Use our price comparison tool above to search over 900 companies across 53,000 locations worldwide for the best-priced car rental for you dates and destination. Searches are displayed by price so it's super easy to pinpoint the cheapest option and companies and each of their cars are reviewed and rated by customers for transparency and peace of mind.
How much does it cost to hire a car?
Car hire costs depend on the type of car, pick-up and drop-off locations, length of hire and your age.
The longer you hire the car for, the cheaper per-day price the car will have. If you're renting a car for a one-day trip or for a week or two for a road trip, you'll most likely pay a lower daily date for the longer hire. Those who are under 25 will typically have a "youth fee" attached to their hire due to heightened risk of accident and damage. Most car hire sites allow you to filter your search by cost so you can find the cheapest cost for your hire needs.
Do car hire companies price match?
Yes! Many car hire companies and car hire booking sites such as Rentalcars.com and DriveNow feature price match or best price guarantees. If you find a comparable deal you can call them up to match or even better the price.
Can I hire a car without a credit card?
Not really. While car hire companies accept numerous forms of payment, including credit cards, debit cards, cash and traveller's cheques, it's pretty rare that you'll be able to hire a car without supplying a credit card. This is required to cover incidentals such as tolls, excess kilometres, cleaning bills or damages that are found after you've dropped the car off. Credit cards can be ordered online here quickly and easily and many come with no annual fee.
What driving licence requirements are there?
Licence requirements differ depending on where you are driving. Locally, you can use your Australian licence to hire cars anywhere in Australia and New Zealand.
Internationally, you may be required to obtain an international driving permit (IDP), which is a translated version of your licence to help you communicate with local authorities should you need to present proof of your eligibility to be on the road. Provisional licence plate holders can hire cars in most countries, though you may be hit with a surcharge if you're under 25 years old. If in doubt, check with your car hire company before booking.
The eligible age to hire a car differs by location. In the US you can rent a car at 18 while in Australia rental age starts from 20.
Generally most locations will hire to drivers aged 21+ however there is often a youth surcharge attached to drivers aged 21–24.
Is there a car hire age surcharge if you're under 25 years of age?
Rental car agencies can charge additional fees daily for drivers under 25. The amount of the surcharge varies with each company and for different age ranges. In Australia, larger companies will only allow under 21s to hire a car if they hold a full driver's licence.
To give you an idea of costs, we've outlined some of the more popular companies and their youth surcharges in the table below. If your company isn't included, consult its individual terms and conditions to determine what the charge will be.
Youth surcharges by age range
We've based these surcharges on the cheapest hires from Sydney Airport. Fees may change depending on the car hired and the hire location.
18–20 years old
$15/day (driver must be 20 or over)
21–24 years old
How do I decide on which car model to hire?
If you are attempting to save money with a rental car, the model type you choose should be suited perfectly for your needs.
Generally the larger the car, the more expensive it will be, so if you are travelling as a pair there is no need for a larger vehicle. Larger cars are most economic when you're at or near the maximum capacity of passengers.
Also, take into account the amount of room you need for your luggage, the amount of petrol it consumes and the expected distances you plan to travel by car.
For a general idea, this is what you can expect to get from economy rentals, SUVs, larger cars and luxury vehicles:
One-way rentals allow you to pick up your vehicle from one location and drop it off at another. Most car hire companies offer this service. You can search for one-way hires with our comparison tool by toggling between "pick up" and "drop off".
If you're lucky and a relocation deal fits in with your plans you could be in for a hefty discount. Relocations are one-way rentals on specific routes for specific dates and are an economic way for rental companies to have cars that were dropped off at a different location returned to them.
Most sites, like DriveNow, have a relocations page, where you can search for these deals.
Is it better to book car hire in advance or at the counter?
The major advantage of pre-booking your hire car in advance is that it allows you to access cheaper car rentals. There's a common misconception that you'll be able to snap up a last-minute bargain and save heaps by simply showing up to the car rental counter when your plane lands, but this simply isn't the case.
As a general rule, the earlier you book, the cheaper your hire car will be. It's all about supply and demand – if there are plenty of rental cars available for a specific date and you book early, then you can find a better deal. Discounts of 10% or even 15% are not uncommon on pre-bookings, which can make a substantial difference to the total cost of your holiday.
The main aim for car hire companies is to lock in as many rentals as possible, so offering discounts and deals to customers who book early is a simple way to keep revenue coming in.
When you rock up at the car rental counter and try to hire a vehicle at the last minute, your choice is limited. And if you're travelling during peak periods such as holidays or weekends, you may even find that the rental company is fully booked and you'll end up stranded.
It's a different story when you rent a car in advance. If you pre-book a hire car months before your planned travel dates, you'll usually be able to pick from the rental company's full range of vehicles. Not only does this allow you to choose the perfect car for your holiday – a people mover that can fit the whole family in comfort, for example – it also guarantees that you won't miss out altogether.
When you're caught up in the stressful rush to book a rental car at the last minute, there's no time to shop around for the best deal. Instead, it's merely a matter of locking in something – anything – before it's too late.
But when you book in advance, you've got plenty of time to compare car rental options and prices at your leisure. It's quick and easy to weigh up your options using an online comparison engine, allowing you to browse a wide selection of vehicles, choose the one you want and find the best price available.
Making a car rental reservation in advance usually won't cost you any money. In most cases, it's free to reserve a car online, and the company won't actually charge any funds to your credit card until you actually pick up the car in person.
This is very handy for savvy shoppers who want to hunt around for the best deal. For example, you could find a great car rental rate while comparing your options and make a reservation to lock it in. However, if you do another comparison a couple of days later and happen to find a better deal, you then have the option to cancel the first reservation without incurring any fees. But if a better deal doesn't become available, you can still fall back on the original reservation.
Of course, this also means you don't have to stress about the cost of cancelling your booking if your travel plans change. While cancellation fees may apply if you cancel your reservation close to the scheduled pickup time, such as in the final 24 or 48 hours, many car rental companies won't charge you for cancellations that occur well in advance of your planned travel time.
Regardless of whether you're travelling for business or pleasure, anything you can do to take some of the stress out of travel can only be a good thing. Holidays are meant to be relaxing, stress-free experiences, so why would you want the hassle of trying to find an affordable rental car at the last minute?
Not only can this be a frantic and unpleasant experience, it'll also cost you money. There's even the risk that you don't properly review the rental agreement or check the car for existing damage and instead just focus on signing on the dotted line and getting out of the airport as quickly as possible.
Pre-booking a rental car in advance means your holiday will get off to a smooth start. You can board your flight knowing that the car you want will be ready and waiting with a full tank of petrol as soon as you land, leaving you free to simply relax and enjoy your holiday.
What is car hire excess insurance?
Car hire excess insurance is your financial saviour should things turn south during your trip and your vehicle gets stolen, maliciously damaged or involved in an accident. It does this by covering or reducing the excess imposed by the rental company and could save you a motza as this excess can cost up to $5,000. Read our Car Rental Excess Insurance guide for more and to purchase your cover.
Alex Keshen is Finder's global travel publisher. Working in the travel content and deals space for more than 10 years, she has appeared in Travel Weekly and the Huffington Post. After graduating from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada with a Bachelor of Journalism and settling into a career in travel publishing, Alex has become a master of maximising her annual leave and finding the best bargains around.
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