Hiring a car in the USA

You can’t just jump in the car and catch a ferry to America, so most people driving in the USA will be using a hire car. USA car hire is generally straightforward, but here are a few things to keep in mind...

car hire USA

1. Book in advance

Most US airports will have a selection of car hire companies on site, though you may find that they don’t necessarily offer the best value for money. You’re more likely to get a better deal if you book your hire car online before you travel to the States.

Here are some more tips for anyone preparing to go on a driving holiday in the USA.

Automatic car

2. Choose the right car for you

If you want a manual gearbox then be sure you specifically request it as most hire cars in the US are automatics.

The controls may be different to what you are used to in the UK too, so make sure you familiarise yourself with them fully before you start your road trip.

road trp

3. Know the age limits

Many USA hire car companies will not rent to drivers who are under 25 or over 70, so check their policy in advance. Some firms will rent to younger drivers, but they may charge a premium, which can typically be around $25, or £17, a day.

Breakdown cover for a hire car

Your hire car should come with breakdown cover as standard. The hire firm may try to persuade you to pay for extra cover, but make sure you read the small print to check what additional help this gives, before you decide whether to upgrade or not. Look at your car manual, as this will give you an idea of recommended service intervals for when your particular make and model of car might need an oil change.

check your policy

4. Check your insurance

When you hire a car, the representative is likely to try to persuade you to upgrade your car insurance. It can be worthwhile upgrading from the basic level of insurance, but make sure you read the small print first.

Before you leave, you should also check to see if your existing car insurance policy in the UK covers your USA car hire as well.

looking for damage

5. Look out for damage

Make sure you check the car for any dents, cracks or scratches before you drive it away. Make a note or take photos of any damage you spot, so that you can’t be held liable when you return the car at the end of your trip.

Did you know?

Most hire cars will have a GPS system fitted so the hire firm can track your movements. Many USA car rental firms will charge you extra if you drive their car into another state without telling them first, so make sure you inform the company if you plan to cross state lines.

Insurance from Swinton 

  • Car Insurance - A flexible range of policies for a wide range of cars and drivers
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Driving abroad

Be sure to check out our other driving abroad guides: