Planning a road trip in a rental car that crosses a state line? Be sure to do your homework. Most rental car companies allow driving their vehicles out of state, but not all of them. Here's how to make sure you don't end up paying much more than you intended.
Check the Fine Print on Out-of-State Car Rentals
Most major national rental car companies don't restrict driving across state lines, but many smaller regional companies do. Even if the rental car company allows you to take the car out of state, there can be other considerations.
Did you book a weekend rate or a special offer? The rental may not include unlimited miles. Always check to see if there are mileage restrictions on the rental car. If you go over the allotted number of miles, you could be on the hook for additional costs per mile over that limit.
Booking a one-way rental? Even if a rental car does not impose restrictions on crossing state borders, it may charge an extra fee for returning the car to a different location.
Planning a really, really long road trip? Even if the rental car company lets you cross state lines, it may have a cap on how much mileage you can put on the car.
These days, most rental car vehicles are equipped with GPS trackers, so the rental company will know if you violate rules. It's always a good idea to disclose your plans to cross state lines when renting the vehicle to be sure there are no surprises.
Crossing State Lines in a Rental Car
In general, rental car companies fall into two camps.
Rental Car Chains That Do Not Restrict Driving Out of State
Most major national chains do not impose restrictions on driving across state lines but sock you with a drop-off fee on one-way rentals where you return the car to a different location.
- Avis Budget Group - Avis, Budget, Payless
- Hertz Global Holdings - Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty
- Enterprise Holdings - Enterprise, National, Alamo
Rental Car Chains That Restrict Driving Out of State
Regional companies and smaller national chains are more likely to impose restrictions on crossing state lines. This is because these companies do not have support networks with contracted tow companies in every state and would not be able to assist renters in an emergency.
- Fox Rent a Car: Rules are a hodge podge depending on where you're picking up the car. For example, if you pick up in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah or Washington, you can drive the car in all of those states plus Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. If you pick up in Texas, you can also drive to Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. If you pick up in Illinois, you can also go to Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, and Kentucky. On the other hand, if you pick up the car in Florida, you may not leave the state.
- Sixt Rent a Car: The German rental car company imposes what it calls "territorial restrictions" on its rentals in 17 states. Like Fox, Sixt's restrictions generally apply to specific regions. For example, cars picked up in Arizona can be driven to California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Washington and Oregon. If you pick up a car in Florida, you can drive only into Alabama and Georgia.
If you rent from a company with restrictions, breaking the rules is very risky. If you should get into an accident while in breach of your rental contract, any damages would be solely your responsibility.
- AutoSlash's Cheap One-Way Car Rental Guide
- The Worst Car Rental Company for a USA Road Trip
- Use a Toll Calculator to Estimate Your Road Trip Costs