Home Study in US [U.S. car rental] The U.S. car rental strategy, 5 steps to easily rent a car, insurance, refueling

[U.S. car rental] The U.S. car rental strategy, 5 steps to easily rent a car, insurance, refueling

by Jack
rent car in us
Reading Time: 12 minutes

How to rent a car in the United States? What should be paid attention to? I have compiled the American car rental tips, car rental insurance, car rental refueling, and parking essential apps.

What kind of oil should I add if I want to add oil?

And take Rantalcars, a car rental network in the United States, as an example. Whether you come to New York or California to rent a car, after reading this article, you are ready to start your journey!

Extended reading: How to buy air tickets in the United States? 3 steps to buy cheap air tickets

Step zero, age limit for renting a car & necessary documents

0.1 Car rental age conditions

Generally, when renting a car in the United States, the minimum age limit is 21 years old . A small number of car rental companies require 25 years old.

Drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 will be charged a “youth driving fee” , which is about USD10-USD35 per day, according to the regulations of each car rental company!

0.2 Required documents for car rental in the U.S.

  • Domestic driver’s license: Obtained for more than one year (not mandatory, it is recommended to compare insurance for one year)
  • International Driver’s License: Renewal by Supervision Office
  • passport
  • Credit card: You must be in the name of the main driver, and you cannot use the credit card or cash of a companion friend

PS: If you have a U.S. driver’s license, you don’t need an international driver’s license!

Step 1. Choose a car rental plan (the secret to saving money)

United States car rental rentalcars

I personally recommend Rantalcars , a car rental network in the United States , which has common and well-known brands. You can compare prices together, saving me a website to compare prices.Rantalcars

  • Full Chinese interface, and provide Chinese customer service
  • The same car rental plan on this website is often cheaper than renting directly from the car rental company
  • The insurance is cheap. After you add the insurance, you don’t need to pay for the insurance with the car rental company.
  • Cancel 48 hours before, full refund for booking, not afraid of temporary itinerary changes

1.1 Pick-up location

When you come to travel, you can consider picking up the car at the airport, which is more convenient. Although it will be charged a fee (USD 2-4), it will be more flexible in arranging the itinerary. You can get the car when you get off the plane and start the journey.

1.2 Car model selection

United States car rental rentalcars

Usually there are more cars at the airport. Just choose a good car and the car rental company will give you a car of the corresponding size.

  • Small/Economy: Economical
  • Compact/Medium: Medium-sized car
  • SUV: RV

Sometimes, you may choose the economical model, because there is no corresponding car on site, it will automatically help you upgrade to a larger car (but there is no need to increase the price).

When I choose the size of the car, I will load it according to how much luggage I can hold. For example, if I and my friends are four people and are going to go for a five-day and four-night trip to the Grand Canyon, I would choose a large luggage that can hold 3k. Car!

The 4 key points of choosing a car

  • Number of bags
  • Will it snow where I go: AWD (All Wheel Drive) is recommended
  • Reading reviews
  • Familiar brand

I went out to play with my friends. The car I ordered was relatively small, but there was no such car on site, so we were upgraded for free! !

1.3 Cost calculation (4 factors)

The cost is mainly related to the following four factors:

  • Rental days : When renting a car in the United States, the cost is mainly calculated by the number of days. Therefore, it is recommended to “pick up the car sooner” and “return the car later” to maximize the benefit of car rental.
  • Driving age : If you are under 25, you will be charged an extra Young Rental Fee, which is about USD 10-35 more per day. Under 21 years old, there are fewer car companies and will rent a car to you.
  • Second driving : If you are considering long-distance driving, you may need a second driving. Remember to talk to the car dealer in advance when renting a car. Additional Driver fees will be charged. (Can be directly at Rantalcars
  • Returning the car in different places : Usually when you come to play, you will probably pick up the car at place A and return the car at place B, but because you are out for a trip, convenience is the main factor, so a fee is added.

1.4 Tips for saving money

  • Insurance : You only need to insure the insurance on Rantalcars. Pick up the car on the spot. Don’t be persuaded by the local car dealers. Insuring unnecessary insurance (the necessary insurance mentioned below is good). There have been so many friends. Spent USD 100 on unnecessary insurance.
  • Lease days, date
  • Observe the car rental regulations : If you agree to return the car, you must fill up the gas. If you forget it, you will be charged more. Cross-border (Canada, Mexico) must tell in advance.

Step 2. How to choose insurance (3 insurances that must be insured)

United States car rental rentalcars
United States car rental rentalcars

2.1 Third Party Liability Insurance ( TPL/LIS )

If the accident caused the renter and the car rental company, the third loss will be compensated.

You don’t really need to care about this, because the United States has regulations that require compulsory insurance.

You can click on the terms again to confirm before the checkout!

2.2 Car body damage insurance (CDW/LDW)

In the event of an accident, you will cause your own car loss. Under a certain amount, no additional compensation is required. I think this is very important, especially in the United States.

