If you are visiting St. Louis for pleasure or business, you may need to rent a car during your stay. Below is some helpful information for renting a car in St. Louis.
Who can rent a car in St. Louis?
This depends largely on the St. Louis car rental agency that you are using. Each company has its own requirements in addition to some standard requirements that apply to most of the industry. You must be 21 years of age or older to rent a car. Most agencies charge an additional rental fee for drivers between the ages of 21 and 24. All drivers must have a valid driver’s license that is not a permit, temporary license, or copy of a driver’s license. You should check with the specific company to inquire whether your driver’s license must be from the same state where you are renting the vehicle.
Form of Payment for Renting a Car in St. Louis
In most cases, you must have an active major credit card to rent a car. Very few car rental agencies allow a driver to rent a car with a debit card; however, you can check with specific companies. Some companies will allow you to use a debit card; however, you may be charged additional fees. One way around this is to add an additional driver on the rental agreement who has a major credit card. Paying in cash is another problem when renting a car. You can pay in cash but you still must submit your major credit card as security for the car rental.
Should I purchase car rental insurance?
If you rely on the advice of the car rental personnel, they will tell you that you must purchase car rental insurance to protect yourself when renting a car in St. Louis. Car rental insurance is optional—you are not required to purchase this from the rental agency. Always check with your personal car insurance and/or homeowner’s insurance company to verify whether your policy covers rental cars. If you are renting a car in St. Louis for business, check with your employer to determine if the employer has an insurance policy that covers car rentals for employees.
Reserving a Rental Car vs. Walking In
Getting the lowest rate for a rental car in St. Louis depends on several factors including whether there are large events taking place during your rental period and whether the rental agency has a large inventory or very few cars available when you make your reservation. If you want to ensure you are receiving the lowest price available when renting a car, check the online price then call the agency directly to compare fees.
There will be times when walking into a car rental agency will result in a lower price; however, there is no guarantee. A disadvantage of not reserving a rental car in advance is the chance that you will have difficulty locating a rental car when you arrive. Therefore, your best option is to shop around online then call the agency directly to request a discount.
Common Fees Charged When Renting a Car in St. Louis
Each rental agency has various fees that it charges customers when renting a car. Some agencies use fees to increase the cost of the rental. Taking time to check fees with several agencies may decrease your rental fee substantially. Common fees that you may incur when renting a car in St. Louis include:
- Taxes – All rental agencies will charge this standard fee.
- Early or Late Return Fees – Most companies charge a late return fee; however, inquire if you will be charged a fee if you are early picking up the vehicle.
- Airport Surcharges – Renting a car at an airport location can substantially increase the rate you will pay for the rental.
- Miscellaneous Fees – Always question if the agency will be charging the following fees: mileage fees, fuel charges, roadside assistance fees, drop-off fees, equipment rental fees, and fees for additional drivers.
Tips for Returning Your Rental Car
Skip the pre-paid gas option that the sales agent tries to convince you is more convenient—this is a costly option. You save money by filling up the gas tank before you return the rental car but make sure you do fill up the tank or you will face a huge charge for returning the rental car on empty. It is always wise to check for a location to refuel near the car rental agency so that you do not waste time searching for a gas station when you are in a hurry to return the car.
Before leaving the car rental agency, you need to inspect the inside and outside of the vehicle for damage. If there is any damage, point this out to the car rental agent and snap a picture with your cell phone. You do not want to be held liable for damage that you did not cause. When you return the rental car, take pictures again in case the rental agency tries to charge you for damages that were not present when you returned the vehicle.
- Ask for an itemized statement of account before you leave the rental car agency. It is tempting to allow the agency to email you a copy of the statement; however, it is much more difficult to correct mistakes on the statement after you leave the car rental agency. Plan your return to allow time to review your bill and correct any mistakes or additional charges.
- Check the rental car thoroughly to ensure that you are not leaving anything in the car. While it is not necessary to clean the rental car before returning it, it is considered good etiquette when returning a rental car.
Rental Car Agencies in St. Louis
Below are several car rental agencies located throughout the St. Louis area.
- Avis Car Rental – There are several locations for Avis Car Rental in St. Louis, including one location at the St. Louis International Airport.
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Enterprise has 15 locations in and around St. Louis, including at least one location in the downtown area.
- Hertz – Hertz lists 35 locations for the St. Louis area, making it very convenient to find a location near your hotel or event.
- Alamo – Alamo only has one location in St. Louis. It is located at the St. Louis airport.