USA Car Rental One Way Fees

USA Car Rental One-Way Fees.

It’s a fact of life I am afraid, that apart from Florida and California, when picking up your US car hire in one city/state and dropping off in another you are going to have to pay a one-way fee to cover the cost of the rental supplier moving their cars around the country.

The fee is paid locally in USD at the rental desk of your pick up location. It is effectively compensation to the company for displacing its fleet, as there are costs involved in returning the vehicles unless in a particularly transient location such as Florida or California. Because it goes straight to the depot that is being inconvenienced, it cannot be included in your pre-paid rental voucher. It also cannot be paid in cash, as depots have no facilities to store cash these days.

One way rentals therefore are completely free within the state of Florida. One way rentals are usually free within the state of California, but San Francisco is regarded differently.  The website displays one-way fees before you book your car.

The city of New York is split between the state of New York and the state of New Jersey. One way car rentals within New York city but between the states are usually free of charge. This is confirmed on the website before you book.

Different suppliers have different rates and below is a guide to what you will have to pay, please be aware though that there will be State and local taxes to pay on the rate.

As a general rule, the following charges apply:

  • 0-200 miles = $99
  • 201-500 miles = $150
  • 501- 1000 miles = $300
  • 1001+ miles = $500

National Car hire has a blanket fee of $399 regardless of the distance. It may be worth looking at National cars when considering a longer road trip.

One way car rentals in Canada are on a similar principle. However, not all locations allow one way rentals. Please check with us before you book your car.

As a general rule the following fees apply – in CAD – Canadian Dollars.

  • 0-50 miles = $50CAD
  • 51-300 miles = $199CAD
  • 301-800 miles = $300CAD
  • 801-1600 miles = $500CAD
  • 1601-2500 miles = $750CAD
  • 2501+ miles = $1000CAD

33 thoughts on “USA Car Rental One Way Fees

  1. Lucy


    We’re travelling by car from Las Vegas to San Francisco in November – are there any specific hire companies that won’t charge a drop-frr for this?

    Thanks !

  2. Elle Hubbard

    Hi Lucy,
    Thanks for stopping by!
    Las Vegas (Nevada) and San Francisco (California) are part of the triangle of states that allow for one way rentals without a drop-fee. I would probably steer you towards Alamo as the rates with Alamo are cheapest – currently £105 for 1 week with our standard package for the smallest car. Please do let me know if I can help further 🙂

  3. Signe

    Hi Elle

    I hope you can help me.

    My friend and I, both in our midthirties, are going to California this summer from Denmark. We want to rent a car for a week in San Francisco and drive it down to Los Angeles with a few stops on the way. We’ve been told that most car rentals have no one-way fees and no surcharges for an additional driver. If we wish to be certain of that is there a specific company or companies to rent from? We plan to rent an SUV.

    Thanks in advance


  4. Elle Hubbard

    Hi Signe,

    Thank you for your question. You have been given absolutely the correct information, one-way rentals have no one-way fee within the state of California – which is good news! Also, thanks to a state law, an additional driver has no extra cost when selecting the standard package for any car hire commencing in California – regardless of which supplier you choose. Therefore, you can make your choice based on price, convenience of location and perhaps the known fleet of the supplier. At San Francisco airport for instance, you can choose whichever SUV you like from the line-up with Alamo thanks to their ‘Choice’ way of operating. You can get a quote for San Francisco airport or a downtown location directly from

    If I can help further please let me know.

    Best regards

  5. Susie Merrison

    We’re driving Chicago to LA in September. I know there is a $500 one way fee for this but our car reservation says that taxes will be on top of this. Any idea what taxes, and how much this may be?

    Thank you!

  6. Elle Hubbard

    Hi Susie,
    This is correct, anything that you pay for locally attracts local taxes that cannot be pre-paid. These are local sales tax and also, usually, an airport tax, along with any fees that these taxes may attract. I think you should budget for around 20% on top of the fee. I don’t think you have booked your car through us here at TripWheels, but I would steer you to use National car hire instead, as the one-way fee is fixed at $250 plus local taxes.
    I hope that helps

  7. Dan

    Dear Elle,
    We (from Switzerland) have booked through the website “” a SUV, with ALAMO, one-way rental, pick-up at Flagstaff Airport (Arizona) and drop-off at Las Vegas Airport (Nevada). On our contract, all insurances, airport fee, local taxes, Premium location fee, are included. Nothing is mentioned about the drop off fee… Should we expect to pay it when we pick up our car or do you think it could be free of charge?
    Thanks a lot for your reply. We are leaving Swîtzerland next Thursday July 25th.

  8. Elle Hubbard

    Hi Dan,

    As it is Alamo, who have free one-way’s between Arizona and Nevada the answer is no – no fee. But I would have expected your agent to have been able to tell you this as this is exactly the sort of information I have for my clients.

