Chicago is one of the most famous cities in America. The city has many tourist attractions, iconic sports teams, and delectable food you can only get in Chicago. While the city boasts of a pretty comprehensive public transportation system, nothing beats renting a car. Driving around means that you’re the captain of your ship, and you can go anywhere you want, anytime.
The city has several rental car companies you can choose from, but like any other service, you have to read the fine print. The specifics are almost always hidden in a jumble of jargon. You need to sift through the confusion because the information is useful to know before renting a vehicle.
If you’re in Chicago or planning a trip soon, here are a few things you should know about renting a car, Chicago-style.
If you’re not planning on driving alone, you have to register additional drivers. The rates vary for each rental company: Enterprise charges $12 a day per extra driver, while Hertz has a fee of $13.50. The other drivers need to be present with the main driver during registration. A major credit card and a valid driver’s license are also required.
Using a Debit Card
If you’re using a debit card, you’d have to go through a few extra steps before rental companies allow you to drive. Enterprise seems to have a hard stance on debit card use. You have to provide your latest utility bill, cable bill, or contract cell phone bill – all under your name. The address on the bill needs to match the address on your driver’s license. The bill also can’t have a past due balance greater than $100.
For Hertz, you’d need to submit two forms of identification before you can rent a car. A Hertz associate will then perform a credit check to see if you’re creditworthy. If you’re below 25 years old, you can’t use a debit card to pay for a rental. You also need to be there at the time of the lease. Renting by proxy or paying for the car over the phone isn’t allowed.
You’re out of luck if you only have enough credit to cover the rental price as indicated on the reservation. Rental companies will put an authorization hold on your credit or debit card to cover any future charges that you may incur. Both Enterprise and Hertz secure an additional hold of around $200 to $250, but it’s best if you call the nearest branch to make sure. Don’t forget to search the vin number of the vehicle before driving off to make sure you’re not getting a lemon.
Drivers under 25 always have to pay extra to rent and drive a car, and the Windy City is no different. Rental companies in Chicago have various age restrictions and corresponding fees. For instance, Hertz allow drivers as young as 20 years old to rent a car with a caveat. The company throws in an “Age Differential Charge” of $27 to $30 a day for drivers younger than 25 renting a car.
Enterprise has a “Young Renter Fee” of $12 a day on top of the rental price. Drivers under 25 can only rent economy and full-size sedans.
If you think you won’t be able to return the car before the rental office closes, check if the location has a key-drop box. You can also look into getting a one-way rental. These strategies allow you to leave the rental car at sites other than where you picked up the vehicle.
Hertz has over 20 locations in Chicago, half of which allow after-hour drop-offs. Enterprise has more than 150 locations across the windy city, but each office has different operating hours. Please remember that you are responsible for the car until the company inspects it and completes the transaction.