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buying vs renting a car/van for a 3 month trip of the usa.

Travel Forums North America buying vs renting a car/van for a 3 month trip of the usa.

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1. Posted by bertie.d (Budding Member 7 posts) 8y

hi all,
ok so have been trying to research the pros and cons of buying vs renting a car or a van. My boyfriend and I are planning to fly into New York in Dec next yr. from there we want to buy/rent a car/van and travel around for three months. Initially we thought renting would be much simpler but after talkin to some friends they suggested buying but we're worried that it would be a hassle buying and selling. Can someone give us some feedback on this please? what have your experiences been? What is the process and costs involved in buying and the problems we may face selling. Thinking we will either fly out of LA or New York havent fully decided yet...will it be easy selling the van there? In Australia we have this great rental company called Wicked Vans, is there something like this in the US? Thanks in advance,
Cass

2. Posted by JosieS (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

In general, the big US rental car companies will only rent for one month. You'd have to drop off the car (at a different site would be okay) and pick up another one.

3. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 8y

Cass,
I have crunched the numbers several times for members and it comes down to this IMO. If you are here for 4 weeks or less, rent. More than 4 weeks, buy a van, sell it when you leave. I have helped 2 TP members buy vans here in Las Vegas. Easy here, not sure what other states require. I will send you what I wrote to another member in a PM.

4. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 8y

Times are rough for the rental companies right now, and that means they're giving some very nice deals - I've seen several ads for extended period rentals > 1 month. By the way, no one (and I do mean NO ONE) is buying cars, new or used, these days in the USA unless they're paying cash.

5. Posted by gocebe (Inactive 48 posts) 8y

I don't know much about buying and selling cars in the States but you should know that regulations vary from states to state. Some states require you to have a state driver's license. I agree with Daawgon, it might be quite difficult to sell back the car/van.

6. Posted by JoyC (Full Member 99 posts) 8y

I would rent. If you purchase a car and you have car problems, you could use up all your time and money on repairs. Also, while it would be really cheap to buy a car right now, you will have real problems trying to sell it. Nobody in the U.S. is buying anything. I had a friend who recently tried to sell her car before leaving for Germany and it took her 4 months to sell it at about 50% of what it was worth. Don't buy!

7. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 8y

Quoting Daawgon

Times are rough for the rental companies right now, and that means they're giving some very nice deals - I've seen several ads for extended period rentals > 1 month. By the way, no one (and I do mean NO ONE) is buying cars, new or used, these days in the USA unless they're paying cash.

Johnny,
I called several Las Vegas dealers and plenty of people are buying cars, new & used. Not as many as they want, but they are doing business. Towbin Dodge is advertising new cars with no money down. They are certainly financing buyers. You may need a better credit score than last year, but you can finance a new or used car here in Vegas. All auto dealers are eager for business and willing to make a great deal in this troubled economy.

Now the buy/rent debate. I get quotes for $750/month for a compact car, $1,700/month for a van. Even the cheapest car will cost a minimum of $2,250 for 3 months. This is w/o drop off fee. Many companies do not allow you to leave a car/van at a different location. Do your research.

Since you can buy a used van for under $2K and sleep in it, the money comparison is not even close. Once you hit the road and start visiting the Nat'l Parks, you can save the price of the van by sleeping in it 1 night out of 3. Motels across the country are at least $45/nite, many cities much more than that. Figure $2,500 minimum for a 3 month rental, add $4,500 for motels, 90 days. Figure $7K at least. Add food, petrol, sightseeing. Buy a van for under $2K, sleep in it half the time and you will spend appox. $4K. You could give the van away and be money ahead. Your choice.

In Nevada, you can buy a car/van with an International Driver's License. Insure it as well. Send me a PM if you have questions.

8. Posted by bertie.d (Budding Member 7 posts) 8y

thanks everyone for your responses. i can see that i have a lot more research ahead of me. i do like the savings involved in buying and am not too concerned with selling as we will be saving money even if we give it away. mostly concerned with the quality of the car we would buy and the repair costs and wasted time we may face if it breaks down. thanks again,
cas

9. Posted by Schof26 (Budding Member 20 posts) 7y

Cass,

I don't mean to complicate things, but I once did a three-month long road trip across the US as a job. The company I was working for needed a car for the trip, so we looked into a mini lease. Ask about it when you phone car rental companies. It may be a better deal than renting and should cost you less than buying.

Good luck and have fun!

Bill

10. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 7y

Quoting JosieS

In general, the big US rental car companies will only rent for one month. You'd have to drop off the car (at a different site would be okay) and pick up another one.

This isn't entirely true. Rental companies will only give you month long leases, however they will rent you the car for longer than that on subsequent leases. From the renters perspective, there is no difference - you get a car for a few months. The rental company deals with all the paper work on the multiple leases.

That being said, they might not do this for anyone. I am on a long term (multi-month lease right now), but I am a 38 year old with a long history of renting from this company, so they might be willing to put up with the trouble of the multi-month lease for me whereas they might not for other customers without a history with the company.

Greg