How much does it cost to hire a car around the world?

The rental car was popularised during the 1950s boom of the airline and automotive industries, and it remains popular – with an estimated 547 million people using rental cars this year alone. [1] [2] 

But thanks to inflation, rising fuel costs, and the impact of the pandemic, prices reached an all-time high in the summer of 2021 and have remained challenging since. [3] How much you can expect to pay varies wildly depending on where in the world you are and –as our research shows – also on the time of year.

To help travellers budget for their road trip, we’ve analysed the average daily rate for small cars in 46 of the world’s most famous cities and road trip destinations. We’ve used both winter and summer prices and found the price of popular add-ons like insurance, child seats, GPS and additional drivers to make sure your next car rental experience is as smooth a ride as possible. 

Key findings:

  • The average recommended rental price for a small car is £50.40/$64.14 a day – and car insurance is on average £17.55/$22.39 per hire.
  • The most affordable locations in the analysis for a small car rental were Barcelona (£21.02/$26.82 per day) and Milan (£24.28/ $30.99 per day).
  • Innsbruck, Austria, and Seoul, South Korea, were the two most expensive destinations to rent a small car, costing £150.45/$192.03 and £111.03/$141.72 to rent a small car per day respectively.
  • On average, picking up from the airport is £11.68/$14.84 more expensive, with 86% of destinations charging less for city rental compared to airport pickup. 
  • A full package of add-ons (insurance, a child seat, GPS, and additional driver coverage) will cost you around £38.55/$49.17. 

The average small car rental is £50.40/$64.14 a day 

The average recommended quote for a small rental car per day around the world is £50.40 a day – fluctuating between the January average cost £44.66 ($56.84) and the July average of £56.15 ($71.46). With more of the destinations in this analysis being in the northern hemisphere, July’s average is likely to be higher being a peak tourist month. 

The most and least expensive car rental destinations

Consistently expensive in both winter and summer – despite being a skiing hotspot – is Innsbruck in Austria at £150.60/$192.08, the priciest destination in the analysis. 

More than five thousand miles away, a car rental in Seoul, South Korea, will set you back around £111.03/$141.72 per day. Singapore, San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina, and New York in the U.S. complete the rest of the top five most expensive destinations to hire a small car.

The most expensive destinations to hire a car

The map below highlights the ten most expensive destinations to hire a small car for exploring and road trips. 

The most affordable destinations to hire a car

If you’re looking for a road trip that won’t break the bank then you might be surprised to know that the two large European cities of Barcelona and Milan both offer very competitive rates, averaging £21.02 ($26.82) and £24.28 ($30.99) respectively. However, the research found that cheap car rentals can get more expensive with add-ons like protection, insurance, and accessories (more on that later.)

One of South Africa’s capital cities, Cape Town, took the third spot for affordable car rentals, costing an average of £24.60 ($31.40) per day for a small car. The next most populous city in South Africa, Durban, came in fourth, followed by Istanbul

The top ten most affordable road trip destinations are revealed in the map below. 

Rental cars are £11.68 ($14.84) extra per day to pick up from the airport

As a global average, it was usually £11.68 ($14.84) cheaper to pick up a car from a city branch rather than the airport. People typically expect to pay a premium when they use airport services because it is more convenient, but if hiring a car for a long period, this amount per day could add up quickly. 

The data found that it was only cheaper to pick up a rental car from the airport 14% of the time, specifically in Chile’s Calama and, Innsbruck, San José (Costa Rica), and Phuket. 

In Calama, it was a huge £35.36 ($44.93) cheaper per day to pick up from the airport, meaning those exploring Chile should opt to get their car rental when they land at the airport and not wait to get to the city. Concepción in Chile had the second highest airport discount at £14.17/day ($18.01), followed by Innsbruck in Austria (£9.09/$11.55). 

However, in the 86% of cases where renting from the city is cheaper, the savings are substantial, on average £15.09 ($19.17) per day. In Paris, choosing to pick up your rental car from the city is £67.47 ($81.82) cheaper, while visitors to London can save £42.82 ($54.41) by opting for a city pick-up compared to the airports. 

