Skip Navigation

US Car Hire - Hidden Costs?

Travel Forums North America US Car Hire - Hidden Costs?

1. Posted by Zanzibel (First Time Poster 1 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Hi there,

I'm currently looking into hiring a car in the US for 3 days - from Portland, Oregon down to San Francisco (plus another 3-4 day trip - San Fran to Las Vegas) After extensive research i'm still hesitant to pay for the reservation as I keep reading stories about having to pay extra once at the counter. Price-wise, Hertz (surprisingly) seems to offer the best at the moment, but again, i'm worried that they'll make us pay more once we arrive. Has anyone had any experience with specific companies? I have been reading as many posts as possible about this yet don't feel any clearer. It all seems quite risky.... Obviously we want to avoid any extra costs as we're on a budget...

I emailed Hertz and they said that the price at Stage 4 will be the final price - but the small print and mesages i've read suggest that we could still end up paying extra on arrival.

Thanks very much in advance for any advice!

2. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5635 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!


Difficult to just give one answers.
In general though, the built up of the price is roughly the same with all companies. Of course, prices in the end can differ but generally these are the costs:

  • Basic car rental price per day/week/month
  • Insurance (recommended), with possibility to reduce excess to zero (that is, you don't pay anything if you have an accident, unless it's because of illegal stuff like drinking, speeding, driving off road etc). Don't save money on insurance! And check if your creditcard company provides some insurance (usually gold cards and up provide this).
  • Payment for extra driver, full tank, GPS, child seat etc etc etc. As I am the only driver most of the times, I don't take any of these expensive stuff (for longer rentals, better to buy a GPS or child seat LOL).
  • One-way dropoff costs: highly likely on your trip from Portland to SF, though I think between California (SF) and Nevada (LV) there are no costs (might have to check).

In general: check general car rental companies instead of directly with companies like hertz, budget, avis etc. Try,, or! The latter always gets me the best deals and gives package examples and one-way costs.

I have good experience with Alamo and National, and whatever they try to sell you on the counter (they will try to upgrade you for some $ a day, or roadside assistance plans etc), don't buy it!

Have fun!

3. Posted by Shep007 (Budding Member 4 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

i am driving from San Francisco to Las Vegas in December and hired a car from Car Hire i booked it on the phone and asked about the one way travel charges.

I was told that one way travel charges dont imply between California, Arizona and Nevada as it is known as (The Golden Triangle)

I hope thats correct

Also on Travellerspoint

Why travellers need good insurance

worldnomads promo code - SAVE7