Las Vegas car hire

By Julia Buckley, your Las Vegas expert

I write for GQ, HotelChatter, Jaunted, .... Read more

Hiring a car in Las Vegas

Hire from McCarran International Airport

The McCarran Rent-A-Car Center (shuttles depart the airport every five minutes) has offices for Advantage (www.advantage.com), Alamo/National (www.alamo.com/www.nationalcar.com), Avis (www.avis.com), Budget (www.budget.com), Dollar (www.dollar.com), Enterprise (www.enterprise.com), Hertz (www.hertz.com), Payless (www.paylesscarrental.com), Savmor (www.savmorrac.com) and Thrifty (www.thrifty.com).

In my experience, Dollar and Budget have the best rates, but there are always interminable lines at Dollar because of that, and Budget cars are of a lower standard than other companies.

City-based hire

Most hotels have rental stations within the casinos and all of the companies listed above have various outlets at the hotels. Hertz, for example, has six locations on the Strip, including Caesars Palace and Wynn.

What you need to know about car hire

If you’re planning on sticking to the Strip, you won’t need a car, but if you want to get out into the desert (which I can’t recommend highly enough) you’ll need one.

Having a car in Vegas is a cinch. All Strip casinos have giant car parks and finding space is rarely a problem (the only car parks I’ve known to fill up are at MGM Grand and the Tropicana, so I always park at New York New York if I’m going to either of them). What’s more, parking is free on the Strip, and you don’t have to be staying in the hotel to leave your car there.

Downtown is a different story – car parks fill up and they charge, too.

The Strip is often gridlocked on Friday and Saturday nights, but at other times it’s easy to drive, and when it is choked up, I head two blocks east to Koval Lane and come in the back way. Vegas is incredibly easy to navigate so there’s no need for a GPS on the Strip.

You must be 21 to rent a car, and there’s usually a surcharge for under 25s. If you have the old style, paper driving licence (without a photo), you’ll need an International Driver’s Licence in addition to your normal licence. They’re easy to get from the (UK) Post Office.

When you pick up your car, beware of extra charges that they will often add to your bill without you asking, leaving the onus on you to deduct them. When I rented a car from Budget, they automatically added insurance options which took the total from $49 to $160 and were extremely reluctant to take them off. You’re not obligated to take any kind of extra charge, service or insurance, though, so stand your ground.

Finally, if you’re taking the car to California, let them know. Californian authorities are funny about out of state licence plates on hire cars, so most Vegas locations will give you a car with Californian plates instead.

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