Look Beyond the Airport

You don’t necessarily need or want to rent a car at the terminal. Lots of people flying into your destination are also looking to rent a car at the airport, meaning longer waits and more opportunities for things to go wrong. Rates can be higher when you rent from the airport, partly due to tacked-on fees—facility charges and so on—and in part because that’s just where they get you.

If you rent off airport, you stand to save a lot of money. Same company, same car, same rental period.

That depends on the city and the date, of course. You might not find a better deal outside of the labyrinthine airport lots, but it’s worth crunching the numbers. You may escape the sometimes-harrying drive out of the airport (and save money to boot) by taking a ride to pick up your car.

Reasons for the Higher Airport Costs

Airport car rentals involve a host of fees that off-airport rental facilities don’t have to pass along.

One major factor is taxes. Airport taxes are sometimes twice as much as the tax bill off-airport.

Obviously, taxes aren’t the only culprit. Other market forces are at work. The costs of doing business on choice airport property can be greater than at a location elsewhere, where parking lots and office space are not at a premium.

How to Search for the Best Price 

There’s a big hitch to off-airport car rentals: It will cost you to get to and from the rental location, and that could erase all the savings on the car’s rate per day. This could negate all the savings depending on the length of your stay. The longer the rental, the more important it is to consider this option. The car-rental situation in each city is unique. It always pays to investigate and determine if the airport car rental convenience is worth the added price.

Here is a strategy:

  • Find a car rental company that is having a sale in your destination market or at least the company with the lowest current rates.
  • Find the off-airport rental office for that company that’s closest to the terminal.
  • Compare the rates at that location with the airport car rental costs at the same company.
  • Consider if the difference you would save pays for the cost of additional transportation and is worth the inconvenience.


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