa – you will find here:
In addition at alamo besides the check-in machines also with the "skip-the-counter" option (skip switch) at some rental car stations in the USA you can also deposit all data in advance, and thus print out your rental contract yourself and go directly to pick up your rental car.
When renting a car in the USA, sunnycars offers a great all-round service.
USA car rental via sunnycars or billiger-mietwagen
The bookings for our USA rental cars with alamo or national we have in the last years almost always with sunnycars with the all-round worry-free guarantee (fully comprehensive and theft coverage with reimbursement of the deductible, unlimited mileage, reimbursement of damage also to glass, roof, tires and underbody, additional liability insurance in the amount of. Euro u. V. M.) made, with whom we have had only the best experiences in the past.
Some minor damage to our rental cars in the usa, such as a stone chip in the windshield and a small dent, were refunded by sunnycars to our account shortly after we reported them without any questions and also the telephone service was always helpful in case of questions or problems with the rental car in the USA. That’s why sunnycars is the first choice for us to book a rental car in the USA.
If you in any case you are looking for a very cheap rental car for your america trip and you don’t need an allround protection then you should have a look at the offers for rental cars USA at billiger-mietwagen.View De, because also here the service is very good and there are always cheap "bargains" to be foundto rent a car in the USA.
An overview of the services, the range of possible car rentals and the option to rent a car for your USA trip with sunnycars or billiger-mietwagen.De to rent – you can find here:
As for us personally we usually prefer to pay a few euros more and get an all-round carefree package for our rental car offered, instead of getting annoyed later about problems with an overly cheap offer. At the end of the day but everyone who wants to rent a car in the USA has to decide that all by himself, where his personal priority for a suitable vehicle lies.
car rental USA via billiger-mietwagen.De are often particularly cheap.
Even more USA tips on rental cars, motorhomes, camping& co.
With this we are also already at the end of our blogarticle around the topic rental cars USA arrived and we hope that we can tell you from our personal experience could give you some helpful tips for your trip to america. If you have any questions about renting a car in the USA or want to share your own experiences with us, please write us a comment below this article.
Here on our USA travel blog you will find many more articles with the best tips& tricks around hiking& travel in america and the wonderful national parks. Some of the most frequently read and most popular articles about this on our feel4nature travel blog – you will find here:
if you don’t want to miss any of our articles, follow us on our feel4nature social networking pages. On tripadvisor, facebook, youtube, instagram, twitter and flipboard you will always find the latest news, new articles, videos and pictures about our USA trips and other travel adventures.
note*: the linked products on this website are partly affiliate links.