With air travel comes a lot of planning, including how you’re going to get around after you get off the plane.
Though many major cities and countries have trains and other alternative transportation available, renting a car is often your best bet. It can be intimidating to book a car from an unfamiliar airport, but it’s also a more convenient experience, especially if you want to explore the local hotspots with ease.
Going to San Francisco? Here’s everything you need to know about renting a car, including how to get the best price and things you’re going to need to have before they will hand over the keys.
Why Rent a Car at San Francisco airport?
Renting a car at San Francisco might be the easiest way to get around for the rest of your trip. Not only does it make things simpler at the beginning and end of your trip, but you also have more flexibility while you’re in town.
Renting a car means you can do everything on your timetable with no concerns for public transit schedules or purchasing tickets to ride.
Cheap Car Rentals at San Francisco airport
Are you looking for ways to save on a car rental? There are a few considerations that could make your time at San Francisco easier on your wallet.
- Think about your navigation needs. Tacking GPS services onto your car rental might be unnecessary if you have one or can use your phone for navigation.
- Tolls are common in many places, which means renting a toll transponder could save you some cash.
- Ask about car insurance requirements. Most companies will allow you to use your own if your policy covers rental cars. However, if it doesn’t, they will encourage or insist that you buy theirs. You can find the insurance coverage and breakdown assistance rates for each supplier in our results pages, just click “Important Information” and then click on the insurance tab.
- Consider a smaller car. Save on gas and rental costs by renting a smaller vehicle if possible. Definitely consider where you plan to drive because back roads and rough terrain don’t mesh with small cars, but highway and city streets work better.
- Consider weekly versus daily rates. Usually weekly rates are cheaper than day-by-day.If you’re going to be using the car for a long time, paying by the week might be less expensive.
- Book your car rental ASAP. Reserving vehicles weeks or months ahead of when you need them can result in noticeably lower rates. If you wait until the last minute, prices might increase, and you’ll be stuck paying far more for your ride.
Renting a car isn’t necessarily a cheap endeavor, but there’s something to be said for the convenience. Not only do you get to travel on your time frame, but you also have more flexibility to explore other places during your trip.
Tips for Vehicle Rentals at San Francisco
Before renting a vehicle at San Francisco, there are a few more things to consider so you don’t walk into any surprises.
- Age matters. If you are below the age of 25 or above the age of 70, you might face additional charges or restrictions. From our results pages click “Important information” and then “Driver” for minimum and maximum driving ages, as well as any young drivers charges.
- A reservation isn’t a guarantee. Some car rental companies treat reservations like requests. If there is a lot of demand for cars at the time of your travel, you might be walking into a first-come-first-serve situation. Most companies will let you know this at the time of your reservation, but it’s always good to double-check before you fly.
- Ask about mileage limits. Some companies only include a set number of miles per day before tacking on extra fees.
- What is the deposit? Some rental companies request a deposit before you rent. If nothing goes wrong, you get that money back, but if you are not prepared for the extra money upfront, it could be a challenge. Again from our results pages we provide all fees and deposit requirements under our “Important Information” section.
- Ask about special driver requirements. For example, some places have specific insurance requirements and driving in another country might involve an international driving permit (IDP).
Although there are lots of general rules for car rentals, not all will apply to all companies and airports. Be sure to do your own research beforehand, so you know what to expect and can avoid any stressful surprises.
Do you still have questions? Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions regarding San Francisco car rentals.
What do I need to rent a car?
When you’re renting a car from San Francisco, you typically need three things:
- A valid driver’s license or permit
- A major credit card
- Proof of car insurance. Your credit card must have enough room to cover the rental costs, any deposits, and any additional fees. Note that you should get the deposit back within a week to ten days of returning the rental, provided nothing has been damaged.
What car insurance do I need for a rental car?
Before you opt to use your car insurance for the rental, it’s a good idea to check with your provider to see what they cover. If it’s not included in your policy, you might want to ask what it would cost to add the coverage.
Keep in mind that many car rental companies set a minimum level of coverage, so your insurance needs to meet that minimum. You will have to bring proof of that coverage before the rental company will accept it. If your personal insurance isn’t sufficient, you have options. Sometimes, credit card companies offer coverage as a perk for cardholders. It might be work contacting your credit card company to see if it covers insurance for rental cars.
Sometimes it’s most cost-effective to buy insurance from the rental company itself. It doesn’t hurt to call ahead and ask what the rates are so that you can compare your options.
Note that some rental companies include insurance within the rental fees. Make sure you request a breakdown of all fees and have them remove the car insurance fees if you have sufficient coverage.
How old must you be to rent a car?
The standard age to rent a car varies from place to place, so if you’re concerned about not being old enough, you might want to do a little research. Typically, the minimum ages fall between 21 and 25 wherever you travel, though a few places allow people as young as 18 to rent cars.
Note that many places attach additional fees to younger and older renters. For example, if you are under 25 or over 70, you might have to pay an additional daily surcharge.
For each of the rental companies we aggregate prices for we provide the minimum and any maximum ages, as well as whether there are any charges for younger drivers.
What fees can I expect to pay?
Some fees are avoidable, like toll transponders, but some are basically set in stone.
- Taxes. Nothing is certain but death and taxes, right? Expect to pay various taxes on every car rental. We provide tax rate information under our Important Information section, just click on the payments heading.
- Administrative fees. This vague entry can be frustrating and confusing, especially when the amount varies from ten or twenty dollars up to one hundred. Though it’s unlikely that you can do much about it, you might want to ask about what the administrative fees include.
- Facility fees. Renting from an airport might have additional fees that the rental company passes on to you.
- Toll transponders. You don’t have to get them, and you might not want to because there are often ways to avoid toll roads altogether.
- Prepaid fuel. You might want to skip this option because you can usually find cheaper gas options on your own.
Adding extras, like satellite radio, can also add more fees to your bill. Before you sign off on a rental, it’s a good idea to look over the fee breakdown to make sure you accept everything.
Can I Get a Free Additional Driver?
As an incentive for renting a car from them, occasionally car rental firms will offer free additional drivers as a perk for chosing them over a competitor.
Considering typically an additional driver would be required to pay for each day they’re included, and each day can attract tax, this can result in significant savings.
We’ve made filtering for offers which include free additional drivers easy by adding it as a filter to our lists.
Simply select the dates you want above and when taken to our lists of cars check the “Free Additional Driver” checkbox on the filters menu.
Now you will see only car rental companies and vehicles which offer free additional drivers.
One point to note here is if none of the rental companies showing are offering free additional drivers, this filter will be removed, so please note this is not an error with our system. You may want to call the company after your booking to see if they would be willing to make an exception.
To find out how much additional drivers will be charged, and if there are any limits to the number of drivers, click on “Important Information” in the listing you’re after and select the driver tab.