However, when renting at Rantalcars , this fee is usually included. Remember to check again before checking out!

2.3 Roadside Assistance ( Roadside Assistance )

In addition to the basic free insurance, as long as you add Rantalcars insurance, it is very enough. Replacement of batteries, tires, trailers, and roadside assistance are all in the scope of claims. It is highly recommended that you can purchase additional insurance.

Especially in the United States, if the car breaks down suddenly and the ground is large, it is highly recommended to increase roadside assistance.

Step 3. How to pick up the car & park

When you have completed the first and second steps, you are ready to pick up the car.

3.1 Pick up the car

United States car rental rentalcars

Carrying documents:

  • Domestic driver’s license: Obtained for more than one year (not mandatory, it is recommended to compare insurance for one year)
  • International Driver’s License: Renewal by Supervision Office
  • passport
  • Credit card: You must be in the name of the main driver, and you cannot use the credit card or cash of a companion friend
  • Rentalcars appointment receipt

Note: Bring the original driver’s license. The international driver’s license is only a translation. You cannot use only the international driver’s license. Both must be presented at the same time.

Airport pickup:

Usually the airport will have a sign called Rent Car Shuttle (Rent Car Shuttle). The shuttle bus will take you to the car rental company, make your rental car dealer, and get to the corresponding place.

You can show the above documents to the dealer when you get off the car and get your car.

3.2 Parking

Practical App: Parking Panda , Park Me

How can I find a cheap parking lot? It is recommended to use these two apps, it will automatically compare the prices of surrounding parking lots.

Because parking lots in the United States are based on time band prices, you can use this app to find cheap and near parking lots.

Usually, the parking lots near the airport are more expensive, maybe you can get USD50 in one night, but the App can find the nearby USD20 parking lot!

Step 4: How to refuel

United States car rental rentalcars

4.1 3 refueling schemes

4.1.1 Prepay the Fuel

Buy good gas at one time, no need to add extra gas when you return the car, and no refund if you don’t use it up.

4.1.2 We Refuel (car dealers refuel themselves)

The car dealer will charge USD 9.99 per gallon, which is about 2-3 times the outside price, but it is also calculated based on the mileage you drive.

4.1.3 You Refuel

It’s that we refuel ourselves. The return point is usually near a gas station. Before returning, remember to refill it!

Prepay the FuelThe price is cheap, and there is no need to refuel when returning the carEstimate in advance how much oil is needed (difficult to grasp)
We Refuel (car dealers refuel themselves)You don’t need to refuel when you return the car. The fuel cost is calculated based on the mileageThe price is two or three times that of the outside
You RefuelThe price is cheap and the oil volume is easy to controlRemember to fill up the gas before returning the car

4.2 Precautions for refueling

Most of the refueling in the United States is self-service refueling.

  • Diesel
  • 87(Regular)
  • 89(Plus)
  • 91(Premium)

Just add 87 (Regular) to a normal car! I usually add 87 to myself!

Most gas stations use credit cards. You must enter the Zip Code (five-digit postal code) of the US credit card billing address. Usually, credit cards in Taiwan do not have this number, so they cannot be used.

Suggestion : Go directly to the counter to swipe the card and pay cash, and tell the waiter directly that you are Number XX (card a refueling platform) and how much you are. It is recommended to use a credit card directly. After refueling, the payment will be directly deducted.

Step 5. How to return the car

United States car rental rentalcars

Returning the car is the easiest of the five steps. If you choose to return the car at the airport, fill up the gas before returning the car and drive directly to the “Rental Car Return Only” place.

Drive in the car and park in front of the waiter. He will check the mileage, register it, and check if the fuel is full.

After confirming everything, he will go to the counter to print the receipt. You can prepare to take the shuttle bus, prepare to take the plane to leave the country!

Hope you have a pleasant trip!

U.S. car rental keywords

United States car rental rentalcars
Car GroupRepresents the car model. It does not mean that you will get the same brand car when you pick up the car. It may be the same car model but different brand.
Economy CarEconomical models, common brands are: Kia, Hyundai, Honda
Compact CarSuitable for five people, such as Nissan Versa Note
Full Size CarSuitable for five people, such as Toyota Camry
Luxury CarBrands with higher built-in models, such as Cadillax XTS
MinivanGenerally suitable for 7-8 people, such as Toyota Sienna
Mileage Limit For mileage restrictions, it is recommended to check with the car dealer before renting a car.
Daily RateThe daily car rental price will be displayed in Rantalcars .
Visual InspectionCheck the vehicle visually, and check the vehicle carefully when picking it up.
Pick UpYou usually pick up the car at the airport or at the car rental company.
Drop OffReturn the car, generally you can return the car directly at the airport.
DepositDeposit, some car rental companies will require a deposit.

American Road System


American highways are mainly divided into 4 systems, namely Interstate Highways, US National Highways, State Highways/Route, County Highways/Route! The road network is very dense, the toll road sections are relatively small, and the cost is not high.

