Car Rental in Oakland
Cheapest Car Rental Rates
Most Popular Car Rental Deals
Why rent a car in Oakland?
Oakland is often overlooked for San Francisco across the Bay, but it not only serves as a cheaper place to stay when visiting San Francisco but a great place to visit itself. In fact, if it were anywhere else, it would be a great place for a weekend getaway of its own.
Of course, it serves just as well as a place to stay and get to San Francisco from. You can also easily access the famous wine valleys to the north and the rest of the Bay Area from Oakland.
One-Way Car Rentals in Oakland
The most popular one-way rental options for pick up in Oakland and drop off in another city include:
- From Oakland to San Diego - 33 offers from US$ 55.34 per day
Top ways to enter Oakland
Oakland International Airport is the second largest of the Bay Area’s airports. The airport hosts flights from many U.S. locations, Mexican cities, and a growing number of European destinations. Many low-cost carriers serve the airport, including Southwest for which the airport is a hub. This makes it a popular alternative to the larger SFO.
The airport has a Rental Car Center which is open 24 hours a day. A shuttle from the terminal brings renters to the facility. If your rental car supplier has an off-airport location, a shuttle can be taken from the Rental Car Center to the provider’s location (though, you will probably have to call the provider to arrange this). Note that open returning the car to the supplier, you will have to take a shuttle to the Rental Car Center and then the normal shuttle from there to the terminals.
The Bay Area has multiple large airports. San Francisco International Airport is the closest of these to the city of San Francisco, lying just 13 miles south of the Financial District. It is also one of the busiest airports in California and has international flights to Asia, Latin America, and Europe. The airport has a Rental Car Center that is connected to all of the terminals via the AirTrain’s Blue Line. Major rental providers are located in the rental center. Other providers are located off-airport with a shuttle taking travelers from the rental center to their location.
Many locals and visitors choose to fly to the Bay Area via Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport which is roughly an hour-long drive south of Downtown San Francisco. Like the other Bay Area airports, San Jose Airport has a Rental Car Center which can be reached on foot from the baggage claim area of Terminal B. If arriving at Terminal A, travelers will have to take a blue shuttle to the Rental Car Center.
Long-distance Amtrak trains stop in Emeryville just north of Oakland. From there you can get a shuttle or taxi to downtown Oakland where you can pick up a rental car. Alternatively, if arriving from the south, riders can switch at San Jose’s Diridon Station to a Caltrain service to Downtown San Francisco and then the BART to Oakland. Unfortunately, rental cars are not available at San Jose’s station.
If planning to stay in the city for a few days and then make day trips or travel to further destinations, it may be best to not rent a car at the airport. While in the city, a car is not that useful due to the difficulty and expense of parking along with the coverage of public transportation. It’d be much easier to just use the BART to get from Oakland into San Francisco than to drive and try to park (see the traffic tips below). It might be cheaper, too, especially if you are planning to rent at SFO.
Useful city facts
Oakland is best known for its diversity. It is often seen as a more working-class city than San Francisco. It still retains much of this fee despite the gentrification embodied by the new development on the waterfront. You’ll still be able to find lots of different cuisine and culture all over the city.
One of the best-regarded universities in the world, the University of California Berkely, is located just north of Oakland in the city of Berkley. It is a well-known liberal area with tons of coffee shops and restaurants. Another, Stanford University, is located in Palo Alto.
Oakland’s weather could leave some wanting, but is slightly different than that of San Francisco. It is usually a little warmer in summer and a little cooler in winter than its neighbor across the bay, but evens so, it is mild throughout the year. Notably, Oakland does not see the fog that San Francisco sees.
Oakland and the Bay Area have teams in all major American sports leagues. The Oakland Athletics play in Oakland. In basketball, the Golden State Warriors, who were located in Oakland, moved to the freshly built Chase Center in San Francisco in 2019. The San Francisco 49ers are now the only NFL team located in the Bay Area as the Oakland Raiders moved to Las Vegas in 2020. The 49ers, whose home stadium was located in San Francisco for many years, now have home games at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on the south end of the bay. Finally, the Bay Area hosts the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League who have home games at the SAP Center in Downtown San Jose.
Top destinations and activities
- Old Oakland - The original Oakland can be found downtown. It dates back to the 1860s. There are many bistros and boutiques in the neighborhood.
- Chinatown - Just as across the bay, Oakland has its own Chinatown where you can see the diverse architecture and both see and hear the languages, not to mention taste the cuisine.
- Oakland Zoo - 2022 is the centennial anniversary of the zoo. It is often listed as one of the best zoos in the country. You can see all kinds of animals including many native to the mountains of California (on the new California Trail).
- Parks - There are multiple parks in Oakland that are worth strolling through. Dr. Aurelia Reinhardt Redwood Regional Par and Joaquin Miller Park are great places to hit the trails through the redwoods. You can also see an old Victorian home neighborhood at Preservation Park.
