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One-Way Car Rental - LA to San Francisco

Cleveland, Ohio
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One-Way Car Rental - LA to San Francisco

My wife and I are looking to rent a car at LAX and driving up the coast to San Francisco in July. But all the major rental companies charge a drop-off charge of $100-200.

Is there any company that does NOT charge a drop-off?

West Hollywood...
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for Los Angeles
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1. Re: One-Way Car Rental - LA to San Francisco

It is not always less expensive if the company has no "drop charge" because they simply charge you more per day. So, your question should be:

"Who has the least expensive rentals from LA to SF?"

The other thing to consider is how many days you plan to have the car and whether it will be on a weekday or over the weekend? Often, it's less expensive to rent a car for an entire week (even if you don't need it) than for, say 5 days -- in other words: "take the weekly rate" but return it early.

For example, using travelocity.com to do a side-by-side comparison of the major car rental companies (At travelocity.com, click on the CARS tab, first, and then click on the ONE WAY link at the bottom of the pink area), yields the following results for the least expensive car rentals: NOTE: These are all for the smallest car size offered.

1. One-day: $87.36 -- Alamo -- no drop charge

2. Two-day $164.70 -- Alamo -- no drop charge

3. Three-day $242.00 -- Budget -- no drop charge

4. Four-day (weekdays only): $319.35 -- Budget -- no DC

5. Four-day (incl weekend days): $281.18 -- Thrifty -- includes drop charge of $137.88

6. Five-day, six-day rentals are both cheaper if you take the weekly rate (7 days): Alamo -- $294.84 -- no drop charge

However, if you rented a convertible for 7 days, Thrifty would be the least expensive at $429.57 (including a 'drop charge' of $137.88 compared to Alamo's 'drop charge free" $502.35

Of course, you need to add to that any increased car insurance you desire and the cost of gasoline (about $60, assuming 20 mpg). Even without added insurance, a one-day car rental will cost $87.36 + $60 = $147.36.

Compare that to flying (virgin-america.com has flights for $49 including taxes and fees) so that would cost $98 for the 2 of you to fly (in about an hour, 15 minutes) versus 6+ hours on the road for $147.36.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: One-Way Car Rental - LA to San Francisco

Budget usually doesn't, but the per-day rate may be more. It's usually cheapest to book this type of thing through a site that includes insurance in the cost as well as that usually doubles it. Those companies catering to international tourists often do not charge one-way fees.

Cleveland, Ohio
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3. Re: One-Way Car Rental - LA to San Francisco

We would be renting for 9 days, from Friday, 7/18 to Sunday, 7/27. The reason for the rental is to tour the coast of CA. along Route 1.

Also, we would like to stay at some nice B&Bs that don't cost a fortune. Our stops will be Carmel-Monterrey, or Morro Bay area, stopping at a few central coast wineries, then driving up to San Francisco.

wi
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4. Re: One-Way Car Rental - LA to San Francisco

We are also doing that trip around the time you are. I spent quite a bit of time researching for the lowest rate and no drop off charge.....results where alamo. We are renting a mini van , so for that vehicle alamo was a $100.00 cheaper than the next lowest rate. Good luck.

Morristown, New...
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5. Re: One-Way Car Rental - LA to San Francisco

Thrifty is running a sale now...we booked a compact for 10 days LA to SFO for $390. Alamo through Costco also allows a second driver for free...many other companies charge for this, so check if this is your situation.

Cleveland, Ohio
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6. Re: One-Way Car Rental - LA to San Francisco

We are AAA and Costco members and didn't check on either of them yet. Is the cost of the rental including the drop charge AND taxes? I know that in California, there are plenty of taxes added.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: One-Way Car Rental - LA to San Francisco

Tax is only 8.25% if you rent in LA. If you're renting from an airport location, there are airport taxes too, so it will be a bit more.

Don't forget to include insurance. That usually doubles the cost.

Morristown, New...
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8. Re: One-Way Car Rental - LA to San Francisco

pfrank..not sure if your question was for me...but yes, the cost for Thrifty right now includes everything and was from airport to airport. Yes, the number of taxes and add-ons was amazing!

San Mateo...
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9. Re: One-Way Car Rental - LA to San Francisco

Looking into bidding for a car rental on Priceline.

They'll allow one-way rentals and you can get pretty good deals.

Morristown, New...
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10. Re: One-Way Car Rental - LA to San Francisco

I agree...but then there is no changing once you accept their price. With booking online to Costco or direct with companies, you can cancel with no penalty. We like to make our reservation at best price and keep checking, cancelling if we find a better deal. Then we check Priceline when the travel date gets close.

It's like another job!