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I will be in NYC and upstate from late June to early July. I'm planning to rent a car for the second half of the stay, but it could turn out I need one earlier.

Should I absolutely book a car now to make sure I will get one at a reasonable price, or can I wait until there and rent one on the same day without a huge change in price?

In smaller places in Europe I would be nervous about short-term availability. Is this an issue in NYC?

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Rental car prices and availability will vary dramatically based on demand. If demand is high for a specific period, then as you get closer to that time the prices will go up (sometimes significantly!), and individual locations may sell out. If demand is low, prices may drop as you get closer to the date.

Generally the best option for someone in your situation is to make a booking that allows you to cancel without a fee, and then keep an eye on prices as you get nearer to the time. If the prices drop, you can cancel your existing booking and make a new one. If it turns out you don't need the car, you can cancel the booking without a fee.

Given you are not from the US, if you end up making a booking whilst you are physically in the US you should make sure that your residency is correctly selected on the site you're booking from. If you don't do this, then the required insurances will not be included in your booking, and you will need to pay them at pickup which will increase the price significantly.

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