Car rental in the USA – Complete guide on how to hire

If you are thinking of traveling to the United States, renting a car is essential. Here we help you with all the doubts in this very complete guide!

When searching for US car rental, many doubts arise in the minds of those who travel, don't they?

  • You may need to know the paperwork needed to rent a car;
  • Or don't know if it's better to close your car insurance with your credit card or rental company?
  • How to find out which is the best site to rent a car in the USA?

There are so many questions that accumulate that it is impossible to discover everything on one site.

Did you identify yourself?

No problems. That's why we decided to research all the doubts that our readers have about car rental in the USA to answer them one by one, in one place – here in this post.

So you don't have to go from site to site looking for answers. We have everything here! Including how to get good deals on car rental there.

In this comprehensive guide, you will come away knowing everything about car rental USA. Come on?

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Car rental in the USA – Complete guide on how to hire

Click the link in the table of contents below to be directed to the topic:

  • Is it worth renting a car in the US?
  • How to Rent a Car in the USA
  • Best website to rent a car in the USA
  • What you need to know BEFORE renting a car
  • Required Documentation
  • Do I need to buy car insurance?
  • Child safety seat rules
  • How to drive in the USA
  • How to troubleshoot on the road
  • How to get good deals on car rental in the USA

It is worth to rent a car in the USA?

Renting a car in the United States is not only worth it, it is more than necessary in most cities in the country. US metropolises tend to be large and well distributed, offering a public transportation system that does not serve most regions quickly.

Owning a car in Miami, for example, is one of the cities where renting is essential. You'll want to see the whole city when you go there. However, relying on trains and buses for this can take up precious hours of your vacation, as public transport does not serve the entire city. In addition, as the distances are large, using taxi and Uber can be more expensive than renting a car.  

>> Learn more about car rental in miami in our complete guide

Car rental in the USA – Complete guide on how to hire

Cities in the US that are not worth renting a car

One of the only cities that is NOT worth renting a car in the US is New York. Especially if you're staying in Manhattan, Brooklyn and intend to go to an outlet nearby.

Manhattan is a small island, with an old subway system, but it serves the entire city. Renting a car in the Big Apple is boring, because you will spend good hours in traffic or pay exorbitant prices for parking. It is worth buying a metropass for the number of days you are going to stay in the city and enjoy everything by metro.

How to rent a car in the US

If you're wondering how to rent a car in the United States, know that it's pretty easy. You don't need to be an expert in English or anything. We give the step-by-step here. However, to rent a car in the US you need to be at least 21 years old.

Além disso, who is under 25 years old and you are the main driver, you will need to pay a extra fee of about USD 35 USD per day. To certify that you meet all the prerequisites, check that your Brazilian driver's license is valid.

Check out all the information on how to rent a car below:

  • What is the best website to rent a car in the USA?
  • How to find the best price
  • How to get IOF discount and still pay in 12 installments

What is the best site to rent a car in the USA?

The best place to rent a car in the USA is through websites that make a price comparison among car rental companies. So you can compare different car models, what each offer includes, coverages, in addition to the prices offered by each company.

We always use and recommend the site RentCars. It is one of the best comparators on the market today for indicating only rental companies that are really reliable, such as Avis, Budget, Localiza, Hertz, among other giants in the industry. In addition, it is the only comparator that you can pay in 12 installments without interest and not pay IOF.

Compare prices on Rent Cars by clicking here!

Car rental in the USA – Complete guide on how to hire

The RentCars website is super simple and easy to use! It is worth it.

Cheap car rental in the United States: How to find the best price

You have to be aware: Not always finding the best price means you'll pay cheaper in the end, lol. Okay, now you must be asking yourself: "How so?".

People explain. Websites often offer very low prices on car rentals. However, his insurance is not included.

Let's say you are going to pay R$600 for 10 days of car rental. However, when you arrive in the United States, the rental company forces you to take out basic insurance against damage to the vehicle. This can greatly increase the final rental amount.

Generally, mandatory insurance is around USD 20 a day. In other words, at the end of the day you think you will pay R$600 for 10 days by car, but then you are forced to pay another USD 200 dollars (in the current conversion, R$700). Believe it or not, but unfortunately this happens a lot with those who rent a car outside the country.

