Transport Cars

The 20 Most Expensive U.S. Cities for Summer Car Rentals


Sep 18, 2013 6:15 am

Skift Take

There are a number of startups aiming to make car rentals cheaper and the pick-up process more sophisticated. Rates remain high among traditional players, but there remains a degree of credibility that few startups can beat.

— Samantha Shankman

Evolving Strategies in Travel Ad Tech and Bookings

InSapphoWeTrust  / Flickr

A Hyundai Genesis stop on 1-5 on a drive from Portland to California. A snow-capped Mt. Shasta can be seen in the distance. InSapphoWeTrust / Flickr

The cheapest rental car in the lot cost travelers close to $90 dollars a day in several U.S. cities this past summer.

A new survey from looks at the average daily rate of the cheapest available rental car in U.S. cities during the months of June, July, and August. The city’s main airport served as the pick-up and drop-off point.

The most expensive city to rent a car this summer was Portland, Oregon where even the most frugal option cost travelers $86 a day. The second most expensive city was unsurprisingly New York where cars cost a least $83 dollars a day.

Florida was overwhelming the cheapest state to rent a car with an average daily rate of $18. Four of the five cheapest U.S. cities on this list were located in Florida, including Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Miami.

Startup Rates Are Not Much Better

There’s clearly an opportunity for travel startups and the sharing economy to make short-term car rentals cheaper. But popular car rental alternative Zipcar is not much cheaper. The daily rate is $73 and $89 a day in the respective cities, and that’s not counting membership fees.

Visitors in Portland could use peer-to-peer rental startup Getaround to drive a 1999 Honda Civic for $4 an hour, but that adds up to $96 for a 24-hour period — more than Zipcar and traditional rentals.

A cheaper option in New York is RelayRides where someone could rent a 1996 Saturn for $25 a day. But who wants to drive around a car that’s more than a decade old on vacation?

The top 20 most expensive U.S. cities to find a cheap car rental are as follows:

City Average Daily Rate for Cheapest Available Rental Car
Portland $86
New York City $83
Boston $75
Denver $65
Chicago $63
Sacramento $62
Buffalo $61
Kansas City $61
Nashville $60
Memphis $59
New Orleans $58
Palm Springs $57
Charlotte $56
Houston $55
Detroit $55
Baltimore $54
Seattle $54
Minneapolis $53
San Francisco $51
Albuquerque $51

Tags: ,

Follow @SamShankman

Next Up

More on Skift

Best Travel Ads This Week: A Course in Creativity
How Tech Changes Everything: Sabre Employees Live Tweeting Their IPO With Its Own Hashtag
Shangri-La’s New Lhasa Hotel Opens Near the Top of the Himalayas
How to Find the ‘Holistic Traveler’ Trapped in Your Data

We're the Moneyball of the Travel Industry

We know what's coming next in travel. Subscribe to the newsletter and get all the goodness in your inbox daily.