Car Rental in California
Cheapest Car Rental Rates
Most Popular Car Rental Deals
Why rent a car in California?
California, the most populous state in the US, is a large and diverse state with a plethora of tourist attractions. From Hollywood and Disneyland to San Francisco, there are a wealth of destinations that travelers from all over the world flock to.
The Pacific Coast beaches are a surfing mecca, the mountains of the Sierra Nevada a climber's paradise, and the vineyards of Nappa and Sonoma Valley a wine lover's dream.
And of course, it is almost essential to have a car to be able to take it all in. Some of the best drives in the US (and perhaps the world) are to be found in the state. Chief among them is driving along the Pacific Highway overlooking the coast.
One-way Car Rentals in California
Here are the most popular one-way rental options for pickup in California and drop off in another country:
- From California to Nevada - 342 offers from $41.75 per day
- From California to Arizona - 68 offers from $54.54 per day
- From California to Colorado - 125 offers from $84.39 per day
- From California to New York - 120 offers from $82.33 per day
- From California to Texas - 27 offers from $88.74 per day
Top ways to enter California
- Los Angeles Airport: The busiest in California, second busiest in the US, and one of the largest in the world, LAX almost feels like a travel destination in its own right.
- San Diego Airport: Despite only having one runway, San Diego Airport manages to serve more than 20 million passengers annually.
- San Francisco Airport: The busiest airport in North California, it serves not only San Francisco, but the larger Bay Area.
- By land: It is also possible to pick up a car in a neighboring state and then drive to California. Some large airports near California are Las Vegas Airport in Nevada, Phoenix Airport in Arizona, and Portland Airport in Oregon.
Top cities and places to visit
- Los Angeles. One of the most famous cities on the planet, L.A. is packed with attractions and excitement. There are too many to list them all, but no trip would be complete without visiting Hollywood, Venice Beach, and at least one of the major film studios. Los Angeles is also home to LAX, the busiest airport in California.
- San Francisco. Most visitors associate San Francisco with the Golden Gate Bridge. While it might be the first thing that you see in the city (if you’re arriving from the north, anyway), it is only the beginning of things to see and do. Other attractions include famous neighborhoods like Fisherman’s Wharf, the Alcatraz prison, and the largest Chinatown in the U.S.
- San Diego. Located in the far southwestern part of the state, San Diego is another amazing city. Home to a number of famous beaches like Mission, Ocean, and Black Beaches, the city is also home to one of the best-preserved old towns on the U.S. Pacific Coast, as well as family-oriented attractions like the San Diego Zoo, often named among the best in the country.
Most popular rental car
The most popular rental car in California is the Nissan Versa, closely followed by the Hyundai Accent and the Hyundai Elantra.
California borders Mexico, and a trip south of the border is a popular thing for those visiting San Diego. Most rental companies, however, do not allow their vehicles to be driven to Mexico, though. You could, however, rent a separate car on the Mexican side of the border.
While it's normal to think about including other states as part of a longer road trip, keep in mind that some rental companies only allow their cars to be driven to certain states. Midway, for example, only allows traveling to Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. The usual major rental companies (Alamo, Enterprise, Dollar, and Thrifty, for example) allow their cars to be taken to any state.
There are a few toll roads in California in addition to express lanes and bridges (primarily in the Bay Area).
In the Los Angeles Area, there are a few toll roads in Orange County. While these roads don't have toll booths, you can preregister your rental car here and the tolls will be charged to your credit card. This means you don't need a FastTrak transponder and don't need to take any toll package offered by the rental company.
Los Angeles has express lanes on I-10 and I-110. They require a FastTrak transponder to use. If your rental car doesn't have one, or you want to not take the company's toll package, simply avoid these lanes.
In the Bay Area, all bridges are tolled. Some of them have tolls in both directions while others just in one direction. There are still toll booths at all of them except the Golden Gate Bridge. For the Golden Gate Bridge, you can register your rental car's license plate online. Keep in mind if you don't do this, the toll will be charged to the rental company which will then charge it to you with an additional administration fee.
While a FastTrack transponder would be convenient in the Bay Area, it is not necessary and you can get by without and save money by avoiding the fees the rental companies charge for use of it.
In other parts of the state, you won't have to worry about toll roads at all.
Most popular types of rental car
The most popular rental car type in California is an economy, followed by intermediate and compact.
Top driving routes
- Yosemite National Park. California is home to a number of protected areas, but Yosemite might just take the prize as the most scenic one. A national park since 1864 and also a World Heritage site, it is known for the stunning Yosemite Valley. The park can be explored by car, though there is also a hiking trail network of about 800 miles (1,290 km). Yosemite National Park is about a three-hour drive east of San Francisco, three hours southeast of Sacramento, and less than five hours from Los Angeles.
