What Should I Know About a One Way Car Rental?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A one way car rental is an interesting travel option to consider that may suit the needs of many travelers. In this type of rental, you rent the car at one location and drop it off at your destination location. Since these rentals are of short duration, they may be less expensive, a little more than $30 US Dollars (USD) a day for economy cars plus gas. Still a one way car rental is usually more expensive that it would cost to rent a car that you pick up and drop off at the same location, and if you’re planning to take a really long trip, you may have to pay additional fees on mileage or delivery of the car back to its original location if this a huge distance away.

Sometimes a one-way car rental is more appropriate than renting a vehicle for a round trip.
Sometimes a one-way car rental is more appropriate than renting a vehicle for a round trip.

Nevertheless, there are certain reasons why a one way car rental can be ideal. If you have to travel a few miles from airport to hotel or location in town, it may cost less to rent a car for a short trip than it would to pay for things like shuttle or airport service, especially if you're traveling with a group of people. You do have to make sure that there is a rental drop off location close to where you’ll need to be, or that someone at your destination can pick you up at the drop off location.

There are plenty of care rental agencies that offer one-way car rental services.
There are plenty of care rental agencies that offer one-way car rental services.

Another reason why you might consider one way car rental is if you’re traveling a short distance by plane and you get stuck in an airport with a canceled or delayed flight. If you must get home quickly, it may be more convenient to simply rent a car and drive home than it would be to wait for another flight, especially if delays are expected to be long. If you live in San Francisco and are stuck in LA, it might only take you about six hours to drive home using a one way car rental, and the rental is typically less than the cost of one way flight.

Some people are also interested in driving to locations they want to visit because they enjoy driving. If you’re traveling someplace new and want to see what the land is like between your home and the destination, you could chose one way car rental for the trip to your destination and take a one way flight home. Again if you’re traveling a long distance, it may prove costly if you exceed a certain amount of miles per day.

There are plenty of car rental companies that offer one way car rental services. Do some price comparing before you rent and find out which locations are most convenient for pick up and drop off. Look at additional fees for extra mileage or delivery of cars back to original locations. Sometimes it is more cost effective to rent a car for the duration of a trip and deliver it back to its home location. With a little budgeting, cost comparison, and consideration of your car rental needs, you can decide if a one way car rentals are right for you.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


Well, it kind of depends on other circumstances. I was stuck in Memphis because of severe weather, and I opted to rent a car one way and go ahead and drive home. It was a three-hour drive, and I made it home before my flight did, by a fair margin. It wasn't the most pleasant trip, because of the weather, but it was still better than sitting at an airport half the night.

I managed to drive out of the rain in about an hour, so it could have been much worse. It was fairly late and no one else was asking for cars, so I got a pretty good deal on the rental.


I'm not sure when a one way car rental is the best option. Yeah, maybe if you're stuck in an airport and you're not far from home, but far enough away that it would be inconvenient for someone to come and get you.

Fortunately, I've never had to do this, but I wouldn't want to unless it was absolutely necessary, because I have priced it and it's usually a lot more expensive than a round-trip rental.

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