- Museums - Oakland has a wide array of museums. From the African American culture of the city to the history of California, there’s much to learn. You can also delve into science or the history of video games. The USS Potomac, the presidential ship of FDR, is located near Jack London Square and offers tours
Traffic and parking tips
Parking in Oakland is easy but can set you back quite a bit. You’ll find parking lots and garages all around downtown, but they can be pricey. There are metered spots, too, which are cheaper.
Some hotels have free parking, others, particularly downtown, charge per day for it. Be sure to see how much it’ll be when booking.
You can park for cheap at BART stations if you are taking the BART to San Francisco. This is almost certainly the easiest and cheapest way to get there from Oakland. On weekdays, most stations are $3 per day. It’s free to park on weekends.
That’s because parking in San Francisco is no joke. The city’s laws are strict and its parking enforcement officers are overzealous. In residential areas, parking is limited, even if free. Most of the time, the time limit is two hours. If no signs are present, then the limit is a maximum of 72 hours. If you park anywhere for longer than 72 hours, your car will be towed.
San Francisco has hills, lots of them. So be prepared for parking on them. Always angle your wheels so that if your brakes were to fail or if your car were to be hit by another it would not roll into the street. Follow these tips to avoid receiving a ticket for improper parking (at best) or having to pay for the damage caused (at worst).
If parked going uphill, turn your wheels toward the street so that the back of the wheel closest to the curb rests upon it or points at it.
If parked going downhill, turn your wheels away from the street so that the front of the wheel closest to the curb rests upon it or points at it.
Always use the parking brake and be sure to leave the car in gear or park (‘P’). Also, note that your wheels should be no further than 18 inches (45 cm) from the curb.
Payment can be made for parking with coins, credit cards, and by phone with an app. With the app, your parking time can be extended without returning to the meter. Numerous garages are also available for parking for a longer period of time.
If you plan to stay in San Francisco instead of Oakland, know that hotels closer to the Financial District charge for parking, oftentimes upward of $50. Other hotels, such as the roadside hotels on Lombard Street, offer free parking.
Finally, both San Francisco and Oakland have their fair share of auto break-ins. If parking on the street, be sure to lock the car and take all valuables with you.
All of the bridges in the Bay Area are tolled. Some bridges only have tolls for vehicles traveling in one direction. Others have tolls going both ways. In addition, some of the interstates in the area have express lanes.
Most rental providers in the Bay Area offer a service plan that includes a FasTrak transponder. While being the most convenient option and allowing travel in the express lanes, the rental provider will charge a fee for the service. As detailed below, all tolls can be paid on your own, so the rental companies' toll packages aren’t strictly necessary.
All tolls, except the Golden Gate Bridge, can be paid either with a FasTrak tag or with cash at a toll booth. The Golden Gate Bridge has a pay-by-plate system. If not using your rental provider’s service, you can pay your toll for crossing the Golden Gate Bridge (only southbound going into the city) online. You can make a payment before a crossing or within 48 hours of crossing the bridge. Be sure to make an online payment during this timeframe, as otherwise the toll will be forwarded to the rental provider which will also charge an administrative fee in addition to the toll. Though online payment is more convenient, it is also possible to make a payment in cash at these locations.
Ideas for a day-trip
- Wine Country - One of the highlights of a trip to the Bay Area is the infamous wine grape-growing valleys to the north of it. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head further north or take I-80 to California 12 to reach Sonoma and Napa Counties which make up San Francisco’s wine country. Sonoma and Napa are both towns too, both being the main hubs of their counties. Napa County tends to be more expensive and has more mass-producing wineries. Sonoma County tends to be less expensive and has many smaller, family-owned affairs. Head to both, but spend more time in Sonoma County if you want fewer crowds. Sonoma County consists of more than just Sonoma Valley. The Russian River and Dry Creek Valleys are certainly are further north and certainly worth visiting for more laid-back wineries.
- Mt Diablo - Located east of Oakland, it takes a little about an hour to drive to Mt. Diablo from Oakland. The area is a State Park with numerous hiking trails. Of course, the highlight of the park is the peak of the mountain which offers gorgeous views of the Bay Area. The summit can be reached both via a hiking trail and by car.
- Santa Cruz - Located about 70 miles (125 kilometers) south of Oakland on Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz is the best place to go for a beach town vibe. In addition to its beaches, the town is known for being a hub of the counterculture. Since the beaches in San Francisco are generally not suited for swimming, Santa Cruz is a great destination for those wanting to swim in the Pacific Ocean. It is also the place to go to try surfing.
- Muir Woods National Monument - The national monument protects a primeval forest of redwoods and is located just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Open all year long from 8:00 a.m until sunset, the forest has six miles of trails along with connections to the neighboring Mount Tamalpais State Park for longer hikes. You must reserve a parking spot (or a shuttle from the city) ahead of time which costs $8 in addition to the entrance fee.
