Chicago is a vibrant city with a lot to offer. From its iconic skyline to its historic architecture, there’s something for everyone in the Windy City. If you’re planning a trip to Chicago, you may be wondering if you should rent a car. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of renting a car in Chicago, as well as some tips to help you make the most of your trip.
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Should I Rent A Car In Chicago?
The answer to the question “Should I Rent A Car In Chicago?” is, “It depends.” There are several factors to consider when deciding whether to rent a car in Chicago, including your itinerary and budget.
If you plan on exploring areas outside of downtown Chicago or want more flexibility in your schedule, renting a car can be a great option. This is especially true if you want to visit some of the more remote areas of Chicago or take day trips to nearby attractions like the Indiana Dunes or Starved Rock State Park.
However, if you’re planning on staying in the downtown area and only visiting the major tourist attractions, you may not need a car. Chicago has an excellent public transportation system, including buses and trains, which can take you to most places you’ll want to go. In fact, driving in downtown Chicago can be a hassle due to traffic congestion, parking difficulties, and expensive parking fees.
Bottom line: Whether or not you should rent a car in Chicago depends on your itinerary and how much flexibility you want during your trip.
The Benefits Of Renting A Car In Chicago
There are several benefits to renting a car in Chicago. First and foremost, it provides more flexibility in your schedule. You won’t be tied to public transportation schedules or have to worry about finding a ride to more remote areas of the city.
Renting a car also allows you to explore areas outside of Chicago, such as the charming towns of Galena and Lake Geneva, or the beautiful Illinois River Road. Additionally, if you’re traveling with a group or have a lot of luggage, a rental car can be more comfortable and convenient than public transportation.
Another benefit of renting a car in Chicago is that it allows you to avoid the expensive taxi and ride-sharing fees that can add up quickly, especially if you’re traveling during peak times.
Bottom line: Renting a car in Chicago provides flexibility, allows you to explore outside the city, and can be more cost-effective than other transportation options.
The Cons Of Renting A Car In Chicago
While there are benefits to renting a car in Chicago, there are also some drawbacks to consider. One of the biggest disadvantages is the cost. Chicago has some of the highest car rental rates in the country, and you may also have to pay for parking at your hotel or other attractions.
Chicago is also known for its traffic congestion, especially during rush hour. If you’re not used to driving in heavy traffic, it can be stressful and time-consuming. Additionally, parking can be a challenge in the city, especially in the downtown area where parking spaces are limited and expensive.
Another thing to consider when renting a car in Chicago is the weather. Winter driving in Chicago can be difficult and dangerous, with snow and ice making roads slippery and visibility low. If you’re not used to driving in winter conditions, it’s best to avoid renting a car during this time.
Bottom line: Renting a car in Chicago can be expensive and challenging, especially when it comes to parking and traffic, and weather conditions should be taken into account.
Is It Better To Rent A Car At Chicago Airport?
If you’re flying into Chicago, you may be wondering if it’s better to rent a car at the airport or wait until you get to your hotel. While it may be tempting to rent a car at the airport for convenience, it’s often more expensive due to additional fees and taxes. You may be able to save money by renting a car at a rental location outside of the airport and taking public transportation or a shuttle to get there.
Additionally, renting a car at the airport can be time-consuming, as you may have to wait in long lines to pick up your car. If you’re in a rush or have a tight schedule, it may be better to arrange for a rental car to be delivered to your hotel.
Bottom line: Renting a car at the airport may be convenient, but it’s often more expensive and time-consuming than renting a car from a location outside of the airport. Consider your budget and schedule when deciding where to rent a car.
The Cheapest Way to Rent A Car In Chicago
If you’ve decided that renting a car in Chicago is the right choice for your trip, you’ll want to know how to get the best deal. Here are some tips for finding the cheapest way to rent a car in Chicago:
- Compare prices: Don’t settle for the first car rental company you come across. Shop around and compare prices from multiple companies to find the best deal.
- Look for discounts: Car rental companies often offer discounts to members of organizations like AAA, AARP, and Costco. Check to see if you qualify for any of these discounts.
- Book in advance: Booking your rental car in advance can help you save money. You’ll also have a better selection of cars to choose from.
- Consider off-airport locations: Renting a car from an off-airport location can be cheaper than renting from the airport. Just be sure to factor in the cost of transportation to and from the rental location.
- Avoid renting from the airport: Renting a car from the airport can be more expensive due to additional fees and taxes. Consider renting from a location off-site.
- Avoid unnecessary add-ons: Car rental companies often try to sell you on additional insurance and other add-ons. Be sure to read the fine print and only purchase what you really need.
- Fill up the tank before returning the car: Rental car companies often charge a premium for fuel if you don’t fill up the tank before returning the car. Save money by filling up the tank yourself.
Bottom line: Comparing prices, looking for discounts, booking in advance, considering off-airport locations, avoiding unnecessary add-ons, and filling up the tank before returning the car are all ways to save money on renting a car in Chicago.
Tips For Driving In Chicago
If you’re planning to rent a car in Chicago, here are some tips for driving in the city:
Watch for pedestrians: Chicago is a busy city, so be aware of crosswalks and pedestrians. Many areas have designated pedestrian crossings that require drivers to stop and yield the right of way to pedestrians.
Be prepared for traffic: Chicago is notorious for its traffic congestion, especially during rush hour. Plan your route and schedule accordingly to avoid getting stuck in traffic.
Be aware of toll roads: Some highways in Chicago have tolls, so make sure to check if your route includes any toll roads and have cash or a toll pass ready.
Follow parking regulations: Parking can be difficult in Chicago, so make sure to follow parking regulations and watch for signs to avoid getting ticketed or towed. Be mindful of one-way streets: Chicago has many one-way streets, so pay close attention to traffic signs and signals to avoid driving the wrong way.
Bottom line: To have a smooth driving experience in Chicago, be mindful of pedestrians, traffic, toll roads, parking regulations, and one-way streets.
Rent A Car In Chicago
Here are rental car companies to rent a car from in Chicago:
- Alamo: starts at $45 per day
- Avis: starts at $50 per day
- Budget: starts at $40 per day
- Enterprise: starts at $45 per day
- Hertz: starts at $50 per day
- Thrifty: starts at $35 per day
- Dollar: starts at $40 per day
Gas prices will also vary depending on where you fill up, but you can expect to spend around $50 for a full tank. This is based on an average of $3.33 per gallon, and a standard car that holds 15 gallons of gas.
Bottom line: Renting a car in Chicago can be affordable, with a range of options available from popular rental car companies. Be prepared for potential traffic congestion and keep in mind the cost of gas, tolls, and parking fees to ensure a smooth rental experience.
Renting a car in either Seattle or Chicago can be a great option for those looking to explore these vibrant cities on their own terms. However, it’s important to keep in mind certain tips and considerations, such as being aware of pedestrians, preparing for hills, using GPS, planning for traffic, and following parking regulations. Additionally, it’s important to consider factors such as weather, tolls, gas prices, and car inspections when renting a car in either city. By keeping these tips and considerations in mind, you can have a safe and enjoyable rental car experience in either Seattle or Chicago.