The Facts on Car Hire in the US

TripWheels is very proud to provide fully inclusive US car hire packages to international travellers.  We use the major rental car suppliers, Alamo, Dollar, National and Thrifty.

Many insurances that have become normal add-ons over the years, are now also included as standard.  UMP is Un-insured or Under-insured Motorist Protection. This is a good example of a US car hire insurance package originally offered as a sensible add-on and now been included with all packages.

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One-way Fees

One-way fees may apply to any rental collected in one location and returned to another. The fees are not included within the price paid for the voucher. For a guide to one-way drop fees for US car hire please look at our information page www.tripwheels.com/one-way-fees

Zero Excess

The USA is a zero excess country.  Unlike hiring a car in Europe, you do not have to either pay an excess in the event of damage.  In Canada an excess of around $500 applies.

Your inclusive package covers you with a Collision Damage Waiver, a Loss Damage Waiver, the above mentioned UMP and Additional Liability Insurance up to $1 million.  It also covers your road taxes and fees, airport taxes and fees, unlimited mileage and basic roadside assistance.  The package also includes most Customer Facility Charges and Homeland Security Fees.

If you hire a car and CDW package via a Fly-drive offer, you would have to add all of these additional items in order to drive safely in the USA. It is important to note that any items paid locally incur sales taxes. If paid at an airport then airport taxes will also be levied. This can add around 20 percent to any local charge.

Insurance Packages

All of the above items are included in your US car hire on both the Fully inclusive and the Diamond packages with Trip Wheels. The difference between Fully Inclusive and Diamond is the number of drivers you have included, and the way you pay for the fuel.

Taking the first point, generally, the standard package covers only 1 driver.  A car hired in California allows 2 drivers on the standard package with all suppliers because the state has passed a law to say so.  Therefore if you are plan a road trip starting in California, you will have  2 drivers no matter where you end up dropping off! The Diamond package will allow up to 4 additional drivers.

The second point is fuel, you will have to pay for the fuel one way or another!  The Diamond package includes the initial tank of fuel, and you return the car empty. If you take the standard package then you will have a choice of how to pay for fuel.

The car is provided with a full tank so you don’t have to scout around looking for gas stations in an unfamiliar country and place!  Some suppliers will allow you to return the car with a full tank at the end of the rental. This means you can take advantage of cheaper fuel off airport.  Some suppliers insist that you pay a market rate for the full tank and then return it empty.  Other than these two points, there are no further differences between the Standard and Diamond packages.

Additional Items to consider

Child seats are an important consideration when hiring a car in the USA but generally we recommend that you take your own car seats with you.  Airlines will usually carry them for free, and in fact, not all suppliers carry the full range of seats.  Dollar for instance, do not carry infant or booster seats – only the forward facing car seat in-between!  Should you decide to hire car seats for your trip, you can order them when you book your car.  You will pay for them locally in US $’s – which means you will have to pay sales and airport tax on top!  Seats range in price from $6.99 per day to $13.99 per day depending on supplier.

Many first time travellers worry about finding their way around in a new country. For this reason, they choose to hire a SAT NAV unit with their US car hire. The way that roads are signed, and their usually straight forward grid system usually means that after a day or two it is pretty easy to find your way around, but there is a tendency to leave roads off tourist maps if they don’t want you using them and this can hinder proceedings, so hiring a GPS unit for your first trip or two or a longer road trip can make good sense.

You can pre-order a GPS unit, or you can usually hire one from the desk.  But, like everything else, you will have to add sales and airport tax to your purchase if you do.  We provide some helpful hints about driving in the USA here.