Renting A Car in Australia Explained: A Complete Guide

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People want to know how they can rent a car in Australia and what they need to know about car rentals.


Renting a car is a cost-effective and excellent way to make your travel experience more comfortable and convenient. It can make getting around the city much easier, mainly when residing in an area where public transport is less frequent.


You will also find that renting a car gives you more flexibility, freedom, and a feeling of security. It lets you work night shifts or plan road trips to discover various parts of Australia.


Here, we have a complete guide to help you learn about car rentals in Australia. This guide will provide various tips on renting a car in Australia and the best car rentals. 


Also, it will introduce you to Australia's traffic and rental laws to book and pick your car hire.



1. How To Rent A Car In Australia?


The process is simple if you choose to rent a car in Australia. All you need to do is follow the steps below, and you will be ready to hire a car:



Step 1: Make Arrangements In Advance


It is always better to book your car online before you arrive in Australia rather than waiting to go to an enterprise car rental in Australia. Renting a car on the phone or online through a rental company is usually less expensive.


Also, if you wait to rent a car until you arrive, you may find out that the rental companies have sold out the cars of your choice, and there is no vehicle left for you that is within your price range. So try to make all the arrangements ahead to avoid high rental rates.



Step 2: Look For A Car Rental Company


There are several car rental companies through which you can rent a car either online, in person, or via phone. Most well-known car rental companies have offices at the airport or in Australian cities where you can pick up your car.


Some popular local car hire companies include SixtBudgetThrifty car rental Australia, and more. The Australian Travel and Tourism Network can also help you to a fine of the companies, depending on where you need the car.


Here are a few things you should consider when searching for a car rental company:


  • When searching for the best car insurance or hiring a car, you first need to check the rental prices of different locations. Also, consider that hiring a vehicle in the city is cheaper in Australia than renting it at the airport.


  • The major car rental companies have websites with a portal to make reservations. You can also use travel websites like Kayak or Expedia to compare the rates of different car hire companies on one platform.


  • If you want more information on car rental companies, you can check travel reviews of people renting cars in Australia. Tripadvisor is the best place to find reviews — it will give you an overview of which company has the best prices and policies.



Step 3: Compare Offers


Once you have explored some car rental companies, compare their policies and prices. Remember, prices may significantly vary from one company to the other, so consider various other options. 


Make sure you know the rental contract's specific terms and conditions, including administrative fees, insurance policies, and mileage limits.



2. What Is The Minimum Age Requirement For Renting A Car in Australia?


The rules vary between different car rental companies in Australia. Generally, most companies require you to be at least 21 years of age to rent a car. A few companies may charge you extra fees if you are under 25. 


And some even have a maximum age limit of 75 years. Additionally, you need to hold a driver's license for a minimum of one year or an open license to hire a car in Australia.



3. Can You Rent a Car In Australia With a US or UK License?


Most car companies in Australia accept all English language driving licenses. However, you will require an international driving permit if your license is not in English but in another language. 


Remember, car rental companies in Australia do not approve photocopies of learner licenses or provisional licenses.



4. Do You Need Auto Insurance To Rent a Car?


Yes, you need rental car insurance in Australia to rent a car. Usually, most companies require you to have two policies:


  • Theft Insurance: It covers the loss of the vehicle, but it doesn't cover any of your belongings inside the car. For that, you can opt for other policies for personal effects and personal accidents. You can get more information on this from your car rental company.


  • Collision Damage Waiver: It covers you in case of an accident or damage to your rental car. The cost of the waiver entirely depends on the type of rental car you hire and the city where you will drive the vehicle. Generally, it may cost you between $10 to $30 per day.


Not having rental car insurance in Australia may be extremely risky and expensive, particularly if you encounter an accident or a collision.


If you are responsible for the accident, you must pay the car rental company the total cost of the damage. You also have to cover the cost of any other property or vehicle damage during the collision. If someone gets hurt, you must also pay for medical expenses.



5. How Much Do You Need To Pay When Renting A Car in Australia?


The car rental rates depend on the supplier you hire your car from and the time of the year. It may also vary based on the type of car you choose to hire and the location from where you rent your vehicle. 


For instance, if you have booked a car hire at Brisbane airport, it will involve an extra daily surcharge.



6. Where To Pick Up Your Rental Car?


There are many places where you can pick up your rental car. Most rental companies in Australia have depots in metropolitan cities like SydneyMelbourne, and Brisbane.


However, if you are flying to Australia, you can pick up your car from the airport. Organising your rental car insurance and booking your car hire before arriving in Australia is highly recommended.


Hiring a vehicle ahead of arrival is always better as it allows you to get the best car rental in Australia deals at a cheaper rate.



