You’ve mapped out every minute of your upcoming road trip. You’ve booked rooms, tours and even jotted down can’t-miss diners and dives.
But who’s driving? And what? When it comes to driving long distances, not everyone reaches for their keys at once. And many times, there is a good reason that someone prefers to be a passenger or at least a driver of someone else’s car. Road trips can rack up mileage and routine maintenance — and those are just the known threats. Your national park tour could subject your prized Prius to getting charged by a ram or rammed by a Charger.
When you’re weighing driving your own car vs. renting a vehicle for your next road trip, you’ve gotta crunch some numbers – gas mileage, rental car insurance, vehicle depreciation, etc. We’ll walk you through the dollars and cents of it all.
It seems obvious that renting a car for a road trip would be more expensive than just taking the one in your driveway. But sometimes, renting a car could be the cheaper alternative. Consider these factors:
Car Insurance: The cost of rental car insurance can potentially add as much as $30 to your daily rate, depending on which types of insurance you buy.1 To save money, you can buy the Rental Car Damage Protector from Allianz Global Assistance, which provides primary collision loss/damage insurance coverage up to $40,000, for as little as $9 per calendar day. You get 24-Hour Hotline Assistance as well.
If you end up damaging the rental car you’re driving, the Rental Car Damage Protector can save you a ton. That’s because there’s no deductible to pay if you incur a covered loss. If you use your own insurance coverage, however, you’ll have to pay the deductible — which might be $500, $1,000 or more — and your insurance rates may go up after you file a claim.
Gas Mileage: If your daily driver is a GMC Yukon that gets 17 mpg combined, consider leaving it parked and renting a fuel-sipper for your road trip. Rent a 2019 Prius Eco instead, and you’ll get 56 mpg combined, on average. That means you can go more than three times the distance on a single gallon of gas.2
Depreciation Costs: A long road trip can inflict costly damage on your car, even if you don’t notice it right away. Every mile results in a certain amount of wear and tear to the engine, the tires and other moving parts. ItStillRuns offers an easy way to calculate wear-and-tear costs by the mile. A typical rate for a large SUV is around 34 cents per mile, which adds up to $680 for a 2,000-mile road trip.
Lease Penalties: Folks who lease their car might also shy away from long trips. You’ll be required to pay a penalty of up to 30 cents per mile for each mile you drive above the contracted amount, which is usually around 12,000 or less per year.3
If the bottom-line cost of driving your own car vs. a rental vehicle is the No. 1 factor affecting your decision, then you’re going to need to get a pencil, some paper and a calculator.
First, scout rental car deals to know what you’ll potentially pay. Weekly rates are usually the way to go for the best value. Be sure to add in gas costs, rental insurance and any extra fees, too.
Now you’ll need to compute the cost of driving your own car. This includes knowing your total trip mileage, figuring out the average gas price in the areas you’ll be driving through, and also including your own vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
Wait, you know what’s easier than performing all this math? Using this road trip rental car vs. your car calculator.
There is no hard and fast rule for determining whether it makes more sense to rent a car or use your own vehicle for a road trip. The best route is to simply consider all the ramifications of using your own ride or paying for someone else’s. That way, the only thing you have to second guess once the road trip kicks off is why you didn’t just fly to Bermuda.