Content on Jalopnik Advisor is commercial in nature and independent of Jalopnik Editorial and Advertising. Jalopnik Advisor content is free to consumers and always will be, however we and our partners may be compensated if you purchase a product or service through the links on this website.

Cheapest One-Way Car Rental

Through our research, we found the cheapest one-way car rental companies with the best deals are Expedia, Priceline, Hertz, Dollar, Alamo, and National.
06/21/2023 05:13 PM

In this article, we will highlight the cheapest one-way car rental companies on the market with the best rates available. We will also cover why renting a vehicle for a one-way trip is so expensive, discuss methods of getting one without drop fees, and outline some general tips for getting lower prices. Our team has reviewed the cheapest rental car companies and compared prices specific to one-way rentals to find you the best deals.

Key Takeaways

  • The best car rental rate is provided by Alamo at a price of $786 per week.
  • One-way car rentals are picked up from one company location and dropped off at another.
  • If you get a rental car for a one-way trip you’ll be charged a drop fee to make up for the cost of transport and lost profits at that location.
  • You can get a cheap one-way car rental by comparing rates, searching for coupons and promo codes online, and calling a pickup location for deals.

Who Has The Best One-Way Car Rental Rates?

We found that Alamo has the cheapest one-way car rental rates on the market. However, National, Priceline, Expedia, Hertz, and Dollar also have some of the best deals for one-way trips. However, be aware that you’ll find different rates depending on your route, the time of year, how far in advance you book, and the company you choose.

Best One-Way Car Rental Deals

The table below highlights each company’s best one-way car rental deals available. To help you compare, we have provided weekly one-way rental costs, round-trip rental rates, and one-way trip fees:

Car Rental CompanyWeekly One-Way RatesBase RatesAdditional Fee Cost
Alamo $786 $559 $227
National $860 $613 $247
Priceline $867 $296 $571
Expedia $879 $329 $550
Hertz $885 $397 $488
Dollar $886 $522 $364

*The rates in this table apply to renting a car from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and returning it to Orlando International Airport seven days later. These quotes were then compared to rates of renting from and returning to the same destination. 

6 Best Cheap One-Way Car Rental Companies

Even though Alamo has some of the cheapest one-way car rentals, it may not be the best for your trip. You’ll find different rates depending on your route, the time of year, how far in advance you book, and the company you choose. Also, some companies on our list have limited availability for one-way trip rentals.

To help you find the best one-way car rental for your situation, we’ve broken down our top six picks, including traditional companies and online rental car providers. The cheapest rates, price increases from one-way trip fees, and availability across the country for these services will be provided.


Total cost for one-way 7-day rental: $786

Price increase for one-way 7-day rental: $227

Mileage: Unlimited

Note: Limited availability for one-way rentals

Our team found cheap rates from Alamo of under $800 for a 7-day one-way rental. However, it took us a few tries to get rates from the company. While the company has locations in all 50 states, it seems Alamo’s availability for state-to-state rentals is limited compared to competitors. We recommend looking into the site for yourtrip, but be prepared to look elsewhere in case there are no one-way rental cars available for your route or schedule.


Total cost for one-way 7-day rental: $860 

Price increase for one-way 7-day rental: $247

Mileage: Unlimited

Note: Limited availability for one-way rentals

National’s one-way rental rates are affordable and only slightly more expensive than its single-location rates. That’s good news if you’re in the middle of a trip and need to change your destination. That said, we found National has limited availability for one-way rentals, similar to Alamo.


Total cost for one-way 7-day rental: $867

Price increase for one-way 7-day rental: $571

Mileage: Unlimited

Priceline is another good travel site for cheap one-way car rentals. Priceline’s rates were slightly cheaper than Expedia’s at about $867 for the week. Expedia and Priceline display the final price in our experience, but not all travel websites do this. For example, after clicking on a rate from Momondo, another popular travel site, we were redirected a couple of times to the final agency site and saw a rate that was about $50 higher in total.


Total cost for one-way 7-day rental: $879

Price increase for one-way 7-day rental: $550

Mileage: Unlimited

Travel sites like Expedia are a great place to start when you’re looking for the best price on a one-way rental. These companies have access to great rates from multiple rental agencies, including ones you may not know are available to you. We found rates of $879 for a one-way rental from Dallas to Orlando, which was among the cheapest of any company. Expedia also owns Travelocity and Orbitz–you’ll find comparable rates from those sites.