U.S. traffic rules

  • Pedestrians always have priority: American law protects pedestrians very much, so when you see people, you must let pedestrians pass
  • STOP: When you see the red STOP at the intersection, you must stop “completely”, no matter whether there are people or not, you must not slip past slowly
  • Snowy area: The speed limit will be different in winter
  • Police stop inspection : If you encounter a police stop or whistle behind a car, don’t get out of the car rashly , or the police will shoot you thinking you’re going to resist. Be sure to: pull aside, roll down the window, put your hands on the steering wheel .
  • Car let people: You must let people meet people.
  • Wear a seat belt: You must wear a seat belt when driving.

Transportation considerations in the U.S.

Note 1: Traffic lights, turn left lights, turn right

left turn yield

If it is just a normal green light, turn left to avoid the opponent’s straight vehicles and pedestrians, and pass after confirming safety, and the above-pictured signs will appear at some intersections, pay attention to the safety of turning left.

Left turn special light


The left-turn arrow light is a left-turn dedicated indicator light, and the following picture is a left-turn dedicated sign:

  • Green left-turning arrow light: the red light is for the oncoming traffic only, and left-turning is allowed, but pedestrians still need to be avoided.
  • Yellow flashing left turn arrow light: Left turn is allowed, but first you need to avoid vehicles and pedestrians and pass carefully.
  • Yellow left turn arrow light: It is about to turn into a red light, and you must be ready to stop. The red left turn arrow light is not allowed to turn left.

Turn right

no red

When the ordinary traffic light is red, you can turn right in most places, but you need to completely stop and observe. First, let the vehicles go straight and turn left and pedestrians.

Unless there is a special right turn arrow light, No right turn on red, and no right turn sign.

If there is a right turn arrow light, then turn right must wait for the light signal to proceed, and you cannot turn right when the light is red.

Note 2: STOP sign


4-Way Stop/All-Way Stop sign

Principle: first come, first

Situation 1: If you reach the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right of way, and the vehicle on the left needs to give way.
Situation? Two: Oncoming vehicles arrive at the same time

If there is a conflicting trajectory, the straight car has the right of way.

Situation 3: Opposing vehicles arrive at the same time, and the two sides are turning into a driving conflict

Vehicles turning right have the right of way.


Note 3: Yield


Yield sign: Vehicles on other roads have the right of way. You need to slow down and pay attention to whether there are other vehicles with the right of way. Remember to avoid pedestrians and bicycles.

Note 4: HOV/Carpools lane


Usually there are words such as HOV 2+ or Carpools on the leftmost lane of the highway. HOV is the abbreviation of High Occupation Vehicle.

This lane is a lane for vehicles with 2 or more people in the car, and a car with only one person is caught by the uncle of the police and a ticket will be issued.

Note 5: Speed ​​limit


The speed unit in the United States is different from that in Taiwan. The United States uses miles as the speed unit, and the ratio of miles to kilometers is about 1:1.6. The picture below shows the speed limit signs in the United States. Each state has different speed limits on its own highways, urban roads, and small roads.

The high-speed speed limit is usually 70-80mph, and the urban road is 20-40mph. The specific speed limit needs to be judged according to traffic signs.

Don’t think that you’ll be fine if you don’t speed, and you can’t drive too slowly!

Some states in the United States have related laws on impeding traffic. Disrupting the flow of traffic caused by slow speed is also one of them.

For example, if you are driving at a speed of 30 mpb on a road with a speed limit of 70 mpb, the police are likely to intercept you if they see it, ask what the reason is, and may send you a ticket or warning.

I have a deep feeling when driving on the highway by myself. If the cars on both sides keep passing by you, it will be very nervous, so as long as you keep the same speed as the nearby cars, there should be no problem!

Frequently Asked Questions by Readers

United States car rental rentalcars

Q1: Car hire crosses the border of the country?

If you drive, you may cross the border to Canada and Mexico. You have to tell the car rental company in advance that you need to charge certain cross-border fees.

Q2: Is it more expensive to pick up a car from the airport?

Usually, picking up a car at the airport will cost an extra USD4-15. However, due to the relatively large traffic at the airport, there are relatively more choices of car models, which is also more convenient for travelers!

Q3: What are the hidden costs to be aware of?

1. Youth driving fee: If you are driving under 25 years old, you will be charged Young Rental Fee, which is about USD 10-35 more per day.

2. The cost of returning the car in a different place: usually a fee will be charged for changing the car in another place.

3. Second driving fee: If there is a second driving, you can 
purchase a second driving 
directly on 
Rantalcars .

Q4: What should I do if I get a ticket for renting a car?

1. Parking tickets, car-related tickets (recording the license plate): If the license plate is recorded, the fine is followed by the license plate, and the car rental company can handle it directly for you, and the fine will be overcharged.

2. Speeding violation (record driving license): If you are stopped by the police and ask to show your driver’s license, you will have to deal with it yourself.

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