How to get a rental car for the cheapest possible price in LA

Tall high rise buildings with large multi-carriageway road leading up to them, with palm trees on the left

Los Angeles is not only an equivalent to fun and entertainment, but it is also a city full of history that was founded by Spanish colonisers on September 4, 1781. A few years later it belonged to Mexico, when the Aztec nation gained independence from the Spanish Empire, and since 1846 it has been under the jurisdiction of the United States, being the second most populated metropolis of the first economic and military power in the world.

And in a city with so much to see and discover, getting around by public transportation would literally be a waste of time. Did you know that in the US parking lots matter as much as the quality of restaurants or any public establishment? This is due to its car culture and the fact that it is one of the nations with the most cars in the world per thousand inhabitants, impressive!

That’s why, in this post, we tell you how to get the best possible price for a rental car in LA. We’ll also share some tips about how to get around this cinematic city, which has been recorded in countless iconic movies, such as Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Polanski’s Chinatown. Fasten your seat belts, because we’re off to California…

Domed art deco building lit up at night against a city backdrop.
Los Angeles skyline and Griffith Park

Secure your car in one of the most visited cities in the world!

When renting a car, the number one rule is to do it in advance, especially when going to Los Angeles, because it is well known that if you wait until the last day to rent a car, you will find the rates quite expensive. Therefore, decide which car you really need according to the requirements of your trip and book it online several days in beforehand.

For example, if you’re a travelling as a couple, and are going to be driving to places a little out of the way in Los Angeles, choose a medium-sized vehicle or van. There will be plenty of room for luggage, even if you decide to buy lots of souvenirs on the cities tours you’ll be enjoying along the way.

As a note of illustration, a recent pricing example we came across for a trip booked more than a month in advance worked out at $700 for an all-inclusive rate. That’s about £550 for 8+ days use of an SUV. This included necessary add-ons such as third party (or liability) insurance and the first tank of gas. Bargain!

Where will this adventure take you?

Find the best deals and discounts online

In any trip it is essential to compare multiple rental car offers, to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Companies like Miles Car Rental are a great place to start. This search engine is well positioned on the internet and offers all-inclusive rates at an affordable price. You can look forward to free modifications on your reservations, and there’s often the possibility to add insurance to protect you from any unfortunate event when using the rental car, as well as more options than you probably need to have a better experience on your trip.

In addition, the car rental agencies you find on this platform, such as Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, and National, among others, offer you an unlimited mileage policy, meaning that no matter how many miles you drive on your adventures in LA, you will not have to pay additional fees. This makes choosing a hire car over using taxi cabs a no-brainer!

Just think of the places you can go with unlimited mileage. You could hop on California’s Interstate 5 and visit the famous wine cellars at Castello di Amorosa in the Napa Valley, or head east and check out Las Vegas or Death Valley National Park. The world really is your oyster, with no additional mileage costs attached!

Hollywood road sign
Welcome to Hollywood

Compare the terms and conditions as well as the cars

It is important to know the terms and conditions that each rental agency manages, because if a last-minute event occurs that forces you to cancel or modify your reservation, you will know how to act properly. The following information will help you understand the subject a little more:

  • In case you need to cancel or modify the reservation of a rental car, it is recommended that you transfer the credit balance to another vehicle from the same company in the future, in order to avoid penalties. Otherwise, a certain amount of money may be deducted.
  • Not all rental agencies have the same cancellation policy, some will charge you more, others less, and this will be determined by each company. Make sure you do your research on the subject, because it won’t take you more than two minutes to solve your doubts and you will avoid unnecessary fines.

Pick up and drop off the car at the same time of day

We recommend that when you are making your reservation online, regardless of whether you are renting a car for 24 hours or a week, you select the option to pick up and drop off the car at the same time of day. So, if you pick up the car at 9 a.m., it is best to drop it off at 9 a.m., because if you go an hour or more later, the agency with which you hired the service could charge you another day’s rental.

Therefore, whatever the time you have decided to return the rented car, arrive in advance to the location so you can do it on time. The truth is that car rental agencies are a bit strict with schedules and we know that when you are on vacation it is not very common to be watching the clock, but just as you are punctual to board the plane, it is also necessary to be on time when renting a car in Los Angeles. Save yourself these headaches by setting a reminder on your smartphone so you remember when to return the car at the precise and appropriate time.

Now that you know this tip, here goes a musical one: as you drive down the avenues of Los Angeles, search your music library for California Paradise by The Runaways and sing along to those famous lyrics “California – you’re so nice, California – your paradise”. You know, just to get you in the mood!

Hiring a car gives you independence

Purchase your first tank of gas and insurance online

Besides saving money in Los Angeles by purchasing your first tank of gas online, you will optimise your time because you’ll be able to return the car to the fuel level you want, without having to go to any gas station.

Also, a car rental search engine, like the one mentioned before, allows you to acquire the insurance you need to move around Los Angeles. These are the most recommended.

  • Rental car insurance (CDW/LDW):

This coverage is required in most of the United States, with it you are protected against possible damages or theft to the rented car, as long as you are not violating the rental contract, such as drunk driving or contravening traffic regulations in Los Angeles.

  • Third-party insurance (or civil liability insurance):

In case of any eventuality involving people or external property, with this insurance you will be protected. It is better to purchase it online, as the price will be much lower than at the counter of the agency where you will pick up the car.

If you want to get a better understanding of insurance, read another of our articles titled Car rental insurance in NY – how to get started, so you will know in depth the reason for having these coverages, their importance and why it is recommended to purchase them prepaid. Whenever you hire any service, do some prior research and clear any doubts or questions you may have.

Santa Monica pier at night

Turn down additional services at the counter

It is frequent that rental agencies offer additional services when people pick up the cars. Analyse very well exactly what you need, since it does not make sense to spend money on services that you won’t use. It’s also a good idea to read the rental contract in detail and, if there are differences, request at the counter that these are not included.

Another important point is not to exceed the speed limits, because depending on the excesses you could pay up to $900 (just over £650). You don’t want to spend your money on penalties, when instead you should be enjoying all that this magnificent city has to offer, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Universal Studios, Runyon Canyon Park, and Santa Monica Beach.

We hope this article will help you to rent a car in Los Angeles and bag an excellent price. The truth is that it would not be a good idea to move by public transport in a territory as large as the United States, especially when hiring a car is cheaper than using cabs or taxi apps.

We invite you to share your experiences in this modern city by leaving your comments in the box at the bottom of this page. We also invite you to follow us on Instagram and learn a little more about our daily life, wild places and peculiar dreams. Until next time!

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