I always get a bit stressy when I have to get a rental car abroad: will the right insurances be included, won’t there be any hidden costs… For my two trips to LA, I spent days researching car rental companies. One year I decided to rent with Alamo through uscarhire.com, the other year I worked together with Carrentals.co.uk. Below, you can find a review of my experiences with both companies.
My experiences with a rental car in Los Angeles
Choosing UScarhire.com vs renting with Alamo directly
The year that I rented from UScarhire.com, I did so because I found them to be far clearer on what is and what isn’t included when you rent a car. Plus, all the insurance you need is automatically included. Of course, you can get some extras if you want to, but everything you need to be safe and legally in order is included in the basic rental rate.
We paid €265 for the smallest, lowest car category on their website: economy. I paid an extra $17,5 (yes, I made the reservation in euros but had to book the extra insurance in dollars) for enhanced roadside assistance in case we would need towing, fuel delivery; get a flat battery or flat tire…
I also arranged extra travel insurance for medical costs for myself through europassistance, because car insurances in CA only cover medical costs of the one you hit or third parties.
Our pickup experience at LAX with UScarhire.com
After having picked up our luggage at LAX, we left the airport and found the Alamo shuttle immediately outside. We had done the speed check-in for the car online but still had to sign the contract. For that, we had to wait in line for about five minutes.
Although we had booked an economy car, we got a compact one (one category higher, I think) that we could go and choose from the parking lot. When we arrived, there were no compact cars available, but three to four turned up in the following five minutes and we got this very comfortable five doors Chrysler 200 with more than enough trunk space for our two suitcases and hand luggage. In about an hour time we had landed at LAX and gotten our rental car!
The car drove smoothly during the entire time we had it. A full tank cost us about $60 and we had to fill it up twice.
Also important: we rented the car with a full tank and dropped it off full. If you can, do it this way. This will prevent you from
- paying too much if you pick it up full but let Alamo fill it up again when you return it
- losing money or having to drive around needlessly because you agreed to return the car with an empty tank.
Returning the car also went very smoothly. You just drive it to the return area. Someone checks if you’re on time and if you’re staying at a hotel near the airport (we rented from Alamo at LAX), a shuttle will take you there for free.
Our LA rental car experience with Carrentals.co.uk
Carrentals.co.uk is a car rental comparison search site. You just have to enter your pick up and drop off location and time and Carrentals.co.uk will tell you what cars are available at what prices and at which rental car providers.
Carrentals.co.uk works with over 50 car rental suppliers and brokers like Alamo, Enterprise, Dollar, Avis, Hertz, and Europcar. When you’ve found your right car at Carrentals.co.uk you can click through to book it and you’ll be taken to the car’s supplier site, where you can make the booking directly.
When you do a search on Carrentals.co.uk the result list will show you what car you can get at what supplier for what price. This is nice if you have one or a few rental car suppliers that you prefer over others, as you can immediately see which cars they offer and choose one of those.
As I’d rented from Alamo on my first trip to Los Angeles and had been happy with the,m I was pleased to see that they had an economy rental car available during my next trip to LA.
The pickup and dropoff process were the same as the year before and again we cruised around smoothly for the rest of our trip.
Why you need a rental car in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a vast place with rather bad public transportation. Whether you want to go hiking at Runyon Canyon, dancing in North Hollywood or quickly go out to grab a burger, you'll most likely need a car.
In LA, the stereotype that Americans don't walk anywhere seems to be true. Even when you go shopping in LA, you don't see that many people on the streets.
There's also no need to worry about driving and parking in Los Angeles. While it certainly busy and traffic jams occur on a daily busy, I found it less stressful to drive there than over here in Belgium, for example.