Renting a car in USA: 5 things you need to know

renting a car

Whether you plan on going on a road trip or you just find it comfier to have a car in USA, there are a few things you need to know before renting. I rented a car on the East and West coast of USA, there were some differences which I wouldn’t have expected. So, I will try to save you from the shock and prepare you for everything you need to know. Keep on reading and you will find out everything you need!

Do it online

If you are thinking about renting a car, do not wait till you are at the airport. Do not go from one desk to another… Just think about it in advance and rent it online. Why? Well, in many cases it will be cheaper, and obviously you wouldn’t have to worry if they have the car you want or not. You can pick the type, the insurance etc. You will then be able to see the final price and pay for it.

Obviously, you can search for different companies and find the best options for you. Then you will just visit the desk, give them your ID or driving licence and you get your car. No worries, its quicker and the car will be there waiting for you, because you can even choose your pick up time.

What about insurance?

When you are renting a car you must pay for at least some basic insurance. A lot of companies will add it to the price so you are actually paying for it online. My advice is to check what the insurance covers, and based on the type of roads you are heading to, or your plans, whether its adequate cover. Obviously, I think for a basic road trip, the regular insurance is enough and there is no need to pay hundreds more for a better one, but its up to you.

Petrol situation

There are multiple options you can do. Lots of companies are giving you car with a full tank and they want you to return it full. Some of them will give you it empty and you can return it empty. Others will give you full tank and you can bring it back empty, just make sure you check this before you book and make sure its how you want it.


Which companies you should try? When we were travelling around the east coast, we used Alamo rent a car and I had a really good experience with them. We paid for everything online, we got to them at the airport, they gave us the car, we returned the car the following week and there was no issue. We also used a company called Thrifty, and I forgot about the extra fees but it was alright. However, I much preferred Alamo.


Like I mentioned previously, we used Alamo and Thrifty in USA. When we were on the West coast it was Thrifty, because their price was a little better than Alamo. But, when it came to picking up the car, they charged us extra money for tolls which we didn’t expect.

There wasn’t a possibility to buy the toll fees online. So, we thought it worked the same as on the east coast (toll booths where you use either coins, cash or pay by card). They told us this is not how it works on the west coast, they just have a camera system and they asked us to pay 120 dollars extra for toll fees. They also wanted us to pay some extra insurance, since they say the one we have its not good enough, but we decided not to, cos that would significantly make the price higher.

Luckily, even though that guy was negative and really insisted on us buying the extra insurance, nothing happened and we saved a lot of money. I do not have a problem with paying this price for tolls, it was just a pity that we didn’t see these extra fees during paying online and it came as quite a surprise.



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2 thoughts on “Renting a car in USA: 5 things you need to know

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