Crossing State Lines: Can You Take a Rental Car Out of State Without Hassle?

PUBLISHED ON Feb, 01 2024

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Wondering, “can you take a rental car out of state?” Most rental car agencies allow it, but policies and restrictions can vary. In this article, we’ll walk you through what you need to know— from national chain policies to location-specific rules plus additional factors that could affect your rental and travel plans.

Key Takeaways

  • Most major rental car companies typically allow out-of-state travel without restrictions, but regional companies may impose limitations due to lack of infrastructure for drop-offs or roadside assistance across state lines.
  • Considerations for taking a rental car out of state include varying insurance requirements across states, potential mileage limitations and fees, as well as the availability and cost of one-way rental options.
  • While most major rental car companies permit their vehicles to be driven to Canada with minimal additional steps, driving a rental car to Mexico involves more stringent requirements such as obtaining Mexican auto insurance and a letter of permission.

Rental Car Policies on Out-of-State Travel

There’s good news for those eager to embark on an interstate road trip with a rental car. Most rental car companies typically permit you to drive your rental car out of state. However, the policies can vary, with larger companies such as Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise offering more leniency.

While most major national rental car companies permit interstate journeys without restrictions, some smaller regional companies may impose certain limitations. Let’s delve a bit deeper into these differences.

National chains vs. regional companies

Major national car rental companies like Hertz, Avis, and National Car Rental, which is a well-known car rental company, typically do not impose restrictions on out-of-state travel. These companies’ extensive networks across states and even countries offer them the flexibility to provide such services.

On the contrary, smaller regional car rental companies often have more restrictive policies. The absence of infrastructure for drop-offs or roadside assistance across state lines can limit their ability to offer out-of-state travel. Therefore, your travel plans should guide your decision when choosing a rental company.

Location-specific rules

It is prudent to keep in mind that location-specific rules can differ when driving a rental car out of state. Make sure to acquaint yourself with the specific regulations of the area you are entering. For example, in Hawaii, a valid American or Canadian driver’s license is necessary for out-of-state travel, and rental availability is limited to individuals between 18 and 70 years of age. The rental car companies charge fees based on the type of vehicle and the duration of the rental.

On the other hand, Budget’s Las Vegas locations impose limitations on out-of-state travel, only allowing it to Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. If you wish to travel beyond these states, you may have the option to arrange a one-way rental, depending on availability. Non-compliance with these location-specific regulations may lead to significant fines, additional fees, and potential liability for damages if the vehicle is not returned in accordance with the rental agreement.

Key Factors to Consider When Taking a Rental Car Out of State

Besides understanding the rental companies’ policies, there are several other factors to consider when driving in the USA and planning to take a rental car out of state. These include insurance requirements across different states, mileage limitations and fees, and one-way rental options.

We’ll explore each of these considerations thoroughly.

Insurance requirements across states

Insurance requirements for rental cars vary from state to state. Many rental car companies offer the minimum liability insurance mandated by the state. However, in specific states such as California, Florida, and Ohio, renters are also required to obtain State Liability Insurance.

It is also possible to use your personal car insurance for a rental car when traveling out of state, as long as your trip is for personal travel. The limits of your personal coverage will apply. You can even extend or modify rental car insurance to cover out-of-state travel. However, be aware that not adhering to insurance requirements in different states can lead to potential fines, license suspension, and registration suspension.

Mileage limitations and fees

Most rental cars taken out-of-state do not have mileage restrictions. However, some rental companies might enforce limitations or extra fees for crossing state borders. Rental car companies may charge from $0.15 to $0.30 or higher per mile for surpassing these limits.

Certain rental companies provide unlimited mileage for particular rental car types, effectively eliminating any additional mileage fees. Therefore, thoroughly reviewing your rental agreement is essential to evade surprise charges for exceeding the mileage limits.

One-way rental options and fees

One-way rentals are an excellent option for travelers who need to drive between different cities and do not plan to return to the original pick-up location. Many well-known car rental companies offer one-way rental options, often with varying one way rental fees, including:

  • Alamo
  • National
  • Priceline
  • Expedia
  • Hertz
  • Dollar
  • Budget
  • Avis
  • Enterprise

However, these options can be more costly, with an average increase of $524 compared to round-trip rentals. The pricing varies among rental companies, and it is advisable to compare rates before finalizing a decision.

These fees are designed to cover the cost of returning the hired car to its initial location or compensate for its absence.

International Border-Crossing with a Rental Car

Now, what if your travel plans extend beyond the U.S. borders? Can you take your rental car to Canada or Mexico? The answer is yes, but there are a few additional considerations.

Here are specific considerations when driving a rental car into Canada and Mexico.

Driving to Canada

Driving a rental car to Canada is generally allowed by major car rental companies. Companies like National, Hertz, and Avis do not require any additional steps to drive the rental car into Canada.

Nonetheless, checking in with your rental provider for any restrictions or requirements is always recommended. Don’t forget to ensure that your rental car insurance or personal auto insurance policy adequately covers out-of-state travel.

