Best Tips to Save Money When Renting a Car in San Francisco

Petr Novk

Those interested in affordable car rental in San Francisco are likely to find the best deals at the local airport, based on my comparison. Car rental shops along O’Farrell Street and around Union Square are also popular. Compared to car rental prices in other USA cities, San Francisco is not unreasonable.

Best Tips to Save Money When Renting a Car in San Francisco

For a no-obligation car rental price quote, I recommend using the following form, which compares the prices of several rental car companies in San Francisco and the surrounding area. More rental companies = more chances to save.

Car Rental Prices in San Francisco

Prices for car rental in San Francisco depend on several factors, and they change almost constantly in both directions:

⏳ Date and Length of Rental

Demand for cars fluctuates throughout the year, tending to be higher during the summer holidays or public holidays, and subsiding after the tourist season. Rental prices more or less mirror this demand.

🗓️ Date of Booking

The price is also influenced by the amount of time remaining until the car is collected at the rental company. According to my comparison, it is most advantageous to book a car two to three months in advance of the pick-up time.

🗺️ Location of the Car Rental Company

Car rental companies are typically most widely represented at airports, where demand is highest and competition is also fiercest. City centre car rentals usually have less variety, with higher prices.

🏎️ Car Category

Car rental companies offer vehicles of several classes – e.g., compact cars with basic equipment, standard cars for comfortable travel for five people, even larger SUVs or convertibles, luxury sports cars, etc. The higher the class, the higher the price.

🔞 Age of Drivers

Almost all rental companies charge drivers under 25 a special fee related to the higher risk of being at fault in an accident.

☂️ Insurance

An important component of the price is the insurance, which may cover only the compulsory liability on one hand, or may also cover loss of or damage to the car caused by the driver. I recommend that you do not skimp on this and instead take out additional insurance as well.

🛰️ Accessories

There is an additional charge for features like GPS navigation, a child car seat, or satellite radio.

Don’t book with the first company you come across. I recommend comparing prices from as many car rental companies in San Francisco as possible, e.g., automatically compares deals from more than 200 rental companies. In addition, it guarantees the customer the lowest price.

The table below lists the cheapest car rentals in San Francisco for one day. The prices are indicative only.

Economy Middle SUV Convertible
Cheap Car Rental in San Francisco Car Rental in San Francisco Renting an SUV in San Francisco Convertible Rental in San Francisco
from $36 from $37 from $44 from $57
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Affordable Car Rentals in San Francisco

The most popular among those seeking car rentals are the rental agencies at San Francisco Airport. Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, National, and Thrifty Car Rental have booths on the fourth floor of the SFO Rental Car Center, while Hertz Rent-A-Car and Fox Rent A Car are on the ground floor. Most of them operate non-stop.

Downtown San Francisco Car Rental Shops are concentrated around Union Square and O’Farrell Street. Alamo Rent A Car, Dollar Rent A Car, National Car Rental, and Thrifty Car Rental all have offices on that street, all located in the block around 360 O’Farrell St. Less than three blocks up, Hertz Rent A Car also has a garage.

Another Hertz Rent A Car operates in close proximity to Union Square.

San Francisco Road Trip Tips

San Francisco is a must-see stop on any road trip itinerary in the western USA. The road out of the city usually leads to either Los Angeles or Las Vegas, depending on your direction.

On the San Francisco – Los Angeles route, you can take one of the most beautiful highways in the world – the Pacific Coast Highway with its ocean views. You’ll need about 9 hours of pure driving time for the 466 mi journey, not including rest and snack breaks.

The drive from San Francisco to Las Vegas is 586 mi long and takes 10 hours. Of course, that’s if you don’t stop along the way at Yosemite National Parks, Death Valley, Sequoia or Kings Canyon. It’s all about the amount of time you allow to explore some of the most beautiful places in the USA.

Save on Car Rentals in the USA