Road Trip!?!?
June 8, 2011 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Renting a car in the US for one month with different pick up and drop off locations for a reasonable price - possible?

I'm flying to the US in August and will be staying for a month. I plan to spend some time in Texas, the South and the Florida panhandle. I can either fly into an airport close to the panhandle (Orlando, Atlanta, etc.) and fly out from Texas, or book my flights the other way around.

Enterprise has awesome monthly rates (under $1,000 with all fees included and unlimited mileage for a full-size car for one month), but they don't allow pick up and drop off in different states on a monthly rental. The same car on a weekly rental price for a whole month would cost $3,000 and change :-S

I'm willing to be creative here - hit me with your suggestions!
posted by syzygy to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know someone who does this by renting a panel van or truck through U-Haul. It's not glamourous, but it solves exactly these problems.

Doesn't hurt to check it out. And worse comes to worse, you can throw down a sleeping bag in the back. YM(&dignity)MV.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:48 PM on June 8, 2011

Buy a car and sell it when you're done?
posted by sandmanwv at 1:54 PM on June 8, 2011

I tried to do this for two weeks driving from NY to NOLA. It ended up being cheaper to fly to Turkey and do a one way rental over there.

Seriously. Rental Car companies took a ton of capacity out in '09 and haven't started bringing it back yet, so prices are just crazy.
posted by JPD at 2:10 PM on June 8, 2011

Response by poster: Capt. Renault: That 's a creative idea, and one that I might be interested in if I was travelling alone or with buddies and just needed to get from point A to point B. But I'll be travelling with my girlfriend and her mom, and the "get from point A to point B part will only take about a week of the entire month that I'll need the car, so a panel van is a no-go.

sandmanwv: Also an interesting idea, but a junker isn't really an option, and buying something nicer sounds risky (who knows if I'll be able to sell it at the end of the trip? if it breaks down, I have to pay for repairs, etc.).

This is my girlfriend's mom's first trip to the US - she's been looking forward to visiting the States for more than 20 years, so I'd like to have something reasonably safe, modern and nice. Like the full-size auto from Enterprise that I mentioned - 2012 Dodge Charger or Nissan Altima for one month, unlimited mileage, under $1,000, taxes and fees included.
posted by syzygy at 2:11 PM on June 8, 2011

Google Maps suggests it's a 15 1/2 hour drive from Austin to Atlanta (to pick two possible end points at random). If you've got 2 drivers, it might be worth it just to drive back to your start point, and fly in and out from the same city.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 2:20 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

If the "get from point A to point B part will only take about a week of the entire month that [you]'ll need the car," would it be cheaper to do a week-long one-way rental, return the first car, and then rent a second car using a long-term lease?
posted by SpringAquifer at 3:00 PM on June 8, 2011

Years ago (1995) we flew into Seattle and drove to San Francisco. We used a travel agent and he was able to find us a rental car that needed to be returned to San Francisco. I believe we were charged has if it was a one way rental if not given a discount.
posted by tman99 at 3:28 PM on June 8, 2011

Best answer: I'm doing this next month, one way from Seattle to Las Vegas, for 3 weeks. Its costing something like £500, with another 250 USD on top for the one-way fee. I could probably have rented a car for the entire period for £300. For us it was the best way to make the most of the very limited time we had - we won't be able to afford a holiday like this in a while, so it seemed dim for the sake of £150 GBP or so each to have to spend 2 days driving the car back. We booked through carhire3000 and, despite spending ages trying, I couldn't find anything significantly cheaper.
posted by prentiz at 3:31 PM on June 8, 2011

Hertz does not have any one-way drop-off fees. Random itinerary without any coupons/discounts:


Orlando to Houston for August 1 to 31.

Selected Vehicle Change
Chevrolet Impala or similar More Details
Unlimited Free Miles Included
1 month at 1054.99 USD 1054.99 USD
Rate Details
Airport Concession Fee Recovery On Flight Arrivals 108.56 USD
Customer Facility Charge: 12.50 USD
Rental Surcharge 62.93 USD
Vehicle Licensing Cost Recovery 14.77 USD
Vehicle Subtotal 1254.78 USD


I'm sure you can find some promotion or something to get this total down some more.
posted by thewildgreen at 3:53 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Someone told me they rented a car through Costco for such a trip and got a great price. Sorry I don't know the figures, etc. But I thought I'd put it out there.
posted by abirdinthehand at 5:32 PM on June 8, 2011

Buy a car and sell it when you're done?

