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    Car Hire in the USA - Enjoy the Trip of a Lifetime

    Car hire in the USA

    The USA is very much a four-seasons destination, a something-for-everyone kind of place offering a cultural adventure like no other nation on earth. With a car hire in the USA you'll gain access to the very best of the country as you drive for hours under big open skies enjoying a succession of striking vistas along the way. With some four million miles of motorways known locally as highways, it's a destination tailor-made for an extended road trip with friends or a fun-filled motoring holiday with all the family.

    Explore the vibrant metropolises of Los Angeles and San Francisco, each with its own distinctive cuisine and unique cultural idiosyncrasies. Venture outside these and other popular gateway cities to soak up the jaw-dropping scenery of America's award-winning national parks where iconic monuments, snow-capped volcanoes, towering waterfalls and astonishing natural wonders have been enchanting visitors for centuries.

    It's an unparalleled description in every respect and no two trips to the USA are alike. America is a land of big horizons and can't-miss travel experiences, from the red-rock deserts of the south to the Great Lake regions of the north. Many people rent a car in the USA for a memorable drive between the bustling cities of Chicago and Los Angeles on Route 66 or along the equally famous Pacific Coast Highway embroidering California's sun-kissed coastline.

    In America, there's no better road trip than the one along the Blue Ridge Parkway which snakes for almost 500 miles through the southern Appalachian Mountains, traversing rolling hills and fertile pastoral valleys en route. And for a true taste of the country's vast interior, you can follow the course of the mighty Mississippi River for over 2,000 miles through some of the most striking scenery in the USA.

    Stretching from one side of North America to the other - from the Atlantic to the Pacific - the United States has all the right ingredients for a successful road-based holiday, with dozens of convenient pick-up and drop-off points located all over the country. Whether it’s for a long weekend in Orlando or a fortnight in California, Auto Europe has the right car for the right occasion with the best customer service and always at the cheapest prices, with the option of a one-way car rental for added convenience.

    Established in 1954 and now a leading entity in the global car rental industry, Auto Europe is fully committed to helping you organise your trip and reach your chosen destination as easily and cheaply as possible. Select your preferred vehicle and supplier through our search engine in a few easy steps or call our rental specialists seven days a week on +44 123 3225 114 and they will be very happy to help you. We can also offer you the chance to save money with our special promotions and enjoy additional cost-cutting benefits such as free upgrades and free additional drivers. Read what others have to say about their recent Auto Europe vehicle rental experience in the States by visiting our car hire reviews in the USA page.

    For more information on renting a vehicle in the USA, click on the car hire related topics listed below:

    Our Car Hire Suppliers Car Hire FAQs Vehicle Options

    Where to Pick up a Car Hire in the USA

    Auto Europe’s range of pick-up and drop-off points equates to the vast scale of the USA with options available at every major city and airport throughout the entire country, including Miami and Boston. Check out our blog for tips on picking up your car quickly and easily to be sure of what documents you’ll need to have with you when arriving at the car rental reception desk.

    It couldn't be easier to rent a car in the USA, with all the most popular destinations covered such as Las Vegas, and with more than 24,000 locations in over 180 countries worldwide Auto Europe is by far the best choice for your next trip to America and elsewhere. You can call our reservation specialists seven days a week on +44 123 3225 114 for help planning your itinerary and choosing the right vehicle for your needs.

    Compare Car Hire Rates at the Most Popular Airport and Rail Stations in the USA

    Book with the Best Car Hire Suppliers in the USA

    Auto Europe is very proud to be working with all the top rental suppliers in the USA and elsewhere around the world, having established strong business relationships with Alamo, Enterprise, National, Thrifty, Budget and Dollar and many other leading car hire providers since the company was founded in 1954.

    Besides offering the best car hire deals in the USA, we offer the most convenient pick-up and drop-off locations all over the country, with a series of additional advantages such as free cancellations up to 48 hours prior to pick up and no credit card fees for bookings made through the Auto Europe booking engine.