Total cost for one-way 7-day rental: $885

Price increase for one-way 7-day rental: $488

Mileage: Unlimited

Hertz is affordable for both single-location and one-way rentals. It also has thousands of rental locations across the country, so you will likely find availability on your trip. Hertz has a rewards program with many levels and perks, so you can take advantage of this even if you need to change your trip destination.


Total cost for one-way 7-day rental: $886

Price increase for one-way 7-day rental: $364

Mileage: Unlimited

Although DollarRent-A-Carr offers average rates for single-location rentals, it’s often one of the more affordable options for one-way rentals in particular. The company has a dated website experience but offers full transparency for all fees and surcharges included in the rate.

One Way Car Rental Price

Our team compared one-week reservations and found one-way rentals cost $524 more on average than round-trip rentals. Depending on the company, returning the car to a different location can increase your cost by anywhere from $230 to $1,000 for the week.

Some companies are transparent about the price increase and call it a “drop fee” in the total rate. Other companies increase the price without listing a specific fee for using a different drop-off location.

Why Are One-Way Rental Cars More Expensive?

Think about it this way: If rental car companies allowed vehicles to be taken wherever people were going without organizing them, vehicle selection at different locations would become chaotic. Less-popular destinations would lose cars over time while cars would pile up at popular locations.

Rental car companies frequently ship or drive vehicles between locations to maintain the right fleet selection. When you get a one-way rental car, the company will usually have to return it or a similar model to the original location unless by chance someone else is driving that model in the opposite direction.

Companies charge higher rates for one-way rentals to make up for their lost profits from the missing car and to cover the cost of moving vehicles around. The higher rate also discourages some renters from booking one-way vehicles.

How to Avoid One-Way Car Rental Drop-off Fees

Yes, you can rent a car one way without drop fees through promotions done by vehicle rental agencies. Most companies will disclose these deals on their special offers pages on their websites. However, the promo codes they provide often are for particular situations so you shouldn’t assume the drop fee will be waived and it’s best to read the fine print.

It is also possible to get a reduced or waived drop fee by comparing both airport and neighborhood rental locations. Using an online comparison site may also help you reduce the fees you pay when renting a vehicle one way. In any case, your best bet is to shop around and compare multiple pick-up and drop-off locations to find the best deals.

How to Get a Cheap One-Way Rental Car

Keep the following best practices in mind to get cheap one-way car rentals:

  • Search for online coupons to use on travel sites like Expedia or rental agencies like Hertz
  • Call the front desk at your pickup location to see if they have any one-way car rental deals (the agency may need to send a certain vehicle model your way)
  • Use a major credit card to book as you’ll have a smaller security deposit
  • See if your credit card company offers rental car benefits or consider signing up for one that does
  • Book a compact car over a full-size sedan or SUV
  • Consider changing your return date to a Saturday or weekday if your travel plans permit since some rental locations are closed on Sundays
  • Get prices for a few different return locations in your destination city
List of things drivers can do to get the cheapest rental car costs possible, with accompanying images

Cheapest One-Way Car Rentals: Conclusion

The cheapest one-way car rental company depends on your trip details and when you book, but Expedia, Priceline, Hertz, Dollar, Alamo, and National are all great options. To avoid headaches, book your one-way trip in advance if possible, and compare rates from different companies.

Cheap One-Way Car Rental: FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about the cheapest one-way car rentals:

What is the cheapest one way car rental company?

According to our cost research, Alamo offers the cheapest one-way car rentals overall. However, the company has limited availability for these types of services so it depends on where you’re booking and dropping off.

What is the best rental car company for one-way trips?

We found Hertz to be one of the best companies for one-way car rentals. Hertz has an enormous rental car fleet and thousands of locations across the country, which helps it offer affordable one-way rates.

How do you avoid one way car rental drop fees?

You can avoid drop fees for your one-way car rental by using promotions specific to one-way trips, booking on a travel site, or scheduling a rental during the off-season. You can also typically void drop fees if you are dropping off at an airport location.

Why is it so expensive to rent a car one way?

It costs rental companies money to move cars from one location to another, so they usually charge customers more to rent a car one way. You may pay slightly more to drop the car off at a busy location or a lot more to drop the car off at an out-of-the-way spot without much business.

Is it cheaper to rent a car for a week rather than a few days?

It’s usually cheaper to rent a car for three or four days than a whole week, but this is not always the case. Rental car prices change constantly, so compare rates from multiple companies with different pickup date and drop-off date selections to see which is cheaper for you.