Road trips are a comfortable way to discover the Sunshine State at your own leisure. With a rental car, you can spend the morning in Cape Coral, hit the beaches of Miami in the afternoon and visit Orlando’s theme parks the next day – perfect if you want to make the most of your vacation time. In this article, we will share the best tips on how to rent a car in Florida and save money in the process.
Before you jump behind the wheel, there are some formalities: To rent a car in the USA, you need a valid driver’s license. In addition, most rental companies want to see a credit card (MasterCard, VISA or American Express, but no prepaid cards). Age plays an important role, as most companies only accept drivers aged 24 or older. Younger drivers often have to pay more.
Many rental agencies let you return the vehicle with an empty tank and charge you for the refill. However, if you are not in a hurry, you should refuel the car yourself to save money. When given the choice between insurance policies, comprehensive insurance covering all costs is your best option. Many rental cars can be upgraded with a navigation system. However, this service can easily cost 38 USD per week, so better get a US SIM card and use Google Maps. You can save a lot of money by reserving your car online. Renting 3-4 months in advance often comes with early bird discounts. This way you can also make sure that your dream car is still available.
BEST RENTAL COMPANIES IN FLORIDA
Although the list of car rentals in Florida is long, there are a few heavyweights that stick out: One of them is Alamo, a low-budget rental company with fair conditions for young drivers between 21 and 25 years. Alamo is also an affordable choice for those wishing to rent an SUV in the Sunshine State. The company is known for their excellent service and free upgrades. They also allow 2 drivers without additional costs. Many other rental agencies charge more for additional drivers.
A cheap provider of rental cars, especially in Miami, is Dollar. This company should be your top-pick if you want to explore Florida the classy way, as they have beautiful Mustang Convertibles. For RVs, check out Cruise America and El Monte. The aptly named company Thrifty offers discounts of up to 15% when renting online. More cheap rentals include Budget and Meeting Point. The latter is very present in the Orlando area. German car rentals have made it to the Sunshine State, too – Hertz, for example. Upon request, their cars are available with German navigation systems. This is perfect for guests who fear the language barrier.
No matter which car you want – it is always a good idea to use comparison websites instead of renting directly through the company. German customers, for example, can compare prices on the website of ADAC. If you want to save even more money, try websites like Expedia or www.happycar.de
Toll Regulations in Florida
Motorists should know that they have to pay tolls on many roads in the Sunshine State. Physical toll stations with cash counters are slowly dying out. More common now is the Pay by Plate System, which scans the license plate and assesses the toll you have to pay. This system is used by most rental companies. Customers pay a fixed sum when signing the rental contract. The remaining toll balance is due when you return the car.
Do not expect to pay high sums, though. 48 miles on Florida’s Turnpike, for instance, only cost 3.80 USD. Pay by Plate lanes for rental cars are marked with white and yellow signs. Of course, you can skip the toll roads altogether if you want. Navigation apps like Google Maps show you alternative routes. This takes considerably longer, though. Driving from Miami to Orlando without using toll roads at all will add a whopping 45 minutes to your trip.