How to find Cheap rental cars in Hawaii (updated 2023)

Are you wondering how to find the best rental cars in Hawaii – then read on.

If you want to get more on your Hawaii vacation outside of just staying in Honolulu or your resort most of the time, the best option of seeing all the attractions to each island is to have a car rental Hawaii option for a few days or more.

You may not need to rent a car for your entire visit but know that weekly rates or longer can factor into cheaper overall daily rates on the rental. Here’s a quick look at rental cars in Hawaii and what you need to do to secure a better rate.

If you are going to rent a car to explore for a few days or longer, check out these tips on how to save for your rental car during your visit.

find your car rental Hawaii now
find your car rental Hawaii now

Why are car rental rates so high in Hawaii?

Rental car agencies are starting to merge and in Hawaii there are three large conglomerate groups which are Enterprise (Enterprise, Alamo and National), Hertz (Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty) and last Avis and Budget combined.

Gas prices are the highest in the country and gas prices are even higher for the outer islands, since everything is shipped from Oahu.

You will have to pay a daily Hawaii road fee and a GE state tax 4.71%, state motor vehicle tax of $5 daily, airport concessions and other facility charges on your final bill.

During peak holiday season and events, rental car prices increase due to scarcity so plan ahead depending on the time you decide to vacation and look for car rentals immediately.

So, for the wise on a budget, consider consolidating your visits and needs for a rental car to required days of traveling around your island and maybe choosing public transportation, walking or Uber to get around the rest of the time.

How to save on your car rental costs for Hawaii find your car rental Hawaii now
How to save on your car rental Hawaii now

How to save on your car rental costs

In Hawaii compact cars are more in demand and actually cost more than mid-range to larger cars on the lot, so take that into consideration in finding a better deal.

You may just opt to use a car rental for a few days to consolidate your visits to key attractions around the islands in between longer stays at a resort or more urban center where you can take public transport or utilize Uber or taxi services.

It is just as important to plan and book your car rental at the same time with hotel and flights. Many airlines and consolidators do offer package deals that cover all of the vacation needs, so you might look into combination packages for your Hawaii trip.

Our preferred rental consolidator is Discount Hawaii Car Rental which covers all the islands. You can save on their rates to all the major rental groups even during the peak season. This typically covers all the major car brands on the islands.

Check other car rental groups to compare prices and other fees in their offerings and availability.

Check services you might already have with AAA, Costco and AARP.

Other important tips to a car rentals and saving costs

Locally on the islands, you can check Facebook groups for each island Marketplace or Craigslist with private owners.

Check your final receipt for all fees and other coverage to make sure there are no hidden fees that were not explained.

Paid in advance gas is good if you have an empty tank, but if you find out where the nearest gas station to the airport is, you will typically save on this feature the rental agencies make money from.

Smaller and sub compact cars in Hawaii are popular because they are gas thrifty, so book those earlier since they are the most popular and booked types of vehicles.

Keep your car clean or have it washed to save from excess cleaning fees that some carriers charge depending on how dirty the car is returned.

When doing a car inspection prior to leaving, make sure you do take relevant photos of any dings or major scratches for proof so you are not liable.

Check your insurance carrier for any coverage on your policy can affect or save on your car rental rates. If you are fully insured and covered for rental cars, then you can waive those added daily insurance add-ons from the rental car provider.

If there are multiple drivers check to see what the fee is for coverage, some places do have additional coverage for free including places like Costco for car rentals.

Consider additional costs if they are worth it including GPS, gas prepayments and insurance coverage needs or you can plan accordingly to offset those add on fees.

When you have done all the following, check with our favorite vendor, Discount Hawaii Car Rental to see if you can get better rates for the time you are planning your visit to Hawaii and make sure you do book it early.

Enjoy your visit to the islands and check out these posts for more inspiration to visiting these wonderful places.

Explore Big Island with your rental car
Explore Volcanoes National Park with your rental car

Weather conditions and driving in Hawaii

Hawaii generally experiences mild and pleasant weather throughout the year, making it a great destination for driving. However, it’s important to note that conditions can vary by island and region. Here’s an overview of weather conditions and driving considerations for Hawaii across all seasons:

Winter (December to February):

  • Weather: Winters are typically cooler and wetter, especially on the windward sides of the islands. Expect occasional rain and cooler temperatures, but still relatively warm compared to many other places.
  • Driving: Roads can be slick due to rain, so exercise caution, especially on narrow, winding roads. Flash flooding is a concern in some areas. Be prepared for occasional road closures.

Spring (March to May):

  • Weather: Spring brings mild and pleasant weather with less rain. Temperatures start to rise, and the islands become lush and green.
  • Driving: Roads are generally in good condition, and it’s an excellent time for road trips and exploring the islands.

Summer (June to August):

  • Weather: Summers are warm, dry, and sunny, with less rainfall. It’s the peak tourist season, and the beaches are popular.
  • Driving: Roads can be more crowded due to tourists. Be mindful of increased traffic and book rental cars in advance. Sun protection (sunscreen, hats) is essential during this season.

Fall (September to November):

  • Weather: Fall is similar to spring, with mild temperatures and less rain. The ocean is still warm, making it great for water activities.
  • Driving: It’s a pleasant time for road trips. Watch for increased rainfall as you move into late fall.

General Tips for Driving in Hawaii:

  • Renting a Car: Reserve your rental car well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Choose a vehicle suitable for your travel plans, whether it’s exploring rugged terrains or simply getting around the cities.
  • Road Conditions: While major roads are well-maintained, some remote areas may have narrower or winding roads. Drive cautiously and follow speed limits.
  • Parking: In urban areas like Honolulu, parking can be a challenge. Look for public parking lots or garages.
  • Traffic: Traffic congestion can occur, particularly in Honolulu and around popular tourist destinations. Plan accordingly, and be patient.
  • Weather Preparedness: Carry sunscreen, water, and rain gear in your car. Flash floods can happen, so check weather forecasts and road conditions before heading out.
  • Seat Belts: Always wear your seat belt, and follow all traffic laws. Hawaii has strict seat belt enforcement.
  • Island-Specific Considerations: Each Hawaiian island has its own unique geography and driving conditions. Research the specific island you plan to visit for detailed driving tips.

Remember that Hawaii’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to stay informed and adaptable during your visit. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and aloha spirit while driving safely on the islands.

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Rental cars in Hawaii

Car Rental Hawaii FAQ

Is it more expensive to rent a car in Hawaii?

The inability to source new cars for rentals from the major rental car companies have increased prices due to shortage of availability. Although, prices are getting better for rates across the islands.

How can you get around without a car rental in Hawaii?

You can use a combination of taxi, uber, public transportation or pay for a guided tour and reduce the need for a rental car. You might just need a car rental for a few days instead of a week if you plan well.

What is the average car rental going for in Hawaii?

From various surveys car rentals are going for approximately $600 a week or $85 daily with all costs included. This would probably be higher if you just choose a daily rate.

Which Hawaii island can you get around without a rental car?

In Oahu, you have more choices for transportation with efficient public transportation or different service providers like Uber, Taxi and shuttle services, along with competitive guided tours to get you around the island.

Check out these other posts to visiting Hawaii

Hawaiian culture and traditions

A Hawaii travel guide primer to visiting the islands

Best Beaches in Hawaii

Best places to visit for Sunrise and Sunsets in Hawaii

Fun and interesting facts about Hawaii

Popular dishes you need to try in Hawaii

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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.