Renting a car has gotten more expensive over the years. So how much is a rental car today?
It all depends on the rental car company you go with, the car class you choose, how long you need the car, and what add-ons (if any) you select for your rental.
Find out how much it costs to rent a car on average and learn the factors that determine the overall cost below.
How Much Is a Rental Car?
Renting a car today typically costs somewhere between $50 and $80 per day for economy class cars (think Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, and Volkswagen Golf).
But those costs depend on several factors, like how long you’re renting the car, how far in advance you book, the car company and location you choose, and what add-ons you select.
|Average Price||$50-$80 per day|
|Airport Locations||40% more on average|
|Luxury Cars||$150+ per day on average|
This means your actual rental car costs can be a little lower or higher than the average range. For example, we found that cars rented from airport locations were much more expensive – sometimes as much as 40% more – than those rented from downtown locations.
Economy class cars are always cheaper to rent than $150+/day luxury class cars – unless you’re a rewards member taking advantage of free rental car upgrades.
Finding out how much a rental car costs and the factors that add to or subtract from your final cost will help you start planning a budget for your trip.
So, what’s the average cost to rent a car? Let’s start by taking a look at how much a rental car costs by the day and week.
How Much Is a Rental Car for a Day?
- Rental cars cost $49-$78 per day on average
- Enterprise is the cheapest rental car company by day
- National is the most expensive rental car company by day
If you only need a one-day car rental, you can expect to pay anywhere from $49 to $78 per day on average.
This cost assumes you’re renting an economy class vehicle without any add-ons, like rental car insurance or tank fill-ups. Spoiler alert: You don’t actually need these pricey upsells.
We found that Enterprise, named #1 in a list of the best rental car companies, charges $35-$72 per day for an economy class rental car.
Hertz, another top rental car company and largest airport rental company worldwide, has a cost range of $40-$78 per day for economy class cars.
National Car Rental, while it’s one of the best, is also the most expensive rental car company at $72-$84 per day for economy class cars.
How Much Is a Rental Car for a Week?
- Rental cars cost $343-$546 per week on average
- Airport rentals can be up to 40% more expensive than downtown
- Enterprise has the cheapest weekly car rental rates
How much is a rental car for a week? On average, you’ll pay somewhere between $343 and $546 for an economy class car, depending on the rental car company you choose.
Our own data found Enterprise charges an average of $343/week for economy class cars across all locations. NerdWallet found that Enterprise charges around $480/week at the 10 largest airport locations in the U.S., making an Enterprise airport rental about 40% more expensive.
In another example of weekly rental price by rental location, National Car Rental charges about $546/week on average across all locations, but about $695/week at the largest airport locations.
That’s a cost difference of about 27% – a difference of $149 over a 7-day period. That can really affect your overall trip budget!
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How Much Is a Rental Car Deposit?
- Rental car deposits range from $60-$300 on average
- Holds may be placed on your card for deposit + estimated rental total
- Deposits may be paid directly or included in a reserve charge on your card
Rental car deposits – usually between $60-$300 – are almost always part of the rental process.
It’s how rental car companies ensure renters won’t skip out on the bill. Fortunately, you’ll get the security deposit back after the company inspects your car upon return.
You may be required to pay an upfront security deposit to rent a car, or you could have a hold or reserve placed on your credit card to cover the estimated total amount of your rental.
It all depends on the policy of the rental car company you’re using, and they all have different deposit rules and processes.
The Enterprise deposit policy is one of the cheapest and pretty straightforward – they’ll place a hold on your credit card for 120% of your estimated rental car total.
A $343 7-day rental with Enterprise would have a $68 deposit to total a $411.59 (120% of the price) hold placed on your card. You’d get the $68 deposit deducted from your total upon return.
If you use a debit card to rent a car, Enterprise charges $200-$400 as a security deposit. You’ll get this amount back upon return if there’s no damage or extra cleaning needed.
Hertz charges a security deposit of $200 (credit card rentals) to $500 (debit card rentals) in addition to placing a hold on your card for the estimated rental car total.
Other companies, like Budget and Alamo, charge $300-$400 in addition to placing a hold on your payment card for the estimated total amount.
6 Rental Car Cost Factors to Consider
Wondering what factors affect how much a rental car costs? Here are the 6 most influential factors in rental car prices.
1. Rental Car Company
The company you choose has a major effect on your total rental car cost. Some companies charge a lot less than others for the same types of car rentals.
We’ve found that Enterprise is the cheapest rental car company in multiple cost analyses, always winning out over other top brands like Hertz and National Car Rental in overall price.
National Car Rental is usually on the higher end of average rental car costs, with economy car rentals costing $72-$84/day compared to $35-$72/day through Enterprise.
