How to Book Cheap Car Rentals in New York City [Price Comparisons]

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New York City is a fabulous city to explore, with its eclectic food scene, iconic landmarks, beautiful parks, and excellent nightlife.

If you’re planning to base yourself in Manhattan, it’s unlikely you’ll need a rental car as the city has excellent public transport. Taxis are a popular way to get around the city, as is the MTA, and you won’t have the issue of trying to find parking.

If you’re planning to explore a little further outside Manhattan or New York itself, then you might want to rent a car for the duration or part-way through your trip. We’ve looked at the various options for renting a vehicle in New York City — at the airport and from neighborhood offices.

John F. Kennedy International Airport Car Rentals

JFK Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport. Image Credit: mindconcepts via Pixabay

John F. Kennedy International Airport Car Rental Center

When arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), passengers may visit one of the car rental desks located in the arrivals area of each terminal, or use a courtesy phone to book ahead. Vehicles are located a couple of miles from the terminals at the Federal Circle Station. Passengers can ride the free AirTrain from any terminal to the Federal Circle Station.

There are 10 rental agencies located at the Federal Circle Station, and we compared rates for a 7-day rental for a standard category car.

Price Comparison for JFK Car Rentals

Rental CompanyPrepay RatePay on Arrival Rate
Alamo$410.24$430.68
Avis$268.59$315.99
Budget$277.19$307.99
DollarN/A$449.75
EnterpriseN/A$449.74
Hertz$704.53$734.17
NationalN/A$756.40
Payless$310.94$327.31
ThriftyN/A$444.38

Advantage Rent-A-Car was excluded from the price comparison as searches returned no results across multiple dates.

We found that Avis offered the lowest prepaid rate of $269.59, and Budget was the cheapest when paying on arrival at $307.99. The prices for Hertz and National were significantly higher, costing over $400 more.

Hot Tip: If you’re planning a city break to the Big Apple, take a look at some of the great tours and activities that are available in New York.

Newark Liberty International Airport Car Rentals

Newark Conrac
The ConRAC facility is the rectangular building at the rear of this rendering. Image Credit: Conrac Solutions

Another major airport serving New York City is Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), which has 2 on-airport car rental sites. Rental agencies are based at stations P2 or P3, accessible by riding the free AirTrain.

A new, 2.7 million-square-foot consolidated rental car center (ConRAC) is expected to open by 2023.

We used the same search criteria to compare quotes between rental agencies.

Price Comparison for Newark On-Airport Car Rentals

Rental CompanyPrepay RatePay on Arrival Rate
Alamo$536.46$558.88
Avis$313.64$368.99
Budget$327.59$363.99
DollarN/A$567.39
EnterpriseN/A$558.91
Hertz$694.95$724.28
NationalN/A$756.40
Payless$241.61$254.33
ThriftyN/A$558.92

As with JFK, we found that Avis provided the cheapest prepaid rate ($313.64), and Budget had the most competitive pay on arrival rate ($363.99). Overall, we found that the majority of rental agencies charged higher rates when renting from Newark compared to JFK.

Price Comparison for Off-Airport Property Car Rentals

There are a few off-airport car rental agencies that operate shuttle services from the terminals, however, we were only able to obtain a price from Fox that met our search criteria. Fox offered a pay on arrival rate of $454.69, which was actually more expensive than some on-site rental agencies.

LaGuardia Airport Car Rentals

LaGuardia Airport Future Expansion
LaGuardia Airport. Image Credit: LaGuardia Airport

All LaGuardia Airport (LGA) car rental companies are located a short distance from the terminals. Passengers can ride the courtesy shuttle bus that operates from in front of Terminal A.

Price Comparison for LaGuardia Car Rentals

Rental CompanyPrepay RatePay on Arrival Rate
Alamo$518.36$539.81
Avis$376.54$442.99
Budget$394.19$437.99
DollarN/A$597.48
EnterpriseN/A$592.43
Hertz$744.57$789.23
NationalN/A$756.40
Payless$473.36$449.69
ThriftyN/A$592.46

Advantage Rent-A-Car was excluded from the price comparison as searches returned no results across multiple dates.

