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All you need to know about one-way car rentals

COVID-19 Update

One-way car rentals are now a hot topic as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). With flights canceled across the world and other forms of public transportation restricted, many are wondering if renting a car is the only way they can get home. 


A one-way rental very well could be your way around canceled flights. Most rental facilities in affected countries are still open, even those at airports. You should be sure to check the current working hours before booking a car, though, as many rental companies have reduced their hours and it is currently impossible to pick up a car out-of-hours.  


Social distancing is a buzzword, currently. This may be hard to do if you are just trying to get home. Even if your flight hasn’t been canceled, but you are wary of going to the airport or sitting in a plane with a hundred or more other people, renting a car one-way may save you lots of anxiety and keep you healthy. Imagine sitting in a car with you and your family instead of a plane full of people. For many with compromised immune systems, this could be very crucial at this time. 


Note: You should be sure to check the current situation before booking a car. Many countries in Europe have closed their borders to foreigners. Thus, if you would have to drive through a third country to reach your destination, it may not be possible. 


One-way rentals are currently still possible between states in the United States. 

How one-way rentals work

One-way rentals are, in fact, quite simple for you the renter. All you have to do is search for a rental with a pick up in one location and a drop off in the other. That’s it, you pick up the car in one place and drop it off in another. This could be in the same city, in another city, or in another country (mostly in Europe). The rental company will take care of the logistics of moving cars around. 


The only thing you need to be aware of before renting a car for one-way travel is the fee. One-way rentals usually, but not always, come with an added fee. This fee is paid to the rental company when picking up the car. We earn no commission off of this fee. 


In every offer, we specify what the one-way fee is so that you know how much the rental will cost. Sometimes the fees may be low. When traveling to a different country, the fee may be much higher. But since we include the fee in the price you see when searching, you don’t have to worry about any type of surprise. What you see is what you will pay.


Use to find a one-way rental


Our site is the best place to find a one-way rental. It is simple to search if rentals are possible between your destinations of choice. Unlike others, we include one-way fees in the total price making it simple to compare offers. And if you can’t find what you are looking for on our website, we have customer support standing by ready to help you. 


How to find one-way rentals

Searching for a one-way rental on our website could not be simpler. Simply uncheck the box: “Return car in the same location.”

Then simply enter the location where you would like to drop off the car at the end of your rental.


The search results will list the available cars for your selected route. And don’t worry, the prices include the one-way rental fee, so there is no need to calculate and compare. 



Finally, on the booking page, you will see a breakdown of the rental costs into the rental rate and the one-way fee. Note that the one-way fee is paid for when picking up the car and directly to the rental company. 


Avoiding one-way car rental fees

Unfortunately, one-way rental fees are the one fee that it is almost impossible to avoid. The car rental company will have to relocate the car after you drop it off, therefore they must charge a fee for this. In some cases, you may find some companies have lower fees than others.


There are only a few exceptions to this. There are some routes that are much more popular going one direction than the other. For these routes, if you rent a car and travel in the opposite direction, the car rental company may waive the usual one-way fee to have you relocate the car for them. This not only depends on the popularity of the route but also the season. 

Most popular one-way rentals in Europe

The most popular one-way rentals in Europe are actually within countries. The fees for these rentals are much lower than those of international one-way rentals. 

Porto - Lisbon - Travel between the two largest cities in Portugal is extremely popular. And when renting a car, travelers can experience all there is to see and do in between. Of course, why bother to make the return trip when you can just rent a car one-way. The savings in gas alone should make up for the one-way rental fee


France - Italy - The two most popular countries for tourists visiting Europe make for a great one-way trip. Start in historic Paris, drive to the Mediterranean coast, swing through the Alps, all before ending in legendary Rome. Who wouldn’t want to travel such a glorious route?


Switzerland - Italy - This is another classic trip. Traverse the Alps and travel between modern Switzerland and historic Italy. Stop and visit some of the best ski resorts in the world in the winter or hike through the gorgeous scenery in the summer. And renting a car one-way, you don’t have to worry about the arduous return trip!

Most popular one-way rentals in the United States and Canada

Los Angeles to San Francisco - The most popular one-way rental route in the United States is that between California’s largest metropolitan areas. Though with the most direct route (I-5) the drive takes six hours, it’s certainly worthwhile to take longer and drive along the Pacific Coast. 

Orlando to Miami - The two most popular cities to visit in Florida make for one of the most popular one-way routes in the country. Travelers can visit the theme parks of central Florida first, then head to Cape Canaveral to experience the history of the American Space Program, before heading to the beaches and luxury of Miami. Of course, a jaunt down to Key West is also a popular part of this trip. 

New York to Chicago - The largest and third-largest cities in the country make for a great one-way trip. Fly into New York and then head across to the Midwest and Chicago. The drive can be done in a day, but it’s better to plan multiple days to be able to stop in the various states on the way. 

Vancouver - Calgary - One of the more popular routes in Canada is to travel from the west coast city of Vancouver through the Rocky Mountains to Calgary in Alberta. Taking this route allows travelers to pass through and gander at some of the most stunning scenery in the world. 

FAQ About One-Way Car Rental

Do I need to book a one-way rental in advance?

Yes, you must specify what location you would like to pick the car up at and where you would like to drop it off when booking the car. Specifying this when searching will let you know the availability and the amount of the one-way fee.

Is it possible to avoid one-way rental fees?

In general, it is not possible to avoid one-way fees. Count on having to pay a fee if you want to rent a car for one-way travel. 

How will I know how much the fee will be?

When searching on our website and entering in the pick-up and drop-off locations you are interested in, the one-way fees will be included in the prices on the search results. On the booking page, you will see a breakdown of that fee.

Can I drop off the car anywhere?

No, you must book a one-way rental in advance and specify where you would like to drop off the car. It may not possible to drop off the car in all locations.

Where are one-way rental popular?

One-way rentals are popular between cities in the United States, Canada, and Europe. International one-way rentals are usually only possible in the European Union. 

Is it more expensive to rent a car one way?

The short answer is yes. Car rental companies almost always charge a one-way fee in addition to the normal daily rate. This is normally a one-time fee that doesn’t depend on the length of the rental. 

Are international one-way rentals more expensive than domestic?

In most cases, the one-way fee for international one-way rentals is much higher than that of domestic ones. This is because the rental company needs to return the car to its original country which would be costly. 

Where are international one-way rentals available?

International one-way rentals are mostly only available in Europe. It is not possible to rent a car in the United States and drop it off in Canada or vice versa. One way rentals to or from Mexico are also not available.

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