The 10 most expensive US cities to rent a car

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Rental cars are expensive right now. According to AAA, rental car prices have increased by about $40 per day compared to 2019 costs. 2021 saw the worst rental car prices, which were 34% higher than this year. However, the cost remains high. Knowing which cities have the highest cost to rent a car can help some travelers consider alternative modes of transportation upon arrival. A recent study by revealed the 10 most expensive US cities to rent a car.

Man loading luggage into a rental car

Why is the cost so high?

When Covid started to become a collective reality, car rental companies sold off much of their inventory to cut costs. No one was traveling, so it made sense to eliminate unnecessary maintenance costs. However, another consequence of Covid was waiting around the corner in the form of a global shortage of microchips, which led to fewer new cars being produced. So the rental car companies have not been able to replenish their inventory because there are no cars to buy. Finally, what this means for travelers is that costs have risen significantly compared to 2019 levels.

Man signing a car rental agreement in front of the rental car

The study

The study looked at car rental prices for the month of August from the top 100 US airports. Compare weekly average prices for the cheapest car available between August 1stSt and August 31St conducted to find the most expensive cities to rent a car. Finally, the only car rental companies the study looked at were those located at the airport or at the airport car rental center.

Crowded airport car rental kiosks

The 10 most expensive US cities to rent a car

1) Anchorage, Alaska (ANC) – $949 M.O. Weekly rate

2) Spokane, Washington (GEG) – $765 M.O. Weekly rate

3) Portland, Maine (PWM) – $737 M.O. Weekly rate

4) Little Rock, Arkansas (LIT) – Average $627. Weekly rate

5) Fayetteville, Arkansas (XNA) – $626 M.O. Weekly rate

6) Charleston, South Carolina (CHS) – $616 M.O. Weekly rate

7) Lihue, Hawaii (LIH) – $607 M.O. Weekly rate

8) Albany, NY (ALB) – $576 M.O. Weekly rate

9) Des Moines, Iowa (DSM) – $573 M.O. Weekly rate

10) Minneapolis, MN (MSP) – $571 M.O. Weekly rate

Anchorage on the Alaska skyline

How can travelers save?

The most important way to save money on a rental car would be to avoid owning it altogether. Let’s say your destination has good public transportation or is very walkable. In that case, it might be worth it to rely on the occasional taxi or uber to save some serious cash. While renting a car offers more flexibility and independence when traveling, you may find that you barely use the rental for some destinations.


Another tip for saving on a rental would be to book early and avoid booking directly at the airport. Although this study looked exclusively at airport car rental center pricing, it’s still a good indication that prices are high for the area. However, you may be able to save money by taking an uber to a car rental service further away from the airport.


One final tip that may not apply to all travelers is to take advantage of your credit card benefits. Many credit cards offer rental car insurance coverage as a cardholder benefit. Travelers should check with their credit card companies and make sure they fully understand the benefit before deciding to waive the coverage offered by the rental car company. However, this can be a great way to reduce the cost of renting a vehicle.

Man checking credit card benefits

Do a Thorough Check

According to a recent survey, only 43% of customers do not report any damage they see on the vehicle during the initial damage inspection. This can lead to the attribution of damage to the customer, even when it was not their fault. Unfortunately, this can mean anything from fees to legal action. Make sure you inspect the vehicle thoroughly before you start. Take photos, videos and document everything. It would be unfortunate to make an effort to save costs only to be hit with no-fault damage fees when returning the vehicle.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions subject to change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact the consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your entry nationality and/or any changes in travel requirements before you travel. Travel Off Path does not endorse travel against government advice

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