2. Length of Rental
How long will you need your rental car? The longer your rental, the more you’ll pay in total – but you may pay less per day when you rent for a longer term.
For example, you could pay $49 for a one-day rental or $343 for a week-long rental on the low end of average. If you rent for 28+ days, your daily rate could be much lower than $49.
Some companies offer a weekly rental (5+ days) discount around 10%. Most companies offer bigger long-term rental discounts that make the daily rates cheaper when you rent for a month or more.
These long-term rental discounts really only apply to longer sabbaticals and circumstances where you’d prefer to rent than lease a car, but it’s worth considering if you want the lowest daily rate.
3. Car Class
The rental car class you choose is a major factor in the overall cost. Economy is the cheapest (and smallest) class, while things get more expensive with full size, luxury, and van/truck classes.
If you’re looking for the cheapest rental cars, go with economy or compact cars. They’ll always have the lowest daily and weekly rental rates.
One way around the additional cost of larger and premium car classes is signing up for a rental car company’s rewards program.
All the top companies, including Enterprise, Hertz, and National Car Rental offer the option for free car class upgrades when you earn reward points by renting through them.
4. Rental Location
Where you rent your car has a lot to do with how much you’ll pay in total. Downtown locations – or the ones you’ll see around town – are always cheaper than airport locations.
That’s because airports often charge rental car companies extra fees to operate within the airport. Those extra costs get passed on to the customer.
Data shows that airport rentals cost up to 40% more than renting from a downtown location. On average, your cost difference may be around 27% higher when you rent at an airport kiosk.
5. How Far in Advance You Book
Early birds don’t get the worm when it comes to rental car prices. You’ll save money on your rental car when you book one closer to your trip.
NerdWallet analyzed 360 rental car prices to find cost averages for different rental circumstances and found that rental cars booked 7 days in advance (as opposed to 91 days in advance) were about 13% cheaper overall.
You may be a little less likely to find a specific car or car class “in stock” when you book so close to your trip, but it may be worth the cost savings.
6. Add-Ons Selected
Rental car companies always offer add-ons that can heavily influence the overall cost of your rental. These aren’t essential, but some people purchase add-ons for extra peace of mind.
Rental car insurance, tank fill-ups, car seats, satellite radio, and extra drivers can all result in additional costs tacked onto your rental bill.
Most of the time, you won’t need any of these add-ons – but if your situation warrants it, get written confirmation on the total cost it will add so there are no surprises.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions related to “How much is a rental car?” from users online.
How much should you spend on a rental car?
On average, you should expect to spend between $49-$78 per day for an economy class rental car. That amounts to $343-$546 per week.
If you want to rent a larger or premium car class, your total cost will be higher. Adding insurance, extra drivers, or including fuel costs raises the cost further.
What do you need to rent a car for a day?
If you want to rent a car for a day, you'll need a driver's license and credit or debit card, depending on the company you choose.
You will also need to pay a security deposit ranging from $60-$400, depending on the company you choose and how much your estimated rental car total is.
How much is the average US car rental?
The average US car rental is $49-$78 per day for an economy class car. Weekly rentals average $343-$546 per week for economy class cars.
In addition to the total cost for your rental, you will need to pay a security deposit or have an amount higher than the estimated total held on your credit or debit card.
The excess amount will be refunded to you when you return the car without damage or additional need for cleaning or repairs.
Is it cheaper to rent or buy a car?
It's cheaper upfront to rent a car, but cheaper in the long-term to buy a car. Long-term rentals can be a solution when you're in the market for a car but haven't found one to buy yet.
Most rental car companies offer long-term rental discounts for rentals over 28 days, making the daily rates much cheaper than the $49-$78 average.
Why is renting a car for a day so expensive?
One-day car rentals have increased in price by about 75% since 1997. Today, you'll pay $49-$78 to rent a car for one day. While the rental total will be higher the longer you rent, some companies offer daily rate discounts for weekly and monthly rentals that make the daily rate cheaper.
Over to You — Book Your Rental Car Today!
On average, how much is a rental car? We’ve learned that there are 6 cost factors at play here that help determine your total rental costs.
The rental car company, length of rental, car class, rental location, how far in advance you book, and add-ons selected will all affect the final price you pay.
In general, expect to pay somewhere between $49 and $78 per day for an economy class rental car, or $343-$546 per week.
You may be able to save money by renting your car from a non-airport location about 7 days in advance of your trip – no sooner – and foregoing unnecessary add-ons like tank fill-ups.
Overall, the cost to rent a car has definitely gone up over the years, but that’s expected with inflation and rising costs across the board.
Your rental car costs today may run you $50+ per day, but as long as you know the average costs in advance, you won’t face any unpleasant surprises at the rental counter!