When you are in the USA, usually you commute by public transport (which takes up a lot of time, plus it's not that frequent too.), or by means of your own transport. If you don't own a car, temporarily, renting a car can help you to manage other primary arrangements like looking for the apartment, opening bank account, etc., which would otherwise take a lot of time. It's good to rent a car as soon as you get accustomed to driving in the USA, which gives you freedom to travel at your own convenience.
You can hire a car at the airport itself, as almost all rental car companies have their offices at the Airport. This will give you freedom to commute. And if you are here for some limited time, then it would be more economical instead of going around in taxi's.
Renting a car is also advisable (even if you own a car), if you want to go on a long (10 to 14 hours) journey, as it won't increase your own car's mileage, plus you won't have to pay anybody in case of any damage. It will be the renting company's headache.
For renting a car you will need to have:
- Driving License: You are required to have either IDP (International Driving Permit) issued from India, or the respective US state license in order to be able to drive. On IDP, you can drive for some limited period which is different for each state, e.g. it is 2 months for California.
- Credit Card: You must have a credit card, otherwise you won't be able to rent it, since not all car renting companies accept cash.
Types of Car
There are three kinds of car:
- Small Car: These are very light cars and are not appropriate for Freeway Driving. They are good to drive with the town.
- Compact Car: These are medium weight cars, very good for in the town driving and also ok to use on Freeways.
- Big Car: These are heavy weight cars and are very good and safe for Freeways.
(These can be further divided into categories such as: Economy, Compact, Mid-size, Standard, Full-size, Premium, Luxury, Convertible, Mini van, SUV.)
Generally there is a $2-5 difference in the rentals depending on the type you choose. Normal charges are $15-20 for small, $18-22 for compact, and $20-25 for big cars.
These rates vary from company to company.
Remember when you rent a Car
- The person who hires the car, is suppose to drive and nobody else.
- Include the name of other driver IF some else also going to drive the car.
- It is advisable to get the rental car insurance, if you don't have car insurance coverage. This protects you in case of any accident. It may cost you some extra ($10-$20)/day. Though the cost of the rent goes up a little high, but it is worth taking.
- A few credit cards provide facility to cover your insurance e.g. Discover Card. So, if you use such cards for renting, you can take such advantages.
- If you are going to drive outside the state do notify it at the time of renting.
- Always check and note the mileage reading of the car before leaving. This is because, some companies let you drive unlimited, but on the other hand some companies charge you extra for every mile you drive over some particular limit. So, clarify this before renting.
- Few companies offer pick up and drop back till your residence. So, confirm this and make use of this opportunity.
- Always compare the rates of few rental companies prior to renting.
- In case of any problem contact the rental office. Remember, it's totally their responsibility, so don't hesitate for anything.
- There are different charges for weekdays and weekends. So, take the maximum advantage as it's cheaper on weekends.
- There will be some discount, if you want to rent the car for a month or more.
- Some car rental companies are AAA certified i.e. they give special discounts to AAA members.
- Always check the condition of the car properly. Give a proper search for any kind of scratch or damage, and clear it before hand, so that there is no dispute at the time of returning.
- Always return the car before the time limit, otherwise in case of delay by some nominal margin also, they may charge you one full day extra charges. So, be cautious.