Most of the options we looked at were well over $2000, and up to $3000 US for an intermediate car.
We aren’t only driving across the country, but moving at the same time, so we wanted some extra space for luggage.
We looked at a whole bunch of options, including renting cars in different cities and even driving our own car and dropping it at a dealership in California.
Settling with a Hertz Rental Car
At the end of the day, we were able to get an intermediate SUV for about $1200. We booked it with Hertz from Miami Airport to LAX.
To make our decision, Danielle and I opened up a bunch of tabs on our computers and phones as we browse through different car rental websites. We started with Hotwire, rentalcars.com.au and some of the other major comparison sites. It was just a matter of spending a couple of hours trying different car locations and providers.
We found that Hertz was the cheapest for the rental car we wanted. It was about $1000 cheaper than the nearest alternative. We even found some boutique car companies, but they was still more expensive.
Does That Mean Hertz is Always Cheapest?
I have found on other occasions that Enterprise, Alamo and Budget car rentals have all had cheaper options. So definitely pays to shop around. I have also used rentalcars.com as that site often includes affordable insurance and allows you to pay in your own currency.
A friend of mine also booked with Easirent on a trip to Orlando. He said they were very cheap but they did have restrictions on your daily driving distance, while many of the larger companies do not. They also only have limited locations throughout Florida which would be a deal breaker if you are planning on traveling further afield.
To Upgrade Or Not
We could have saved another $100 or so by going with a smaller vehicle from Enterprise. But with our luggage and traveling across the entire country, we decided it was worth the upgrade. That said, I’ve also lucked out (or been very blessed) when I’ve booked the cheaper vehicle and gotten a friendly rep at the counter.
With Budget, I booked a regular vehicle and they gave me a red Mustang. So I was pretty happy with that! This doesn’t happen every time though. Even if you book for a specific vehicle type, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it. It’s best to lower your expectations so you’re pleasantly surprised when you win!
Pay Early & Save
With this most recent rental car, we saved some extra dollars by paying upfront. We pick up the car on November 21, and we’ve been told that there are no extra fees. We will update you here and let you know how it goes.
We picked up our rental car on November 21. Although we booked a Nissan Rogue we got a Mitsubishi Outlander.
It was smaller than expected so took some shoving to fit our life’s belongings inside. If you are traveling with 3-4 bags though this vehicle would probably be ok. The Outlander was only a two wheel drive so we were a little apprehensive about driving it around Las Vegas given there was likely to be snow this time of year.
In the second week of having the vehicle, the service light came on, so we were able to take the vehicle back to Hertz at the airport in Austin as we were passing through. We switched it out for a Toyota RAV4, which had a lot more space. We were really happy with this alternative.
Most rental car companies will provide a service to take care of tolls. The catch is that it will usually include a toll service fee for every day of your rental even if you don’t use a toll every day. I believe the service fee was going to be around $5 per day, which adds up on a 20-30 day rental. I knew the only tolls we were going to use were in Florida and Georgia, so I bought a Florida Sunpass sticker to put on the inside of the windscreen so we could manage our own tolls. This worked out much cheaper.
If you use Google Maps for navigation, you can also set “Avoid Tolls,” as your preference in navigation settings. This can save you money but can also dramatically increase travel time, so it pays to check with tolls vs without.
Returning The Rental Car
We returned our rental car in Los Angeles at LAX. We aimed to get to the airport roughly 4-5 hours before our international flight because the traffic in LA is insane. It took an hour to travel about 14 miles.
It was super easy to return the rental car. I just parked the vehicle, left the keys in and walked about 10 meters to the airport shuttle.
Although returning the car is fast, allow time for the trip from Hertz to the airport as the shuttle still has to navigate through LA traffic to get to the terminal which could take anywhere from five minutes to an hour.
Have you booked a rental car in America? What was your experience?