    Alamo - Car Hire Information Dollar - Car Hire Information Thrifty - Car Hire Information
    Enterprise - Car Hire Information National - Car Hire Information Budget - Car Hire Information

    If you have any doubts or need help finding the best car rental deals in the USA, then please don't hesitate to get in touch with us. Our reservation agents will be only too pleased to help you make the right choice, whether it's car categories you'd like advice on or Auto Europe's popular Zero Excess coverage.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Renting a Car in the USA

    Contact UsAs one of the world’s leading car rental companies, Auto Europe is very well versed in answering questions on all aspects of hiring a car in the USA. In this section we’ve focused on some of the most common aspects to consider when visiting top tourist sites like the Grand Canyon or Golden Gate Bridge by car, but if you cannot find the answer you are looking for then please do not hesitate to call our rental specialists on +44 123 3225 114 or send them an e-mail to

    How old do I have to be to rent a car in the USA?

    In most American states, drivers must be at least 21 years of age, although in a few places it is possible for drivers under the age of 21 to rent a car in the USA. Please note that if you are under the age of 26 and planning to drive in the USA then you might very possibly be subject to a Young Driver Surcharge which is charged locally and can be quite substantial. It’s always best to check with the local supplier in order to find out whether or not this extra charge will apply in your case and if so, how much it will be. Please also note that in some situations an international driving permit may also be required.

    You can easily find full details of any Young Driver Surcharges payable as well as any restrictions or age requirements relevant to your booking. Just select your dates and destination in the Auto Europe booking engine and click on the blue and white info icon (i) in the search results, where you'll find all the young driver-related information clearly stated. Auto Europe will also include this information in your voucher's terms and conditions after the booking has been confirmed.

    It’s vital that you enter the correct age of the primary driver when making your reservation, which will enable us to properly inform you of any car hire age requirements that may apply to your rental, whether you are a seasoned traveller or booking your first car hire.


    Can I pick up my car rental in the USA in one place and drop it off in another?

    Yes. Even though the general rule is that you must return the vehicle to the same place you picked it up, there are quite a few exceptions. For instance, some rental companies will allow you to pick up a car in Los Angeles and return it to San Francisco - or vice versa - without any additional charge. In Florida, likewise, it is also permitted to pick up and drop off a vehicle at different locations without any extra fees being payable. Please note that other charges might apply if you are planning a one-way car hire in the USA or elsewhere in the world (depending on the local supplier), so it’s always best to check in advance.

    To avoid any confusion, customers must always inform us about their one-way travel plans at the time of making their booking in order for us to confirm whether or not it is possible, with the option of being able to cancel their reservation completely free of charge if they do not agree with any of the conditions.

    Please also bear in mind that one-way journeys may also be subject to a surcharge, the amount of which is either included in the rental price or charged at the time of pick-up in the local currency, in this case the US dollar. It should be noted that certain restrictions may apply to specific vehicle categories, minimum rental duration and journeys between particular cities and locations.

    Full details relating to one-way fees (not including VAT) can be found in the search engine results that appear below the price of the car. Moreover, please feel free to call Auto Europe’s award-winning reservations team to discuss any charges that might apply to your booking.

    One-way fees in many cases are collected by whichever of our trusted car rental companies the driver chooses to book with, meaning that Auto Europe never receives or profits in any way from these extra charges. Although the car hire suppliers determine their own one-way fees independently, we feel that it’s important to inform our customers about all the add-ons relating to their rental in order to help them make the best-informed decision for their forthcoming trip. This fee can vary from supplier to supplier for the same pick-up and drop-off locations and one company may charge far less than another while others might not even permit one-way travel at all, because each provider operates from different offices and rental locations with a different set of rules and options.

    For drivers considering cross-border travel after renting a car in the USA, the first thing to remember is that Mexico is completely out of bounds, although it is possible to visit Canada as long as the vehicle is returned to the USA (not permitted for Canadian residents). Drivers always need to bear in mind that when travelling outside of their pick-up country, whether the USA or anywhere else in the world, it is the responsibility of the renter to make sure that the vehicle complies with the local laws of the country in which they are travelling, including (but not strictly limited to) correct safety equipment, legal cross-border documents, toll stickers, etc.

