I'm going to California for two weeks with my girlfriend next month, flying in and out of LA.
We want to hire a car for around 11 days of this trip but we don't know much about the details of this and were wondering if anyone could fill us in.
Can anyone tell us how much we should expect to pay for this (we're happy to go for the cheapest car possible) ? And would it make a difference say if we wanted to pick up in LA and drop off in Las Vegas ?
I'm 23 and she's 25, is it more expensive if we both want to drive the car at all, of no different if just one of us drives ? Could you tell us if insurance is generally included in the price ?
Sorry for the questions - I've had a loo round at the other car hire threads but couldn't really see an answer to my question.
Thanks for any help you can give
Additional drivers cost extra, and drivers under 25 always pay way more, so it'd be better if she'll be the only driver. For all the rest I find it's been too long since I last rented in the USA, and my memory of the terms and specifics is unreliable, so I'll let someone else answer.
Insurance is not included normally (I've never seen it included anyway). Check your travel insurance and see what it covers. Sometimes the coverage there is adequate that you don't need to also get insurance at the car-rental agency. But be sure to read the terms, because the last thing you want is to be paying for some accident.
In another thread, it was pointed out that driving out of LA could be very stressful considering the traffic there. You might want to consider catching the Amtrak down to somewhere further down the route (for example San Diego if you're going that direction - it's a great train trip).
I don't know exactly what you would expect to pay for that length trip, but the best deal I could find when I rented a car last month in Chicago was through Enterprise. And I found a promo code online that knocked another 5% or so off the price. Always do a bit of searching for those - they are often quite easy to come by
If you want gps navigation, and have an iPhone, you can use an app called Waze in the US that functions really well. Probably available on Android too at a guess. Saves you having to pay for that extra. Arrange a sim-card for your phone (with data) in advance. They can be bought cheaply off eBay if you have some time up your sleeve. I got an AT&T one and it worked out quite well, though I left it a bit late organising, so had it sent to me while I was already over there meaning I was without phone for a few days.
Try not to book through car rental companies directly, but try brokers like Autoeurope.com, Drive-USA.de (german origin, but has extremely good deals and is very reliable) or holidayautos.com. These brokers have deals with companies like Alamo/national, Enterprise, Budget, hertz, avis and thrifty and can find the best deals. Shop around though.
If found the basic rate at autoeurope.com for 6-16 june (10 rental days) for just 165 dollars, but that's basic rate. Really check insurance!
A more realistic one I found is around 300-350 dollars, but including insurance and some extras. At drive-usa.de you can choose packages as well.
And most rental companies don't charge you for one-way rentals between California and Arizona or Nevada, so including Las Vegas.
Leaving an airport with a rental car is actually less stressful then leaving from a downtown office. You'll usually spot signs immediately when leaving the airport, Just be prepared where you want to go (direction). Also, LAX is for example very close to Interstate 105 and 405, so you can prepare yourselves with map/GPS or something. No worries.
Maybe redundant to say, but you need a creditcard to book a car and that creditcard should be shown when picking up the car as well. Sometimes the name on the creditcard should be the same as the driver as well!
My boyfriend and I just got back from two weeks driving around California and nearby. We're from UK and neither of us had drove abroad before but honestly it wasn't too bad at all.
We flew into LAX and got a free shuttle to car rental place (alamo). We used car rental 3000 I think it was called to book our car hire, and they find best price across various rental companies. We paid £450 all together for our rental as both of us were on the policy, it was £250 without me on the policy but because I am under 25 I was considered a young driver, so it does really raise the price. We had us both on because we were doing a lot of driving, six and seven hours a day but if youre not planning on driving for ages at a time, you may as well save the extra cash and let your gf do the driving! The price included insurance, unlimited miles and full tank of fuel to be returned at any level.
Personally I really enjoyed driving there, got used to the roads almost straight away I had more trouble adjusting to the automatic car! I really found he drivers to be much more easy going than on british roads and although they honk their horns a lot theres no aggression, no cutting you up or speeding to stop you joining traffic etc.
Just a tip, download navfree on you iphone/ smartphone and use that as your satnav, don't hire one they are ridiculously priced and navfree uses gps so no costs
Have a wonderful time, I so want to go back!!!
Great, thanks for the replies everyone. I guess I'll have to try and convince my gf that she might like to be the sole-driver
Thanks for the tips, I guess I'll just try to plan as thoroughly as possible before setting off.
Just a follow up question --
I'm about to book a car from rentalcars.com.
Having gone through the initial process of selecting a car for the set period of time etc it says that drivers 21-24 are hit with a $25.00 surcharge... is that included in the price of the rental which I pay up front, or is it something which I will have to pay when I arrive and take the car?
If anyone knows that would be great.
It's almost certainly something you have to pay extra there; I base this on the cost being per day, and running through the process myself, being able to book a car for less than 11x$25. (I also see a "package" option for a young driver (which also includes having a second driver) and selecting that more than doubles the price.)