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Book Your Affordable Car Hire in San Francisco

Look out from the peak of Russian Hill and you'll be treated to the sight of in San Francisco's colourful Victorian houses–known locally as the 'painted ladies'–set against the glittering backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. And the views don't stop there: whether you’re driving down Fulton Street towards the natural wonders at Golden Gate Park or taking 17th street to the historic Castro Theatre, you’ll be captivated by the sights of this iconic city.

Further afield, San Francisco is the ideal starting point for trips along the west coast of the United States. Las Vegas is an 8-hour drive by car from San Francisco, and the glitz of Hollywood can be reached in about 5 hours’ driving time down the I5 south.

If you're exploring San Francisco car hire options, make Expedia your first port of call. Whether you’re taking a short journey in the city in a compact car or considering a drive through the Nevada desert to the northeast in a 4x4, we offer several affordable vehicles and price comparison tools. Book today to avoid disappointment.

Navigating the San Francisco Hire Car Market

The narrow streets and steep hills of San Francisco mean it’s imperative you select the right hire car for your trip. There are multiple companies offering hire vehicle options from San Francisco Airport, including:

  • Hertz
  • Enterprise Rent-a-Car
  • Dollar
  • Avis
  • Alamo

When you select a hire car, remember that you’ll be driving up and down many steep hills, and so you might consider choosing an automatic rather than a standard to avoid parking challenges. Those planning on taking a trip outside the city will benefit from one of the many luxury vehicles in the car hire market in San Francisco. Whether you’re setting off to the south to explore Hollywood or heading north of the city, you might find a large saloon vehicle combines optimal comfort and driving performance.

Traffic can be a challenge for those not used to the bustling city streets in San Francisco. You should also note the following as you navigate your way across the city:

  • Parking tickets can be expensive, so ensure you use the meters found throughout the city.
  • Hotels are often more affordable for parking services than local garages.
  • Watch for taxis making their way in and out of traffic on the crooked city streets.
  • Generally, the speed limit on freeways is 65 MPH, and 35 MPH on city streets.
  • You must have at least 2 people in the car to drive in most carpool lanes throughout the city–the number of occupants required will be noted on carpool lane signs.

Your Local San Francisco Car Hire Trip Options

Hiring a car frees you from reliance on the San Francisco public transit system when visiting the city. It also gives you the opportunity to explore areas such as the California wine country in the northern Bay Area. Napa Valley is a short 90-minute drive from the city, and Sonoma County is just an hour away. Both areas offer Michelin-rated restaurants and world-class viticulture.

For the adventurous traveller, there’s Yosemite National Park, within 4 hours’ driving distance via the CA-120 E highway. In large cities, such as San Francisco, you’ll find a variety of car hire locations. For example, Enterprise has a hire location in the south of the city at 45 Charter Oak Avenue and to the north of the city at 350 Beach Street in North Beach, giving you multiple pick-up and drop-off points for convenience. now offers a comprehensive filter system, allowing you to compare the various car hire options throughout San Francisco.

Your San Francisco Car Hire Questions Answered

What is required to hire a car?

In San Francisco, most companies require you to have a driving licence in good standing, a credit card and proof of insurance.

When is the best time to hire a car?

When reserving a car for your trip, try to call or contact the company midweek to save on hire costs.

Do car hire companies offer satellite navigation systems?

Most companies will offer satellite navigation system as part of the hire.

FAQs for car hire in San Francisco

What’s the best price car rental in San Francisco?

In the past 7 days the lowest priced car rental is in San Francisco.

What’s the average car rental price in San Francisco?

On average, car rentals in San Francisco are .

Why should I book a car rental with Expedia?

When booking a rental car via Expedia you can easily compare a wide range of the most popular car hire companies and select the best option for you. There are no extra costs and no cancellation fees involved in booking a rental car with Expedia.

How do I book a car rental with Expedia?

You can book a car rental on Expedia either online or over the phone. You may have the option to reserve now and pay now, or to reserve now and pay later. The payment option will be indicated at time of booking. To collect Expedia+ rewards points for your car rental, sign in to your account before you book or create an account on the Payment page.

Are there any additional costs when cancelling a rental car?

Most rental car bookings are eligible for a full refund regardless of when you cancel with Expedia. Not all prepaid bookings qualify for a refund. Review your itinerary for details. If your prepaid booking qualifies for a refund, your booking must be cancelled at least 6 hours prior to pick-up for the refund. If you return your prepaid car rental early, you will not be refunded for any unused time.

How can I cancel my car booking through Expedia?

To cancel your car booking, sign in or enter your email address and itinerary number. Then select Find itinerary. Under Manage Booking, select Cancel Reservation, then CANCEL THIS RESERVATION. Most prepaid car rental bookings are non-refundable. Pre-paid bookings must be cancelled at least 6 hours prior to pick-up to be eligible for a full refund. To change or cancel a car hire that you booked as part of a holiday, please contact us.

Should I book a rental car online before arriving or directly in San Francisco?

Booking your car from home with Expedia ensures thay you can choose the type of car. You can also compare the different offers and additional services in advance to get the best offer for you. Upon arrival you only need to collect the keys before beginning your trip. In addition, you do not have to start searching for a suitable provider after arriving or reading the terms and conditions at the counter. This will save you a lot of stress.

What insurance should I choose for my rental car?

A comprehensive insurance is a good choice to avoid unpleasant surprises. That way you can enjoy your stay carefree and explore the area with your rental car.

Do I have to pay my rental car in advance?

We have a couple different options when it comes to paying for your car rental. Read on and see which is best for you. Reserve now, pay now: This option allows you to reserve your car rental and prepay at the time of booking. You’ll need a credit card to prepay, and can apply Expedia Rewards points to cover all or some of the booking cost. While some car rental companies may let you pay with a debit card, the driver still needs to present a valid credit card to cover the deposit upon pick-up. Reserve now, pay later: This option lets you reserve your rental car without paying in advance. When you get to the pick-up spot, just have whoever's driving present a valid credit card to pay the cost in full. The car rental company will also place a hold on your credit card in the amount of the car rental deposit.

What do I have to pay attention to when hiring a car?

When picking up your rental car, check for scratches or dents on the vehicle. Inspect the car carefully, make sure to take notes of potential damage and let the vendor know before driving off.

Where can I find car rentals in San Francisco?

Rental car companies can usually be found at airports and various locations in the city centre.