We found that Budget provided the cheapest prepaid ($394.19) and pay on arrival ($437.99) rates. Overall, we found car rental prices to be more expensive at LaGuardia than any other airport in the New York City area. Renting from Thrifty, the rate from LaGuardia was $148 more expensive than renting from JFK, so this could influence your decision as to which airport to fly into.

New York City-Area Neighborhood Car Rentals

If you want to visit Philadelphia or Washington, D.C., or are looking to take a road trip to Niagara Falls, you may need to rent a car from a neighborhood rental office for part of your trip. In most cities, neighborhood office rates are cheaper than renting at the airport, but if you’re renting from Manhattan where space is at a premium, this isn’t the case.

Price Comparison for Manhattan Car Rentals

Using the same search criteria, we compared prices for rental agencies based in Manhattan.

Rental CompanyPrepay RatePay on Arrival Rate
Avis$418.19$491.99
Budget$442.79$491.99
DollarN/A$614.19
EnterpriseN/A$614.34
Hertz$698.38$792.32
NationalN/A$632.77
SIXT$329.80$347.15
ThriftyN/A$614.19

With an office based at the southern tip of Manhattan, SIXT offered the cheapest rate for a 7-day rental. All the other rental companies provided a more expensive rate when renting in Manhattan compared to renting from any airport.

Price Comparison for Other Neighborhood Car Rentals (Brooklyn, Queens)

Rental CompanyPrepay RatePay on Arrival Rate
Avis$211.49$234.99
BudgetN/A$241.99
EnterpriseN/A$290.09
Hertz$630.99$1050.80

If you’re staying outside of Manhattan, then you’ll be more likely to bag yourself a deal with your car rental, with these neighborhood offices generally offering cheaper rates.

Book Direct With the Car Rental Company

There’s no hard and fast rule where you can book the cheapest car rental deal. Sometimes you’ll find the best rate booking with an online travel agent, and other times by booking directly with the rental agency. Most agencies have loyalty programs where the benefits start from your very first rental.

When signing up for Advantage’s Expressway rewards program, drivers receive a free rental day or vehicle upgrade, and Alamo members benefit from exclusive member pricing with 5% off all rentals.

Agencies such as Avis and Enterprise have elite tier statuses that members qualify for after a specific number of rentals or spend. Elite tier members tend to earn bonus reward points on rentals and receive perks such as a free GPS rental or vehicle upgrades.

5 Ways to Book with an Online Travel Agent

1. Rentalcars.com

Rentalcars.com JFK Airport
Rentalcars.com search results. Image Credit: Rentalcars.com

Rentalcars.com is a popular website for comparing rates from a variety of rental car companies. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, you can use the filters to refine your searches, such as defining the size of the car, the rental company, or car specification.

The lowest price available for a standard car from JFK Airport was $467.81, renting with Thrifty. When booking directly with Thrifty, the rate was $23 cheaper, however, the offer with Rentalcars.com included an upgraded vehicle to the next category and priority counter service.

If you’re a member of the Thrifty Blue Chip Rewards Program, you would be better off booking direct as you would receive 444 reward points for the booking. Thrifty’s redemption rates are pretty low — starting at 500 points for a weekend day.

Hot Tip: Rentalcars.com doesn’t feature all rental companies, so you would need to obtain quotes directly from the likes of Advantage and Payless to make a detailed comparison. 

2. Orbitz

Orbitz JFK Airport
Orbitz search results. Image Credit: Orbitz

Orbitz is a useful website for booking, not just your car rental, but also flights, hotels, and things to do. It’s owned by Expedia Group, so you’ll often find identical pricing to that offered with Expedia.

Orbitz offered an advanced payment rate of $370, which was over $74 cheaper than renting direct with Thrifty. If you join Orbitz Rewards, you’ll be eligible for member pricing, and we found 9% off a pay later deal with Budget for $375.

When joining Orbitz Rewards, members are also eligible to earn Orbucks on qualifying purchases such as hotels, flights, accommodation, and activities. You can earn Orbucks for car rental booked within a vacation package, and credit can be redeemed against free future travel.

