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Thursday Feb 22, 2024

5 Dirty Secrets About Car Rental in Australia

Australia is a big country with an abundance of places to go and things to see. Without proper transportation, you might never get around to visiting all the attractions you had planned on. Car rental is one way to get off the beaten path and see the best Australia has to offer. Yet, whether you use car hire or rental services from Totally Australia Car Hire Rental or Avis, all the time or are experiencing everything for the first time, there are 5 secrets about car rental in Australia that you need to know.

1. Don’t Rent at the Airport

Even if you book in advance, renting at the airport is going to leave you paying premium costs. While the airport is indeed the most convenient location, you’re paying for that added comfort of going from airplane to rental vehicle. Since airports are considered “premium locations,” picking up the rental car there adds an additional surcharge.

Therefore, if your plans are flexible, don’t only reserve in advance, pick a location that is closer to your hotel or some other downtown depot. In order to find the best deal, use an Australian car rental comparison site.

2. Go Unlimited

Though it goes without saying, you should always read the fine print to see how much you are going to be charged per kilometre. It might sound odd, but there are some rental cars that come with a limited number of kilometres (such as 300 km a day); and obviously, this can be an issue if you plan on traveling from one end of Australia to the other. After all, just going from Sydney to Melbourne is 860 km (534 miles), and Sydney to Perth is 3,942 km (2450 miles).

This additional charge can turn into a surprising amount of money. Always double check to make sure that the car you are renting comes with unlimited kilometres. This might mean having to make multiple car rental reservations, because, for example, places like the Northern Territory often have limited kilometre allowances.

On the same note, even if you have unlimited kilometers, just remember that rental companies might have restrictions on where you can go. For instance, the Northern Territories and Tasmania have strict rules. Car hire services also will not allow cars on ferries.

3. International Driver’s Permit

Car hire companies in Australia will generally accept English-language driving licenses from the US and UK. If you driver’s license is not printed in English (Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, etc.), you should consider getting an International Driver’s Permit. An International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is a document that is used with a valid driver’s license, allowing you to legally drive a motor vehicle while traveling abroad. Check with your local licensing bureau to learn the procedure for receiving an IDP.

However, they will not accept provisional licenses, regardless of language.

4. Daily Rates

When it comes to saving money, doing an effective cost analysis of daily rate versus weekly rate is always going to be one way of pinching coins. Depending on when you are visiting Australia (peak season, shoulder season, or off season), the daily and weekly rates may fluctuate quite a bit. Additionally, if you plan on keeping the same car for eight or nine days, check out the weekly rate. Oftentimes, the weekly rate for car rental is lower than the daily rate.

Another important thing to consider is the pick-up and drop-off times. Even adding an extra hour to your request, missing the drop-off time, could mean you wind up paying for a whole other day. Key point: Car hire rates are measured in 24-hour periods. Plan accordingly.

5. Rules & Requirements

Before you rent a car in Australia, know that you are expected to know some rules and requirements. Aside from what’s written above, here are some other things you should keep in mind:

  • You have to be at least 21 years of age to rent a car in Australia. Even if you have a driver’s license from your home country and a clean record, the age restriction is not elastic. Some companies will charge drivers between 21-25 years old an extra fee. Some also have a maximum age limit of 75 years.
  • You will need to buy auto insurance. Companies require two types: a Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Insurance. The first costs about AU$10-30 a day and covers damages in the event of an accident. The second covers the loss of the car itself, not your belongings.
  • If you get pulled over for speeding or drunk driving, you not only have to pay the fine issued by the police, you may also have to pay additional fees to the car hire company.
  • If you are from the US or another country that drives on the right side of the road or uses miles instead of kilometers, you will need to adapt to Australian roadways. Australians drive on the left hand side, and the steering wheel is on the right side.


Renting a car in Australia is easy—have the right paperwork, do some price comparisons, know the rules and rates, and read the fine print. Now that you know these 5 dirty secrets about car rental in Australia, you should be more than ready to hire a car for an epic adventure in Oz. With the right rental car, the roadways of Australia will lead you to all sorts of adventures!

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