7. Where To Drop Off Your Rental Vehicle?


Before dropping off your vehicle, you must schedule a time with the car hire company. If required, you can also extend the date for dropping off the rental car. Also, it is necessary to leave the vehicle at the exact location where you picked it up.


You can even drop it off at a different destination, including another state. This is called a one-way rental. So, for instance, if you book a car hire in Sydney, you can return it in a car hire in Melbourne without any inconvenience. 


However, there is one condition; you must drop off the vehicle at the agency mentioned in your car rental agreement.


The fee for a one-way car rental in Australia mostly depends on the destination where you want to return your vehicle. Before you choose where to end your trip, compare the drop-off rates in different cities. 


You may pay a lower one-way fee by driving an extra hour and dropping off your car in a different city.



8. What Happens if You Get A Speeding Ticket When Driving A Rental Car in Australia?


In Australia, you will see speed cameras installed everywhere, so you always need to stay alert when it comes to speed. The car rental company will receive your speeding fine if you get caught on camera.


There are different speed limits in Australia. Therefore, always keep your eyes on the signs because speeds can change immediately, depending on the roadworks, road conditions, etc. 


During school hours, the speed limit is 40 km/hr in school zones, and in South Australia, it's 25 km/hr. Besides, cities and other developed areas have a speed of 50 to 60 km/hr.



9. Hidden Car Rental Charges


You need to be aware of the several hidden car hire fees added to the total cost of your rental bill. Some of these rental charges include the following:


  • Additional Mileage: A few car rental companies limit how many kilometres you can travel daily. So read the terms and conditions properly before renting a car.


  • Refuelling Fee: If you do not return the car with a full tank or choose a pre-paid option, the car rental company will charge you the premium fuel price.


  • Late Pick-up: If you run late picking up your car, you might pay for the late pick-up fees. Hence, if you are flying to Australia, fill in the correct flight details when renting your car. If you are picking up the vehicle directly from the agency, make sure to reach on time and if there are any delays, inform them in advance.


  • Late Drop-off: Most car rental companies in Australia start charging an hourly rate after 30 minutes if you return the car after the due date. Therefore, ensure you are not running late to drop off your vehicle.


  • Young Driver Fee: Student car rental in Australia may lead to extra charges. So if you are under the age of 25, you may be charged an additional fee by your car rental company.


  • Administrative Fee: It is common for rental car firms in Australia to charge you an administrative fee of up to 3.5%. So, you can hardly do anything about it.



10. Common Requirements For Renting A Car in Australia


  • You need to have a valid driver's license, either international or Australian.

  • You must be 21 years of age. 

  • You require auto insurance to rent a car, so you are covered.

  • You pay a damage deposit in advance when you pick up the vehicle.

  • You are not allowed to take your rental car on ferries. 

  • You should have your credit card when paying for your rental at pick-up.



11. Consider The Basic Road Rules For Driving In Australia



  • In Australia, you drive on the left side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the right side. It can be tricky for people who belong to the United States or other countries where the rule is to drive on the right side. Before arriving in Australia, you can watch some YouTube videos to get tips on driving. And once you arrive in Australia, you should start driving on smaller roads to get comfortable with the change.


  • Throughout Australia, the blood alcohol limit is .05%. Provisional drivers or learners cannot have alcohol running in their system while driving. Remember, there is no tolerance for drunk driving in Australia.


  • Making a left-hand turn is illegal unless there is a signpost at the red signal.


  • If you break any road rules in Australia, your car hire company will receive a notification.



12. Top Tips When Renting a Car in Australia


  • Take a close look at your rental terms and conditions, and do not hesitate to ask any questions when you pick up your car. 

  • Make sure you carefully inspect the vehicle before you leave and check for any damage, no matter how minor. Examine your car in front of the sales assistant.

  • Take photos of the car at the beginning and end of the hire. 

  • Double-check to confirm that the vehicle you picked is the same model you booked. If not, the car hire company may upgrade your car.

  • Research how you can pay a toll when you're going to big cities in your rental car.

  • If you have an accident or the car breaks down during the rental, follow the procedures of the rental company. Do not repair the vehicle without approval.



13. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



What Are The Rules For Renting a Car in Australia?


Before renting a car in Australia, you must familiarise yourself with the requirements and laws for renting a car.


  • You must be 21 or above to rent a car. Some companies charge an additional fee to drivers between 21 to 25 years. 

  • Have a valid and suitable driver's license for the car you wish to rent. Australian car rental firms don't accept probationary licenses. 

  • You should drive on the left-hand side of the road with the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car. 

  • Have Auto insurance such as Theft Insurance and Collision Damage Waiver. Collision Damage Waiver lowers any deductible you might owe the rental firm in case of an accident. Theft insurance offers coverage for the loss of the car and not the belonging. 