3. Kayak

Kayak JFK Airport
Kayak search results. Image Credit: Kayak

Kayak was featuring a “Surprise Agency” deal, where the rental company is not revealed until the booking has been completed. This was the lowest price available of all the online travel agents with an offer of $297 valid when booking with CarRental8.com.

Kayak is a metasearch site, and with most of its deals, customers are directed to a third-party website where the deal can be booked. The only exception is with occasional “Private Deals,” where the reservation is made on the Kayak website.

Kayak is the place to go if you’re looking to compare prices. If you’re not in a rush to book, you can set up a price alert to see price increases or decreases for your search criteria.

Hot Tip: Do you need a hotel for your New York City trip too? Check out the best New York City hotels to book with points to help you get maximum value for your hard-earned points.

4. Expedia

Expedia JFK Airport
Expedia search results. Image Credit: Expedia

Expedia can be used to compare prices across most car rental companies that are based in New York City. This includes Fox, Payless, and SIXT, which you quite often won’t find on some websites. Expedia is displaying the same price as Orbitz as both sites pull from the same pricing inventory.

As with Orbitz, Expedia also offers exclusive member pricing when logged in to your account or via the Expedia app.

The bonus of booking with Expedia is the Expedia Rewards program. Members can earn 2 points per dollar spent on car rental, hotels, vacation packages, and more. These points can be redeemed in-part, or fully, against free travel. The only exception is for flight redemptions, where you must have enough points to cover the cost of your entire booking.

5. Hotwire

Hotwire JFK Airport
Hotwire search results. Image Credit: Hotwire

Hotwire is another website owned by Expedia Group, but the offers are not always the same across all websites. In this particular search, we did find that Hotwire offered the same lead-in rate for Thrifty ($370).

There were also some “Hot Rate Car” deals available for around the same rate, where the rental company is revealed once the booking has been completed. These deals often have greater savings or other perks, if you don’t mind which agency you rent with.

Price Comparison for Online Travel Agents

WebsitePay Later Rate
Rentalcars.com$467.81
Orbitz$370
Kayak$297
Expedia$370
Hotwire$370

Final Thoughts

If you need to rent a car in New York, then one of the cheapest and easiest ways of doing so will be when you arrive at the airport. With a rental car, you don’t need to worry about catching a train or a cab to get around, and you’ll have the freedom to explore further afield.

Overall, we found that JFK was the cheapest airport to rent from, compared to Newark and LaGuardia, so this is something to consider if you’re also comparing flight prices.

Online travel agents are great for checking prices. If you find a cheap rate, but want to book direct with the rental agency, then it’s always worth seeing if the agency offers a price match guarantee.


Frequently asked questions

Is it a good idea to rent a car in New York?

If you’re planning to base yourself in Manhattan, it’s unlikely you’ll need a rental car as the city has very good public transport. Taxis are a popular way to get around the city, as is the MTA, and you won’t have the issue of trying to find parking.

If you’re planning to explore a little further outside Manhattan or outside New York itself, then you might want to rent a car for the duration or at least part-way through your trip.

How much does it cost to rent a car in New York?

Kayak states that the average rate to rent a car in New York is $50 per day. Rental rates depend on the area you’re renting in, the rental company, and the duration of your rental.

Are rental cars available in NYC?

If you need to rent a car in New York City, then one of the cheapest and easiest ways of doing so will be when you arrive at the airport. Alternatively, you can rent a car from neighborhood offices that can be found throughout the city.

Why is car rental so expensive in New York?

In most cities, neighborhood office rates are cheaper than renting a car at the airport, but if you’re renting from Manhattan where space is at a premium, this isn’t the case. Neighborhood offices outside of Manhattan tend to have cheaper rates.

Amar Hussain

About Amar Hussain

Amar was born and raised in England, UK, embarked on an 11 country round the world gap year after graduation and then became well and truly hooked. The first gap year inspired a second which ended up being a 23 country down-the-world trip from Canada to Antarctica. Since then Amar has endeavored to turn his gap year into a ‘gap life’ and has spent the last 10 years traveling the 7 continents.

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