A Guide to Car Rentals in LA

August 7, 2019

Los Angeles is known as a driving city. A quick stroll through most of LA’s neighborhoods will vindicate this – you’ll see dozens of car zoom past but be hard-pressed to find people walking along the pavements. It is no surprise then, that a number of students buy cars when settling to study in LA. However, this is not always a great solution, mainly owing to the cost of buying and maintaining a car. And yet, public transport in LA isn’t exactly great. When faced with this dilemma, the best solution is to rent a car. This article will talk about 3 car rental companies operating in LA.

Zipcar has been around for a while, although they seem to be getting less popular around the USC campus. You need to sign up for a Zipcar membership first. This can also be done on an international license. Zipcar has an annual membership fee, which increases based on the amount of insurance coverage you choose. The complete protection plan that I have amounts to around $100 a year. You get a Zipcard – a physical piece of plastic. Zipcars can be found in different streets and parking lots. After reserving an available Zipcar, you get to the location and touch your card to a panel on the windshield to open the car. From then on the car’s yours until the time you reach the end of your reservation. You can extend the reservation time provided no one else has booked the car immediately after you. The best part about Zipcar is that gas is free, but you can drive a maximum of 180 miles a day. Reservation costs start from around $10 per hour, and you can reserve at any time of the day.

Maven – a relatively newer offering – works similar to Zipcar. Cars are stationed on streets and parking lots, can be booked on an hourly basis at any time of the day, and gas is free. Maven costs are cheaper, since they start from $9 an hour and there is no annual charge for either membership or insurance! However, only people with US driving licenses can become Maven members. If you have one, I would personally recommend Maven over Zipcar because they have more available cars close to USC and are cheaper. However, Maven is entirely app-based. You lock and unlock a Maven car using your phone, and it must be inside the vehicle as you drive. This is the only caveat – it is really technology dependent. If for some reason the app crashes – as has happened to me before (due to no fault of mine) – say goodbye to driving!

Enterprise – similar to Hertz and several other agencies – offers car rentals on a daily basis. Rates are much cheaper than Zipcar and Maven, but you have to pick up and drop off an Enterprise vehicle at one of their offices, which aren’t nearly as frequent as Maven/Zipcar locations, and have opening and closing days and times. This means that Enterprise is best used for vacations or day trips, not when you need to go for the grocery store and need a car for an hour. Also, while the base rate is really cheap, you might need to pay extra for insurance, and gas is not included. However, there is no restriction to the distance you can drive per day.

So there you have it. Not owning a car of my own and yet needing to drive every now and then, these are the 3 options I most commonly use. Hopefully this article helps you in picking the one you need. Drive safe!


Published on August 7th, 2019

Last updated on April 1st, 2021