Everything you need to know about one-way rentals
Going on a road trip? Leaving from a different airport from the one you arrived at? Stuck after a cancelled flight? You need a one-way rental!
A one-way rental is when you pick up a car from one location and return to another (for example picking-up a car in London and dropping it off in Glasgow). After a one-way rental, car hire companies rearrange their fleets so their depots maintain the right number of cars. A charge known as ‘drop fee’ is often added to the cost of a one-way rental by these companies to cover the cost of moving their cars around.
Choosing the right one-way rental from a traditional car hire company can be like finding a needle in a haystack. There are a lot of different rules around pricing and destinations, and these rules vary from brand to brand. Some companies don’t permit one-way rentals at all!
It is often easier to find your hire car using a comparison site which lists results from lots of different brands all in one place. Searching with easyCar lets you enter your pick up and drop off location and select from a list of brands that meet your unique needs.
Here is the easyCar guide to finding the best, lowest price one-way car hire:
Rental companies often add a ‘drop fee’ to the basic rental cost which can vary considerably from brand to brand. Within the UK the cost is likely to be £50 – £150, but in larger countries, such as Australia, the cost can be up to £2,000 or more for renters traveling long distances. The basic rental cost can also be up to double the price of a standard rental, even before you add the drop fee. Some brands may also charge a larger one-way fee for higher-value vehicles, so opt for a smaller car if you are looking to keep within a budget. Look out for brands like Thrifty that often have no one-way fee, and keep an eye on the total cost.
At easyCar we let you know if brands charge a ‘drop fee’ and what they charge. We display this next to the rental price in your initial search, so you can make the best choice for your trip.
International One-way Rentals
International one-way rentals are often not allowed by suppliers as returning cars to their original locations is more difficult when they have crossed over water. Many companies also do not offer one-way rentals between islands e.g. between Britain and Ireland in the UK and between the mainland and islands in Spain. If you are looking to travel internationally, try renting with Hertz which offers rentals between major cites in different countries. Alternatively, try Europe where one-way international rentals are more common as skipping from country to country rarely involves ferries or boats.
Look out for the big names when hunting for a one-way hire. Larger hire companies tend to offer more destinations as one-way drop off points than smaller companies, because they have more depots and more staff to handle the displaced cars. In some countries there may be more brands offering the service than in others, for example Alamo only offers one-way from some major UK airports.
Iconic one-way journeys
Route 66, USA
Rental length: 2 weeks minimum
Route: Chicago to Los Angeles
Average rental cost: £450
Average one-way fee: £300
The US is a popular spot for one-way drives with trips to Las Vegas starting in San Francisco and Los Angeles topping our list of most popular one-way drives. Coming in third and the most iconic of them all is driving the full length of Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. Make the trip of a lifetime and see the changing face of the USA as you motor from state to state. Make sure to leave plenty of time to explore the spectacular Grand Canyon and the cities you hit along the route.
The West Coast, Ireland
Rental length: 5 days
Route: Belfast to Dublin
Rental cost: £75
One-way fee: £150
The fact that Belfast to Dublin should be our fourth most popular one-way trip is a bit surprising, but it shouldn’t be! Ireland is a fantastic island to traverse by car. Fly into Dublin airport and loop anti-clockwise round the picturesque coast stopping off at Derry, Donegal, Galway, Cork and Killarney before finishing your tour in Belfast.
The Italian Coast
Rental length: 1 day
Route: Naples to Catania
Rental cost: £25
One-way fee: £55
This stunning drive from Naples has some great views out over the Tyrrhenian Sea and leads you through some of Italy’s best National Parks. You’ll also be spoilt for seaside stopping places along the way. At the beginning of your trip, make sure to take a look at the breathtakingly gorgeous cliffside village of Positano and nearby Ravello with its terraced gardens and, before you draw into Catania, have a refreshing swim from the unique stone beach at Acireale.