So it's always good to keep an eye out! Try to find offers that already offer full insurance so there are no surprises later.

Combine a car with complete protection of the vehicle and third parties, with online payment without IOF to get better prices. Pay up to 12 interest-free installments with RentCars clicking here!

How to get IOF discount and still pay in 12 times

US car rental comparison sites usually charge IOF (6,38% more on purchase) and don't give you the option to pay in installments. Therefore, the website RentCars ended up becoming our favorite option to find the best prices.

The site does not charge IOF (already guaranteeing almost 7% off) and lets you pay in 12 interest-free installments. To top it off, you always pay in reais – and you don't have to pray for the exchange rate when closing the card. It is the only one today that gives these payment terms. It is worth it.

To find the best price, enter RentCars by clicking here.

Cars for rent in the United States: Which model to choose?

There are several models of cars for rent in the United States. You can choose from categories that suit different budgets: Compact, intermediate, full-size, economy, standard, SUV, premium, special, luxury, minivan, convertible and vans.

To choose the best model, it all depends on the profile of your trip. If you're with your family, it's worth opting for cars like an SUV, while couples can save on a compact or splurge on a beautiful sports car. Groups of friends can even rent vans.

However, it's always good to remember: who doesn't go to the United States and loves shopping? Well, it's always good to opt for cars that have space in the trunk for a day full of post-outlet bags.

Car rental in the USA – Complete guide on how to hire

How about renting a car in USA to do Route 66 in a convertible like this!

What you need to know BEFORE renting a car

Check out all the information you need to know BEFORE renting a car.

Required Documentation

An international license is not required to rent a car in the USA. Just a valid driver's license is enough for you to drive away. We made a checklist for you to write down and not forget anything when renting a car there:

  • Be over 21 years old
  • Valid Brazilian CNH (driver's license)
  • Passport
  • Credit Card (for security deposit)
  • Proof of Car Reservation

#DicaImportant: Notify your bank that you are going to travel! As the car is one of the first things you come across when you arrive in the United States, it is likely that your card will not pass if you forget to make the travel notice. Notify your manager or travel through your bank's Internet Banking.

What is the deposit amount on car rental?

The security deposit is a value that the rental companies “block” on the credit card when picking up the car upon arrival in the United States. This value is blocked only by “precaution”. In this way, the rental company is prevented from any theft, unpaid accident or any other expense that the lessee decides not to pay.

The deposit amount is usually a little scary, although it varies by category, US car rental duration and type of car. However, there is no need to worry. They will not charge you anything if everything goes smoothly during the rental.

Therefore, it is always important to ensure that your car is insured so that there are no unforeseen circumstances during the trip.

Is it worth taking out US car insurance?

Car insurance in the US is always a necessary expense. We never know what might happen along the way. A tap in the parking lot, an accident or even theft of the car.

In outlets, for example, we've already heard reports of cars having their glass broken to steal what's inside. So it's always important to prevent yourself.

However, there are two ways to purchase US car insurance:

  1. Credit Card Car Insurance
  2. Direct Car Insurance with the Rental Company

Credit Card Car Insurance

Generally, cards with Platinum, Black and other premium brands offer automatic coverage for the vehicle, if the purchase is made through it. So, you don't have to pay extra for car insurance.

However, you have to remember: credit card car insurance only covers damage to the vehicle! Third party damage is not covered by credit card insurance.

Therefore, even when purchasing car insurance through the card, the rental company will try to sell you the coverage to third parties. However, it's up to you whether you want to take a chance without it or not.

Direct Car Insurance with the Rental Company

In the case of purchasing car insurance directly from the rental company, then you will need to pay a little more. Especially if you decide to hire at the counter, when picking up the car. Generally, rental companies charge close to the value of the car rental itself. That is, it doubles the amount you were expecting to pay.

Therefore, our tip is to try to find through the RentalCars cars that already come with full coverage for damage to the vehicle and third parties. In addition, you already pay in real, here in España, so you don't fall for any prank from the rental companies. To complete, you can also spread up to 12 interest-free installments and not pay IOF.

