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QCross Country Car Rentals: What are the Regulations?

AMost vehicles rented in the U.S. can be driven throughout the country and Canada, but there are usually some cross-border restrictions. If you’re traveling across country borders be sure to tell your provider.

cars at border crossing

One of the best ways to see everything your destination has to offer is from behind the wheel of your own rental car. Driving across America is arguably one of the most rewarding travel experiences, and you’ll end up witnessing sights that weren’t even on your itinerary.

Renting a car and heading on a cross-country road trip will allow you the freedom to savor your destination and stay longer in places you fall in love with, as well as make last-minute choices on where to eat and which direction to drive in next. But there are things you need to know if you plan on taking your rental car across a border, so read on for the lowdown on cross-country car rentals.

Can You Drive a Rental Car Across Borders?

Generally, vehicles rented in the U.S. can be driven throughout the U.S. and Canada, but there are usually some cross-border restrictions. If you’re planning to cross a border in your rental, be prepared to pay a cross-border fee.

Other times, depending on the rental car company, you will simply not be allowed to cross any borders, so if crossing borders is a necessary part of your trip, it’s worth checking which rules are in place when browsing various suppliers’ inventory for a rental.

Depending on your location and the company you’re renting with, you might come across different regulations for cross-country car rentals. For example, driving into Mexico is not always permitted and, if your travel plans will be taking you to Mexico, you may need to purchase additional insurance. You should ask your rental company if they have any such restrictive conditions in place.

U.S. and Canada map

Do You Have to Tell The Rental Company?

Remember to always tell your rental provider when making your booking what your plans are for crossing a border and into another state or country. Most agencies have GPS tracking in their vehicles and, if you don’t tell them that you’ll be crossing a border, or if they don’t confirm that they authorize it, you will void your insurance and protection should any accidents occur during the rental period. To cover yourself, make sure their consent to cross a border is mentioned in your rental agreement. Having their permission in writing is also necessary in case U.S. Customs ask to see written proof when you’re at the border.

How Much Do You Have to Pay to Cross a Border?

Since cross-country car rental can often incur an extra fee, you should factor this into your budget and inform your rental supplier, so that they can give you a breakdown of the costs. The fee will vary depending on your location and which borders you intend to cross.

A final point on cross-border car rentals: generally speaking, if you want to cross a border, you might not be allowed to do so in a luxury or premium car. The lower classes of vehicle will be more readily available for cross-border drivers.

How Much Is The Deposit To Rent A Car?

rental car deposit

The total amount you will be required to lay down for your car rental deposit will depend on several factors, including:

  • The type of car you wish to rent;
  • The country or countries you intend to drive the car in;
  • The age of the primary driver;
  • The car rental company;
  • The level and type of insurance taken out on the rental.

As a rule of thumb, the deposit will be as high as the deductible on the car’s collision damage waiver and theft protection policy. If you are already covered by your own insurance or you decide to purchase your own one, the rental car supplier may take a higher deposit.

Why Do I Need to Pay a Car Rental Deposit?

A car rental deposit is taken by car rental companies as a measure to protect themselves in case something happens to the car such as theft, loss, or collision. They need to make sure that their costs to repair or replace the car are covered. If you return the car damaged or very dirty, the company will keep hold of some of your deposit to pay for repair or cleaning costs.

rental car deposit

Will I Get my Deposit Back For my Car Rental?

The deposit will be released back to you 1-2 weeks after your rental period has ended, provided that you return the car undamaged.

How do I Pay The Deposit?

The deposit will be ‘blocked’ on your credit card. This means that while the money won’t be directly taken from your account, you won’t be able to spend it and it will count towards your spending limit. The deposit will usually need to be held on the same credit card that is being used to pay for the rental, and this should be in the main driver’s name, matching the name on the driver’s license. For this reason, you won’t be able to use anyone else’s card to provide the deposit.

Can I Avoid Putting Down a Deposit?

If you’re looking for a car rental without a deposit fee, there are some suppliers that allow this, but only in certain locations, so you’ll have to do some research on where this is possible. It might also mean that you need to register online with the supplier and buy their insurance or extra cover from them. If you don’t want to pay a deposit for your rental, try and book as early as you can ahead of your trip, so you’ll have more likelihood of finding a rental company who will allow you to rent from them deposit-free.

The information provided in this guide was accurate at the time of publication but is subject to change at any time. Please check your car rental company’s terms for the latest information.


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