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Top 10 Most Expensive U.S. Cities To Rent A Car

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Rental cars are pricey right now. According to AAA, rental car prices have increased by about $40 per day compared to 2019 costs. 2021 saw the worst car rental prices, which were 34% higher than this year. However, costs are still high. Knowing which cities have the highest costs for rental cars may help some travelers think of alternate modes of transportation upon arrival. A recent study by has revealed the top 10 most expensive U.S. cities to rent a car.

Man loading luggage into a rental car

Why Are Costs So High?

When Covid started to become the collective reality, rental car companies sold off much of their inventory to keep costs down. No one was traveling, so it made sense for them to eliminate unnecessary upkeep costs. However, another consequence of Covid was waiting around the corner in the form of a global microchip shortage, which led to fewer new cars being produced. Thus, rental car companies have been unable to replenish their inventory because there aren’t any cars to buy. Finally, what this means for travelers is that costs have significantly risen compared to 2019 levels.

Man signing a car rental agreement in front of rental car

The Study

The study looked at car rental rates for the month of August from the top 100 U.S. airports. A comparison of average weekly rates for the cheapest available car between August 1st and August 31st was conducted to find the most expensive cities for car rentals. Finally, the only rental car companies that the study considered were those that were at the airport or the airport’s rental car center.

Airport car rental kiosks with crowds of people

Top 10 Most Expensive U.S. Cities To Rent A Car

1) Anchorage, Alaska (ANC) – $949 Avg. Weekly Rate

2) Spokane, Washington (GEG) – $765 Avg. Weekly Rate

3) Portland, Maine (PWM) – $737 Avg. Weekly Rate

4) Little Rock, Arkansas (LIT) – $627 Avg. Weekly Rate

5) Fayetteville, Arkansas (XNA) – $626 Avg. Weekly Rate

6) Charleston, South Carolina (CHS) – $616 Avg. Weekly Rate

7) Lihue, Hawaii (LIH) – $607 Avg. Weekly Rate

8) Albany, New York (ALB) – $576 Avg. Weekly Rate

9) Des Moines, Iowa (DSM) – $573 Avg. Weekly Rate

10) Minneapolis, Minnesota (MSP) – $571 Avg. Weekly Rate

Anchorage Alaska skyline

How Can Travelers Save?

The most significant way to save on a rental car would be to avoid getting one altogether. Suppose your destination has good public transport or is very walkable. In that case, it may be worth it to rely on the occasional taxi or uber in order to save some serious cash. While renting a car offers more flexibility and independence when traveling, you may find that you barely use the rental for certain destinations.


Another tip for saving on a rental would be to book early and avoid booking directly at the airport. While this study exclusively looked at airport car rental centers’ pricing, it is still a good indication that prices are high for the area. However, you may be able to save some money by taking an uber to a car rental service further out from the airport.


One final tip that may not apply to all travelers is to take advantage of your credit card’s benefits. Many credit cards offer rental car insurance coverage as a card user benefit. Travelers should check with their credit card companies and ensure they fully understand the benefit before deciding to forgo the coverage offered by the rental car company. However, this can be an excellent way to cut down on the costs of renting a vehicle.

Man checking credit card benefits

Do A Thorough Check

According to a recent survey, only 43% of customers don’t list any damage they see on the vehicle during the initial damage inspection. This can lead to damage being attributed to the customer, even when it wasn’t their fault. Unfortunately, this could mean anything from fees to legal action. Make sure to inspect the vehicle thoroughly before heading off. Take pictures, videos, and document everything. It would be unfortunate to put effort into saving on costs only to have damage fees that aren’t your fault tacked on to your bill upon returning the vehicle.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.