Car Rental in ChicagoWhere to pick up
Car Rental in Chicago
Car rental locations in Chicago
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Car Rental in Chicago: the Birthplace of the Skyscraper
Chicago is the cultural heart of the American Midwest, a city boasting the best combination of high culture and ethnic diversity on the shores of the Great Lakes amidst America’s agricultural plains. Make the most of your visit by getting mobile: don’t make the mistake of just focusing on Chicago’s magical downtown, but tour the surrounding neighborhoods, and wider landscapes of Illinois as well. Book your rental car now.
The shoulder seasons—April through May and September through October—are the most comfortable times to visit Chicago, when the weather, though changeable, is typically quite comfortable and most of the tourist crowds have not yet arrived or have just left.
The de facto national language of the United States is English, though you’re certain to find pockets of ethnic heritage throughout the city, where immigrants’ mother tongues are still spoken, particularly Spanish. Algonquin was the major language spoken by indigenous people of the area before they were removed to Oklahoma in the 1800s.
Chicago is located in the Central Time Zone, UTC-6.
The currency throughout the United States is the dollar. Credit cards are accepted at the vast majority of businesses and ATMs are also quite frequent.
Get out of the bustle of Chicago with some great day trips. Beer lovers will be interested in heading to bountiful brewery tours in New Glarus, Wisconsin or Grand Rapids, Michigan, both three hours away. Or head to Ottawa, Illinois and the Starved Rock State Park for some outdoor adventures, 90 minutes southwest of Chicago.
Automobile hire is available in over 40 locations throughout Chicago, though the most popular pick-up locations are Chicago Downtown, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, and Chicago Midway Airport. Taxi fare from either airport is quite expensive, so if you are planning on renting a car for the length of your trip, consider picking your car up at either airport after landing.
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 Chicago
While driving in downtown Chicago can be infuriating, don’t make the mistake that many tourists do and simply stay in Chicago’s city center. Instead, book a rental car to see Chicago’s unique neighborhoods and beyond. Make the most of your travels by exploring the region spontaneously and comfortably with your rental car.
- Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road in Chicago, as in the rest of North America.
- In the city: 25 to 30 mph (circa 40 to 50 km/h)
- On urban highways: typically 55 mph (88 km/h)
- On interstate highways outside of city limits: 70 mph (112 km/h)
- Expect heavy traffic congestion throughout Chicago during morning and evening rush hours.
- Particularly in downtown Chicago, parking can be quite expensive, so be sure to book a hotel with complementary off-street parking. Street parking outside of downtown Chicago is also regulated and is sometimes reserved for residents, so be vigilant about checking parking signs before you leave your car.
- Your domestic driver’s license is valid in Illinois for up to 90 days.
- Most of the highways in and around Chicago are tolled, so ask your rental-car dealership if your automobile is equipped with an I-Pass to receive reduced toll rates and avoid the necessity of carrying extra coins and bills.
- 18 is the minimum driving age in Illinois for an unrestricted driver’s license, though you will likely have to be at least 21 years old to rent a car, and drivers under the age of 25 are likely to be issued young-driver surcharges.
Cheap Car Rental in Chicago
Automobile hire in Chicago typically starts at around $40 a day. Here are some of the best deals in Chicago:
- Toyota Yaris or similar (economy class) – $25/day
- Nissan Versa or similar (compact class) – $26/day
- Hyundai Elantra or similar (intermediate class) – $27/day
- Chevrolet Cruze or similar (standard class) – $29/day
- Ford Fusion or similar (fullsize class) – $33/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 Chicago
There is not much seasonal variation in price for car rental in Chicago, where the internationally recognized brands have fairly standardized prices year round.
Instead, you can save money by picking up your rental car at the airport, where Budget offers rentals up to $20 cheaper per day than other brands throughout the city. Avis and Dollar are also cheap rental options and are available in some locations throughout Chicago if picking your car up at an airport is inconvenient.
You can also save over $10 a day if you extend your rental period to over a week!