It can be hard for international students to get around when they first come to America. Unlike other countries, cities and towns in the U.S. were planned and built around our highways and roads. Even if you live on campus, you could be miles from the nearest grocery store. In many places, walking is out of the question and ride-share apps get expensive quickly. Having a vehicle of your own gives you an enormous leg up if you’re attending college in America. Here’s a rundown of how to rent a car in Los Angeles for everyone new to the area.
Renting vs. Leasing or Buying
If you’ve never owned a vehicle before, the process of getting one can be confusing. There are three ways to acquire your own car in the United States. You can either rent, lease, or purchase a car. Here’s a quick rundown of each.
Renting is the shortest term option. When you rent a car in Los Angeles, you pay a daily, weekly, or monthly rate for a vehicle. This is an excellent option for students who are only in the US for a semester or two at a time. Rental periods are very flexible and can be extended at any time. The car rental company will usually take care of all of the standard maintenance, so you won’t have to worry about oil changes or check engine lights. If anything happens to the vehicle, your rental insurance often covers all of the expenses.
Leasing is more of a long term option. You can lease a car for a year to three years at a time. It’s usually a brand new vehicle, so leasing can get a little pricey. Leases also have a yearly mileage limit. At the end of the lease period, you must return the car to the dealership and pay any fees if you went over your allotted miles. You’re also responsible for maintenance, insurance, and any other expenses.
When you buy a car, it’s yours to keep. While that might sound appealing, owning a car as an international student can be a hassle. You have to pay for all of the maintenance, replacement parts, and labor out of pocket. You’ll also need to find long-term parking when you go back home, which can be expensive. If you get into an accident, you’re on the hook for your entire deductible and you’re out a car.
How to Rent a Car in Los Angeles
To rent a car in the United States, you’ll need to get a U.S. Driver’s License. If you’ve never driven a car before, it’ll be helpful to attend a driving school. If you’re an experienced motorist, you can take a short written exam and then a physical driving test to get your license.
After you have your driver’s license, you’ll have to find a car rental agency that will rent to students. Many traditional car rental companies discourage younger drivers from renting, and some will only rent to people 25 and older. Your best bet is to book through a smaller, independent car rental agency. They are much friendlier towards students and international drivers.
After you find the right car rental agency, you’ll need to pick your car. There are three main types of cars you’ll find at any rental agency. Compact cars, sedans, and SUVs. Your selection will fall to personal preference. Do you care more about gas mileage or trunk space? Do you want front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive? Ask your car rental agent about your options, so you get set up with the best vehicle for you.
Looking for a Rental Car in Los Angeles?
At Value Rental Car we want to help students get affordable transportation when they come to the US. We offer clean and affordable rental cars for local driving in LA, with complimentary pickup and drop off at LAX. If you’re a college student, we want to get you on the road. We rent to drivers under the age of 21, and we offer cash and debit card car rentals. Let us know what we can do to help.