Rent a Car for Travel in New York City

Renting a car allows for flexible exploration throughout the five boroughs of New York City and surrounding areas. With proper planning for parking, driving rules, and vehicle size, renting a car in NYC can be an easy transportation option. Follow this guide for tips on renting a car in the Big Apple.

Finding a New York City Car Rental

Start by finding a rental provider:

Major Rental Agencies

Big national brands like Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo operate locations throughout NYC including all major airports.

Local Companies

Local providers like Elite Auto Rental NY or Manhattan Car Rentals may offer cheaper rates. Research policies and reputation.

Peer-to-Peer Rentals

Services like Turo allow locals to rent out their cars. Compare costs but verify insurance coverage.

Aggregator Sites

Compare rental rates across companies using aggregators like Kayak, Priceline, Expedia. Watch for hidden fees.

NYC Car Rental Companies

CompanyPickup Locations
HertzLaGuardia, JFK, Newark Airports, Manhattan Locations
EnterpriseLaGuardia, JFK, Newark Airports, Manhattan Locations
AvisLaGuardia, JFK, Newark Airports, Manhattan Locations
BudgetLaGuardia, JFK Airports, Manhattan Locations
DollarLaGuardia, JFK, Newark Airports, Brooklyn Locations

Choosing a Rental Car in NYC

Consider the following when selecting a rental car in New York City:

  • Rental duration – Are you renting for a few hours or multiple days?
  • Number of passengers/luggage – Choose a car size that fits all passengers and bags.
  • Locations – Will you stay in boroughs or take longer road trips?
  • Fuel efficiency – Hybrids and smaller cars have better MPG for city driving.
  • Transmission – Automatic is preferable over manual for NYC stop-and-go traffic.
  • Features – Bluetooth, toll passes, GPS help navigate NYC by car.
  • Cost – Balance size with rental rates and parking fees.

Insurance Needs for NYC Car Rentals

Insurance for New York City car rentals is crucial. Ask:

  • Is basic liability insurance included or will you need to add CDW (collision damage waiver)? Understand the coverage.
  • Should you purchase supplemental insurance for further protection?
  • Does your credit card provide rental coverage? Know the benefits.
  • Are there exclusions like damage to glass, tires or undercarriage?

Purchase adequate insurance to avoid large out-of-pocket costs for any damages or theft. The minimum may not be enough coverage.

Pick Up and Drop Off Locations

When booking, choose convenient rental locations and times. Options include:

  • LaGuardia (LGA), JFK or Newark (EWR) airports – Best for arriving visitors.
  • Manhattan rental offices – Pick up downtown to avoid airport shuttle transfers.
  • Brooklyn and Queens locations – More parking and lower rates outside Manhattan.
  • Flexible return – Return to a different approved location for a small fee.

Avoid extra after-hours fees by reviewing opening times for returns. Also factor in transit connections to and from rental locations.

Driving Tips for NYC

Driving in Manhattan and the boroughs requires caution. Be prepared with these NYC driving tips:

  • Use GPS and maps to navigate unfamiliar bridges and roads. Cell service is inconsistent.
  • Watch for pedestrians, cyclists, and aggressive taxi drivers.
  • Finding parking is extremely difficult. Reserve rental lots or garages ahead when possible.
  • Avoid restricted commercial vehicle zones without proper credentials.
  • Left turns are often prohibited – pay close attention to signs.
  • Honk horns are common – don’t be alarmed!

Rules of the Road in New York State

Follow these rules when driving a rental car in NYC and New York State:

  • Drive on the right side of the road.
  • Seat belt use mandatory for driver and all passengers.
  • Children under age 8 must ride in approved safety seats.
  • Use headlights when raining, nighttime, dawn or dusk.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Stop for flashing red signals at crosswalks.
  • No use of handheld mobile phones or texting while driving. Use hands-free only.
  • Strict legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol content when driving.

Refueling Your New York Rental Car

  • Review if you must return the car full or can pay for unfilled fuel.
  • Refill close to your drop off location before returning the car.
  • Keep fuel receipts as proof of fill level.
  • Most stations are self-service. Pay at the pump with cash or card.

Dropping Off Your NYC Rental Car

When it’s time to return your New York City rental car:

  • Return during posted office hours to avoid after-hours drop off fees.
  • Inspect the car fully with agent and note any new damages before turning it in.
  • Keep rental agreement in case of disputes over later damages or additional charges.
  • Have fuel receipt ready to show fuel remaining.
  • Get $0 balance receipt from agent to show no pending fees or charges.

Helpful NYC Car Rental Resources

These additional resources are useful for trip planning:

  • NYC DOT – NYC driving rules and parking info
  • Drive NYC Like a New Yorker – Driving tips from locals
  • NYC Airport Guide – Airport transportation options
  • I❤NY Travel Guide – NYC attractions and trip planning

With proper planning, renting a car allows easy access to top sights throughout New York City and surrounding region. Use this rental guide to start planning your NYC road trip!

Frequently Asked Questions about Renting a Car in New York City

What documents do I need to rent a car in New York City?

You’ll need a valid driver’s license, passport or other ID, and a major credit card in your name. Some companies require extra forms of ID.

What is the minimum rental age in NYC?

The minimum age to rent a car is usually 21-25 depending on the company. Underage renters will incur young driver fees.

Is driving manual or automatic more common for NYC rentals?

Automatic transmission is far more common and preferable for NYC’s stop-and-go traffic. Reserve manual transmission early if needed.

How expensive are tolls and parking with a rental car in NYC?

Tolls can cost up to $20 per day. Parking averages $40 per day in Manhattan lots but can be $50-60+ in garages.

Should I purchase extra insurance when renting a car in New York City?

Yes, it’s highly recommended to add supplementary liability coverage when renting a car in NYC beyond the basic minimum insurance.


While public transit is abundant in New York City, renting a car allows for convenient access to all five boroughs and surrounding areas. With the proper car size, insurance coverage, and parking plans, you can comfortably explore NYC’s endless sights by rental car. Use this guide to start planning your New York road trip!


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