Top 10 most expensive US cities to rent a car

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Rental cars are expensive right now. According to AAA, rental car prices have increased by around $40 per day from 2019 costs. 2021 saw the worst car rental prices, which were 34% higher than this year. However, the costs remain high. Knowing which cities have the highest costs for rental cars can help some travelers think about other modes of transportation when they arrive. A recent study by revealed the top 10 most expensive US cities to rent a car.

Man loading luggage into rental car

Why are the costs so high?

When Covid started to become the collective reality, rental car companies sold off much of their inventory to cut costs. No one was traveling, so it made sense for them to eliminate unnecessary maintenance costs. However, another consequence of Covid was waiting around the corner in the form of a global shortage of microchips, resulting in fewer new cars being produced. Thus, car rental companies have not been able to replenish their inventory because there are no cars to buy. Finally, it means for travelers that costs have increased significantly from 2019 levels.

Man signing car rental agreement in front of rental car

The study

The study looked at car rental rates for the month of August at 100 major US 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 car rental companies included in the study were those located at the airport or at the airport rental car center.

Airport car rental kiosks with crowds of people

Top 10 most expensive US cities to rent a car

1) Anchorage, Alaska (ANC) – $949 on average. Price per week

2) Spokane, Washington (GEG) – $765 on average. Price per week

3) Portland, Maine (PWM) – $737 on average. Price per week

4) Little Rock, Arkansas (LIT) – $627 on average. Price per week

5) Fayetteville, Arkansas (XNA) – $626 on average. Price per week

6) Charleston, SC (CHS) – $616 Avg. Price per week

7) Lihue, Hawaii (LIH) – $607 on average. Price per week

8) Albany, New York (ALB) – $576 on average. Price per week

9) Des Moines, Iowa (DSM) – $573 on average. Price per week

10) Minneapolis, Minnesota (MSP) – $571 on average. Price per week

Anchorage Alaska Skyline

How can travelers save?

The biggest way to save on a rental car would be to avoid buying one. Let’s say your destination has good public transport or is very walkable. In this case, it may be worth relying on the occasional taxi or uber in order to save money. Although renting a car offers more flexibility and independence when traveling, you may find that you barely use the rental for certain destinations.


Another tip to save on a rental would be to book early and avoid booking directly at the airport. Although this study focused exclusively on airport car rental center prices, this 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 from the airport.


A final tip that may not apply to all travelers is to take advantage of your credit card 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 opt out of the coverage offered by the car rental company. However, it can be a great way to reduce vehicle rental costs.

Man checking credit card benefits

Do a thorough check

According to a recent survey, only 43% of customers do not list any damage they see on the vehicle during the initial damage inspection. This can lead to damages attributed to the customer, even if it was not his fault. Unfortunately, this can mean anything from fees to legal action. Be sure to inspect the vehicle thoroughly before setting off. Take photos, videos and document everything. It would be unfortunate to go out of your way to save costs only to have damage charges that are not your fault added to your bill when returning the vehicle.

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