Getting ready for a road trip in America: what you need to know about renting a car in the USA

A car, a pleasant company, the landscapes of Arizona or California sweeping outside the window – a familiar plot of a Hollywood movie, isn’t it? But, in fact, a road trip across the United States can easily be realized. It is only important to know the nuances. The traveler Anastasia Glushchenko traveled to 10 states and shared with us her experience of auto travel in America.

Anastasia Glushchenko

an experienced traveler in America: has traveled 10 states and more than 15 cities in the USA; organizer of author’s tours to America @ inspiration.pill

Renting a car in America is quite simple: just have a passport with an American visa, a valid international driver’s license (with English transliteration of the name) and a credit card. The average cost of renting a car per day is 50-60 USD.

In this article, I share my insights on renting a car from the American company Hertz and tell you about all the surprises that you may face. By the way, Hertz is one of the few companies that does not require a certain driving experience from a car renter. Therefore, even if you do not have a lot of driving experience, they will still give you a car.


1. Choosing a service for car rental.

More than a dozen rental services operate in the United States, and it is sometimes difficult to find out which one is better to choose. Let’s take a look at the most famous car rental companies in America and their features. Let’s conditionally divide them into three categories depending on the price.


  • Hertz (one of the world’s largest car rental companies – more than 10,000 locations worldwide)
  • Avis (the second largest after Hertz. The majority of American-made companies are in the fleet, the average rental price is USD 60 / day)
  • Enterprise (there is a car sharing service – you can rent a car for the night or for the hour)
  • Sixt (European company, average price slightly lower than competitors in the same category)

Middle class

  • Budget (one of the budget options – about USD 35 / day)
  • Alamo (American company, there is a convenient “Skip the Counter” option, when you can pick up a car without a queue, bypassing the rental counter)


  • Dollar (one of the most budget-friendly companies, but not a very wide network of city coverage)
  • Thrifty (if there are several drivers behind the wheel, here is one of the lowest surcharges for a second person – $ 10 / day)

2. Loyalty programs and discounts.

Many companies have their own loyalty programs and partner discounts that will help you save a couple of tens of dollars. For example, if you book a car with Hertz and you have a Visa Gold card or higher, you will be given a 10% discount on your booking. Before booking, check what bonuses your payment card gives.

3. Rent a car in advance.

If you are planning a road trip, book your car at least 2-3 months before the arrival date. So you can travel around the USA in a good car, you can choose the class of car on the website when booking. Otherwise, all good cars can be disassembled and either very expensive ones will remain, or there simply will not be cars of the required class. In addition, when booking in advance, you do not pay in advance and money is not debited from the card.

4. Pick up and return the car at the office at the airport.

Before booking a car, you must indicate the place where you want to pick it up and return. Choose a pick-up location and return location at the airport – this will cost you less to rent a car. If you return the car in another city, this also increases the rental cost.


5. Second driver.

The car is checked in for one driver – usually for the person who makes the reservation. If you plan to take turns driving while traveling, you will have to pay an additional $ 13 per day for this. If the driver is less than 25 years old, you will also have to pay for this – $ 30 per day per driver, plus to the above amount. One car can be driven by no more than 4 people within one order.

6. Always take Premium Roadside Assistance

This is an additional service for $ 10 per day. If something happens on your way (lose your keys, puncture a tire, etc.), they will definitely come to you for help.

7. Deposit

For the duration of the lease, the company freezes a security deposit on your card – usually it does not exceed $ 200. Please note that the amount will be refunded within 4-7 business days after the vehicle is returned.

8. Return of the car

If you return the car more than an hour and a half later than the specified time, you will be charged the cost of car rental for an additional day. If the delay is within 30 minutes, no additional fees will be charged.


9. The cost of gasoline is not included in the car rental price

The cost of gasoline differs from state to state. For example, the price of 1 gallon of gasoline (~ 3.78 liters) in California costs $ 4-4.5. In Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, the cost is significantly lower – from $ 2.95 to $ 3.30 per gallon. Please note that at some gas stations, petrol for which you pay in cash instead of with a card may be cheaper. Using the app Gasbuddy you can find the nearest gas stations and compare prices in them in order to refuel more profitably.

10. Special lanes

America has special Carpool lanes. Cars in which two or more people or electric vehicles can drive along it. Usually this lane is much freer and it may be tempting to go around the traffic jam using this privilege. Be careful: the fine for unauthorized entry into such a lane can vary from 260 to 360 dollars.


# usa # los angeles