    In order to be fully conversant with any travel restrictions relating to their rental, clients can find all the information they need in our booking engine by first choosing their preferred car hire category and supplier before clicking on the blue and white info icon (i). All this information is also included in the Auto Europe booking voucher sent by e-mail after the reservation is confirmed.


    Do I need a credit card to rent a car in the USA?

    Yes. In order to rent a car in the USA, drivers are required to have a valid credit card. This is because rental car companies generally place a hold on the value of the deductible for the vehicle they rent while driving in each respective country, the amount of which is promptly returned if the vehicle is dropped off in good condition.

    It's an unpleasant surprise for people when they try to pick up their car hire in America and are refused, which is why we always advise our customers to travel with a valid high-limit credit card in the name of the main driver to present to car hire staff when they arrive at their destination, whether it’s at a major airport or a prime downtown location. Consult our blog post for more information on why credit cards are so important for hiring a car and picking up your vehicle.

    Customers booking a premium- or luxury-category car should keep in mind that the supplier might possibly request an additional credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Diners and American Express cards are accepted) solely in the name of the primary driver. It’s very easy to check which cards (and card types) are accepted, just make your search in the Auto Europe booking engine and click on the blue and white info icon (i) where all the necessary credit and debit card information can be found. Please check our related blog post if you require more information on credit card and deposit requirements when picking up a car hire in the USA and other countries around the world.


    What are the most important driving rules in the USA?

    There are several important things to know when driving in the USA. For instance, when hiring a car in Orlando, Florida or any other part of the USA, it is important to be aware of all the main rules and regulations relating to driving a car in that part of the country in order to ensure the safest possible journey. In other words, the more research you do before your trip the better prepared you will be for driving in the USA.

    The first thing to remember is to always drive on the right-hand side of the road and never use your mobile phone whenever you are driving in the USA. And don't forget that the wearing of seat-belts is compulsory for drivers and all passengers in most parts of the United States.

    Like the majority of countries around the world, drinking and driving is a federal crime in the USA and statutes governing driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) are strictly enforced. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime everywhere in the country, although specific laws and penalties vary from state to state. Please also bear in mind that the majority of states prohibit an open canister of alcohol in the car, so if you are bringing the remainder of your bottle of wine from a restaurant or have a box of wine for camping for instance, then these need to be stored well out of site in the boot (trunk).

    Something else you need to be aware of is the strictness of the law regarding litter, so never throw trash of any kind out of the car window because the fines are stiff (up to US$1,000) and foreigners are often obliged to pay them on the spot, which could quite easily leave you broke for the rest of your trip!

    Needless to say (and very important to remember) is the fact that you should always carry a valid driver’s licence with you, as well as all the vehicle’s registration documents, a print of the car hire contract (rental agreement) and all the respective insurance documents, especially in large cities like Los Angeles.

    When driving your car hire in the USA you’ll find an abundance of petrol (gas) stations on all the motorways (highways), main roads and around the large towns and cities. Besides selling petrol, they normally have large stores inside and are therefore very useful for stocking up on provisions such as food, water and anything else you might need for the rest of your onward journey. Most are open from 6am-10pm while an increasing number are responding to increased demand by operating 24 hours day, 7 days a week.

    Still on the subject of fuel, it’s worth noting that petrol in the USA is sold by the gallon (3.79 litres) and is offered in three levels of octane: regular, plus and premium, with most car rental companies only requiring the use of regular gas. Note that international debit or credit cards sometimes don’t work at the petrol pump payment machines because they require a US ZIP code (or post code) for security verification. In such cases, you will need to pay the cashier inside the station itself.

