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  1. #1

    Default Impossible to Rent Car for Road Trip

    OK, I thought this task was simple, but apparently car rental has changed since I was a kid! I'm looking at going from MT to AZ in November and renting a car to do it. No problem, I thought, just go on a few rental company websites. Actually, I found two problems:

    1) Driving restricted to a handful of nearby states
    2) Miles limited to 100-200 per day, not enough for distance over the 10-day road trip I'm looking at

    I called the chains to check for options and looked into a few local places, and still no luck. It seems you simply can't rent a car to do a cross-country road trip anymore. Has anyone had any luck, or do you have any advice? Thanks.

    -llama man

    P.S. Only luck I had was Dollar, who offered unlimited miles/states for $40/day extra

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,403

    Default It is done all of the time!

    Quote Originally Posted by thellamaman View Post
    I'm looking at going from MT to AZ in November and renting a car to do it.
    Um, I don't know what sorts of problems you are finding -- but cross-country rentals are done thousands of times each year -- hundreds of them just on this site....and at least 70% of them are by rental vehicles. Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!

    Personally, I use National Car Rental -- unlimited mileage and no "real" restrictions with respect to states. Nearly all carriers do charge drop-off fees for one-way rentals.

    There are several threads here dealing with car rental tips.

    Mark

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks, Mark, I had browsed these threads before and concluded that I wouldn't have any trouble. So I tried website reservations, but couldn't find anything about unlimited miles. Then I started making phone calls. Results:

    Dollar - 200 miles/day, adjacent states only. For unlimited miles/states, it would be an extra $40/day

    Thrifty - 200 miles/day. I asked about unlimited mileage.. they asked what state I was going to, and when I said AZ they said they couldn't do it.

    Avis - 200 miles/day. No unlimited mileage to AZ. Would have to pay the $0.20/mile

    Budget- 1500 miles/week, once again no-can-do to AZ.

    Enterprise - Nope

    National - Phone number wouldn't work, website is saying only 1488 free miles. I'll try to get the right number.

    I'm feeling crazy here because everyone seems to be able to do this except for me! Am I missing something? Does everyone just lie about going out of state? Thanks.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,403

    Default Easier to apologize than get permission

    Quote Originally Posted by thellamaman View Post
    Does everyone just lie about going out of state? Thanks.
    This reminds me of the consulting work I did for the DOD (Department of Defense) -- we often had to move larger vehicles on base to support our marketing ops and it was nearly impossible to get "official" approval a head of time -- so we learned to "do the events" and be humble if we met some official nastiness about not having the properly endorsed permission papers. You can do the same with rental companies. Enterprise would be a mistake -- crossing state lines is generally prohibited in their rental contracts, but I have never had any other rental carrier even raise the issue when I turned in a car. (Caveat: Crossing into Mexico with a rental car is not a good idea).

    Every rental car out there has a GPS locator chip installed -- if there is a question of whether or not you crossed over -- they will know. But there is no reason to make a big deal about it.

    With a one-way rental (like your trip) you can expect to pay a drop-off fee and also have unlimited mileage.

    Round-trip rentals are easier to do, of course. I have driven into Alberta a couple of times from Montana -- I am doing a Nevada to California to Nevada in couple of weeks -- I have never had any kind of surcharge -- if you really want to pay one -- by all means ask for one!

    It really is not that big a deal. Look at the options -- under the travel reservations link above. Looking at your list -- are you looking online or speaking with a representative at the call center? I would use online resources first and then if you are still uneasy -- go to a local office. Call centers would be my last choice for reservations and information!

    Mark

  5. #5
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default Jack of all trades?

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor View Post
    This reminds me of the consulting work I did for the DOD (Department of Defense) --

    Mark
    Is there anything you haven't done? After talking with you on the board for quite a while now, I'm getting the idea you've done a good swath of jobs out there, or at least enough to give that impression. I'm expecting to hear one of these days you're actually agent 009. ;-)

    Thanks for the ever increasing insights!
    -Brad

  6. #6

    Default Check again?

    Hmm.. I did a quick check using one web site (National) just to see what was going on.. Now I started by saying I lived in the US, and it came back with

    Pickup:Helena Regional Arpt (HLNT01)
    Tuesday, November 20, 2007
    Dropoff: Tucson Intl Arpt (TUST01)
    Friday, November 30, 2007
    Inclusive Rate Items
    - Guaranteed Base Rate Included
    - Unlimited Miles Included
    Subtotal $1,062.00

    Primary Driver Of age primary driver (25 or older)
    Underage primary driver (age 21 - 24) ($25.00/day) $0.00
    and including estimated taxes and fees ... Estimated Total $1,238.40

    Now, I noted the site was twitchy -- it initially wouldn't give me locations in Montana until I gave it Helena, nor in Arizona until I put in Tucson (and I *know* there is one in Phoenix, since I've rented from National at Phoenix SkyHarbor Airport...)

  7. #7

    Default

    I try not to volunteer more information than necessary :), but it's kind of hard when they ask you directly what state you're going to.

    I think I'm about to give up on this. I've been calling the local offices.. do they get redirected to a national call center? My road trip buddy has a contact at a local rental office, but she asked about destination and balked when we said we'd be going past Idaho. National quoted 1928 miles over the phone.. when I asked if they had any other options, they said flatly "We don't have an unlimited mileage option."

    I checked out the links at the top, and have filled out various other on-line forms to check rates. I have never seen an option for mileage over the standard ~200 per day.

    This is so weird.. it's like I'm in a parallel universe where no one offers unlimited mileage!

    By the way, this is a round-trip. Comes out to 3000+ miles, so that's why I'm running into the mileage issues. Might have to just ask my good ol' car to take one for the team. Nothing wrong with that, I just wanted a more fuel efficient vehicle to pile some miles onto. Thanks again for your help. I'll be browsing these forums for Arizona trip tips.

  8. #8

    Default

    Fascinating.. I really am in a parallel universe. It would appear that rentals out of Billings (ALL companies) restrict mileage, while other Montana cities have unlimited mileage. Now we're getting somewhere. Thanks.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,403

    Default If it is round trip....

    Quote Originally Posted by thellamaman View Post
    I really am in a parallel universe. It would appear that rentals out of Billings (ALL companies) restrict mileage, while other Montana cities have unlimited mileage.
    Yeah, that is weird. Now I understand why those kind of questions arose --- In the last decade no one has ever asked me where I was going to be using their rental car -- except Enterprise which really has a problem with this issue. I am pretty sure that every rental contract I have ever rented a vehicle under has a clause about staying in the same state.... But, the reason that is in there is how the insurance works -- if you have your own insurance and waive all of their coverages, it doesn't really matter where you are. Each carrier self-insures and they are loathe to pay claims outside their charter state. Here is some information about car rental insurance.

    Mark

  10. #10

    Default what if we don't have insurance?

    We are also trying to rent a car to drive round-trip cross-country, Boston to California and back. We don't have a car and therefore no insurance. Is there any way that we'll be able to rent one AND be insured?

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