Detroit can be considered the pumping heart of the American nation. As recent history has shown, when Detroit isn’t doing well, the USA doesn’t do well. Though often overlooked on travelers’ list of destinations, Detroit offers visitors a visual and aural trip through history, with its markers of automobile history past and present. This history also lives on through Detroit’s recently renovated historical architecture and in the sounds of Motown classics and techno and rock music that call Detroit their home. Make the most of your visit to the banks of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair by staying mobile in a rental car. Here is a brief guide to finding cheap car rental in Detroit.
Detroit rental cars are available in six locations throughout the city: at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) and the Detroit Willow Run Airport (YIP), in downtown, eastern, and northwestern Detroit, and at the Marriott at Renaissance Center. Detroit car hire typically starts at $46 a day for short-term rentals and at $36 a day for longer-term rentals.
Daily rates for rental cars in Detroit typically linger under $50 year-round, except in August, when high demand for rental cars drives the daily rate up to around $65 a day for short-term rentals. If you can avoid visiting Detroit in the busy month of August, you can likely save money on your Detroit rental car—as well as on the price of attractions and accommodation.
The cheapest location from which to rent a car throughout the city of Detroit is at the Detroit Airport, also called the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Over six rental car companies compete to offer travelers the cheapest price on rental cars at the Detroit Airport, which is why these prices often beat prices of other rental car locations throughout the city by around $50 a day! The Detroit Metropolitan Airport is located just 20 miles southwest of city center, and making the trip out to the airport to pick up your rental car is often the best way to save money on rental cars in the Detroit area, even if you are not arriving to the city via airplane. For more information on renting a car at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, see our webpage here.
While short-term rentals are very expensive in other regions in and near Detroit, such as at the Willow Run Airport in nearby Ypsilanti, you can often find great deals on rental cars when you extend your rental period to 10 days or more. The daily rate for long-term rentals in Ypsilanti starts as low as $35 a day!
It makes perfect sense that Motor City would be a great place to drive. And, in fact, it’s difficult to get around Detroit without your own vehicle. Here are some tips and tricks to make navigation of Detroit even easier in your rental car.
Parking your rental car in Detroit:
· The rate of on-street parking varies depending on zone throughout Detroit, with rates rising the closer you get to central Detroit.
· Ask your rental car company if your car has been signed up for Detroit’s Pay-By-Plate service. If it has, you can simply park in any city parking area (on-street or city-owned parking lots and garages) without purchasing a parking ticket; your parking fees will be passed along to you via your license plate number. This service has the specific benefit of allowing you to move your car within the same parking zone without having to purchase a new parking tab. However, be sure to also ask your rental car company if any surcharges apply to your use of the Pay-By-Plate service.
· Parking in privately owned parking garages and lots typically costs around $5 an hour in downtown Detroit, with a typical day rate of around $20. At the time of writing, parking in the Greektown Casino parking garage was free of charge.
Tolled roads in the Detroit area:
· There are two tolled roads near Detroit, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and Ambassador Bridge, both of which connect Detroit, USA to Windsor, Canada. It costs between $4 and $6 to drive either the tunnel or the bridge, and navigating these bridges will result in your crossing the Canada-USA border. Be aware that you will have to cross Customs and speak with a Customs agent to cross the border between Detroit and Windsor.
Crossing international borders in your Detroit rental car:
· If you plan to drive into Canada, be sure to discuss these plans with your Detroit rental car company. Surcharges often apply to international travel, so you may find that it is cheaper for you to take public transportation into Canada than to retain your Detroit rental car for the entirety of your trip.