    With the exception of some of the more compact inner cities such as downtown San Francisco, American roads tend to be wider, less congested and easier to navigate than many in the UK. Much of the USA’s road infrastructure is designed in a grid-style format so that you won’t come across as many winding, concealed streets or dead-ends like you sometimes see in European countries. This is as true in the cities as it is on the motorways and in the more remote parts of the country. This is one of the reasons why motoring in America isn’t as daunting as the preconceived idea many people have before embarking on their trip.

    Another key consideration when hiring a car in the USA is the fact that the vast majority of rented vehicles are automatic, which might take manual car drivers a little bit of getting used to at first, but it’s a lot less hassle not having to keep changing gear, especially in busy cities like Chicago.

    Please bear in mind the fact that road rules in the USA vary from state to state, so what might be the norm in Memphis might not necessarily be permitted in Colorado and so on. Regarding speed limits, the general rule is 25-30 mph within cities with the maximum on interstate dual-carriageways and motorways ranging between 65 and 80 mph.

    When planning your travel itinerary, it’s well worth checking the driving rules and regulations for each state you are planning to visit. For instance, in Florida you must drive with your lights on in the rain whatever the time of day or night and in California you have to park in the same direction as the traffic, so if you see a parking space on the other side of the road you’ll have to make a U-turn and drive back before parking the vehicle.

    In virtually every single US state you are required to drive with your licence and insurance documents with you at all times, whether you are a US citizen or renting a car in the USA with a UK driving licence. In the event of an emergency, call 911 and wait for assistance to arrive. For tips on what to do in the event of an accident or breakdown, please see our blog post on this very important subject.


    Do I need to pay tolls when driving my car hire in the USA?

    The USA has an extensive road network covering the entire country. Many of the high-speed motorways and bridges are free but some do have tolls (often referred to as turnpikes) which can become quite expensive when driving on them for many hours.

    There are currently more than five thousand miles of tolled roads in America and the method of payment varies from state to state, but most tolls can be paid by cash, credit card or with an electronic pass called a transponder that’s placed on the windscreen and automatically charges your credit card when you pass through the toll booth. Many rental companies provide these electronic passes and will charge you the full amount when you return the vehicle.

    Be aware that some stretches of open toll roads have no booths, so you’ll need to disclose your vehicle's registration before using the road. Because not all tolled motorways are the same in every state, it’s best to familiarise yourself with the charges and types of payment accepted along the specific route you plan to take prior to the start of your journey. Visitors to Hawaii, however, can relax in the knowledge that there are no motorways or bridges on any of the islands that require drivers to pay a toll. For up-to-date information on driving in America, please consult the respective USA travel page on the UK government website.


    What kind of insurance do I need for my car hire in the USA?

    When hiring a car in the USA with Auto Europe, there are several key points to remember about car hire coverage. You’ll find that our Zero Excess product comes as standard with all rentals and includes value added tax (VAT), liability insurance, fire insurance, collision damage waiver (CDW) zero excess and theft protection (TP) zero excess (note that zero excess means the elimination of your excess). So if you are want to fully protect yourself when driving in the USA, then this coverage means that if the vehicle is damaged at all during your rental period, then you will not have to pay for anything. However, it’s important to note that without this coverage some parts of the vehicle might not be included, most notably the wheels, glass, tyres, roof and undercarriage, meaning that you will still have to pay for any damage caused to these parts of the vehicle.

    With most suppliers, the standard car hire rate comes with extended coverage for damage to the vehicle’s wheels, glass, undercarriage and roof. Customers opting for the Avis or Budget basic Zero Excess rate through the Auto Europe website can take advantage of additional zero excess in the event of theft or any damage to the bodywork, plus refundable excess for glass and wheels. It’s important to read the full terms and conditions for whichever deal you select as they might change according to each respective supplier and car category.

    Furthermore, Auto Europe offers additional coverage for people looking for total peace of mind whilst travelling around the USA. With all the benefits of the aforementioned Zero Excess coverage, our special Zero Excess with Super Breakdown Cover also provides customers a refund on credit card fees up to a maximum of €150, administration fees up to a maximum of €150, immobilisation fee, unused rental days due to medical, accident or vehicle damage, damage caused to the vehicle’s undercarriage, roof, wheels, glass and tyres, and damage caused to additional items such as the GPS system, child seats, etc.

