There is only one reason you might need a car rental in Chicago, and that’s if you plan on getting out of the city. You see, inside the city proper, where most visitors will spend the vast majority of their time in Chicago, there is no need for a car. In fact, a car would be more of a hindrance than a help in most cities. Street parking is hard to come by, parking at most hotels is outrageously expensive (think $15-$40 per night) and you can get anywhere in the city on public transportation through a combination of bus, el train, Metra train, cab, or walking.
Where to rent a car:
- O’Hare and Midway Airports- If you do choose to rent a car and will need it for the duration of your trip, the easiest option is to pick up your car at the airport, where you can find rental offices for major companies like Avis, Budget, Enterprise, National and Dollar.
- Downtown Chicago – If you only need the car for a few days (or are arriving in the city via bus or train), pick it up at one of the dozens of rental cars agencies scattered all over the city. This will save you a trip out to the airport to pick up or drop off the car, but be sure to shop around as some of the in-city rental offices charge higher rates than those at the airport.
A few tips:
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- Check rates at multiple companies. Costs can vary widely even for the same dates and car types.
- Fuel up outside of the city. Gas stations are hard to find in Chicago if you aren’t familiar with the city and gas outside of downtown is always cheaper than that sold in the city.
- Get the extra insurance, especially if you will be parking the car on the street. There are far too many horror stories out there of drivers whose car got sideswiped overnight on the street.