Why is renting a oneway car into Florida so expensive

Last summer we rented a car (Toyota Camery) one way with Hertz from Fort Worth, TX to Reno, NV for $900 for a month.

That same deal is still available in both directions today. For a one way trip from Reno to Savanah, GA it is about the same. But for a one way trip from Reno to anywhere in Florida it is between $160 and $200 per DAY.

Why is it so cheap to drop off anywhere except Florida… even dropping off in Portland, Maine is MUCH cheaper (70%) then dropping off in Florida.

I have two guesses:

  1. At this time of year, they have lots of people who want to rent cars one-way to go to Florida (i.e., lots of people are going to Florida for extended periods right now, as it’s winter), but relatively few who want to rent cars one way to leave Florida. The rental-car companies don’t like having imbalances like that, and so, they put a surcharge on the unwanted direction, to discourage people from doing it.

  2. The rental-car companies simply don’t want any more rental cars in Florida than they currently have.

On the whole, IME, rental-car companies don’t much like one-way rentals. It screws up their inventory, and leaves cars out of place.

Except oneway rates to GA, TX, AZ and Southern CA are all very reasonable. Even two places very close together:

Reno to Savanah, GA about $1100 for a month.
Reno to Jacksonville, FL (139 miles from Savanah) $6000 for a month.

Also, Florida is a ‘corner’ of the country – there is only 1 direction for a rental car to go to get out of Florida – north. States like Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Nevada – those have 2 or 4 directions in which rental cars could travel to exit. Thus an imbalance in Florida will stay imbalanced longer.

Florida is God’s waiting room. Nobody is making the drive back to Texas.

Plus when there’s an imbalance of cars in one area, people have to be paid to drive them to areas where they are needed. And those people generally need airfare to the pick up point or back from the destination point. Car rental companies spend a lot of money shuttling cars around.

Sometimes though they’ll try to find people looking to get from one part of the country to another and will let them drive their rental cars there in return for the traveller paying for the gas. My mother worked for Hertz in the early eighties and I got to drive a brand new Volvo from San Francisco to L.A. (on the trip up though I had to drive a Ford Escort. :p) And speaking of Escorts, I drove one from Denver to L.A. once too and had the pedal to the metal going up through the Rockies and that thing was straining to do 35 mph. :smiley:

I worked for U-Haul many years ago, my job was moving inventory from places with an excess to places that had a shortage. At the time a popular move was from the Los Angeles area to Western Washington. I would dead head inventory from Western Washington back to LA. The pay was crap then they went cheap and switched from flying to Greyhound for the return trip. Did the bus thing one time then decided I needed a different job.

I have no idea if this is still possible, but I remember a time when, if you wanted to go somewhere in Europe cheaply (at least it worked within Sweden), you could contact a car rental company and ask if they had any cars they wanted returned to the place they came from. If this scheme is no longer in function I have no problems believing it was dropped for security and insurance reasons.

It’s common enough to be far more expensive for one-way versus roundtrip, depending on where the rental company needs the cars.

I once paid $150 to rent a Jeep one-way from Tampa to Newark, then paid $30 on the return trip on a Impala. That was in May, and I assume they wanted the Impala in Tampa more than they wanted the Jeep in Newark – that time of year, the rental car needs in Florida skyrocket as the summer vacation season starts.

Speaking as a resident, I will tell you that we have a lot of seasonal residents over the winter, but they drive their own cars; the streets don’t become thick with rental cars until the summer. I’m assuming that’s why they’re charging you so much for a one-way into Florida this time of year.

Did you look at one-way prices out of Florida? I wonder of they are cheaper than comparable trips in other parts of the country.

Another thing to check: Are you going to be using the car when you are IN Florida for a while? If so, it’s typically much cheaper to turn in your one-way car as soon as you reach your destination, then rent ANOTHER car for the more favorable local rates while you are there.

I’d have to guess, then, that the rental car agencies have a blanket surcharge on one-way rentals going into the state of Florida, period…at least, at this time of year.

And, yes, those other examples are all southern states, but (with the possible exception of Arizona) aren’t the meccas for snowbirds that Florida is.

Given the numbers you post, is dropping the car back off in Savannah when you’re done with it an option for you?

OK, so rent a car to go to Savanah. Drive all over Florida. Then when you turn it in, you could probably take a taxi back to Florida for the $4900 difference. I bet you can find a flight or something comparable for less than $4900.

Until the car companies realize people are using this trick and start rasing the rates to border cities; but then you could fly home from Atlanta or something instead. An extra day or so travel that month for $4900 savings…

If you think it’s just rental car companies that have to balance their vehicles, think again. Any transportation company will do it and they loathe to do it because it can be expensive. There are cases where commercial airlines will deadhead an empty aircraft, and that’s really expensive.

It just seemed odd that every city in FL is very high (both in and out - a one way rental FL to NV is the same super-high price). Yet to a border city is quite normal pricing.
I think I could take a taxi from Chicago or maybe even Denver to FL for $4900. :smiley:

Yeah first gear in manua’ls a bitch. :smiley: