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Is It Cheaper to Rent a Car at the Airport in Maui? Updated for 2024

June 9, 2024 - On average, in 2024, it costs $94/week more to rent a car from Maui's Kahului Airport (OGG) than nearby off-airport locations. The average cost of a one-week airport rental for the first five months of this year was $308/week, so on average you would have saved 31% picking up your Maui rental car off-airport instead of picking it up right at the airport. The average off-airport rate for a one-week off-airport rental was $214.

How and where did we get these numbers? What vehicles and rental companies do they apply to? Are there any caveats or gotcha's?

For all the details, please continue reading, and you'll find out just how much money you can save - or not - renting from an off-airport location versus straight from the airport.

WHERE DO THE NUMBERS COME FROM?

This analysis of airport vs. off-airport Maui car rental cost is based on our weekly survey of the lowest advertised price for a Maui car rental, for a seven-day rental, Monday to Monday, that we publish every week. For this analysis, we're including the weekly rates beginning from Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. The rates in 2023 are not included, because they were affected by the Lahaina wildfire disaster that caused a disruption to Maui travel and car rental in the third and fourth quarters of 2023. You can page through this blog to see the weekly chart of Maui car rental rates we post every week, along with other Maui car rental news, updates, and info.

WHAT MAUI CAR RENTAL COMPANIES ARE INCLUDED?

The rental companies included in this survey are national brands (e.g. Ace, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Payless, SixT, Thrifty, et cetera) listed by the Online Travel Agency (OTA) systems. They do not include locally owned and operated Maui car rental companies not listed by the OTA's. To compare prices of local Maui car rental companies, see our related blog post for local Maui car rental rates. Rates with locally owned and operated companies are often lower than national brands, so you can save even more going local - if you're willing to accept some of the inevitable trade-offs that come with the territory.

WHAT MAUI RENTAL CARS ARE INCLUDED?

This analysis applies to the lowest advertised rate, which is usually a compact car, like a Kia Rio, Chevy Spark, Nissan Versa, or similar car. The price difference for bigger, costlier-to-rent cars, or for Jeeps, convertibles, and SUV's or minivans would be more than the $97/week difference for the lowest-priced cars.

WHAT MAUI CAR RENTAL LOCATIONS ARE INCLUDED?

In general, you save with off-airport locations in the central city of Kahului, close to the airport - most are within one-mile radius from the airport grounds. Every one of the rental companies covered in our analysis operates its own shuttle-bus from the airport terminal to their location. For the more distant off-airport locations, in the resort areas of South Maui (Kihei, Wailea) or the West Side (Lahaina, Ka'anapali) you do not save on the cost of a rental - in fact you expect to pay more because of the convenience factor that the rental companies exploit at these locations (more on this below). However, if you need a car for only a few days out of your stay, it may make sense to book it from a resort car rental location close to your accommodations - the daily rate you'll pay might be higher but the overall cost will be less if you're only renting for one or two days versus an entire week.

WHY ARE MAUI AIRPORT CAR RENTALS MORE EXPENSIVE?

Part of the difference in cost between a Maui car rental from the airport vs. an off-airport car rental is due to additional taxes and fees that car rental companies must pay on their airport operations. There are state taxes, local taxes, airport facility fees and concession fees that are levied on the cost of a rental. Car rental companies pass these on to the customer. We've covered these costs in detail in our blog posts on Maui car rental airport taxes and fees. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, mandatory taxes and fees do not account for the entire difference. If the base cost of rental (before tax) were the same, the difference due to taxes and fees would be only about $54/week. But car rental companies are tacking on an extra "convenience premium" of more than $40/week on their least expensive cars - and the difference would be even greater for higher-priced rental cars.

MORE IN'S AND OUT'S OF RENTING OFF-AIRPORT IN MAUI

If you are not renting from the airport area and choosing to rent from a resort location, factor the cost of getting from the airport to your accommodations. Public transport is very limited, so your options for getting there are either taxi or rideshare, that can easily top $100 each way. Also, vehicle selection and availability are limited at the resort locations. You cannot expect to just waltz up to the rental car counter without a reservation and pick up a car. If you do want a car from one of the resort car rental locations, you should book it well in advance to be assured of availability.

CAN YOU ALWAYS COUNT ON MAUI OFF-AIRPORT CAR RENTALS BEING CHEAPER?

For the first five months of this year, January through May 2024, the average extra cost for an airport location versus off-airport ranged between $24 at minimum to $172 at maximum, averaging $94. So there was always some money to be saved with an off-airport rental- sometimes more, sometimes less. In general, during Maui's low season periods, the difference is less. Use our online reservation system to check rates and make sure you are getting the best available rate.

BUT IS IT REALLY WORTH IT?

All told, a price difference of $100/week is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the total cost of a one-week vacation for you and members of your party or family - the math does not lie about this when the average daily rate for a hotel is condo is more than $300/night, and we have not even factored in airfares, meals, activities, and so on. So, in most situations, it is well-worth the extra cost for the rental from the airport, saving all the hassles and delays that could arise with the alternatives. Should you go for an off-airport rental to save a few bucks per day? It all depends how much of a penny-pincher or tight-wad you are.

WEEKLY SURVEY OF MAUI CAR RENTAL RATES

This is our weekly survey of the lowest advertised price of a one-week rental from Maui's Kahului Airport (OGG), beginning on Monday June 9, 2024.
Off-airport $234.75 (down $6 from previous week)
Airport $263.41 (down $2)
Sources: rentalcars.com, rentals.mauicarrental.biz

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