    In the event of the client needing to make a claim, they must pay the car rental supplier first then claim back the amount from Auto Europe. It is important when making a claim with Auto Europe that you provide all the required documents to receive your refund as quickly as possible.

    All this information is clearly stated in the Auto Europe booking engine search results. Just click on the blue and white info icon (i) after selecting your preferred car category and supplier to find info about either the Zero Excess including wheels, glass, underside and roof of vehicle or our Excess Guarantee with Premium Coverage, full details of which you can also find in the the Terms and Conditions section when making an enquiry or confirming your booking.

    It’s common practice for local car rental employees to try selling you their own products and features on top of the ones you have already purchased through the Auto Europe website. One such product is insurance coverage which is often mentioned when customers arrive to pick up their vehicle. Generally speaking, these additional coverage policies are completely optional and anything being offered by the local supplier’s staff members will very possibly be surplus to your requirements.

    For more information about Auto Europe’s fully-inclusive Zero Excess coverage, please don’t hesitate to give our reservations team a call on +44 123 3225 114 or alternatively send them an e-mail to Our products are designed to give you total peace of mind during your trip, thus providing you with a smooth and stress-free car rental in the USA. Check out our related blog post for a general overview of the types of car hire coverage available.


    Can I use my UK licence to drive my rental in the USA?

    Yes. Due to an agreement signed by the American government with several countries including the UK, if you have held a full national driver's photo-card licence (with its paper counterpart) for a minimum of 12 months then you shouldn’t have any problems hiring a car in the USA. It’s essential to have your licence with you at all times and present it to the car hire staff at the time of picking up your vehicle, along with your passport and proof of address. Please note that the same applies to any additional drivers named on the booking voucher.

    Drivers must have held a valid UK driving licence for a minimum of one year, and in very specific circumstances for three years (for details, please check the voucher’s terms and conditions). The licence must be entirely written in the Roman alphabet; if not, then an International Driving Permit (IDP) will be required in addition to the regular driving licence. Please note that some car rental suppliers will require an IDP whichever kind of licence the driver holds, so it’s always best to check the booking voucher’s terms and conditions before travelling.

    Furthermore, since the 8th June 2015 a few rental companies have been asking drivers for their DVLA code prior to picking up their vehicle. The DVLA code is the online counterpart of the photo-card driving licence which is needed in order to access the DVLA database for your driver’s licence record, along with any penalty points and/or endorsements you might have and the various types of vehicle you are permitted to drive.


    Can I add an additional driver to my rental car in the USA?

    Yes. Auto Europe's customers can easily add an additional driver to their car hire in the USA. With some car hire companies the fees for additional drivers are already included in the price, while others charge a daily fee at the time of pick-up, the price of which is established by the local supplier. Click here to find out how to add more drivers free of charge when booking your vehicle with Auto Europe.

    It's important to remember that all additional drivers need to be certified in the car rental agreement and they will also be asked to present the very same documents as the main driver at the time of pick-up (ie passport/personal ID and full driving licence plus an International Driving Permit, where required). Please note that when you book our popular gold rate package, no less than three additional drivers (aged 25 and over) will be included in the price!

    All the necessary info regarding additional driver fees can be found in the search results of the Auto Europe website. After selecting your preferred car category and supplier, just click on the blue and white info icon (i) in the car details where the minimum age and daily charge for additional drivers is clearly stated.

    Please be advised that if a friend or family member not included in the car hire contract drives the vehicle at any time during the rental period, then they will be automatically excluded from all the insurance coverage, thus making them liable for the total amount of any damage caused should the vehicle be stolen or involved in any kind of an accident. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that all additional drivers are properly authorized before leaving the car rental pick-up station.


    How can I save on my rental car in the USA?