Top Gear suggests that this isn't quite as easy as it seems.
posted by SNWidget at 5:55 PM on June 8, 2011

Rent a car in each state you're in for 1 week at a time. Take a bus between states.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:34 PM on June 8, 2011

Best answer: Carhire3000 - Google them and then call to get them to find you the best offer. One way charges are hugely more than in the UK and when I did my last road trip in the US the lowest one they could find was gbp200, which was good compared to some of the other options he was looking up for work out your arrival and departure airports and call somebody. Not the kind of thing you're going to resolve yourself online easily.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:37 PM on June 8, 2011

You might be able to find someone that needs to transport a car a long distance, but doesn't want to pay to ship it. If you cover the gas and perhaps pay a small fee, they might let you use it. I've heard of some college students doing this.

I would've gladly done this instead of paying my car transporter almost $1500 to transport my car from one coast to the other...
posted by MeatFilter at 10:38 PM on June 8, 2011

Response by poster: prentiz ( & koahiatamadl): Great tip! I just booked a Dodge Charger through CarHire3000 with 2 drivers, unlimited mileage, collision & loss damage waiver, extended liability insurance, uninsured motorist insurance and a free tank of gas for 30 days, pick up at the Orlando airport and drop-off at Houston Intercontinental airport for a grand total of 981.20 Euros / $1,433.11 (including all taxes and fees). There is a $300 one-way drop-off fee (included in the total price mentioned previously). I suspect this is through Enterprise, and that CarHire3000 has some arrangement with them whereby they get the monthly discount on one-way rentals. We shall see.

thewildgreen: Thanks for the suggestion, but that Hertz price is before taxes ($81.56) and without extended liability insurance ($12.44/day), collision/loss damage waiver ($28.99/day) or a second driver ($15/day, I believe). My quick calculation for the Hertz price for 30 days with all of that (plus taxes on the additional fees) added is around $3,130, total, even without a drop-off fee.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I also took a look at, which seems like an interesting option, but I'd prefer to go with a rental company unless the savings are huge. I may take a closer look at those guys for future multi-week/multi-month trips to the US.

I took a look at some cross-country auto transport brokers, but didn't find anyone looking for the route we're driving. I'd prefer to have something concrete rather than booking our flights and hoping a match comes up at the right time.
posted by syzygy at 4:42 AM on June 9, 2011

Hertz does not have any one-way drop-off fees.

Right, but on some rentals, one-ways don't have unlimited miles, so there is a defacto fee.
posted by smackfu at 6:48 AM on June 9, 2011

syzygy: Ah! I forgot to include the insurance costs! That's because I never get the rental company's insurance. I have my personal car insurance for liability coverage, and for rentals, I'm enrolled in American Express Premium Car Rental Protection, which is just $25 for the entire rental period (up to 42 days) -- it covers the rental car completely.

Good to know that you found a decent price with CarHire3000. If you have an Amex card, you might want to check out that premium protection program and see if you can save some money for your CarHire3000 rental.

smackfu: I didn't know Hertz does not include unlimited miles on all rentals -- that is also good to know so I can keep an eye out. May be there are restrictions when you rent from the Hertz neighborhood / local locations?
posted by thewildgreen at 8:39 AM on June 9, 2011

Response by poster: Folow-up: CarHire3000 were great! Very friendly customer service on the phone. I booked a full-sized car for 30 days through them, with pick up in Orlando and drop-off at Houston Intercontinental Airport.

The rental company was Dollar. They will try to upsell you at the counter. They also have a 'first-come, first-serve' policy for rentals, meaning they don't guarantee that the car you ordered will be available when you show up.

They were out of Dodge Chargers when we arrived (or don't have them at all, not certain). We decided to upgrade to a standard SUV (GMC Acadia) at a cost of roughly $16 extra per day. Excellent car - comfortable, nice, with plenty of room for our luggage.

Furthermore, I was able to extend the rental by an extra 5 days at the same rate by calling CarHire3000 - no problems there at all. They simply extended the original agreement for a full-sized car, and I had to pay the difference (for the upgrade to an SUV for 5 days) at Dollar when I dropped the car off.

All in all, a very pleasant experience - CarHire3000's customer service was very friendly and competent, and we ended up paying roughly a third of what we'd have otherwise paid if we'd have booked the car directly through Dollar (or Hertz, etc.).

Thanks for the tip, prentiz and koahiatamadl - we had an awesome road trip at a reasonable price :-)
posted by syzygy at 8:10 AM on October 5, 2011

May be there are restrictions when you rent from the Hertz neighborhood / local locations?

I know this is an old question, but I was just researching this for another trip, and yes, that seems to be the case. Airport to airport rentals do not have extra charges for one-way, while Hertz Local Edition (their competitor to Enterprise aimed at insurance rentals) do charge me mileage in addition to the daily rate. Since the local ones also tend to only be open during banker's hours, so you can't return the car on Sundays or pick it up after work, I've found that it is very worth your money to get to an airport if you possibly can. Mileage even at $0.24 per mile really adds up.
posted by smackfu at 7:25 AM on October 7, 2011

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