Car Rental in New York
Cheapest Car Rental Rates
Most Popular Car Rental Deals
Why rent a car in New York?
New York State is often confused with New York City, its largest city. Though 40% of its population lives in the city and 64% in its metro area, there is much more to the state. The area of the state north of the New York City Metropolitan Area is called Upstate New York and it offers a wide variety of attractions for the traveler.
The most famous destination for tourists outside of NYC is Niagara Falls. It sees some 30 million visitors a year and is located on the other side of the state (400 miles) from NYC. Nearby Buffalo is a former industrial city that has reinvented itself. Albany and Rochester are also worth visiting. The real jewels of the state, however, are its scenic routes, nature, and waterways (like the former Erie Canal).
Though Amtrak does serve the state’s major cities, going almost anywhere into the rural, scenic parts of the state requires driving. Those that rent in the state can also easily travel to New England, too. The scenery and tranquility of Vermont and the historically significant sites of Massachusetts is just a short drive away from Eastern New York.
One-way Car Rentals in New York
Here are the most popular one-way rental options for pickup in New York and drop off in another country:
- From New York to Florida - 59 offers from $131.57 per day
- From New York to California - 46 offers from $134.43 per day
- From New York to Nevada - 27 offers from $134.43 per day
- From New York to Virginia - 19 offers from $207.61 per day
- From New York to New Jersey - 18 offers from $82.87 per day
Top ways to enter New York
Most visitors from abroad will arrive in New York at one of the New York City Metropolitan Area’s major international airports. Most of the airports in Upstate New York do not have international flights, except perhaps to and from Canada or vacation destinations in the Carribean.
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) is the main international gateway to New York City and has the most international arrivals of any airport in North America. Located in the southern part of Queens near the neighborhood of Jamaica, it takes roughly an hour to get from it to Manhattan. Desks of all major rental car companies are located in the baggage claim areas of the terminals and a quick trip with the AirTrain to the Federal Circle Station brings renters to the cars themselves.
LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is the other commercial airport that is located in the city itself. It has limited international flights since it does not have a border control facility. Preclearance takes place in some Canadian and Carribean airports, though, with flights allowed to land at LaGuardia from these locations. Non-stop flights to or from locations that are more than 1,500 miles away are prohibited at the airport, therefore there are no flights to the west coast. Long outdated, the airport is currently under reconstruction planned to be completed in 2021. Rental cars can be picked up at the rental car facility to which rental agencies provide shuttle service from all terminals.
Newark Liberty International Airport is the other major international airport serving the city. Even though it is located in neighboring New Jersey, it is much quicker to reach Manhattan from it than from LaGuardia or JFK. The airport has numerous flights to and from all major U.S cities and many destinations around the world. Rental cars are available with each supplier having a separate building near stations P2 and P3 of the AirTrain.
The largest airports in Upstate New York are Buffalo Niagara International Airport, Greater Rochester International Airport, Syracuse Hancock International Airport, and Albany International Airport. Rental cars are readily available at all airports.
All of the major cities in New York are served by various Amtrak trains. New York City is, of course, a major hub for the trains and is the center of Amtrak’s most popular routes, that of the high-speed Acela and the Northeast Regional both running from Washington D.C. through Baltimore and Philadelphia to Boston. Trains arrive hourly from these destinations, in addition to less frequently from other locations, at Penn Station underneath Madison Square Garden. While rental cars cannot be picked up in the station itself, many suppliers have offices located in midtown and downtown that can easily be reached by taxi or the subway. Rental cars can be picked up at the downtown locations of rental suppliers in other cities in New York.
In most cases, it is possible to take a rental car from surrounding states to New York. The state is served by various Interstate highways. I-95 traverses the entire eastern seaboard connect all of the major cities of the Northeast U.S. with New York City. I-90 connects Boston and Massachusetts with Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo. It then connects New York with Northwestern Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and the northernmost western states. I-81 connects Northeastern Pennsylvania with Albany and Ottawa, Canada. Finally, I-87 connects New York City with Montreal.