- California Highway One - Taking various names over different stretches including Pacific Coast Highway or Coast Highway, California’s Highway One is a scenic road stretching 659 miles (over 1,00 kilometers) mostly along the coast. The road starts in Legget, north of San Francisco, and ends in Dana Point in Orange County. The most epic road trip would be to travel the entire road which would be a multi-day trip. Alternatively, driving either the section north of San Francisco or part of the southern section is doable in a day. If heading north, cross the Golden Gate Bridge and take Exit 444B. From Legget, it is possible to get back to San Francisco via Highway 101. If heading south, make sure to at least make it as far as Big Sur. At the north end of the road, be sure to visit the Drive-Thru Tree Park where you can literally drive through a large redwood tree.
- Silicon Valley - The southern part, roughly the Santa Clara Valley, of the Bay Area is known as Silicon Valley and host what the area has become known for, a plethora of high-tech companies including Apple, Google, Facebook, Uber, and Airbnb. Intel hosts a museum that is open to the public and free. The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose along with the Computer History in Mountain View is also worth visiting as is Stanford University. Tours of the Valley are available and vary in-depth, with some offering extensive tours of some of the largest companies.
- California’s Great America - On the south side of the Bay Area in Santa Clara and around 40 miles from San Francisco, sits California’s Great America, a large amusement park. With over 40 rides, the park makes for a great day trip for families. The park also includes a water park, Boomerang Bay, the entrance to which is included in the price for the main park.
- Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Craft beer enthusiasts should make the three-hour drive north of San Francisco to Chico where Sierra Nevada Brewery is located. In addition to a complimentary tour, the brewery offers more in-depth tours. It is recommended to book the free tour ahead of time, which can be done here. Of course, plan to stick around and enjoy a brew in the taproom.
A popular road trip is to travel from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. Since both the Bay Area and LA have major airports that are connected to numerous destinations, many chose to fly into one and out of the other. Due to the popularity of the trip in both directions, it is possible to rent a car in Oakland and drop it off in Los Angeles. In fact, some providers may not even charge the usual one-way fee for this.
If planning a road trip through multiple states or wanting to travel to Mexico, it is worth noting that there are restrictions on where you can take a rental car and they depend on which company you rent from. Here are some examples (as of June 2022):
- Dollar - All states along with Canada (requires Premium Roadside Assistance) and Mexico (requires Mexican insurance)
- National - All states and Canada
- Fox - All western states and Mexico (with the purchase of additional insurance)
- Sixt - Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington
- Alamo - All states and Canada
- Thrifty - All states
- Europcar - Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, USA - South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
Here are some places you can go next:
- Los Angeles - The City of Angeles is a seven-hour to the south of San Francisco along I-5. World-renowned as the home of the film industry, Los Angeles attracts millions of tourists every year. Aside from trying to experience a celebrity sighting, the city offers glamorous shopping, exquisite cuisine, glitzy clubs, and a number of family-friendly activities. Head south to Orange County for Disneyland if traveling as a family.
- Portland - The next large city to the north of San Francisco, Portland is a considerable drive away. The trip is worth the effort, though, as Portland is one of the most unique cities in the country. The city’s microbrew scene is rivaled by none, its food trucks infamous, and great forest hikes surrounding the city. The city also has a lively music scene. Be careful, many visitors want to move to the city after visiting it for just a short time.
- Reno - Driving west on I-80 for about four hours brings travelers to Reno, Nevada, what used to be Las Vegas for Northern California. Of course, no trip to Reno would be complete without a trip to one of its casinos. Reno is not just casinos, though. The city offers various museums along with many activities in the surrounding area, such as kayaking and enjoying the Truckee River. A drive down the nearby Highway 50, or the Loneliest Highway, is also a great adventure.
- Lake Tahoe - The famous Lake Tahoe is just far enough away from San Francisco to make it more than a day trip. The largest alpine lake in North America offers numerous recreational activities and gorgeous scenery. From relaxing on its shores to hiking and camping, the area serves as a great outdoor destination. It is also known for its winter activities, mainly the ski resorts that surround it. The closest resorts to San Francisco can be found along I-80 prior to reaching Donner Pass and include Boreal Ridge, which usually opens earliest every year, and the Sugar Bowl, which has a large amount of snowfall.
- Sequoia National Park - Located in the southern part of the Sierra Nevada and about a four-hour drive from San Francisco, the Sequoia National Park contains the Giant Forest, a forest of large sequoia trees that includes General Sherman, the largest tree in the world by volume. The park also offers wilderness, mountains, and backcountry hiking and camping. In this backcountry is the tallest mountain in the lower 48, Mt. Whitney. If you intend to climb it, be sure to register for the permit lottery between February 1 and March 15 every year.
