Save on Washington D.C. Car Rentals: Your Ultimate Guide

Petr Novk

Renting a car in Washington D. C. is possible at both airports and several rental agencies in the city center. Compared to other places in the USA, car rental prices in the capital tend to be higher.

Save on Washington D.C. Car Rentals: Your Ultimate Guide

You can obtain a no-obligation rental price quote for your specific trip using the form below. This includes all major rental companies in Washington D.C. for comparison. The more rental companies, the higher the likelihood of securing the best price.

Car Rental Prices in Washington D. C.

The price of a car rental in Washington D. C. consists of several components, far from depending solely on the number of days and the chosen car rental company. It is also influenced by:

⏳ Duration of Car Rental

The demand for cars fluctuates throughout the year, with the highest demand in summer and around public holidays. Naturally, higher demand means higher prices.

🗓️ Date of Booking

To secure the lowest price, I recommend booking your car approximately two to three months before your scheduled pick-up date.

🗺️ Car Rental Location

This may not always be the case, but based on my comparisons, airport car rentals tend to be cheaper. Perhaps this is due to greater competition at such locations.

🏎️ Category of Rental Car

The most affordable cars belong to the economy class, usually smaller and equipped with basic features. Mid-range cars, offering more space, are about 5-10% more expensive in comparison, while large SUVs are about 20-25% more expensive. A road trip in a convertible is a great experience, but you should expect to pay 70-75% more than for economy cars.

🔞 Driver’s Age

Almost all companies charge drivers aged between 21 and 24, inclusive, a daily surcharge. The amount varies, but expect to pay about $25. Drivers under 21 will be charged even more.

☂️ Insurance Included

All rental cars are required by law to have liability insurance, which is of course paid for by the renter. Personally, I recommend paying extra for breakdown insurance and insurance against loss or damage to the car. In short, don’t skimp on insurance.

🛰️ Extra Accessories

Renting additional equipment like a GPS navigation system, satellite radio, or a child car seat will also add to the price of the car.

The primary lesson is: never settle with the first rental company in Washington. The likelihood that the very first one you approach will be the cheapest is low. It’s better to use a booking portal such as RentalCars.com, which compares prices at more than 200 rental companies worldwide. Plus, it guarantees customers the lowest rental price.

The table below shows the approximate prices for a 24-hour car rental in Washington D. C.

Economy Middle SUV Convertible
Cheap Car Rental in Washington D. C. Car Rental in Washington D. C. SUV Rental in Washington D. C. Convertible Rental in Washington D. C.
from $46 from $46 from $55 from $68
Get a Quote Get a Quote Get a Quote Get a Quote

Car Rental Companies in Washington D.C.

You can pick up a car downtown or at either of Washington’s two airports. Washington Dulles is the primary airport with the vast majority of international flights, while Washington Ronald Reagan Airport serves domestic flights and connections to Canada.

Rental Agencies at Washington Dulles Airport are typically open 24 hours a day, and you can choose from Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty.

Ronald Reagan Airport Rental Booths are located on the first floor of Parking Structure A. You can get there by free airport shuttle. Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National all offer car rentals. Unfortunately, none of them are open 24 hours a day.

Downtown Washington car rentals are only available during the day, so expect fewer options. Alamo Rent A Car and Avis Car Rental have a branch near the Capitol, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is a short walk from the White House, and Hertz Rent A Car, Thrifty Car Rental, and Dollar Rent A Car are in the Mt. Vernon Triangle, for instance.

Tips for Road Trips Around Washington D.C.

An hour’s drive and approximately 47 mi northeast of Washington D.C., you’ll find Baltimore. Maryland’s largest city is best known for the historic 1854 frigate USS Constellation. You can see it on your way to the National Aquarium, just next door.

The nearest national park is not far away. Shenandoah National Park near Washington D.C. is 71 mi away, with a drive time of around an hour and a half, depending on traffic. It’s considerably further to the Great Smoky Mountains, perhaps somewhat surprisingly the most visited national park in the USA. You’ll spend a minimum of 8 hours in the car, covering a distance of 512 mi.

You can also head to the city that never sleeps. New York City is 225 mi away and can be reached in four hours without much difficulty.