    You can enjoy substantial savings with Auto Europe's special Gold Rate package, an exclusive offer for all those looking for cheap car hire deals in the USA. Just add our Gold Rate package to your reservation when booking your car hire through the Auto Europe booking engine to register up to three additional drivers for no extra charge, plus your first tank of petrol will be absolutely free!

    You can opt for the Auto Europe Gold Rate package quickly and easily through our booking engine. Just select the car that best meets your requirements and keep scrolling down the search results until you come to the quotes that include all the Gold Rate advantages at amazing rates.

    With this package you’ll be able to explore the United State of America with total peace of mind, saving lots of time and money in the process. If you’re not already convinced, take a look at our Gold Rate infographic to find out why it’s the best way to take advantage of low cost car hire in the USA.


    Can I book a manual transmission car rental in the USA?

    Yes you can, but they are very difficult to find in America! When you rent a car in the USA, the chances are it will come equipped with automatic rather than manual transmission, but the benefits of the former far outweigh the latter. For instance, when you’re exploring a place as fascinating as New York and driving through the streets of Manhattan for instance, driving a car with automatic transmission will give you the time and flexibility to focus on the things you want to see, such as the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, without having to worry about gear changes, etc. You'll be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of some of the world’s greatest cities.

    It's a fact that vehicles with automatic transmission are easier to drive and in the vast majority of cases are considered to be an upgrade compared with those fitted with manual transmission, meaning that you’ll be driving an above-average vehicle with a greater degree of comfort and superior in-car facilities. Similarly, a relaxing drive alongside Miami's famous beach would be further enhanced for those driving a modern car fitted with automatic transmission.


    Can you guarantee a rental car in the USA with automatic transmission?

    In the vast majority of locations, when picking up a car rental in the USA you are guaranteed a vehicle with the latest automatic transmission. If for some reason you cannot find this option in the Auto Europe booking engine at the top of this page, then please get in touch with our reservation specialists on +44 123 3225 114 (e-mail: and they will solve the issue quickly and efficiently.

    As we have already stated, there are many advantages of booking an automatic car hire, chief among them the chance to fully appreciate your surroundings – be it the Great Lakes or the Grand Canyon - without ever having to worry about which gear you are in. Another key consideration is fuel economy, with the newest cars designed according to the most advanced technology being used by car manufacturers today. Many of the most highly-praised cars of recent years have been automatics, meaning that they are becoming the preferred choice for car hire suppliers, particularly in the USA.

    Additional Vehicle Rental Options in the USA

    Auto Europe offers an extensive range of vehicle categories for people searching for the best type of car rental in the USA. In America you can book the car of your dreams for the trip of a lifetime in some of the world’s most scenic places, such as the wine regions of California and the Everglades of Florida. What’s more, when you make a reservation with Auto Europe you’ll get the lowest rates in the market guaranteed, whether it’s a Luxury-category car for an exciting trip along Route 66 or a spacious mini-van for a fun-filled family holiday or a road trip eith friends in the enchanting Yellowstone National Park, home of the world-famous Old Faithful geyser. Or you might find that a modern motorhome (known locally as an RV) will better suit your needs as you travel from state to state appreciating the USA’s astounding natural beauty.

    Luxury Car Hire USA Hire a Van in the USA Campervan Rentals in the USA

    Luxury Car Hire USA - Enjoy the sights of downtown New York in style with a luxury car hire in the United States. Auto Europe offers the most prestigious vehicles at the cheapest rates all over America, from New Orleans to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

    Van Hire USA - A van rental in the USA guarantees an extra level of comfort for drivers and passengers alike with plenty of additional space for golf clubs and other sports equipment. Auto Europe’s wide range of mini-vans caters for groups visiting the Grand Canyon and other iconic attractions in the United States.

    Campervan Hire USA - Auto Europe works with the top motorhome and RV rental companies operating in the USA, offering visitors the chance to visit the country's top sites and tour America in grand style whilst saving a substantial amount of money on hotels.

    Useful links

    Travel inspiration and information for your trip to the USA