    Anyway, I hope you have a great trip, perhaps next time you will try the service here at Tripwheels.

    Best regards

  9. Dan

    Thanks a lot Elle for the helpful reply. You’re about to convince me to change the service… I’m interested in hiring a Standard SUV with Alamo (diamond cover), but still have a question: There are 2 possibilities to rent a GPS, per week (at 38£ a week) or per day (9£ a day). Since I need a rental for 5 days, can I still choose the weekly option which is cheaper than a 5 day rental (=45£)?

  10. Dan

    Dear Elle,
    Sorry, I’ve a third question. I’m interested in renting a standard convertible in LAX (return at the same place, 3 days rental). Does the package include the airport surcharge (is the location ALAMO actually in the airport area or outside?)? As stated in the comment “All rentals originating in California have two drivers on the Standard package due to a State Law, regardless of supplier”. So I expect to not pay additional fee for a second driver. Right?
    Lots of questions… Sorry for that. I’m about to re-book all my car rentals… THANKS

  11. Elle Hubbard

    Hi Dan,
    Thank you for your questions, here are the answers, hopefully in the correct order :). The GPS will be cheaper if you take the week option as you have spotted. The Diamond cover will include the airport surcharge at Flagstaff, along with your fuel and everything else. LAX has a rental car station, and all suppliers are located there – so it is technically ‘off-site’, and finally, yes, you get your additional driver for free thanks to the state law in California.

    If you need anything else, please let me know 😉

  12. Dan

    Dear Elle,
    I just changed all my réservations and made the new ones with Trip Wheels… 🙂
    We hope that everything will be fine during our stay in the USA.
    Thanks a lot for your precious advice.
    Take care

  13. Elle Hubbard

    Dear Dan,
    Thank you for your reservations :). I hope you have found everything to your liking. I wish you a wonderful trip – it is starting very soon!

  14. Sian

    Hi Elle,

    Can you assist in what would be cheapest for one way rental from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in Sept/ early Oct?


  15. Elle Hubbard

    Hi Sian,

    I certainly can! There would be no one-way fee between the two if you choose Alamo, National or Dollar. Do you have any dates and car sizes in mind?


  16. Salim


    I’d like to hire a car from San Francisco to Phoenix in mid-september this year.
    I read there might be some dropoff charges because of summer peak betwween california & arizona.
    Can you please let me know if mid-september is out of the “summer peak scope” with Alamo?

  17. Elle Hubbard Post author

    Hi Salim,
    There has been a one-way fee this summer for the Convertible category of car when it leaves San Francisco. But you are right, this ends on August 31st, so mid-September collection will be fine for you. No one-way fee at all with Alamo.
    If you need help with anything else, please let me know.
    Kind regards

  18. Salim

    Hi Elle,
    Thank you for your quick response.
    While looking on Alamo website, they do not clearly specify terms and conditions for one way rental.
    They mentioned additional fees can be applied at pickup.
    So, I just want to be sure no extra fees will be discovered at my arrival a San Francisco.
    Thanks for your assistance ,

    Best Regards,

  19. Fabrizio

    Hi Elle,
    I have a reservation with Alamo in August for pick up a SUV in San Francisco and drop off in Phoenix. told me that there are no one way fees, Autoeurope told me that there will be a 350$ tax (VAT not included) as one way fees. This tax is only for pick up in San Francisco.
    What about that tax?
    If i confirm my reservation with rentalcars, am i going to pay that tax?


  20. Elle Hubbard Post author

    Hi Fabrizio,

    I can’t really speak for the Rental Cars contract I am afraid as I have no knowledge of their terms – or that of AutoEurope. Under my contract with Alamo, a one-way hire of an SUV between San Francisco and Phoenix would not apply. I think you will be best to check to check directly with whomever you booked through and be guided by them. Different companies have different terms, so you can only go on that companies terms and conditions.

    I hope that helps.

  21. Andy Negus

    Hi Elle,

    I am looking to hire an alamo car using the young driver package. The route will be one way from San Francisco to Las Vegas. Will there be a one way fee? Also, if we were to upgrade to a premium car (convertible) will there be different rules for a one way fee?


  22. Elle Hubbard Post author

    Hello Andy,
    Thank you for your question. There will be no one way fee from San Francisco to Las Vegas with Alamo, and the summer one-way fee on Convertibles leaving San Francisco has finished for the year, so this category will be no different right around to next summer.

    Many thanks


  23. Will Travers

    Hi Elle,

    I’m thinking about doing a one way rental between Seattle and Bellingham (WA) through Alamo. Do you think any one way fees would apply?

    Thanks in advance,


  24. Elle Hubbard Post author

    Hi Will,
    Thank you for your question. I have double checked for you and there is currently no one-way fee between Seattle and Bellingham with Alamo – so that is good news!
    Please let me know if I can help further.
    Kind regards

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