There are times when the best way to see the United States is to fly into one city and fly home from another, using a rental car to get from place to place. Unfortunately, this convenience sometimes can come at a price. U.S. rental car companies have typically charged a drop-off fee (also known as an inter-city fee or mileage charge) by either adding it on to the rental car rate or bundling it into the daily rate, in order to dissuade customers from booking one way rentals.
Today, however, many rental companies in the U.S. are waiving the one way rental fee, depending on the pick-up and drop-off locations. It pays to research prices, availability, and policies on various car rental sites before booking a one way car rental. Each rental car company has its own stipulations when it comes to picking up and dropping off at different spots.
Alamo: Sometimes referred to as an inter-city fee, a drop fee will appear when booking online, and still may be applicable even on its one-way offers.
Avis: Avis offers a deal for customers looking to rent a vehicle for 12 hours one way from an airport to downtown, with no drop-off fee. However, drop-off fees could apply on other rentals.
Budget: Budget doesn't seem to charge a drop-off fee, but dropping the car off at a different location than noted on your reservation, without alerting an agent, will result in a minimum of a $45 charge.
Dollar: Dollar does offer one-way rentals at participating locations, but a drop-off fee will apply.
Enterprise: Called a drop or mileage charge, the fee varies by location—and sometimes there isn't even a drop-off fee. If there is one, the site will alert you at check out.
Hertz: There are no drop-off fees for most rentals at Hertz.
National: A mileage or drop fee are charged on certain rentals, and they'll appear as an inter-city fee when booking online.
Thrifty: There is a drop-off fee for all one-way rentals.
The Bottom Line
Rates do vary, with some rental companies not even charging a one-way rental fee at specific locations. Before booking your rental car, read up on the company's policies and reach out to a customer service representative to triple-check the drop-off fee, if there is one, for your one-way rental.
Ways to Save on One Way Car Rentals
- Many car rental companies, including Hertz and Alamo, are now offering deals on one-way rentals. Seasonal deals also pop up, so take the time to do a search before booking. For example, one way rentals from certain Arizona locations to California are very inexpensive in the springtime, as are one way rentals from Florida to the Northeast or mid-Atlantic United States.
- If your car insurance company offers rental car discounts, check to see if those discounts apply to one way car rentals.
- If you are a member of AARP, AAA, CAA or Costco, ask about rental car discounts from that organization.