We know heading home for the holidays isn’t always as simple as jumping on a plane. For some, you might find yourself traveling via airports that only get you halfway to your destination, leaving you wondering how to cover the remaining distance. Clearly an airport shuttle to Mom and Dad’s house is out. And sure, ride shares can get you from point A to point B, but what if you want the freedom to explore a bit (read also: take a breather from 24/7 togetherness)? Answer: your best bet is renting a car to get you from the airport to home, and everywhere in between. We’ve analyzed the data and compared the rental car rates across the country to get you to your holiday parties—including those on New Year’s Eve.
Navigating the Northeast
If you hail from the Northeast, you may be used to flying into major metro airports to catch the best flight deal. The good news is that this behavior will be rewarded at the rental car check-in desk, too. As you head home for the holidays over the next few days, you can expect to find the best rental rates in bigger cities like Boston (median daily rate of $68), Newark ($69/day), and New York City ($86/day). Venturing farther outside major cities—that is, flying into regional airports—will cost you more to rent a car. Renting a car upon arrival in Providence versus Boston, for example, increases the median daily rate 53 percent to $104/day. Travelers flying into White Plains, NY will also see an increase outside the big city—with median daily rates jumping to $110/day.
The best Northeast deal to be found is in Philadelphia, with a median daily rental car rate of $52. If you’ve already booked your holiday flights to say, HPN, but can take the train to Philly to pick up a car, you’ll save more than half on your holiday rental.
Making Midwest Moves
Celebrating the holidays in the Buckeye State? Those who are Ohio-bound will save 54 percent by renting a car in Cincinnati ($23/day) versus the capital city of Columbus ($50/day). Michiganders returning home for Christmastime will find the best deals in Grand Rapids where the median daily rate is $51—an almost 50 percent savings from a Detroit-based rental that costs an average of $101/day. And good news for Chicagoans: you can expect to rent a car for $46/day—a thrifty find compared to your friends across the lake.
Celebrating Southern Style
South Florida-bound this time of year? Travelers can save 13 percent by picking up their car in Miami for a median daily rate of $62 versus Fort Lauderdale at $71 per day. If you’re heading to the Florida Keys for your NYE plans, you may want to hang on to that rental car. Rentals picked up in Key West clock in at a whopping $278 per day.
Taking your talents to Texas? Travelers renting cars out of Dallas will get the best rate at $35/day, followed by Austin at $41/day, then Houston at a median daily rate of $49.
Georgians, you’ll save slightly by booking a rental in your capital city. Daily median rates out of Atlanta average $44, while those flying into Savannah can expect to spend just a bit more at $47/day.
A West Coast Christmas
This holiday season, SoCal beats NorCal when it comes to saving on rental cars. Those flying into San Francisco will pay the most at $67/day, followed by those who are Oakland-bound at $66/day. Palm trees and savings at Christmastime hardly seems fair, but those who are San Diego-bound will pay $55/day for a rental car, while those making their way to Los Angeles will save the most—spending just $48/day to rent a vehicle.
Headed to the Pacific Northwest? Holiday travelers can expect to see little difference between renting a car out of major cities like Portland and Seattle—you’ll see a median daily rate of $51 in the former and $53 in the latter.
Meet Me in the Mountains
If a holiday ski trip is your celebratory speed, you can expect to make your way to your cozy cabin at the following rates: renting a car in Salt Lake City will cost you the most at $89/day; Denver will cost a median daily rate of $79; and Vail vacationers can expect a median daily rate of $76.
Methodology: Hipmunk analyzed its historical car rental bookings to find the median price for economy/budget vehicles in popular US cities for the Christmastime holiday/New Years Eve, when car rental pickup is Dec 19 -31.