To find fully insured cars, enter RentCars by clicking here.

Types of car rental insurance

What often confuses us are the types of car rental insurance. What is the difference in LDW or PAI coverage, among other things. To explain it better, we did a detailed research on what each type of coverage offered by rental companies and credit card means:

CDW and LDW are common terms used in car rental insurance jargon. In the end, they refer to the same thing – loss or damage to your rental car.

CDW insurance

It is short for Collision Damage Waiver – This provides coverage in the event of a collision or damage to the vehicle.

LDW insurance

This is short for Loss Damage Waiver – This provides coverage in the event of theft or total loss of the vehicle.

ALI Insurance

Additional Liability Insurance means that if you are involved in an accident with your rental car, you (the driver) are insured against bodily injury and property damage to third parties up to a certain monetary amount.

PAI insurance

Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) provides coverage in the event of accidental death and covers emergency medical expenses for the renter and all passengers in the car. The amount of coverage varies according to the rental company.

PEP insurance

It also concerns passenger coverage. Personal Accident Insurance covers the renter and passengers in the event of an accident during the rental as a driver or passenger. It covers accidental death, some medical expenses, assistance and rescue.

which better, theplace at the airport or in the city?

A good tip is to compare US car rental picking up/dropping off at the airport or downtown. Often, prices are more attractive if you want to pick up the car at a rental company far from the airport. But first, it's worth doing the math to see what the difference is.

To compare, use Uber or see the price of transfers from the airport to the location of the rental company, if it is in the city center. Don't forget to calculate the fares for the round trip, if you return the car at the same place. If the financial difference is still advantageous, it is worth renting a car in the city center.

However, if your focus is convenience, don't think twice: choose to pick up the car at the airport.

Returning the car in another city

Taking the car and driving to another city is a common practice for those who rent a car in the United States. If you are going on a road trip through California, between Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco or want to explore Florida, you will probably choose to return the car in another city.

However, it is important to know that some rental companies do not allow you to return the car in another country. If you are planning to go to Mexico or Canada with a rental car in the United States, it is best to check if this is possible directly with the rental company.

care to rent a car in the usa

Who warns friend is: renting a car in the United States may seem very easy, but it can involve pranks. It's part of every trip, however, if you know beforehand, you won't fall for them when picking up the car at the rental counter.

You can lock a car here for a great price, but then you arrive at the counter and they will want to charge you USD 19 per day for additional driver, travel insurance or even warn you that you have a limit of km to use during the travel.

So, before closing your US Car rental, make sure your car includes the following:

  • unlimited mileage
  • Travel Insurance for Vehicle and Third Parties
  • Define how many drivers will drive the car and see if it is worth paying the extra for an additional driver.

Car rental in the USA – Complete guide on how to hire

The RentCars website is super simple and shows you the items included in the car rental

Rental car upgrade

Another important tip: Often, when you arrive at the counter, the rental company will not have the car of the category you chose on the website. So they usually give you a car upgrade when you get there.

However, we have been through situations where the employee kept insisting that we pay for the upgrade BEFORE saying that the car in our category was finished. Denying the upgrade, the employee said that she would give her a better car anyway.

#NoteTip: Stay tuned and don't accept to pay more for upgrades right away! See first what they will offer you within what you have already paid.

car gps in usa

Let's tell you something: it's not worth hiring GPS in car rental USA. You would pay about USD 10 a day to have the GPS, that is, a 10-day trip would cost about USD 100 more for it.

First, if you take a car in categories above economy, your car will probably already come with an integrated GPS. To replace GPS, there are several more cost-effective – and effective – ways to get around cities across the United States.

Learn to download maps offline

If you want to save money, a good tip is to download the map of the city that you go offline on your cell phone. Look how to download offline map in google maps app in this post here. However, if you visit more than one city, take roads or even need to know traffic information, this is not the best solution.

Find out how to get unlimited internet while traveling

In this case, to stay connected and go with peace of mind to more than one city, the best option is cbuy an international SIM card for your cell phone. This is our favorite option, which we always choose on every trip.