  • Car rental firms don't permit their cars on ferries.

  • You must wear seat belts while driving.

  • You can't use your phone while driving.

  • The alcohol levels in your blood while driving must not exceed 0.05%

  • Stick to the speed limit of 40 km/h in school zones, 50 or 60 km/h in cities and towns, 110km/h on motorways, and 130km/h on some regions of the Stuart Highway.

  • Usually, motorways are free to use with no tolls except in major cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.



What Do You Need When You Go Rent a Car?


Ensure you carry the following documentation when visiting the car rental company.


  • A copy of your passport.

  • A valid and original driving licence, held for a minimum of 12 months or, in some cases, 24 months.

  • A copy of your booking confirmation that mentions your booking confirmation number. It will help eliminate any questions about the price, rental dates, or mileage limits.

  • Your credit card to pay for the car rental charges.

  • Rental car insurance documents

  • Also, take your personal identity verification documents like ID proof, etc., if you arrive at a rental car company without a reservation.



How Much Does A Car Rental Cost in Australia?


Car rental prices differ based on the:


  • The car rental company

  • The vehicle's brand and model (Prices will go up for speciality cars and high-end vehicles from independent suppliers.)

  • The season (Immediately after a major holiday)

  • The rental period - Short-term rentals (lasting less than a week) come at a higher cost than weekly rentals, as they do not include daily fees.).

  • One-way fee (You may require paying a hefty fee if the drop-off location differs from the pick-up location of the vehicle)

  • Number of kilometres (Unlimited Mileage/ Authorised mileage)

  • The city you are renting the car in (Car rental is costlier in a small town than in a big city as the demand exceeds the supply)

  • Time of booking (Booking may get you discounts or special deals that can lower the rental rate)

  • Added extras like insurance (having car rental insurance can reduce the rental charges as it saves you from paying a deposit)

  • Extras (Rental charge may be more if you rent equipment such as a baby seat, GPS type, toll tags, ski-racks, satellite radio, etc.) 



Average Car Rental Cost For Different Vehicles in Australia:


  • $30 per day for an Economy Car

  • $40 per day for a Medium Car

  • $45 per day for an SUV vehicle

  • $60 per day for a 5-door car

  • $80 per jour for a Sedan car

  • $85 per day for a 4WD or a station wagon

  • more than $100 per day for a premium car



Why Do Car Rentals Hold Money?


The rental agencies hold money as a "deposit" to cover their backs in case they need to charging you for penalties or fines in the event of vehicle damage. 


The credit card provider is usually holding the deposit amount. When it is blocked, the rental company won't move it from your account, but you won't be able to use it. You get your locked deposit back a few days or a month after returning the vehicle in the same condition you picked it up.


On rental booking cancellation, the company retains the deposit. It may charge an additional penalty for failing to pick up your booked car. The best way to remove this monetary liability is to hire car rental insurance.



What Is The Deposit For Most Rental Cars?


The rental/security deposit amount varies between companies depending on the car category, the type of insurance, and the driver's age.


Generally, the car rental agency requires a pre-authorisation of 200.00 AUD at the start of the rental period. Commercial vehicles usually require a pre-authorisation of 500.00 AUD at the beginning of the rental period.


Here are the deposits that top car rental agencies charge for most rental cars:


  • Hertz - Up to USD 200 for a credit card and USD 500 for a debit card for all car models. 

  • Thrifty - Up to USD 200 for a credit card and USD 500 for a debit card. 

  • Enterprise – Between USD100 to USD500 from customers from the beginning of the transaction.

  • Alamo – Between USD 200 and USD 400 based on your rental location.

  • National – Between USD200 and USD400 

  • Lyft - up to USD250

  • Avis - USD 200 for a credit card and USD 100 for a debit card.



What Is The Best Way To Hire a Car in Australia?


Do you wonder what makes a good car rental? Here are some valuable tips to help you get on the road: 



Book Ahead of Time


Waiting to reserve your rental car until you are in Australia will cause you to pay more than needed.


Most car rental companies nowadays offer free cancellations to customers. The further ahead you book a car, the better the chance you will have to secure the vehicle of your choice.



Use Aggregator Websites To Search For Cars To Rent


Instead of using one website to find a suitable car, check aggregator websites that let you compare car rental options from multiple providers in one place. It can help you make the right decision in less time.


If you find no car that matches your preferences, consider checking websites operated by car rental agencies. Also, tweaking the pick-up location and collection time may get you some matching options.



Don't Just Settle For The Initial Price; Look For The Best Price


Several car hire agencies offer discounts on car rental fees to their members or those with a specific credit card. It is worth checking the car loyalty program to find any corporate or loyalty discounts you may be entitled to.



