Car Rental Pick up at the Airport or Downtown

Airport or Downtown
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Just knowing the city/town you are traveling to is not enough when renting a car! There are particular pin locations in cities/towns you are required to choose from. Coming from a foreign land to find the right pick-up and drop-off can become hassling. Questions related to expenses, time consumption, safe areas, and availability of cars are always there. Here we have jotted down some points to consider when making downtown or airport pick-ups. While comparing airport pick-ups with city/downtown pick-ups, we must see how both have their own perks. Reading these points shall help you to make a well-informed decision:

Let’s brief the aims of this read!

Convenience of Pick-up

While choosing an airport pick-up you don’t have to get bothered about searching for a taxi and pay extra to reach your car rental desk/depot. Mostly you will find your supplier inside the airport itself or a free shuttle will be offered by the supplier or a Meet and Greet service by an associate of the supplier. This comes as the most convenient way to rent a car!

If you are planning to rent a car at any city location other than the airport, you will have to consider public transportation options to reach the rental depot. This basically means that there would be extra money involved to pay for the taxi and a lot of inconvenience of carrying the luggage around while searching for a bus or a taxi.


Airport locations are expensive to rent a car from, as there is a Premium Location Surcharge/ Location Fees involved. But on the other hand it is the most convenient place for the car rental pickup, so you are required to pay for that convenience. There is a parking fee on a per hour basis so if you get late you would be charged extra for that too.

Downtown locations are mostly cheaper compared to airport locations, as there are no surcharges or extra fees involved you can save some money. Though getting late as per the scheduled time would attract extra charges for some suppliers in any of the locations, yet the charges are not as much as the airport location.


  • Airport to Rental Desk: Keep in mind that even if you are saving some money over the rental part while choosing downtown location, you will still have to look for a taxi from the airport to the supplier’s desk to collect your car. And the taxis are more expensive around the airport than usual locations. If you are particularly looking to save some bucks you can search for public transport like a tram or a bus to reach the rental desk.

  • Choose your extras carefully: The premium location fee is chargeable on the final price of the car, which means that it will also be included in the extras you choose. If you want to save money, make sure you choose only the extras which are absolutely needed.


Renting the car at the airport location ensures that you don’t have to get out of the airport to collect your car, and even if you are supposed to go outside, supplier’s free shuttles are more than safe to ride in.

Being an outsider/ foreigner you wouldn’t want to roam around the city, not knowing the locations and safe areas. Downtown/city pick-ups may lead you confused and unsafe in some situations.

TIP: Always keep your supplier’s contact info handy so if you are in a situation of emergency you can seek the guidance and help of your supplier immediately.

Rental Desk Working Hours

At the airport, working hours for rental desks are longer than the other locations. For example: Sixt in Los Angeles Airport (LAX) is open 24 hours, so if your arrival at the airport is at an odd hour, you will still get timely assistance and the keys to your rental car.

Downtown location center opening hours may not match your arrival time, or in the case of delayed flights, you may not find your supplier at the location. In some cases, there are extra charges involved, if you are late to reach the supplier’s desk.

TIP: At least keep a 45-50 minutes gap between the time of your arrival and your car rental pick-up to ensure you reach your airport rental desk on time, in case of flight delays. When renting a car at the downtown location, it may take you time to figure out the exact rental depot, so keep that time spare too.

Saving Your Time

As mentioned earlier too, airport pick-ups will always save your time and you won’t have to go through any inconvenience of searching for the taxi or looking for the exact supplier location. As soon as you arrive you can easily spot your supplier and within no time you will have your rental car.

Downtown locations consume a lot of time as rental depots may not be at the prime/ central location that’s easy to locate, ‘the saving money’ aspect is there though, but if your priority weighs more towards saving time, airport pick-up is meant for you.

Distance from Your Hotel

Picking up your car at the airport is ideal when you have a lot of luggage, and/or there is considerable distance between your hotel and airport. This way you can save a lot of your effort and time.

You can consider renting a car from the city location if your hotel is near to the pick-up point, this way you can schedule collecting your rental car when you need it, which will save you a few days of rental. With the airport pick-up you will have to take your car rental immediately as you arrive.

TIP: You can check out your preferred location right now. USA Cars Rental has the widest fleet of car options along with the more than 20,000 locations you can choose from.

Local vs Foreigner

If you are not familiar with the roads and locations of the country you are landing in, it is recommended to choose the airport pick-up center only, as that way you will not have to go through any confusions and hassle.

Downtown location car rental pick-ups are meant for the people more familiar with the lanes of the city, as sometimes you have to cross the streets and narrow lanes.

Airport pick-up benefits mostly outweigh the extra costs you are paying. Yet, it is recommended to compare the packages thoroughly at USA Cars Rental, related to the costs and location to avoid any last minute surprises. Panic is an enemy of rationality, so make sure before traveling you have all things sorted.

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