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    Tips & tricks for the best rental car in the USA

    Anyone planning a road trip needs a rental car. We'll give you tips and tricks on the way so that you can find your best rental car.

    Rent a car in the USA - a must in many cases.

    You need a rental car not only on a road trip, but also on a city trip within the USA. Anyone who has ever been to Los Angeles knows that this city in particular can hardly be managed by public transport.

    So let's take care of the most important things to do with rental cars in the USA.

    Where do I book my rental car?

    There are now many ways to book a rental car. These include, for example:


    Our experience has shown that when planning a trip, booking through the ADAC resulted in the best conditions. Even if others are cheaper, in the end it is the price-performance ratio that counts.

    Another advantage is the choice of partner rental companies, with the ADAC for the USA these are Hertz, Alamo and Sixt.

    Insider tip

    Our recommendation - ADAC car rental

    • Discounted prices for members
    • All necessary insurance with no excess
    • A free additional driver always included
    • Can be canceled or rebooked at any time free of charge (up to 24 hours before collection).

    Which landlord do you recommend?

    So far we have been able to gain experience with 3 landlords in the USA and of course we want to share our experiences with you.

    We give our recommendations without any financial ulterior motive. They reflect our experiences and opinions.

    Let's get started and show you what our rating of the various providers looks like. Except for Budget (via cheaper rental cars) we booked all the others through the ADAC. However, only the entire process from collection to return of the vehicle is assessed.

    But the result is quite clear.

    1st place - Alamo

    Our all-time favorite for a road trip through the USA. Top service and then the free choice of vehicle!

    Customer Service:
    4.8 / 5
    4.7 / 5
    4.9 / 5
    Overall rating:
    4.9 / 5

    2nd place - budget

    Somewhat lengthy processing at the counter. But very good and accommodating service.

    Customer Service:
    4.8 / 5
    4.3 / 5
    4.9 / 5
    Overall rating:
    4.7 / 5

    3rd place - Hertz USA

    In the event of an error, we would have forgiven it, but no longer with 2 identical processes.

    Customer Service:
    2.2 / 5
    1.5 / 5
    4.9 / 5
    Overall rating:
    2.9 / 5

    Is it worth booking the GPS?

    A navigation system is of course recommended so that you can easily get from A to B with your rental car in the USA.

    Here you have 3 different options:

    • Book the navigation system with the landlord
    • Buy your own navigation device with US maps
    • Smartphone navigation


    We especially recommend the first option, the rented sat nav Think carefully, because the prices for a road trip are utopian. Unfortunately, prices between 12 and 30 euros per day are not uncommon.

    During our first stay in the USA, as well as on our road trip in 2014, we have our own navigation device brought along. For 40 euros we bought a TomTom sat nav with USA maps on eBay. If you are already in the USA, you can get a satnav there, but you can also get one at Walmart for $ 70.00.

    However, experience has shown us that the cheapest way to navigate is with your own Smartphone. Whoever owns one has a free choice of different card providers.

    But the question arises of online and offline navigation.

    the Offline navigation does not require an internet connection, but requires storage space on the mobile phone. If you have enough memory, however, you always have to remember to have all the required states for more complicated routes (we speak from our own experience 😉)

    The biggest advantage of one Online navigation eg via Google Maps, the maps are up-to-date. Road closures and traffic volume are also taken into account in the planning. The only downer: you need a constant internet connection.

    In order to come back to the detailed questions, in our opinion it is not advisable to book the navigation system for the rental car.

    Insider tip

    Here are our recommendations for smartphone navigation apps. 

    Offline navigation: 
    Here (we go)   Apple   Android
    Navmii   Android

    Online navigation: 
    Google Maps   Android
    Apple Maps   Apple

    Are there any minimum requirements?

    There are several basic requirements for renting a car in the USA.

    In the USA it is allowed to drive a rental car from the age of 18, but most rental companies do Minimum age raised to 21. For better or worse, your first road trip in the USA has to be someone who is at least 21 years old.

    The youth tariff applies between the ages of 21 and 25 and can be very expensive. Of course, that always depends on the landlord.

    driver's license is of course also a prerequisite, if you have a new driver's license, you can drive with it through the USA without restrictions. An international driver's license is only required if there is no information in English on your own.

    Credit cards are quite normal in the US. If you need a rental car in the USA, you also need a credit card!

    But beware! Not all credit cards are accepted. So-called debit cards and prepaid credit cards are usually not allowed. So you need a real card with a credit line to rent the vehicle.

    In any case, find out about this before renting so that there are no surprises when you pick up your rental car.

    The decisive size

    If you want to go on a road trip with your rental car, be sure to pay attention to the size of the car.

    In contrast to Europe, an SUV is definitely recommended in the USA so as not to go under. Many Americans have at least one mid-size SUV and this is definitely recommended for long journeys.

    For German vacationers there is a dream car that everyone wants to drive. In California in particular, the Ford Mustang is an absolute must for car fans. No question about it, it's a great car, but unfortunately not suitable for long journeys.

    But you still want to drive a Ford Mustang? Then rent one for 1 or 2 days, cruise through LA and switch back to something bigger for the rest of the road trip.

    But we don't want to hide an important note. Anyone who wants a car with a gearshift is asked to pay properly in the USA. Unlike in Europe, the automatic transmission dominates the USA.

    The Americans are known to be quite lazy and even drive short distances by car. This is one of the reasons why the American drives automatic!

    Our checklist

    So that you have no problems with your rental car in the USA, here is our checklist for the time before, during and after your vacation.

    Before the vacation

    On holiday

    After the holiday