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It’s also a good idea to rent a car if you’re in the USA for a vacation or adventure trip. Here's our complete car renting guide.

How to Rent a Car in the USA: A Complete Guide

Car rentals are a blessing if you don’t want to buy a car or are looking for a convenient way to maneuver in a foreign city. This works well if your city has an efficient public transport system which makes it pointless to buy a car. It’s also a good idea to rent a car if you’re in the USA for a vacation or adventure trip with roadrunner auto transport and want to experience a different car model than what you use daily. It also helps if you don’t own a car but want to run errands quickly.

Let’s delve into details and explore how to go about it.

What Do You Need?

The first requirement is for you to meet the age criteria. The minimum age to hire a car is 25. However, youth under 25 can also rent a car but must pay the young driver’s fee. There is a limit on this, too, as some states have lower age driving limits. For instance, you can rent a car if you’re 18 in Michigan and New York. However, you still have to pay the young driver’s fee.

Conversely, some companies also have a bare minimum age requirement for car rentals. Companies such as Budget, Alamo, and Enterprise only rent to adults over 21 years.

The renter also needs to have a valid driver’s license. The requirement for obtaining a license in the USA differs by state, and the minimum age for attaining a full license varies between 16 and 18 years. Ohio is one of the few states where you can acquire a driving license easily. Foreigners require an International Driving Permit, allowing you to drive in many different countries worldwide legally. You also require a credit or debit card to pay for the rental service. Lastly, you need a photo ID.

What to Consider Before Committing

The first consideration is the fees charged by the rental company. Some companies have additional charges and taxes, which might increase the final price. These include the young driver’s fee, the refueling surcharge, and the drop charge. The rental car refueling surcharge usually applies if you return the car with a lower gas level. The rental car drop charge applies if you return it to a different location than where you picked it up or you could consider ship cars to another state.

How to Rent a Car in the USA

The first step is to do due diligence and compare the rental requirements for different companies. You can find several options and reserve them until you decide on the best fit. You can find more details about a car rental company by looking up their numbers on PhoneHistory. You can also take advantage of multiple car rental apps online to find the best price. Compare the prices and additional charges before deciding on a rental company. Having decided on the rental company to use and the ideal car type for your trip, you are now ready to book your trip.

The next step is to buy rental vehicle excess insurance. This is a key precautionary measure that ensures you’re covered if the car is damaged. Once that’s set, you can pick up your car. It’s important to have a list of extras, such as a child seat if you intend to carry your children or GPS if your trip is going to be in an unfamiliar location.

You also need to read the car rental contract carefully before signing. After using the vehicle, you must return it at the pickup point; otherwise, this will incur charges. Also, ensure you keep time, as failure to do this attracts additional charges. Finally, ensure that you refill the tank before returning it.

Which Car Is Ideal for You?

Rental vehicles vary in size and brand. Common types available for hire include economy, mid-size, full-size, and multi-purpose vehicles. Economy rentals are small and ideal for a group of less than four. Mid-size vehicles can accommodate five passengers, while full-size vehicles also have five seats but are more spacious. Multi-purpose vehicles accommodate groups of up to seven passengers.

To decide on the best car for you, consider your luggage and ensure the trunk space is sufficient. The fuel budget is also a key consideration. You should choose a vehicle that is fuel efficient and eco-friendly.

Your destination matters a lot too. Smaller cars are ideal for driving in a city as they are fuel efficient and can easily maneuver in the streets. Again, your travel goals will determine the features you’ll require. For example, if you’re on an excursion, you’ll require GPS navigation and satellite radio. If you’re on a business trip, you might need a dashboard interface that connects to your smartphone.

Deciding on the Insurance to Buy

Some rental agencies cover the insurance cost. If not, you may have to buy an auto policy yourself. There are many types of this insurance that could cover personal accidents. There is collision damage, which covers any damage to the vehicle. Supplementary damage protection covers injury to others or damage to their vehicles. You can also get personal effects coverage which covers your personal belongings in case of an accident or theft.

Consider paying for rental car insurance if your auto insurance fails to cover crucial categories you’ll need to be covered. This varies according to your vehicle type, the purpose of the trip, and the valuables you carry. Avoiding a potential claim on your personal auto policy is also advisable. Subsequently, avoid buying insurance from the rental company at the last minute. At this point, they sell it at a higher rate, leaving you with no room to negotiate. You can also find several cheaper yet effective insurance options when you’ve time.


You need a valid driver’s license, a photo ID, and a credit or debit card to rent a car in the USA. You should also meet the legal age criteria of 25 years, which applies in most US states. Rental car insurance is also critical to cover the risk involved once you rent a car. As a pro tip, ensure you return the car with a full tank of gas at the point of pickup to avoid attracting extra costs.

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