Car Rental in Chicago – Biggest Mistakes & Best Tips to Save

Petr Novk

Car Rental in Chicago is straightforward, offering a broad selection of rentals at O’Hare and Midway airports, as well as downtown. When compared to other USA cities, Chicago ranks slightly above average in rental prices.

Car Rental in Chicago – Biggest Mistakes & Best Tips to Save
To determine the price of a rental car, I recommend filling out the form below. Completing the booking is not mandatory; however, the calculation includes all major car rental companies in Chicago. This ensures you get a good price.

Car Rental Price in Chicago

The cost of car rental in Chicago is determined not only by the number of days and the selected rental company, but also by:

⏳ Duration of Car Rental

Rental rates can fluctuate throughout the year as demand for vehicles increases or decreases. Demand usually peaks during the summer holidays when the main tourist season in the USA is in full swing.

🗓️ Reservation Deadline

The time you reserve your car also affects the final price. Personally, I’ve found the cheapest bookings occur two to three months before the day you pick up your car.

🗺️ Location of the Car Rental Company

Numerous rental car companies are present at both O’Hare and Midway airports, which might explain why prices are lower than in downtown Chicago.

🏎️ Category of Rental Car

The least expensive cars are the less equipped and smaller economy class cars. Somewhat more comfortable and larger midsize cars are 5-10% pricier, while large SUVs are 20-25% more expensive. Stylish convertibles are 70-75% more costly compared to economy cars.

🔞 Driver’s Age

Most rental car companies charge drivers aged between 21 and 24 an additional fee of up to $25 per day. This is due to the higher risk of accidents. For younger drivers, expect a higher rental price.

☂️ Insurance Included

Compulsory liability insurance is legally required for all rental cars. Collision insurance and insurance against damage and theft of the car come at an extra cost, but I recommend arranging it to avoid any risks.

🛰️ Extras

For an additional fee, you can also rent a GPS navigation system (recommended), satellite car radio (not essential), or a child car seat.

The first Chicago car rental you encounter likely won’t be the cheapest. So, the golden rule is: Compare. For instance, the website allows you to compare prices from over 200 different companies worldwide simultaneously. Moreover, it guarantees customers the lowest rental price.

In the following table, I’ve searched for the cheapest car rentals in Chicago for 24 hours. The prices are for reference only.

Economy Middle SUV Convertible
Cheap car rental in Chicago Car Rental in Chicago SUV Rental in Chicago Convertible Rental in Chicago
from $39 from $39 from $43 from $73
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Cheap Car Rentals in Chicago

Chicago O’Hare Airport, where virtually all international flights begin and end, has rental car facilities onsite. Free shuttles run from the airport terminals to the rental garages. Ace, Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Firefly, Hertz, National, Payless, and Thrifty operate rental agencies at O’Hare. Some of these companies are open 24/7.

Chicago Midway Airport, which serves flights to the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, has its rental car center at 5150 W. 55th Street. You can reach it via free shuttles, just exit door #3 on the lower level of the arrivals hall. Alamo Rent A Car, Avis Car Rental, Budget Rent A Car, Dollar Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hertz Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, Thrifty Car Rental, and Rent-A-Wreck all have outlets here.

Car Rentals in Downtown Chicago are open only during the day. You can choose from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hertz Rent A Car, Budget Car Rental, Avis Car Rental, and Alamo Rent A Car.

Tips for Road Trips Around Chicago

There aren’t many national parks in the Chicago area. To put it in exact numbers, there’s only one national park near Chicago, and it’s still 349 mi away. That’s a considerable distance even by local standards. Additionally, Cuyahoga Valley isn’t a top contender for National Park of the Year, but it serves well as a stopover on the way to Niagara Falls. They’re 557 mi from Chicago, so expect an 8-hour drive without stopping for breaks.

From the falls, it’s just a short drive to Toronto. Essentially, cross the border, and you’re in Canada.

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