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Car Rental in San Francisco
Car rental locations in San Francisco
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Car Rental in San Francisco: driving the city of steep hills
San Francisco offers its visitors so much, from scintillating shopping culture to profoundly impactful subcultures and their historical sites. The city is ever-changing, diverse, and vibrant, making it worth visiting again and again. Though you will have to pay some bridge tolls to drive in and out of the city, make the most of your visit by driving through the Bay Area as well! Stay mobile by booking your rental car today.
Compared to most other Californian cities, foggy San Francisco stays fairly chilly year round, with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees Celsius or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. While you’re likely to have some sunny dry days during a summer visit, make sure you bring a sweater or jacket for all of the other days!
The de facto national language of the United States is English, which is also most San Franciscans’ native tongue, though about 18% of the population speaks native Chinese and another 12% speaks native Spanish. The original inhabitants of San Francisco’s peninsula were the Yelamu, and various languages of their Ohlone language family are still spoken in the area today.
The currency throughout the United States is the dollar. Currency exchange is highly available at airports and popular tourist destinations, and credit cards are accepted at the vast majority of businesses.
San Francisco is in the Pacific Time Zone, UTC-8.
Automobile hire is available in over 20 locations throughout San Francisco, including the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), downtown, at the Convention Center, and on O’Farrell Street.
38 nationalities can enter the United States as tourists without applying for a visa, though if you are among these nationalities, you are still required to fill out the ESTA in advance. Visit esta.us for more information. Visitors to the United States will be fingerprinted and biometrically photographed upon entry. If your nationality is not included in the visa-waiver program, you will be required to apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa in advance of your arrival.
Driving in San Francisco
For your stay in San Francisco proper, consider just taking public transportation. Central San Francisco is plagued by packed roads, one-way streets, expensive and fiercely enforced parking, and steep hills. But you will certainly want to rent a car to explore the further Bay Area! Make the most of your visit by also getting out of town and exploring San Francisco’s surroundings with the comfort of a rental car.
- Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road throughout the United States.
- In the city: 25 miles per hour (40 km/h)
- On urban highways: 55 mph (88 km/h)
- On rural highways: 65 to 70 mph (104 to 112 km/h)
- Rush hour in San Francisco can easily add an hour or more to your travel time, so avoid roads either into or out of the city between 7:30 and 9 in the morning and 3:30 and 7 in the evening.
- Parking is scarce in San Francisco and garages in and around Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf cost around $20 to $40 a day. Consider parking outside the city and commuting in with the BART or Caltrain railway systems.
- Your domestic driver’s license is sufficient for driving in California.
- Most of the bridges in and around San Francisco are tolled. Ask your rental company if your car has been outfitted with a FasTrak transponder to ease your navigation of these tolled areas.
- Californians can legally drive as young as 16 with driver’s education, but most rental agencies will require you to be at least 21, and you can expect to pay young driver surcharges until the age of 25.
Cheap Car Rental in San Francisco
Automobile hire in San Francisco typically starts at around $36 a day. Here are some of the best deals in San Francisco:
- Hyundai Accent or similar (economy class) – $27/day
- Nissan Versa or similar (compact class) – $28/day
- Hyundai Elantra or similar (intermediate class) – $29/day
- Toyota Corolla or similar (standard class) – $32/day
- Ford Fusion or similar (fullsize class) – $36/day
Note that prices vary depending on the availability of each specific car and the season in which you rent. For the most accurate offers, use the search bar above.
Tips for Renting a Car Inexpensively in San Francisco
There is a slight seasonal variation in price for rental cars in San Francisco. The price rises by $2 to $5 in the summer months, whether you plan ahead or not.
To make the most of your budget, rent from any of Dollar’s, Thrifty’s, or Europсar’s locations throughout the city, particularly at the San Francisco International Airport or on O’Farrell Street. Be sure to shop around! You’ll likely find that Dollar’s location on O’Farrell Street can beat its sister agency’s price at the airport by up to $5 a day.
Keep an eye out for discounts of 15% and more, which can drive prices down even further.
You can also save up to $20 a day by extending your rental period to over a week!