Top cities and places to visit
New York City - The most populous city in the United States, New York City is the financial and cultural capital of the country. It is THE global city and is famous around the world with more foreign tourists visiting it than any other place in the U.S.A. It is actually composed of five boroughs:
- Manhattan - When most think of New York City, they think of Manhattan. Most of the most famous tourist attractions are located in it. Travelers can find World One Trade Center and Wall Street Downtown; the Broadway Theater District, Times Squares, and the Empire State Building in Midtown; and Central Park in Uptown. Many travel to the city time and time again with new places to visit every time.
- Brooklyn - Long a separate city of its own, Brooklyn would be one of the most populous and famous cities in the country if it still were. It is the most populous of the boroughs and is located across the East River from Manhattan. The famous Brooklyn Bridge along with the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges and the Carey Tunnel connect the borough with Manhattan. Queens lies to the north and east of it.
- Queens - Located across the East River from Manhattan and virtually surrounding Brooklyn, Queens is the easternmost of the boroughs. It is also where both of the city’s major airports are located. Queens has been historically, and still is, home to many immigrants. It is said to be the most ethnically diverse area in the world.
- The Bronx - Across the Harlem River from Manhattan, the Bronx is the only borough of New York City that is not on an island. It is the fourth-most-populous borough in the city. It is also, along with Staten Island, one of the boroughs that tourists visit the least.
- Staten Island -Located off the coast of New Jersey, Staten Island is the borough that is most unlike any of the other boroughs. It is the least populous borough and the third-largest by land area. It can be reached by the free Staten Island Ferry or by driving across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from Brooklyn or the Outer, Bayonne, or Goethals Bridges from New Jersey). Although the North Shore where the ferry arrives is quite urban, most of the rest of the island is suburban or industrial.
Long Island - Starting in the western part of New York City including Brooklyn and Queens, Long Island stretches some 115 miles to the east of New York City. It has long been famous for being the location of lavish summer homes of wealthy Manhattanites in the Hamptons in the far east of the island. The Hamptons and the North Fork are wine regions. There are many tasting rooms and vineyards to visit year round.
Albany - The capital of the state of New York is 150 miles upstream on the Hudson River from New York City. Though oft-overshadowed by New York City, Albany is a great destination. It officially became a city in 1686 and is one of the oldest surviving settlements of the original colonies and the longest continuously chartered city in the country. The city was originally the end of the Erie canal and thus was a hub for commerce and transportation. The city is renowned for its architecture, both historic and modern. The city is roughly equidistant from the Catskills and the Adirondacks. It is also close to the beginning of the Lakes to Locks Passage described below.
Buffalo - The second-largest city in New York, Buffalo is a former industrial city. It has since reinvented itself. The city is best known for being the birthplace of the Buffalo Wing, now eaten not just across the U.S., but across the world. The original inventor of the style of wing was Anchor Bar on Main Street. Most locals agree, though, that Duff’s serves the best wings. Amongst many other attractions, visitors should see some of the city’s grain elevators, as it is the place where they were invented. Elevator Alley is the best place to see some of them and is a popular tourist attraction.
Cooperstown - This town may have otherwise been unremarkable if it weren’t for the long-held myth that it was the birthplace of the game of baseball. In reality, the game has a complicated history with no one exact place where it began, instead, it developed in multiple locations over decades. However, due to the myth, the town hosts the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and is a popular destination for this reason.
Niagara Falls - Though located in upstate New York, Niagara Falls is actually closer to Ohio and Western Pennsylvania than New York City. In any case, the seven-hour drive is certainly worth making as the falls are one of the tourist hotspots in the U.S. The Falls lie on the border with Canada. You can view the falls for free, including walking across a pedestrian bridge to Goat Island. A number of paid attractions are available too. The Maid of the Mist is amongst the most popular way to experience the falls. The boat ride takes you to the bottom of the falls. Note that you will get wet doing this.
Rochester - The third-largest city in the state lies on the southern shore of Lake Ontario roughly halfway between Syracuse and Buffalo. Though it is not a major tourist draw, it still is worthy of a stop and serves as a gateway to the Finger Lakes region. The city is perhaps most famous for what was one of its largest employers, Kodak. A highlight of the city is the group of waterfalls that are located smack-dab in the middle of the city.
