How to Rent a Car in the USA? Your Essential Guide

How to Rent a Car in the USA? Your Essential Guide

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When planning a trip, comfort is the main thing you want to get. Whether it's a honeymoon, a family trip, or an adventure with friends, renting a car in the USA is the right travel decision wherever you go.

Indeed, it would be great to start a road trip in New York or Los Angeles and follow your exclusive itinerary. You can rent a car in more than a thousand locations in the US, which adds flexibility to your journey. 

In general, car rental is a simple procedure. However, it can be confusing for novice travelers. In order to avoid problems, we have prepared a small guide that will give you answers to the most popular questions. 

What documents are needed to rent a car? Which insurance to choose? Is it possible to pick up cheap car rentals for 21-year-olds? Keep reading and you will find all the necessary information...

How to book a rental car?

The easiest way is online booking. You have 3 options here: 

* visit the website of the direct provider;
* select a car by using search aggregator websites.

As a rule, the second option is more preferable, since you get access to all available offers at once. That is, you can compare rental cars from different companies on the go by choosing the filter you want.

Another way is to rent a car on spot, taking advantage of the last minute car rental deals. However, you run the risk of finding yourself without a car at all, since the demand for cars is very high during the high season. 

Among the locations, you can pick up a rental car both at the airport and in the city. If you specify the airport as the pick-up location, keep in mind that you won’t find the car at the airport. First, you need to find a parking lot for shuttles, which will take you to the company's office.

What requirements should you meet? 

As a renter, you have the opportunity to travel by car starting from the age of 21. However, companies can veto the rental of special vehicle classes such as vans, SUVs, exotic, luxury, premium and convertible cars. 

The minimum age for renting a car without any restrictions is 25. Remember that all under 25 renters will have to pay a young driver’s fee - from $9 to $30 per day. If you are under 21, then car rental in the United States is still possible, but only in the states of New York and Michigan, where it‘s allowed at the legislative level.

What documents do you need to provide? 

Each company requires its own list of car rental documents. Therefore, you should clarify in advance what to prepare for the upcoming trip. Most often, you should have with you: 

* international passport and valid U.S. visa;
* home driving license;
* credit/debit card; 
* confirmation voucher. 
If your original license is not in Latin, then it’s recommended to obtain an International Driving Permit. Remember that it‘s only valid with a domestic license. 

Your credit card must have sufficient balance not only for paying rental but also for a deposit. The minimum amount is about $200-300. It will increase if you are renting a luxury, premium or exotic car.  Get ready that some companies don’t allow the use of debit cards. 

What is usually included in the rental price? 

When booking a car, carefully check what is included in the price. Most of the offers already come with:

* CDW insurance that covers potential car damages;
* SLI insurance, which protects you from liability in the event of third-party claims;
* Unlimited Mileage. Although sometimes it’s limited to the territories of several states.

What options can you take additionally? 

At the stage of booking, or right at the counter, you can include some extra options into the rental. Among them are:

* additional driver. If the second driver is a spouse, no additional payment required;
* GPS navigator 
* EZ-Pass automatic system to pay for toll roads.
   baby car seat. 

How to calculate the rental term?

Usually the rental period is based on a 24-hour basis. This means that if you are significantly late when returning the car, you will have to pay for an additional day of rental. On the other hand, early car return is free of charge and you can use it if your travel plans suddenly change.

How to refuel a rental car? 

Typically, you get your vehicle with a full tank. Further actions depend on which fuel policy you choose. If you have chosen prepaid gasoline, it doesn’t matter what level of fuel is in the tank when you return the car. 

Another option available is ‘full-to-full’. Accordingly, you will need to return a fully fueled vehicle. You will need to refuel it yourself at a gas station.

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