Buying or renting a car?

Travel Forums North America Buying or renting a car?

1. Posted by Mugiwara (Budding Member 4 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!


Me and a friend of mine are going to drive across the US. From New York to Los Angeles and we plan on visiting some tourist attractions on our way.
We will probably be using one month... (30 days)..

I will be 20 years old and my freind 19.

So I was wondering which would be cheapest(buying or renting a car). And I'd be greatful for all tips and webpages you might come up with.

If buying a car becomes a reality, how easy is it to sell it when we arrive LA? We both live in Norway so we have no further use for a car after leaving LA.

Please come with all your suggestions. Also for the places you'd recommend visiting.

Thanks in advance!

Benjamin and Daniel

2. Posted by willie3333 (Full Member 14 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

That sounds fun! For long term renting... If you look around most car rentals do long term renting for 2+ weeks. I cannot recommend any place out of the ordinary for cost though. I suggest smaller rental companies because larger ones such as Hertz, National-Alamo can be expensive. For buying a car. You can find some reasonable cars for 10k if you really want to look, but I discourage that because it is a real hassle to sell it, essipically in your situation. I would recomend reenting. There is way too much to see in 1 month but try and see the real big places in all the mjor cities along the way. Good Luck!

3. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5672 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

If you have one month, there is no need to buy a car. You can find cars for way less than 10k but half the time you will be in a garage or something.

Just rent a car from one of the larger companies, which have a good reputation and if you break down, you will be on your way within an hour or so. But probably you won't face any problems. Don't save a few dollars on that, no need to.
And if you rent a car for a month, you probably get a lower daily rate as well. I guess for the smaller cars you will probably only pay around 30 USD max a day including insurance etc.

Also, don't forget you probably have to pay a dropoff fee because you deliver the car far from where you picked it up. Also NY has higher rental rates than many other parts of the US, so check if you can pick up a car for less a bit more west, out of NY and New Jersey. O, and don't forget you need a creditcard....obvious, but I know some people who were really disappointed not being able to rent a car because of that!

4. Posted by Bogman (Budding Member 61 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Great idea, but you'll have a lot of problems renting a car because of your ages. Most companies will only rent to over 25s, and some will rent to those aged 21, but I've never heard of one to rent to someone under 21.

5. Posted by Mugiwara (Budding Member 4 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

This trip will be part of our RTW-trip. We will fly from Mexico to New York and from Los Angeles to Fiji. In between we want to discover United States of America

Yup, I think that will be our major problem. find a company that allows drivers at our age.
I have seen one or two so far.. but they were rather expensive.
Also the dropoff fee was extremely expensive..(dropoff in different location) and there is probably a fee for having two drivers aswell.. amiright?

But renting a car a bit more west was a great idea;) We could travel by bus, train or sth through one or two states.

We will probably be arriving New York in January so travveling south after Niagara Falls would be best right?

Here are some of the places we wish to visit:

New York City
Niagara Falls
Hoover dam
Grand Canyon
Mt Rushmore
Las Vegas
San Fran (golden gate bridge, alcatraz... etc)
Los Angeles

Which cities, states and attractions should we also visit?

Thanks for you help so far

6. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I agree with Utrecht about trying to find a rental car outside of the New York area. As an example, Alamo states the following:

New York state: The minimum age for NY is 18 years of age, subject to a per day surcharge and Rental rates may be higher for renters aged 21 - 24. An additional daily fee may apply in most locations (except in New York, the fee is up to $70.82) for all drivers who do not meet the age requirements.

There are companies that will rent to drivers under 21 but they will be more expensive. There will be an additional charge for a second driver regardless of age for most companies. Likely, the age restriction surcharge will be applied to both drivers - that is it won't be a single flat fee covering both of you, but applied to each of you (a double-whammy so to speak).

Looking at your itinerary, you have a pretty full schedule as it is. Keep in mind that Norway is just slightly larger than the state of Montana. The US is very large and though a month may seem like a long time, it's not considering your list and that you will be driving (rather than flying) from place to place. Granted, there will be long stretches of agricultural land to bore you silly dotted with wonderful things to see. Check out Roadside America for some of the "off the beaten track" attractions. If nothing else, it's a fun site to cruise through.

Have a great trip!!

7. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3580 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I have reserched this question several times for other members. In general, if you stay less than 5 weeks, it makes more sense to rent. From 6 weeks on, it makes sense to buy a car/van and resele it when you are done. Due to your ages, I am going to vote that you buy even if you are only staying 4 weeks. I also urge you to extend your stay. The US is huge and you can easily spend a an additional month bumping around the country. This is especially true if you have your own car to drive.

I did some checking and most rental companies will not rent to persons under 21. If they do, there is a hefty additional daily fee. Then you have to add the drop off fee, which can be substantial. I got a stunning quote from Alamo. Over $4K for 30 days, dropping off in LA. This was a subcompact car.

I helped a Brit TP member buy a van here in Vegas. I found one for him in one day for $1.5K. Another Brit couple came to Vegas and looked at what is out there under $2K, but ended up using the bus and a friends car. There are plenty of decent running vans under $2K in the US. Buy it, insure it(about $100/month) put plates on it, appox. $50 in Vegas and away you go. It can be done here in 1 day. I recommend a van because you have enough room to sleep in it if you so choose. This is really handy in our National Parks. Rooms are appox $100/nite in the park, say $50-60 outside the park. $20/nite to camp in most Nat'l parks. There is a way to avoid this charge if you so choose as well. Hard to beat free! This is where extending your trip makes sense. Your major expenses are over. You got here and paid for the van. It costs nothing to sleep in the van, your petrol and food costs for the day are minimal compared to hotels/motels and restaurants daily. If you sleep half the time in your van, you save at least $600 for 1 month. Stay 2 months and you pay for the van. You could give it away and be money ahead of renting a car and staying in hotels/motels/hostels. If you price it right when you are done, you will sell it in a few days. Expect to lose $200-500 from the price you paid in NY.

If you have questions, send me a PM.