Renting

Can You Take a Rental Car Out of State?

Driving across state lines isn't something many think about on a daily basis, but it could be a big issue if you're renting. So, can you take a rental car out of state? Read on to find out.

Read time

8 minutes

Date

11.08.2023

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Rental car companies typically let you take a rental car out of state, but specific limitations and exclusions vary. It’s best to check with a rental car agency first before whisking your rental away across the country, especially if you plan to drop off the car off at a different location. Even though driving a rental car across state lines isn’t anything new, be upfront with your rental agency or risk some tough questions once the GPS unit sounds the alarm. 


Renting a car to travel across the country can save your personal car thousands of miles of wear and tear. While you pay a premium to put the miles on a rental company’s car, the cost savings of mechanical breakdowns and insurance claims can far outweigh the price of your rental. 


If you’re looking for an alternative to the age-old rental routine, check out FINN car subscriptions. When you subscribe with FINN, you can choose the exact car that shows up at your doorstep. Adjust your mileage and terms to fit your lifestyle, and you’re ready to get behind the wheel. FINN charges one monthly subscription fee that covers practically everything but gas, so you can stay within budget and have fun simultaneously.

Can you drive a rental car out of state?

You can drive a rental car out of state if you notify the car rental company that you’re doing so. Depending on which rental car company you rent from, crossing state lines carries various restrictions. Many smaller regional rental car agencies don’t allow you to drive out of state, especially on a one-way trip, due to the cost of retrieving that vehicle. 

Can you rent a car and return it to a different state in the U.S.?

Unless you rent in Alaska or Hawaii, you can typically rent a car and return it to a different U.S. state. It’s best to check with the rental car agency you’re renting from for details on specific rules and regulations surrounding renting in one location and returning in another. This type of rental is often called a “one-way” rental, which you’ll find defined below. 

Can you rent a car and drive across borders to Canada or Mexico?

If you take a rental car out of the country, such as to Canada or Mexico, you must show proof of written authorization from the rental car company that allows you to complete such an act. Attempts to cross any international borders without written authorization could result in criminal fines, jail times, and a null and void rental agreement. If you import the vehicle, you must comply with any regulations surrounding taxes, duties, and safety regulations. 


Insurance coverage may or may not transfer when crossing the border into Mexico or Canada. This statement applies to your primary insurance coverage and any coverage you elected through the rental agency. Car rental companies claim no responsibility for legal fees, tickets, or fines you incur with the rental car. 

Do rental cars have GPS tracking?

Yes, most rental cars contain GPS trackers that alert the rental car agency to the car’s location. Some companies configure the GPS tracker to notify them if the vehicle crosses state lines. Given such modern technological advancements, it’s best to be honest with car rental companies and let them know upfront that you will cross state lines at some point in your trip. 

Which rental car companies do not restrict driving out of state?

Mentioning that you will drive your rental car out of state isn’t taboo. Indeed, check out the major rental car companies that let you drive your rental car across state lines:  

  • AlamoIf your one-way rental includes a drop or “inter-city fee,” Alamo will include that in your final pricing. 
  • AvisBesides allowing one-way rentals and interstate travel, Avis offers inspiration for your next cross-country road trip
  • BudgetIf you rent a car in Las Vegas from Budget and drive it out of state, you’re restricted to Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and California
  • DollarYou can rent a car one-way with Dollar, but a “drop” fee will apply.  
  • EnterpriseUnless you rent a specialty or large vehicle, Enterprise offers unlimited mileage for weekend rentals and no restrictions for driving to Canada and back. 
  • HertzWith so many nationwide rental locations, one-way car rentals don’t cost a fortune with Hertz
  • NationalLike Enterprise, National lets you drive rental cars throughout Canada and the United States without issue. However, you cannot drive your National rental car into Mexico.  
  • ThriftyCanadian residents cannot drive rental cars into Canada if owned within the U.S.


