If you are planning a trip and want to rent a cheap car in Australia, here are some tips to save money and to find the right vehicle. Driving a car in Australia is pretty easy, and it’s the best way to discover the big cities and its surroundings. Public transport is quite expensive in Australia, and campervan rental is not the best option if you don’t want to sleep in the vehicle. There are many car rental companies across Australia and prices can change depending on location, availability etc.
Car rental companies
Car rental agencies are spread all over Australia. They are usually located close to airports and city centres. However, it is harder to find an agency in small towns. For cheaper quotes, we suggest you go to a bigger city.
Most popular car rental companies
All these companies offer more or less the same services. Your choice is based on price and availability.
How to find a car to hire
To rent a car in Australia, you can either:
- Go directly to a car rental agency (if you’re already close by)
- Book a vehicle through a rental website
- Use a car rental comparison website
Car hire comparison
We recommend you to use a comparison website, so you can just relax while the search engine is doing the job. Then, you compare all available vehicles and choose the best offer.
How to rent a cheap car in Australia
Prices differ depending on the agencies, the city you’re renting the car in, the type of vehicle etc. It starts from approximately $25/day in big cities and can rise up to $150/day according to the type of car you rent and the rental options you choose. Count approximately :
- $30/ day for an Economy Car
- $40/ day for a Medium Car
- $45/ day for a SUV vehicle
- $60/ day for a 5-door car
- $80/ jour for a Sedan car
- $85/ day for a 4WD or a station wagon
- over $100/ day for a premium car
Renting a car is a lot more expensive in a small town than in a big city, because the competition is lower there and demand exceeds supply. As an example, renting a car in Byron Bay is much more expensive than in Brisbane.
Cheap car rental
Here are some recommendations to get a good deal with your car rental:
- Avoid small towns
- Avoid “one-way” rentals (learn more about “one way” rental below)
- Book well in advance
- Prefer the agencies that are near the airports (prices in the city are often higher)
- Rent a car for more than 3, 4 or 7 days. Daily rates usually decrease gradually.
- If you are traveling in a group, you can share the cost of rental and other expenses such as petrol.
- Compare the additional mileage costs. If the mileage costs are lower, a vehicle that is more expensive per day might eventually end up being cheaper in total.
Best cities to rent a car in Australia
If you want to hire a budget car in Australia, your best bet is to go to either Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, or Brisbane. It is cheaper in big cities because there are numerous rental companies competing for customers. If you want an even better deal, go to car rental companies in proximity to the airport. They can usually afford to make you a better offer because they don’t have to pay high rents for offices in the CBD or inside the airport.
Conditions for renting a car in Australia
- Be at least 19 (Generally it is required to be more than 21)
- Hold a driving license for at least 1 year
- Hold your Australian or national + international driver’s licence (or an official translation). If you hold a drivers licence written in English, you are not required to have an international driver’s licence.
- Have a credit card
One way rental
You can rent a car in a city and return it in another city. So you can rent a car in Sydney and return it in Brisbane. Hence, you need to return your vehicle in the agency indicated in your contract. The one-way fee will depend on several criteria, and specifically on the location, you want to return your vehicle. We recommend comparing the drop-off prices with different cities before choosing where to end your trip. It might actually be cheaper to drive an extra hour to return your car in another city.
A lot of companies charge additional fees when the driver is less than 21 years old. The rental agency can also add costs for car equipment such as GPS, car seats etc.
Kilometers are not always unlimited. There are indeed 2 options when you rent a car:
- Unlimited mileage. In this case, the price remains the same, whether you drive 100kms or 500kms.
- Restricted mileage allowance. You are not allowed to drive more than a certain number of kilometers. Any additional kilometer will be charged consequently. They usually charge around 0,25 cents/0,30 cents per additional driven kilometer. The costs depend on the car rental company you choose.
If you cancel your rental, the company will keep the deposit you made during your booking process. Sometimes the company also charges an additional penalty if you don’t pick up the car you booked.
A deposit is required for any rental. The cost of the deposit depends on the type of car you rent as well as the driver’s age. It is taken out of your credit card and you get a refund when you return the vehicle.
Insurance and deposit
You can choose to get insurance in order to have all the damages made to your vehicle or anyone else’s vehicle covered. Without this insurance, you will have to leave a deposit (“excess” or “bond”). The amount of this deposit corresponds to your percentage excess (maximum liability). The costs of insurance depend on the rental company and on the type of vehicle you rent (generally $20-30/day). Some companies offer cheap insurance but with an excess. Make sure you have a look at the extent in your rental contract. Sometimes your credit card or your travel insurance cover the excess for a car rental overseas. Don’t forget to have a look at your contract and check if you’re covered. Please note that even if you have this kind of insurance, you will still have to pay the deposit to the rental agency. Your private insurance will refund your repair costs but won’t pay the deposit for you! In many cases, breakdown assistance is included in your car rental contract, with no additional fees.
Tips when renting a car in Australia
Have a close look at your rental contract and don’t hesitate to ask any questions when you pick up your car.
- Make sure you carefully examine your car before you leave
- Take photos!
- If you’re planning on driving in the big cities, research how you can pay the tolls
- Double-check that the vehicle corresponds to the model you booked. It can happen that the model you booked is no longer available. In this case, you get a different model. If this happens, you should be upgraded.
Rent a 4WD
Renting a 4×4 (Four-Wheel Drive, 4WD) in Australia is recommended if you want to go to regions you can only get to from gravel roads. These are some of the most popular regions that are only accessible by 4WD (unless you’re lucky):
- Purnululu National Park
- Kangaroo Island
- Karrijini National Park
- Kakadu National Park
- Fraser Island
- Top End (Daintree to Cape York)
- Mereenie Loop
- Simpson Desert
Many travellers think they absolutely need a 4×4 for their road trip. But really it depends on where you’re going. For most of the must-see sights in Australia, driving a 4×4 is not necessary.
Even though most rental companies offering vans and motorhomes also rent out 4×4, they usually only have a couple to choose from. Especially in major cities like Sydney or Melbourne, you will have a hard time finding a 4WD. It’s best to get one in Perth, Broome, Darwin, or Cairns. In certain regions or national parks, such as the Kimberley or Fraser Island, you find a number of rental companies that are 4WD specialists. They’ve got a variety of 4×4 on offer. In some regions, you’re even required to rent a 4×4 from a specialist rental company.