A package of popular add-ons is around £38.55/$49.15

We considered the price of insurance, a child seat, GPS and additional driver coverage. In total, a full package of these add-ons will set you back around £38.55/$49.15 on top of your daily rental fee. 

But even if you get a good deal on a rental, there are some places where these extras might more than double the total cost. Although Durban may be one of the cheapest car rental destination in the study, (at just £26.02/$33.18), a full package of add-ons for car rentals in the South African city will tag on around £75.65/$96.49 – almost three times the rental car fee. 

Paris is the next most expensive when it comes to add-ons with the complete package costing £72.15/$92.03 and Windhoek – capital of Namibia – £68.13/$86.90.

The most expensive destinations for add-ons

Don’t be gentle, it’s a rental: insurance costs on average £17.55/$22.38 

Unlike rental fees which vary wildly around the globe, the cost of add-ons was fairly consistent – particularly the cost of insurance, which only varied by a couple of pounds across the continents. 

The most expensive continent for add-ons is Africa (with an average of £53.20/$67.86) , something to consider when looking at their more inexpensive rental fees. Asia is the cheapest place for add-ons, but check that they have what you need before planning your road trip as this was also the continent where add-ons were most likely to be unavailable – most notably in India.

How expensive are popular Aussie adventures?

In 2023, there were more than 6.8 million visitors to Australia. [4] With a vast 7.688 million km2 to explore, hiring a car is one of the best ways to explore the beauty of Oz. It’s one of the most popular destinations for road trips, with famous trips such as Melbourne’s Great Ocean Road as well as the East Coast’s beautiful trip from Cairns to Brisbane

Overall, across Australia, the average price to rent a small car is $90.18 AUD per day (£47.10/$59.55 USD) and add-ons including child seats, insurance, GPS, and an additional driver total another $81 AUD (£42.30/$56), but this average price fluctuates based on how many days add-ons are used for and whether its an airport or city pickup.

This research found that January was a cheaper month than July for car rentals in Oz ($73.98 AUD vs $105.13 AUD). Despite January being a key summer month for Australia, July is likely impacted by school holidays for domestic and international travellers. 

The most affordable cities to rent a car from were Sydney and Adelaide costing an average of $71.62 and $73.96 AUD per day for a small car respectively. Darwin and Canberra were found to be the most expensive when it came to add-ons, at over $97 AUD each, which was largely impacted by child seat fees typically being sold for the entire rental vs daily (which would naturally keep costs down for shorter trips).

Whether you are planning a huge road-trip with friends, or simply need a car to transport your family around on holiday, our research shows that you need to book ahead to secure the lower priced cars before they’re snapped up. In most cities, when looking last minute you can expect to pay hundreds for car rentals when you may have only paid 30 if you booked in advance. 

Think ahead as much as you can: does the car rental service offer child seats? Does the pick-up truck you bought come with a cover for the back? And would buying insurance separately save you some money? Wherever you go, it’s worth doing your research into local rental prices before landing.


To compile our study, we chose 46 destinations combining some of the most visited cities in the world and the most popular road trip destinations in the world; some towns were replaced with the nearest city in the seedlist. [5] [6]

We then used Kayak, assuming the driver was aged between 25 and 65 and looking for a small car to find the top recommended quotes for these popular dates: 

  • January 27th – 28th 2024
  • July 27th to 28th 2024

We scraped the first 30 ‘recommended’ small car rental prices from Kayak per city, with and without airport pickup, and took the mean average of these daily costs. No deals or discount codes were used.

For car rental add-ons we took the “recommended car” and checked their prices for GPS, child seat, additional driver, and insurance. If the price for a certain add-on was not available we went to the next recommended price car.

All the data is correct as of January 2024.








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By Giacomo Piva

Giacomo Piva, CMO and Co-founder at Radical Storage
Giacomo Piva has worked in the travel industry since 2008 across multiple niches including tourist transportation, luxury travel, and ecotourism. He now focuses on growing the global luggage network, Radical Storage, which is currently available in over 500 cities, in the likes of London, Paris, New York, and Rio de Janeiro.
Giacomo has a bachelor's degree in Communication Science and an in-depth experience across travel marketing, especially in improving a brand’s digital presence within the industry.