Driver's license requirements
In the state of New York, rental companies must accept drivers that are 18 years of age or older. However, as in other states, rental companies generally charge a young driver fee for any driver under 25. Note that in neighboring New Jersey (if, for instance, you fly into Newark Liberty), rental companies have a minimum age of 21. That state also has other special rules when it comes to fees and insurance. The New York Attorney General has put together a great Car Rental Tip Sheet.
If you are traveling from abroad and your driving license from your country of residence is in the Latin script, it is recommended, but not required, to have an International Driver’s Permit. If your driving license is not in the Latin script (for example, Russian, Japanese, or Arabic) then you must have an International Driving Permit or another certified translation of your license. Keep in mind that you must present your actual driving license in addition to the IDP and have it with you at all times.
In most cases, you can rent a car in New York and drive to Canada provided that you are not a Canadian resident. One-way rentals are even possible, though these will entail an additional fee.
It is also usually possible to drive to all of the states surrounding New York in addition to all of the states in New England. If you plan to travel further south, it is a good idea to notify the rental company in advance to make sure that it is permitted and see if there is an additional fee for such.
When entering Manhattan from anywhere other than Brooklyn and Queens, drivers must pay a toll. All bridges and tunnels to the city from New Jersey are tolled when entering the city but not when leaving. No tunnels are toll-free and the only bridges that are toll-free are the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, and Queensborough Bridges. In addition, the New York State Thruway, which connects the northern suburbs to upstate New York is a tolled highway as is the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway in New Jersey, though unlike with entering Manhattan, it is possible to find another slower route that doesn't require toll payment.
All bridges and tunnels accept cash payments except the Outerbridge Crossing and the Bayonne Bridge, both of which connect Staten Island with New Jersey. Tolls are charged when entering New York City but not when entering New Jersey. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn is also cashless.
In Upstate New York, the entire New York Thruway, I-87 and I-90, is tolled. While currently, most exits accept cash payments, the entire Thruway will move to a cashless system by 2021. Additionally, many bridges require payment of tolls. These include the many bridges crossing the Hudson River between New York City and Albany along with bridges crossing the border with Canada.
Most rental car companies offer EZ Tags for making toll payments. This is both convenient for the cashless toll points as well as others due to saving time by not having to stop to pay the toll. These usually come with a daily fee that may be charged only for the days that a toll is encountered or every day of the rental period depending on the supplier.
Unlike in some other places in the U.S., such as southern Florida, it is possible to pay for the cashless tolls online without using a rental car company’s services (and thus, their added fees). To do so, you must pay online within 48 hours of having passed through a cashless toll point. This can be done at Tolls by Mail.
Most popular types of rental car
The most popular class of rental car in New York is the economy class, of which the Toyota Yaris is an excellent example. SUVs, like the Toyota Rav4, are also popular amongst renters. Finally, those traveling with families typically choose to rent a full-size car, like the Toyota Camry.
Top driving routes
- Great Lakes Seaway Trail - The longest of the scenic driving routes in New York, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail is 518 miles (834km) long. Most of the route is in the state of New York, though 64 miles (103 km) passes through Pennsylvania. The trail is not a single road, but a series of roads that run along the Saint Lawrence Seaway. It begins at the Ohio border in Pennsylvania and runs to the Canadian border at the Seaway International Bridge. The route offers a plethora of attractions. From historical sites associated with the War of 1812 to vineyards and wineries, there is something along the route for any type of traveler.
- Lakes to Locks Passage - Another long scenic byway, the Lakes to Locks Passage is an All-American Road. The route travels from Waterford west of Albany to Rouses Point near the Canadian border. The water route continues into Canada. The connected waterway was one of the original long-distance travel routes in North America. The region was fought over during the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812. It is, therefore, no surprise that the route is packed with historic sites. Plan to spend at least two days to complete the 190 miles with various stops along the way. Afterward, you may want to continue north to Montreal, the largest city in French Canada.