Don't Limit Your Search to Major Car Hire Agencies


Besides the major car hire brands such as Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, Budget, etc., some emerging global car rental firms in Australia are worth exploring.


Companies like Sixt and Enterprise keep introducing special offers, discounts, and competitive rates to attract customers. Consider visiting the websites individually, as they are less likely to be found on aggregator websites.



Try Until You Succeed


Don't get disheartened even if you don't find a suitable match in your initial search. As travellers modify and cancel their travel plans, you may find the desired model a few days later. Search results change every single day, so stay hopeful and keep searching.



Check Your Car Rental Insurance Terms


Double-check any auto rental insurance or excess cover you may have via a credit card or a broader travel insurance policy. Such coverages usually come with significant limitations you must know when renting a car.



Plan If You Expect To Use Toll Roads.


Toll roads can be practically inescapable in certain cities. At the same time, they can be helpful and time-saving in other areas to commute between locations. Thus, you need additional planning to use toll roads in a hire car.



Be Vigilant


Once you find a match at a car hire agency, carefully assess the interiors and exteriors of the car. If you find any damage, bring it to the notice of the car hire agency immediately.


As part of the pre-rental inspection, you should take close-up photos and videos of all areas of the car you plan to hire to avoid any issues (or penalties) when returning it.



Why Don't Rental Cars Take Debit Cards?


Most prominent car hire companies accept major credit cards with enough credit to cover total rental charges when renting the car. They will place a specific deposit amount as a security hold on your card.


Rental companies don't accept debit cards for the deposit as they can't guarantee whether the renter will have adequate funds in his bank account to cover the bill if the vehicle gets damaged or lost.


However, with a credit card, the rental companies are confident that they will recover the money from the renter as long as it is within the cardholder's credit limit.



Do You Need A Credit Card To Hire A Car in Australia?


Yes. Having a credit card is a requirement to rent a car in Australia. Most car hire companies take out a deposit for car rental from your credit card and refund the amount when you return the vehicle in the best condition.


However, some rental agencies in Australia allow renters to rent a car with a debit card. You may require authorising an extra amount as a "bond" on top of the car rental deposit. As the exact terms and conditions vary between providers, research the company before visiting it.



Can I Use A Debit Card to Rent a Car in Australia?


Car hire agencies usually require a credit card and won't accept debit cards with credit card logos.


However, some rental car companies in Australia, including Hertz, East Coast, Europcar, Budget, Avis, and Thrifty, permit booking through a debit card at most locations. However, it has to be only a Visa Debit Card or Mastercard Debit Card. Prepaid debit cards are not acceptable.


Additionally, customers must meet the supplier's terms and conditions to qualify for debit card payment. It includes an upfront bond payment, card surcharge, and an adjusted amount for the security deposit so that the car rental provider can recover the money in the event of loss or damage to the vehicle.



How Do You Pay Tolls in a Rental Car in Australia?


In most cases, your rental car is associated with a toll account supervised by your rental provider. If the provider doesn't have a current tolling arrangement, you can use your Linkt pass or account to cover toll road trips in your rental car.


To use your tolling arrangement, you can bring your tag in the rental car and install it properly before travelling. Alternatively, before travel, add your rental vehicle's licence plate number (LPN) to your existing Linkt pass or account.


Next, ask the rental company to remove existing tags in the car that doesn't belong to you. Make sure to delink the rental car's LPN from your Linkt pass or account when returning it to the car hire company to avoid incurring toll road expenses that are not yours.


Once the arrangement is made, you can use the permissible payment modes to pay toll invoices for travel through various tunnels in different cities in Australia.


To know how I pay tolls in Sydney with a hire car, you can use your licence plate number to search for your toll notice online. Once you get the toll details, you can pay your toll invoices using the:


  • By paying online

  • Using BPay 

  • By transferring it to your Linkt account

  • Using the Linkt app

  • By visiting a participating retail outlet in person with your toll notice

  • Over the phone.



What's The Difference Between E-Toll and Linkt?





An E-toll tag enables you to travel on any toll road in Australia.


To use this facility, you need to link your vehicle LPN to your tag account before travelling. Also, ensure you have adequate funds to cover your trips. You can use the interactive toll calculators to compute your tolls for toll roads across Australia.





Rental cars from most major car hire companies already have a toll arrangement with Linkt. It enables you to use your Linkt Rental Account to ensure your toll payments are smooth and convenient to track.


When renters travel on a toll road, they get an SMS or email from Linkt about a Linkt Rental Account. Linkt charges their registered payment mode for the toll trip cost and a $3.30 fee per day for using a toll road.


Renters can log into their accounts using their Linkt details to track trips, access payment details, and download statements.


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