- Death Valley National Park. Very different from the likes of Yosemite, but equally impressive, the otherworldly Death Valley is a unique place. Made up of a large portion of the Southern California Desert and home to some of the highest temperatures ever recorded on our planet, its haunting landscapes and the surprising diversity of the desert flora and fauna will make for a memorable trip. Death Valley National Park is about 3 hours and 30 minutes from L.A., and less than two hours from Las Vegas in neighboring Nevada. Its southern neighbors, Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park offer similar experiences (if not quite the same desolation), and are closer to both L.A. and San Diego.
- North Coast. Taking up the state’s Pacific shoreline from San Francisco in the south and the border with Oregon in the north, the North Coast is a wild and beautiful part of California. The region is characterized by rugged beaches and some of the most scenic coastal drives in all of the U.S., but also the stunning Redwood National Park which is home to the tallest trees on the planet.
Car Rental Prices
- Convertibles - from $57 per day
- Station wagons - from $71 per day
- Large cars - from $32 per day
- Medium cars - from $30 per day
- Vans - from $61 per day
- Premium cars - from $46 per day
- Small cars - from $44 per day
- SUVs - from $42 per day
How can I save money on my rental car?
You can do a number of things to get a good car rental deal in California:
- Compare rates of different rental car providers
- Book your rental car well in advance
- Plan your route before you go
- Know your fuel and mileage requirements
- Visit on the month when the rental prices are the cheapest. According to our data, visiting California is the cheapest in March when renting a car is about 21% cheaper than the yearly average and about 37% cheaper than renting a car in July.
Top 20 Most Popular Cities in California
Car Rental in Los Angeles from $47.33 per day
Car Rental in San Francisco from $53.60 per day
Car Rental in San Diego from $29.81 per day
Car Rental in Santa Ana from $64.61 per day
Car Rental in San Jose from $56.58 per day
Car Rental in Palm Springs from $69.53 per day
Car Rental in Burbank from $52.19 per day
Car Rental in Oakland from $54.53 per day
Car Rental in Ontario from $64.61 per day
Car Rental in Sacramento from $62.58 per day
Car Rental in Fresno from $59.43 per day
Car Rental in Santa Rosa from $75.27 per day
Car Rental in Beverly Hills from $54.97 per day
Car Rental in Santa Monica from $42.95 per day
Car Rental in Santa Barbara from $68.75 per day
Car Rental in Long Beach from $78.17 per day
Car Rental in Visalia from $114.36 per day
Top 20 Most Popular Locations in California
Car Rental at Los Angeles Airport from $49.96 per day
Car Rental at San Francisco Airport from $53.60 per day
Car Rental at San Diego Cross Border Xpress from $29.81 per day
Car Rental at San Diego Airport from $45.78 per day
Car Rental at John Wayne Airport from $64.61 per day
Car Rental at San Jose Airport from $56.58 per day
Car Rental at Palm Springs Airport from $69.53 per day
Car Rental in Los Angeles (Downtown) from $54.98 per day
Car Rental at Burbank Airport from $52.19 per day
Car Rental at Oakland Airport from $54.53 per day
Car Rental at Ontario Airport from $64.61 per day
Car Rental at Sacramento International Airport from $62.58 per day
Car Rental at Fresno Airport from $59.43 per day
Car Rental at Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport from $75.27 per day
Car Rental at Santa Barbara Airport from $68.75 per day
Car Rental at Long Beach Airport from $78.17 per day
Car Rental at Visalia Downtown from $114.36 per day
Car Rental at Arcata-Eureka Airport from $97.06 per day
Car Rental at North Hollywood Lankershim Blvd from $53.62 per day
Map of Car Rental Locations
What is the cheapest month to rent a car in California?
This information can help you identify the low season. But these are only average numbers. How much your car rental will cost will depend on the type of vehicle you rent, how long you’ll rent it for, and how far ahead you book. Simply enter your dates in the form at the top of the page to see the exact prices.
What’s the average rental length in California?
What's the most popular month to rent a car in California?
Car Rental Information
|Car rental locations||44|
|Popular suppliers||MEX RENT A CAR, Dollar, Alamo, GreenMotion, Thrifty|
|Popular car categories||SUVs, Large cars, Small cars, Medium cars|
|Lowest price||$30 per day|
|Cheapest supplier||MEX RENT A CAR|
Most Popular Car Models of Rental Suppliers
|MEX RENT A CAR||Kia Rio||4||1||Small cars|
|Dollar||Mazda 3||5||3||Large cars|
|Dollar||Ford Focus||4||2||Medium cars|
|MEX RENT A CAR||Kia Forte||4||3||Large cars|
|MEX RENT A CAR||Volkswagen Vento||4||2||Medium cars|
Our Customers' Reviews
Because we want to make sure each review listed here is left by a real customer, we don’t have an option to post a review here. Instead, we ask each and every customer to leave a review after they return their rental car. This way, you know that all reviews are authentic, verified, and trustworthy.