In addition to having GPS, you have unlimited calls, access to WhatsApp, unlimited 4G and much more. You buy the cell phone chip, receive it at your house here in España, and insert it when you are on the plane. When you get there, you can use your cell phone normally, like here in España. The price is also much better than buying a car GPS.

Buy now the international cell phone chip with AMERICA CHIP by clicking here!

Is a child car seat in the US mandatory?

A car seat is mandatory in the United States for children under 5 years old. Car rental companies offer car seat rental when you pick up the car at the counter.

The price of Child Seats, as they are known, ranges from USD 10 to USD 15 per rental day.

In addition, it is good to pay attention to the positioning of the car seat. Children under 2 years old must ride with the “Child Seat” with their back to the driver. Children over 2 years old and up to 4 years old can walk forward-facing.

For those who have children over 4 years old, a good option is to check the so-called “Booster Seat”. These car seats help children to position themselves better in the car and become more comfortable with the safety five. It's like a cushion for them to get taller when sitting in the car seat. Check the availability of “Booster Seat” when you arrive at the counter.

If the rental company doesn't offer it, it's worth going to a Wall Mart or supermarket and buying one.

Now, children up to 12 years old must always ride in the back seat of the car. It's law in the United States.

Car rental in the USA – Complete guide on how to hire

Be aware – The car seat is mandatory in the United States for children under 5 years old
Is it worth buying a car seat instead of renting it?

We didn't find this option practical. Even because, you need to leave the airport or rental company with the child in the car seat. So, for you to buy the car seat in another store, you would need to do the following:

Rent a car seat from the rental company for a day, go out to buy another car seat and return to return the car seat you borrowed to the rental company.

This idea is only worthwhile for those who really want to buy a car seat for children in the United States and bring it to España. If not, it is even better to rent the car seat from the rental company and enjoy your vacation time.

How to drive in the USA – Tips for your safety

Check out all the information you need to know about driving in the US:

It's like they say: If you're from São Paulo or any big Brazilian city, you're prepared to drive anywhere in the world, lol! Jokes aside, if you're wondering how to drive in the US, it's super easy.

The roads are excellent, without potholes, well signposted and have wide lanes for cars. Some cities have traffic, but it is very easy to get around there.

US traffic rules to watch out:

There are some traffic rules in the United States that are different from Spain. Therefore, after making your US car rental, it is good to be aware to avoid honking the horn or even an accident.

"Pare" Stop Plate:

The Placa de Pare, unlike España, really means stopping! No taking a peek and passing by, without fully braking the car. This gives a fine there and can even cause an accident.

Generally, “Stop” signs are located at intersections. The preference is always given to those who arrived first, stopped the car and are ready to cross again.

Car rental in the USA – Complete guide on how to hire

Free traffic light to turn right:

With this rule I've already been honked a lot! In the United States, traffic lights are free to turn right. That is, even if the traffic light at the intersection is red, you can enter the street on your right without any problems.

It's good to stay tuned: the rule always applies, EXCEPT in cases where there is a sign saying that turning to the right on that street is prohibited. Stay tuned!

Carpool track “Ride”:

One of the things I love about the US traffic rules is the carpool lane. You will see on the roads and highways a continuous line in the left lane, like the bus lanes in España. However, there this track is called Carpool.

It is only allowed to walk in this lane if you have more than two people in the car! This track often saves in LA or Miami traffic. Worth using if traveling with more than one person.

Traffic lights before entering Highways “Highways”:

In some places, before the junction of a street with a highway, there is a traffic light that changes quickly between green and red. It is a traffic light for you to be careful and not to enter the express lane for good. Stay tuned!

How do the US parking lots and prices

Parking lots in the United States vary depending on the city visited. In Miami, for example, you can stop on the street in some places and pay the famous “parking meter”.

Parking meters are like the “blue zone” of São Paulo. However, it is a small pole on the street that you need to supply with coins. The more coins you put in, the more parking time you have.

Parking meters are generally expensive in busy areas. Therefore, it is always good to compare the price of it with the on-site parking lot.