- The Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway - Just a two-hour drive north of New York City, the Catskill Mountains have been a destination for city dwellers since the 1880s. The scenic byway is mostly comprised of New York State Route 28 and is 52 miles long. It passes through four towns and many villages in the Central Catskills. In addition to the scenic views, the towns it passes through offer historical charm.
If you turn onto Route 30 before reaching Andes and continue for 23 miles to Downsville, at Bridge Street, you will come across one of the covered bridges that used to be found all over the northeastern United States. Only about one thousand are left today.
- Cayuga Lake - Cayuga is one of the Finger Lakes, 11 long, narrow glacial lakes, in Central New York. It is almost 40 miles (60km) long with an average width of just 1.7 miles (2.7km). It is one of the deepest lakes in the United States with its deepest point being 435ft (133m).
State Road 89 traverses the length of the lake winding along its shore. It is known as the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway. In addition to experiencing what the lake itself has to offer, wine enthusiasts will love that the road is also a wine trail. The Cayuga Wine Trail is called America’s First Wine Trail by the organization. Whether this title is dubious or not, its 14 wineries, about half of which are on Road 89 and the other half just off of it, offer enough wine tasting to satisfy any wino.
- The Adirondacks - Located far upstate in New York, the Adirondacks are where to go if seeking the complete opposite of the bustling city, which is complete wilderness. With numerous mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and trails, one can hike here for days, weeks, or months. The center of the area is known as High Peaks, where you guessed it, the highest peaks are located. Some of them are reached by short, easy trails, while others require a longer, more difficult trek to reach. Most are not accessible by motor vehicle and are located in a wilderness area. However, Whiteface Mountain is accessible by vehicle and is the perfect place to go if you can’t or don’t want to hike. I-87 leads travelers from NYC to the region, with Highway 73 passing through Lake Placid north of the High Peaks region and Highway 28N south of the region through Long Lake.
Car Rental Prices
- Convertibles - from $299 per day
- Large cars - from $59 per day
- Medium cars - from $65 per day
- Vans - from $108 per day
- Premium cars - from $75 per day
- Small cars - from $64 per day
- SUVs - from $66 per day
Top 13 Most Popular Cities in New York
Car Rental in New York from $59.12 per day
Car Rental in Buffalo from $70.16 per day
Car Rental in Rochester from $84.00 per day
Car Rental in Albany from $72.63 per day
Car Rental in Syracuse from $70.16 per day
Car Rental in Westchester from $64.44 per day
Car Rental in Newburgh from $100.84 per day
Car Rental in Long Island from $87.78 per day
Car Rental in Niagara Falls from $95.95 per day
Car Rental in Plattsburgh from $87.78 per day
Top 12 Most Popular Locations in New York
Car Rental at New York International Airport Kennedy from $86.48 per day
Car Rental at New York International Airport LaGuardia from $66.18 per day
Car Rental at Buffalo Niagara Airport from $70.16 per day
Car Rental at Rochester Airport from $84.00 per day
Car Rental at Albany International Airport from $72.63 per day
Car Rental at Syracuse Hancock Airport from $70.16 per day
Car Rental at Westchester Airport from $64.44 per day
Car Rental at Stewart International Airport from $100.84 per day
Car Rental at Long Island MacArthur Airport from $87.78 per day
Car Rental at Niagara Falls Airport from $95.95 per day
Car Rental at Plattsburgh International Airport from $87.78 per day
Map of Car Rental Locations
What is the cheapest month to rent a car in New York?
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 New York?
What's the most popular month to rent a car in New York?
Car Rental Information
|Car rental locations||21|
|Popular suppliers||Dollar, SIXT, Ace Rent a car, Thrifty, Alamo|
|Popular car categories||Large cars, SUVs, Medium cars, Vans|
|Lowest price||$59 per day|
Most Popular Car Models of Rental Suppliers
|Dollar||Mazda 3||5||3||Large cars|
|SIXT||Toyota Camry||4||2||Large cars|
|Dollar||Mazda 3||2||2||Large cars|
|Dollar||Ford Focus||4||2||Medium cars|
|Dollar||Ford Focus||3||2||Medium cars|
|Thrifty||Mazda 3||5||3||Large cars|
|Thrifty||Ford Focus||3||2||Medium cars|