- Kings Canyon National Park - Bordering Sequoia National Park to the north is Kings Canyon National Park. The canyon from which it takes its name is a valley, shaped by glaciers, that is around a mile deep. The park also hosts multiple 14ers (peaks of 14,00ft or 4,300 meters). With limited roads, backpacking is the only way to visit most of the park. It is necessary to obtain a backcountry permit beforehand. Kings Canyon is also a prime destination for rock climbing and canyoneering.
Car Rental Prices in Oakland
- Large cars - from $141 per day
- Medium cars - from $98 per day
- Vans - from $176 per day
- Premium cars - from $148 per day
- Small cars - from $95 per day
- SUVs - from $172 per day
Top 20 Cities near Oakland
557.9 km / 346.6 miles away
San Francisco Car Rentals from $71.82 per day12.4 km / 7.7 miles away
San Diego Car Rentals from $63.47 per day729.5 km / 453.3 miles away
Burbank Car Rentals from $67.10 per day533.1 km / 331.3 miles away
San Jose Car Rentals from $74.90 per day57.5 km / 35.8 miles away
Santa Ana Car Rentals from $44.82 per day606.9 km / 377.1 miles away
Sacramento Car Rentals from $57.01 per day116.5 km / 72.4 miles away
Long Beach Car Rentals from $69.52 per day578.1 km / 359.2 miles away
Ontario Car Rentals from $44.82 per day591.8 km / 367.7 miles away
Palm Springs Car Rentals from $69.52 per day681.9 km / 423.7 miles away
Fresno Car Rentals from $72.03 per day253.0 km / 157.2 miles away
Monterey Car Rentals from $71.82 per day140.5 km / 87.3 miles away
Santa Barbara Car Rentals from $71.75 per day434.3 km / 269.9 miles away
Santa Monica Car Rentals from $75.81 per day542.2 km / 336.9 miles away
396.4 km / 246.3 miles away
Santa Rosa Car Rentals from $76.98 per day91.6 km / 56.9 miles away
McKinleyville Car Rentals from $79.12 per day386.7 km / 240.3 miles away
611.9 km / 380.2 miles away
347.3 km / 215.8 miles away
Mammoth Lakes Car Rentals from $83.14 per day302.1 km / 187.7 miles away
Top 20 Locations near Oakland
Oakland Airport Car Rentals from $70.67 per day10.2 km / 6.3 miles away
San Francisco South Car Rentals from $29.89 per day20.8 km / 12.9 miles away
San Francisco Airport Car Rentals from $64.25 per day22.6 km / 14.0 miles away
San Jose Airport Car Rentals from $74.90 per day57.5 km / 35.8 miles away
Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport Car Rentals from $76.98 per day91.6 km / 56.9 miles away
Sacramento International Airport Car Rentals from $72.71 per day115.5 km / 71.8 miles away
Monterey Regional Airport Car Rentals from $71.82 per day140.5 km / 87.3 miles away
Fresno Airport Car Rentals from $72.03 per day253.0 km / 157.2 miles away
Mammoth Lakes Airport Car Rentals from $83.14 per day302.1 km / 187.7 miles away
Arcata-Eureka Airport Car Rentals from $79.12 per day386.7 km / 240.3 miles away
Meadows Field Airport Car Rentals from $76.92 per day389.3 km / 241.9 miles away
Santa Barbara Airport Car Rentals from $71.75 per day434.3 km / 269.9 miles away
Burbank Airport Car Rentals from $67.10 per day533.1 km / 331.3 miles away
Los Angeles Airport Car Rentals from $44.82 per day552.6 km / 343.4 miles away
Westchester Car Rentals from $46.54 per day552.9 km / 343.6 miles away
Long Beach Airport Car Rentals from $69.52 per day578.1 km / 359.2 miles away
Ontario Airport Car Rentals from $44.82 per day591.8 km / 367.7 miles away
John Wayne Airport Car Rentals from $44.82 per day606.9 km / 377.1 miles away
Palm Springs Airport Car Rentals from $69.52 per day681.9 km / 423.7 miles away
San Diego Airport Car Rentals from $67.42 per day728.2 km / 452.5 miles away
Map of Car Rental Locations
Which is the cheapest month to rent a car in Oakland?
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Most Popular Car Models of Rental Suppliers
|FOX||Toyota Corolla||4||1||Large cars|
|Dollar||Mazda 3||5||3||Large cars|
|FOX||Toyota Yaris||4||2||Small cars|
|Avis||Toyota Camry||4||2||Large cars|
|Dollar||Ford Focus||3||2||Medium cars|
|Dollar||Mazda 3||2||2||Large cars|
|Dollar||VW Jetta||2||2||Large cars|
|Thrifty||Ford Focus 3d||3||2||Medium cars|