In Los Angeles, there are some public parking lots – mostly near Santa Monica. In them, you pay 1 dollar every hour. It's really worth looking for them to save as much as possible.

In New York and San Francisco, parking is exorbitantly priced! If you think São Paulo is expensive, just expect to see the values ​​of the Big Apple. That's why it's worth taking the subway there.

Parking prices in the US can range from $1 an hour (in rare public parking lots) to $10 an hour.

Supplying in the United States

Eager to fill up your own car after booking your US car rental? There's always that doubt about how to fill up the car in the United States, even for those who have been several times.

When filling up in the United States, you will go through a self-service system. You can insert your card directly at the gas station and fill the tank with the amount you think is necessary.

If you are in doubt, run over to @fortravelovers which has a highlight explaining everything straight!

There are two ways to fill up your car in the US:

The first way is by inserting the card into the pump. The machine will give you the choice of petrol or diesel to put in the car. After choosing, she releases the hose. Just open the cap of the car, insert the gasoline and then return the hose to the pump.

The second way is to make a prepayment for gasoline inside the convenience store. Visitors must present an international or Brazilian credit card. Another option is to pay in cash. So, you give the cashier a sum of money, fill up your car, and then come back for change if necessary.

US Gasoline Price: How Much Does Gasoline Cost in the US?

The price of gasoline in the US is calculated by gallons. So the account is a little more complicated. One gallon equals about 3,78 liters of gasoline or diesel.

The national average for a gallon of gasoline in the US is about USD 2,70, which is equivalent to a liter of USD 0,70 cents. If you want to see up-to-date prices, it's worth checking the Global Petrol Prices website.

How tolls in the US work

In almost all US car rentals, vehicles already come with a “Non-Stop” type, in which you do not have to pay tolls. However, it is always good to ask the rental company if the vehicle is equipped.

Most tolls in the US do not have attendants. You need to throw the coin of its value into a basket. The value depends on toll to toll. That's why it's always good to keep an eye out and have change in hand.

Car rental in the USA – Complete guide on how to hire

Some tolls in the US without an attendant

Trouble on the Road US United States – How to solve?

It happens to even the best travelers: the tire is flat, the car is towed, you get a ticket. After all, how to deal with these unforeseen circumstances during the USA car rental?

Check out how to troubleshoot on the road below:

Traffic fine in the USA

If you get a traffic ticket in the US, it is likely that the amount will be charged to the credit card you used to rent the car. In some cases, this amount ends up not even being discounted.

However, it is always good to be super attentive and avoid any kind of fine. Because if in España it's already expensive, nobody deserves to be fined in dollars, right?

My car is being towed usa, and now?

This has already happened to us. When you see that your car is being towed in the USA, it hits that despair. What to do?

The first thing is: be careful. As? Get everything out of your car, always, lol! Including the car rental agreement, which contains all the necessary telephone numbers and information in case of mishap. Leave it in a place you won't miss it.

Another way to prevent this is obviously to see if parking is allowed in the area. If it is poorly explained, ask someone.

If your car is towed, you need to get it out of the parking lot where the cars are parked. To find out where he is, call your rental company and they will give you all the information.

How to apply for Car Insurance

If you are involved in any accident, always have your car insurance company's phone number handy.

If you paid by credit card, leave the policy number saved in your email, along with the emergency phone number. If you did it directly with the rental company, also keep the pamphlet with the information.

You will need to call car insurance in case of any mishap. Calls can be made to collect.

We also advise you to buy the international cell phone chip, which breaks the biggest hoops in situations like this. That's because it offers unlimited calls and 4G. It is worth the small investment to have comfort during the trip.


How to get good prices on car rental usa

We like and use it a lot. RentCars to find the cars we use on our travels. It is the only one in Spain that compares the best rental companies in the world, but lets you pay in reais, without IOF and shows you the best offer. In addition, it is also the only one that lets you pay in 12 interest-free installments. It is worth it!

#Here's a tip: Try to find cars with full car and third party insurance coverage. Thus, you avoid inopportune surprises when picking up the car.

Rent your car without IOF, paying in reais and with all extras at the best prices at RentCars by clicking here!

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