On an upcoming trip, I'll be spending a few days in New York, fairly centrally in Manhattan. After that, I need to head to somewhere in New Jersey not well served by public transport, so it looks like I'll need to get a hire/rental car (delete as per your language preferences!)

From my experiences of walking in Manhattan, coupled with those of being in taxis and buses, I don't think I want to be renting a car from near my hotel if I can possibly avoid it. Much more tempting would seem to be to take public transport for a bit, to get out of the worst of the traffic, and ideally close to a major road going roughly the right way, then rent a car from somewhere there.

Doing a quick search throws up huge numbers of possible places to rent a car from in and around New York, far too many to look each one up on a map, check it's suitability for driving onwards, check its suitability for getting there on public transport, check the next rental location etc. It feels like the sort of thing a computer ought to be able to do better!

Taking a given start location in Manhattan, a desire to get to the location by public transport, and a rough direction / rough set of major roads I'd be looking to take, how can I work out what hire/rental car locations to look at?

(This could be made more general for all US cities if that turns out to be appropriate)

  • I am not sure I can understand what you're asking. You are staying in Manhattan and you need to rent a car to go to NJ, so naturally where will you be returning the car and where in NJ are you planning to go?
    – Karlson
    Feb 17, 2015 at 15:25
  • Direct train to Newark from Penn and hire a car at the airport?
    – medina
    Feb 17, 2015 at 15:48
  • @Karlson I'm trying to make this a fairly general question, to be more valuable to future visitors than if I just entered the specifics of my trip. The question basically boils down to "how to find the subset of car hire places with good public transport near major roads on one side of NYC"
    – Gagravarr
    Feb 17, 2015 at 15:49
  • 2
    @Gagravarr There is no way to answer this. From Manhattan to NJ there are 3 major crossings so your choices are limited, on top of this if you're renting a car for days you might look at major rental companies but you may use zipcar instead it depends on necessity and purpose. If all you're planning to do is to get to Newark Airport or visit a tourist attraction in NJ you may just go with the tour rather then on your own. This makes your question too broad and looking at other cities makes it even broader and possibly unanswerable.
    – Karlson
    Feb 17, 2015 at 16:10
  • 1
    Thanks @pnuts, that looks almost like being an answer. That map is giving me a much much smaller search area than I'd be suffering with before!
    – Gagravarr
    Feb 17, 2015 at 19:04

2 Answers 2


Often car rentals in the USA are cheaper at airports than elsewhere. If you find that, you might want to take public transit to a NJ airport. The smaller rental companies (even with strange names like payless and rentawreck) can be less expensive than the large rental companies, but you will get more uniformly good service from the larger companies. (I have used some smaller companies and never had a terrible experience. But some cars had seats with cigarette holes and other minor defects.) You can search for "car rental" near a location in New Jersey using google map. Then you can read reviews for the nearby smaller car rental companies. Car dealers also sometimes rent cars and will turn up using this google map search. Good luck. You might want to check if your credit card company provides insurance for rental cars. Such insurance is optional, but can be a good idea. It will add $10 to $15/day to rentals. So if your credit card provides it for free, decline the insurance offered by the rental company. Car rental companies always push their insurance because they make good money on it. Finally, credit cards are more widely accepted by car rental companies than debit cards. I do not know why.

Two more thoughts: Car rental prices vary very widely even for the same car from the same rental office for the same rental period. People who walk in often get the worst prices. Likewise, people who walk up to a rental counter at an airport often get the worst prices.

It is very difficult (impossible) for someone under the age of 25 to rent a car from a major company. (I just stumbled on this website that offers to rent to younger drivers: http://www.allcarrentacar.com/new-york-rent-a-car-and-underage-rental-fees.html.)

  • Your last sentence is untrue for New York state due to laws.
    – Karlson
    Feb 17, 2015 at 23:14
  • @Karlson That is great news. The car rental rates have been a dark maze for consumers for years. I have not rented a car in NY State recently but have seen this happen in many other states.
    – Yehuda_NYC
    Feb 18, 2015 at 10:23
  • @Karlson I have searched the web for NY State law on car rental rates but have not found anything that confirms your comment. What is your source?
    – Yehuda_NYC
    Feb 18, 2015 at 16:17
  • avis.com/…
    – Karlson
    Feb 18, 2015 at 16:18
  • @Karlson The link you just added points to a page about standard additional rate for underage drivers. I was talking about non-standard rates for all drivers. Rates for reservations placed on the web are often much less than the rate quoted when you walk up to the rental counter without a reservation. Then there are discounts for seniors, for hotel club members, AAA members, and more, which vary from rental company to rental company. (This thread is getting confusing, since the last sentence you commented on is no longer the last sentence, as I added a paragraph to my answer.)
    – Yehuda_NYC
    Feb 18, 2015 at 16:26

I just did a famous website search. This indicated where public transit stopped and car was required. Given that, I'd look at final destination of the public transit and perhaps look for a local taxi/car for hire in that area and call ahead by the time I got there.

Edit to add: It might make more sense to rent a car near a place that's easy to return to, so hotel/airport is usually more convenient.

For a more explicit answer:

  1. Go to maps.google.com
  2. type in the search box Transit near [your location]
  3. type in the search box rental car
  • For my journey, a car is pretty much required from around the New York area! My question is more how someone can work out from where around the New York area they'd be best looking at car from
    – Gagravarr
    Feb 17, 2015 at 14:54
  • I'm not sure I understood the relevance of the rest of your post, then. It sounded like you wanted to take public transportation until you needed a car. So take public transportation to a car place? What part are you unclear about? And specifically, why does it matter that it's not close to your hotel?
    – SrJoven
    Feb 17, 2015 at 15:10
  • There seem to be several hundred car hire locations in the New York area! As the question states, that's too many to check each one individually for their suitability to getting to by public transport
    – Gagravarr
    Feb 17, 2015 at 15:18
  • 1. There are many places in NJ that you can't get to by public transport or journey is too difficult. 2. It's much better to get around Manhattan without a car taxi/Subway/Uber work wonders.
    – Karlson
    Feb 17, 2015 at 15:31
  • @Gagravarr I'm not sure how the proliferation of car hire locations in a city known for widespread public transportation is a problem. Ask your concierge.
    – SrJoven
    Feb 17, 2015 at 15:33

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