Driving to Mexico

When it comes to driving a rental car to Mexico, the policies can be a bit more complex. While most major rental car companies do allow their vehicles to be driven into Mexico, there may be specific restrictions and requirements.

One critical requirement when operating a rental car in Mexico is insurance. Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Obtain a separate insurance policy as your U.S. insurance policy will not provide coverage in Mexico.
  2. Present proof of Mexican auto insurance.
  3. Possess a letter of permission at the Mexico border.

Tips for a Smooth Out-of-State Rental Car Experience

Booking a rental car early for better rates and availability

Booking a rental car early for better rates and availability

Now that we’ve discussed the policies and considerations for interstate rental car travel, here are some tips to ensure a seamless experience. These tips include booking early, adding additional drivers, and documenting the car’s condition.

Book early for better rates and availability

Booking your rental car early when planning an out-of-state trip can be beneficial. This not only ensures better rates but also a wider selection of vehicles. Customers can potentially save an average of $75 by booking a weeklong rental car three months in advance, as opposed to booking the same car closer to the date needed.

Thus, if a road trip is in your plans for the coming months, it is advisable to start exploring rental options immediately. This way, you can secure a rental car that suits your needs and budget.

Add additional drivers if needed

Long road trips can be tiring, and it’s always a good idea to share the driving responsibilities. When adding extra drivers for an out-of-state rental, it’s important to ensure that they satisfy the age and license criteria specified by the rental company.

While there may be additional charges for extra drivers, certain rental companies, like Kyte, do not impose an additional fee for adding extra drivers. Also, companies like Budget, Avis, and Enterprise exempt spouses or domestic partners from the fee. This way, you can enjoy your trip without worrying about driving fatigue.

Document the car’s condition before and after use

Lastly, documenting the rental car’s condition before and after use is crucial. This can help avoid disputes and extra charges upon return.

Before you start your trip, conduct a thorough inspection of the car and record any existing damages. When you return the car, take another set of photos or videos to document the car’s condition. This will help protect you from being wrongly charged for damages that were present when you picked up the car.

Purchase car rental excess coverage

To avoid situations in which you must pay for the consequences derived from an accident, at CarInsuRent we offer you the possibility of taking out very affordable USA car rental excess insurance, which covers vehicles in all types of situations, both on national and international routes.

Our insurance is specially designed for rental services, which is why it covers you in the following cases:

  • Damage due to collision or vehicle theft
  • Theft of personal items
  • Vehicle delivery charges
  • Fuel errors

In these cases, and many more, the Rental Car Excess Insurance policy takes care of the payment up to a limit, which will depend on the policy contracted.

See How Much You Can Save on Your Car Rental Insurance

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Alternatives to Out-of-State Rental Car Travel

If driving a rental car and crossing state lines sounds like too much hassle, there are alternatives you can consider. Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft and multi-city car rentals can offer a more convenient way to travel out of state.

We’ll briefly discuss these alternatives.

Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft

Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft can serve as a convenient and economical alternative for long-distance travel. They offer the convenience of booking through a mobile application, cashless payments, and the absence of concerns about car rental return policies.

However, keep in mind that while these services can be cost-effective for shorter or fewer trips, they may not be the best option for longer durations or frequent travels. Also, remember that while these services offer the convenience of not having to drive, they also come with their own set of challenges, such as traffic congestion and vehicle miles traveled.

Multi-city car rentals

Multi-city car rentals offer the convenience of picking up the car in one city and dropping it off in another. This can be especially beneficial if you’re traveling between different cities and don’t want to drive back to the original pick-up location.

While multi-city rentals offer convenience and flexibility, they can also come with higher rental costs. There could be additional charges such as a one-time drop charge or mileage charge, which can differ based on the rental company and the locations specified in your rental agreement.

Summary

In conclusion, driving a rental car across state lines or even international borders is feasible with proper planning and awareness of the rental company’s policies. Whether you’re looking to embark on an interstate road trip or just need a one-way rental to get from one city to another, a rental car can provide the convenience and flexibility you need. Just ensure that you’re well-versed with the insurance requirements, mileage limitations, one-way rental options, and the importance of booking early and documenting the car’s condition. Happy road tripping!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you take a rental car out of the states?

Yes, you can take a rental car out of the states, but different rules apply across regions.

Can I pick up a rental car and return in another state?

Yes, you can rent a car and drop it off at a different location. This can provide flexibility for your travel plans.

What does unlimited mileage mean?

Unlimited mileage in car rental means you can drive as many miles or kilometers as you want without being charged extra for it. Therefore, you have the freedom to travel without worrying about mileage fees.

What are the insurance requirements for driving a rental car out of state?

Insurance requirements for driving a rental car out of state vary, with many rental car companies offering the minimum liability insurance mandated by the state, and specific states such as California, Florida, and Ohio requiring renters to obtain State Liability Insurance.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I buy a plan for just one day?

Yes. Insurance for a single day is available.

Can I buy a plan for part of my rental only?

No. We provide a single journey plan. You are covered from the time you pick up the rental car up to the time you return it or on the last date written on your Certificate of Insurance, whichever comes first.

Can I buy a plan when I pick up my rental car?

No. You should purchase a policy before starting your travel.

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