Finding a rental car alternative like FINN can help you avoid the hassle of various rental car fees and restrictions. Instead, FINN offers a selection of cars you can choose from, including the make, model, color, and trim that best fits your requirements. FINN’s fleet includes premium brands such as Audi, Cadillac, and Volvo. Skip the Enterprise vs. Hertz debate and see how you can approach transportation differently with a FINN car subscription.

When can’t you take rental cars out of state?

Car rental companies don’t let you take rental cars out of state unless you specifically note you’re driving across state lines due to liability. The further you take a vehicle from its central hub, the higher the potential for damage or loss. Though it’s common to see rental cars with out-of-state plates, they’re often shifted around due to supply and demand. 

What does unlimited mileage mean on a rental car?

Rental cars with unlimited mileage allow you to drive them as many miles as you want until your rental period ends. Many rental car companies feature unlimited mileage to give renters free rein of the country. However, some promotions and discounts incorporate mileage restrictions, so it’s best to read the fine print to ensure you abide by any existing mileage limits. 


As a popular rental car alternative, FINN offers generous mileage limits on all its subscription vehicles. While not unlimited, these limits rely on a monthly formula, allowing you to manage them across your subscription term as you see fit. If you need more miles, you can purchase them ahead of time. 

What is a one-way rental?

A one-way car rental involves picking up a car in one location and returning it to another. For example, if you picked up your rental car in California but dropped it off in Texas, you’d have a one-way rental. The alternative is a roundtrip or two-way rental, which involves renting a car, driving it to another destination, and returning it to the original location once the rental period ends. 


Most one-way rentals come with an additional fee. Rental car companies charge for a one-way rental because of the logistics required to track and manage that car once it’s out of a particular state. One-way rental fees can be steep, especially if you’re driving a rental car away from a high-demand area. Driving one way can be more expensive than a roundtrip rental, but the inconvenience could lessen the impact of such a fee, depending on your itinerary. 


Though it’s possible to pay for a car rental with a debit card, renting a car one-way to drive to Canada or Mexico isn’t often allowed. Most rental car companies don’t allow you to drive your rental car one way into Mexico and will charge you for the cost of the car and any additional assessed fees if you do. Regulations surrounding driving a rental car into Canada as a one-way trip tend to be more lax, but not without the paperwork necessary to comply with international regulations. 

Can you return a rental car to a different location?

Yes, you can return a car to a different location. Depending on the rental car company, you may not be charged any additional fees. For instance, if you drive a car from an area of low demand into one of high demand, you could do so without an extra fee. However, the reverse applies, resulting in a penalty for dropping a rental car off at a different location if that particular city or state is in low demand. 

Final thoughts

You can often take a rental car out of state if you’re upfront and honest with the car rental company. Many rental car agencies charge a one-way fee if renters return a rental car to a location other than the original pick-up location, but specific rates vary between companies. You typically cannot drive a vehicle one-way into Mexico or Canada without the proper approvals, if allowed. 


Avoid the hassle of one-way rentals with a FINN car subscription. When you subscribe to a FINN vehicle, your selection includes pickups, electric cars, premium sedans, and SUVs. Terms include a straightforward subscription term, complete with mileage limits, insurance, registration, maintenance, and depreciation. When you’ve completed your FINN subscription, renewing simply requires picking another vehicle and enjoying FINN’s terms for another six to 12 months.

Can I Take a Rental Car Out of State
Can I Take a Rental Car Out of State

Final thoughts

You can often take a rental car out of state if you’re upfront and honest with the car rental company. Many rental car agencies charge a one-way fee if renters return a rental car to a location other than the original pick-up location, but specific rates vary between companies. You typically cannot drive a vehicle one-way into Mexico or Canada without the proper approvals, if allowed. 


Avoid the hassle of one-way rentals with a FINN car subscription. When you subscribe to a FINN vehicle, your selection includes pickups, electric cars, premium sedans, and SUVs. Terms include a straightforward subscription term, complete with mileage limits, insurance, registration, maintenance, and depreciation. When you’ve completed your FINN subscription, renewing simply requires picking another vehicle and enjoying FINN’s terms for another six to 12 months.

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