Car Rentals 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Renting a Vehicle for Your Trip

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Renting a car for your trip is just one of hundreds of decisions you have to make as you prepare for, and embark on, your adventure. Luckily, we have an easy breezy guide for car rentals 101, covering different companies you can rent from, how to take care of the rental, and the process of returning the rental.

Who to rent from?

Please note that these dates and locations are used as an example, and rates fluctuate based on a variety of data including location and length of rental.


Let’s say you need to rent a car in Miami, from August 1st to August 15th, a full two weeks. Avis offers several vehicle options, including the ability to choose small to full size sedans, SUVs and Jeeps, luxury vehicles and convertibles, and trucks and vans.

If you want an economy vehicle, they offer a Kia Rio, for example, for $564.28 if you pay right now. If you want more of a standard vehicle, a Volkswagen Jetta may be available for $604.18. Overall, Avis has fairly reasonable rates, and they have locations across the entirety of the United States, meaning no matter where you go, you can find a car for rent with them. The standard idea is that you’ll pick up and return the vehicle from the same location, but you don’t have to as long as your reservation includes a specified drop off location.


Using the same example as Avis, with a rental from August 1st to August 15th for a total of two weeks renting time, Enterprise offers several vehicles, including midsize SUVs, compact cars, midsize, and economy vehicles.

An example of a midsize SUV from Enterprise may be the Nissan Rogue, which would be $743.93, while the Mitsubishi Mirage would be $679.73 and is classified as an economy vehicle. A compact car would be something like a Nissan Versa for $679.73, while a standard car would be the Volkswagen Jetta for $722.53.

Again, you can specify different drop off and pickup locations, in the event that you need to pick up and drop off in two separate spots. The rental fees are decent, though a true comparison is difficult even with a specified example.


Expedia is a great directory if you’re looking for a hotel, car rental, or flight. So this is kind of a one-stop-shop for travel needs. There are lots of options in the example of Miami, and Expedia actually tries to help you find the best rental rate based on what you need.

An example would be a midsize SUV, which would be a Hyundai Tucson or similar vehicle in this example, for $25 per day, totaling roughly $344. Another example would be from Routes Car Rental, recommended by Expedia, for a Nissan Kicks or similar vehicle, for $32 per day ($449.25 roughly total). Expedia is truly a limitless resource when it comes to helping you find the best rental rates for cars, hotels, or finding a great flight for your travel needs.

Taking care of a rental

Because of the sheer variety of rental companies, there’s also a lot of variety when it comes to how to take care of your rental. General rules of thumb may include making sure the vehicle is not dirty upon return, so cleaning out any trash, toys, or knick knacks you may have left behind. You may need to consider a professional detailing service if you’ve taken the vehicle through a rough patch of toddler tantrums or middle-of-the-night, messy burgers.

Another good general rule is to make sure the gas tank is full upon return. Leaving the gas tank half full or close to empty means additional charges for the overall cost of rental, since the rental is often given to you with a full tank. Rental companies are well within reason for expecting it back in the same condition.

Some companies offer rental insurance, so check that out if you’re really worried about the rental car undergoing any damage during your term of lease. Additional insurance packages will cost extra, but may give you peace of mind long-term so you know any accidents or damages are covered.

Returning a rental

Returning a rental basically includes making sure the vehicle is in good condition upon return, has a full gas tank, and has no obvious damage to it. Ensuring the car is clean, has a full tank, and doesn’t have any undue damage or repair needs just means you won’t be charged extra for using the rental. Make sure you have selected the appropriate drop-off location, and have a ride to wherever you’re going next so you’re not stuck with additional rental fees in the event of needing a ride back to the airport or other transportation center.

If you’re flying and need parking for your short-term rental, or taking a luxury car for a spin in the city, On Air Parking has got your back with airport and city parking available for the cheapest rates. Reservations are a breeze with the Apple and Android compatible app, or simply being made online. Prefer to reserve with a person? No problem! Customer service is available Monday through Friday, 10am to 7pm ET, by calling 888-487-2754, or texting 424-532-8940. You can also email at