Can You Rent a Car in One State and Return it in Another

People rent cars for a lot of reasons, either for a special occasion, the need for a different kind of vehicle or vacation, etc. Whatever the reason might be, car rental is gaining the front seat. However, it doesn’t end with renting a car, with every car rental there must be a return.

A good number of times the car rented is usually taken out of state probably with the hope of returning to the rental company but the plan to do that changed. This now leads to asking if it is possible to rent a car in one state and return it in another.

Depending on the rental company you rented the car, it is possible to rent a car in one state and return it in another but you must confirm with your rental company before going ahead with the drop-off.

Returning to a different location will only be possible with a rental company that has other operational locations within and outside the state. Some company even gives their customers free pick-up services.

What Does it Mean to Rent a Car in One State and Return it in Another?

In simple terms, it means renting and picking up a rental car in State A but dropping it off in State B or C. The renter drops off the rented car in a location different from the pick-up location. Once the car has been dropped off, the rental company sends someone to return it to its original location.

Can You Rent a Car in One State and Return it in Another?

Yes, you can rent a car in one state and return in another, this is called a “one-way rental”. Drop off in a different state could be for various reasons and circumstances beyond our control.

For a one-way rental, the rental company usually charges a fee, this fee is dependent on the distance of the return location to the pick-up location. During booking, the fee charged also known as the “drop-off fee” is added to the cost of the rental.

The renter is to declare the intended drop-off location to the company while making reservations, in a case where the drop-off location isn’t certain or you plan on changing the location after pick-up, a call should be put across to the company at a later time to inform them.

However, it is important to note that before a car rental company will allow you to return a rented car in another location, possibly another state, that car rented company must let you drive out of state to return it in that state. It is another factor to consider.

Nevertheless, not all car rental companies can allow you to drive out of state with their rented cars.

Penalty for Dropping Rental Car Off at Different Location

Even if the desire to drop off a rental car at a different location is declared while booking, there is still a penalty attached to it, because the company will have to go out of its way to bring it back.

The penalty for drop-off in a different location is that the renter will be charged a fee. The fee payable is often time known by the renter while booking as it will be added to the total amount payable.

For a renter that does not declare his desire to drop off at a different location, an extra charge will be requested, and in rare cases, a convenience fee is also demanded.

Pros of Renting a Car in One State and Returning it in Another State

Many people opt for renting a car because of its many advantages coupled with the possibility of a drop-off in a state different from the rental state. Let’s check out some of these advantages:

Convenience and Ease

Having to drive between states can be quite demanding and stressful, but with the possibility of returning the car in the state you are in, you can do that at your convenience but within the agreed time.

Saves Time

The reason for a change in return location could be an emergency that requires immediate attention. A lot of time is saved by the renter to attend to other matters when he can easily drop the car off in the current state.


You have a lot of options, even if you have to change the return location from the scheduled one, so far you are still within the agreed return time.

Cons of Renting a Car in One State and Returning it to Another State

Like the saying ‘everything with an advantage also has a disadvantage’ we will be looking at some disadvantages of renting a car in one state and returning it in another state.

Extra Cost Charged

Returning a car to a different location always attracts extra charges from the rental company. The extra cost is called the ‘drop off fee’ i.e. you are paying the rental company to help you return the car to where it should be originally rented.

Problem with Cross Border Security

To return a car in a different state then you must have come across state border security when traveling. Often time when crossing the border to another state, border securities charge what is called a ‘border fee’ and other security issues may arise.

 What Happens if You Return Car to the Wrong Location?

It is expected that during rental booking the specific location of drop-off should be declared, but unforeseen situations happen and the renter changes the drop-off location.

To change a drop-off location the renter should notify the rental company 24hrs prior, irrespective of what the reason for the wrong location drops off is the renter will be charged a significant penalty.

The renter will be charged an extra fee plus a convenience fee, depending on the company, the fee may be different from the initial drop-off fee charged and then the rental company will then send someone to return the car back to its original location.

Final Thoughts

It is important to do your due diligence when renting a car and find out what the rental company policy is concerning a one-way rental. Check out what the basis of their charges is if it is based on distance or the duration of the rental. Read the terms and agreement and be sure you understand before signing the contract.

It is not common but it happens that you find a company that doesn’t charge for a one-way rental, this could happen when the car has been rented for a longer period.

When booking on the company’s website, there’s always an option for the renter to select pick-up/drop-off i.e. if the renter will be dropping the car off at the rental state or return in a different state for the rental company to pick off.

It is advisable to make reservations in advance for your rental, this way if you have been eyeing a car you don’t miss out on the opportunity to ride it.