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I'm going on a road trip from San Francisco to New York in a month and I was checking several car rental companies. The big bang brands (Hertz, Europcar, Avis...) were all very expensive, about $2000 for a 2 weeks rental, while renting the car from a british agency like Car Hire 3000 was way cheaper ($300). And the latter has good reviews... Why is there such a huge difference in price ? Are they car rental agencies similar to Car Hire 3000 ?

Update: I found out that there is a massive price difference depending on your country of residence. When I say that I live in the US, I pay twice the price of a French resident for example.

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SFO to NYC is over 3,000 miles. I would be very cautious of a company renting you a car for 2 weeks and over 3000 miles for $300. Double and triple check to make sure that there are no one-way or "drop" fees they are not including in that price. These fees could be a fixed price, or a per-mile fee. –  Doc Jul 22 '12 at 17:32
    
Yeah i am a bit skeptical too - the usual rate for cars in NZ/AUS is ~USD50/day for the cheapest option (small car, no extras). Some places advertise their cars much cheaper, but if you ask they usually tell you it's only for long-term rentals >1 month. –  iHaveacomputer Jul 22 '12 at 21:43
    
Are you perhaps getting confused by one-way vs return to point of origin dropoff? –  Loren Pechtel Jul 23 '12 at 21:58
    
You should actually look at the breakdown of price. If you try renting a car via Avis directly they will break down the price of ~$400 for actual rent, taxes and surcharges another few hundred and ~$1100 for dropping off the car 3000 miles away. So I'd be very careful what Car Hire actually tells you. –  Karlson Jul 24 '12 at 14:31
    
You are actually right. They charge a one-way fee of at least $250 on top of that. It's still cheaper though. The problem is that I have to add two additional drivers and we are 24, so I have to pay the young driver fee. That brings the total to over $1000! –  Youcha Jul 24 '12 at 16:39
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2 Answers

Car Hire 3000 are a broker, not a rental company. You'll end up with a car from a regular car hire company.

The way that Car Hire 3000 (amongst others) work is to do opaque deals you won't know. You won't know from which company you'll get the car until you complete the booking. It might be from someone big like Hertz or Avis, or it could be from someone small, you just don't know*. Much as with a lot of the opaque brokers in the travel industry, they get good deals because they allow companies to sell off surplus rooms/seats/cars/etc without affecting their regular pricing. The downside for you is you won't know who you're buying from until you've bought, only the basics of what you'll be getting.

* If you ring up Car Hire 3000 to make the booking, they may let slip which rental company it'll be, during the call when running through the different options. For smaller locations, you can also often work it out by deduction - if Car Hire 3000 offers pickups from Downtown, Airport and Station, and the place only has one company at each, then you can work it out that way!

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Note: simply booking on the rental company European website is usually cheaper than the American website. First you get liability insurance automatically included (while in California for example it is not included if you don't ask), and the final price is cheaper than what you would pay on the American website.

I cannot tell if European residency is required (how strict they enforce these rules) since I used a French ID and driver licence to pick up the car.

Also, I think it is still cheaper to go through a broker.

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