Car Rental in Charleston – A Complete Guide to Renting a Car in Charleston

Although experiencing a city through its public transport can give you a glimpse into the daily life and culture of the place, renting a private vehicle can be more convenient as you could explore and go sightseeing according to your preferences and time constraints. You also wouldn't have to alter your plans according to train, cab, subway, or bus schedules. Travelling in Charleston in a personal vehicle can help you cover more places and check out unconventional spots that aren't filled with tourists.

Our guide to car rental in Charleston will cover all aspects and points that you need to keep in mind to ensure a smooth rental experience:

Requirements & Restrictions on Renting a Car in Charleston


While each car rental service has its own procedures and formalities, the criteria listed below are the things that most of them require.
  • Driver's License- All car rentals require a valid driver's license issued by a Government authority to rent you a vehicle. It must be issued by your respective country's official authority and must be valid for the entire rental period. Some companies may require an International Driver's Permit. The license should not be suspended, expired, revoked, surrendered, or cancelled. It must have a clear picture of you and must display your full Government name. A temporary license is applicable only if it has no restrictions and is valid for the entire rental period. 
  • Proof of Identity/ additional form of ID- Most car rentals will ask for proof of identity, especially if you are a foreign national. You can use your passport as ID proof. The name on the passport must match the driver's license'. Some car rentals in Charleston may even accept a recent copy of a telephone bill, bank statement, airline ticket, etc., as a valid proof of identity.
  • Credit/Debit cards for payment and security deposit- Most car rentals only accept credit and debit cards as methods of payment and do not accept cash for transactions for security reasons. Car rentals in Charleston also require a security deposit beforehand that is to be paid through credit/debit cards.
  • Age Restrictions- Generally to rent a car in Charleston you must be of the age 21 or above. However, if you are under 25 years old, a lot of rental companies charge an extra fee. There also may be restrictions to the type of vehicle you are allowed to rent according to your age. 
  • Insurance Proof- Many companies require you to purchase rental insurance for the vehicle.
  • Clean Driving Record- To rent a car in Charleston, you must have a clean driving record. There should be no reckless driving convictions for the past 36 months, no DUI convictions in the past 48 months, no record of failure to return rented vehicles, and no record of possession of an illegal or stolen vehicle. Many rentals may also require that you have no more than 2 accidents in the past 36 months and no more than 2 moving violations in the past 24 months. Intricate restrictions and criteria are different for every car rental company.
  • Undertaking/ Declaration- Some rentals may also need you to sign an undertaking or declaration that they will provide for safety and security reasons. The undertaking generally is confirmation of whether the documents and information you provided are valid and real. 
These regulations and restrictions vary from company to company but the basic criteria and papers such as age, proof of identity, and driver's license are needed by all. Some companies may even require more documentation.

Cost of Renting a Car in Charleston

Rental prices for a car in Charleston vary according to the company and vehicle. The standard per day price for each particular type of vehicle is listed below. It may change according to travel season, vehicle availability, and the rental company.
  • Compact- USD 23 per day, fits 4 adults and 2 bags
  • Compact SUV- USD 28 per day, fits 4 adults and 3 bags
  • Full Size- USD 35 per day, fits 5 adults and 2 bags
  • Standard SUV- USD 30 per day, fits 5 adults and 3 bags
  • Minivan- USD 28 per day, fits 5 adults and 5 bags
  • Full-Size SUV- USD 32 per day, fits 5 adults and 3 bags
  • Luxury- USD 34 per day, fits 5 adults and 5 bags
  • Economy- USD 23 per day, fits 2 adults and 2 bags
  • Premium- USD 30 per day, fits 5 adults and 4 bags
Each car rental company in Charleston has a different price range and different line of vehicles that you can choose from. 

List of Top 5 Car Rentals in Charleston


1. Coastal Rental Car

Coastal Car Rental is a car rental agency located in the North of Charleston. They offer a wide variety of luxury cars for rent in which you can comfortably explore Charleston. They have sedans, SUVs, and Vans. All vehicles from Coastal Rental Car come with 24-hour roadside assistance. It is located just 5 minutes away from Charleston International Airport. 
Address: 3632 Cheatham Street, North Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Hours:  Mon-Sun 7 am – 7 pm 

2. Thrifty Car Rental Road

Thrifty Car Rental has a fleet of vehicles you can choose from. It is perfect for a vacation as they have spacious minivans that are suitable for many people and baggage. All their rented cars are non-smoking and are thoroughly cleaned after each trip. Thrifty Car Rental is perfect for a trip on a budget.
Address: 5500 International Blvd, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Hours: Mon-Sun 7 am – 12 am

3. Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Enterprise Rent-A-Car is the one-stop-shop for all your car needs. It has everything from SUVs, minivans, trucks, to luxury sedans. Their rental process is quick and efficient. Many outlets even offer delivery and pickup.
Address: 2440 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Hours:  Mon-Fri   8 am – 5 pm

4.  Avis Car Rental

Avis Car Rental has vans for group travellers, luxury cars, and affordable vehicles for long road trips. Apart from affordable cars, they also have convertibles. Axis Car Rental offer long term car rentals- for 1 to 11 months, as well.
Address: 2070, Sam Rittenberg Boulevard Space 804, Citadel Mall, Charleston, SC, USA
Hours: Mon-Fri 8 am-5 pm, Sat 10 am – 2 pm, Sun 12 – 2 pm

5.  Zipcar

Zipcar is another great option for car rental in Charleston. It is cost-effective as it covers gas, insurance, and parking. They are also a very convenient option as it is located in multiple locations. There is no need to wait in line at a counter as Zipcar offers drive on-demand service. They also have an app to easily book your car.
Address: 930 Morrison Dr, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Hours: Open 24/7

Some Other Car Rentals in Charleston

  • Palmetto Exotic Car Rental-1942 Sam Rittenberg Blvd, Charleston, SC
  • Gateway Auto Rental-2280 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC
  • Alamo Rent A Car-5500 International Blvd, Charleston, SC
  • Gloria Mccrackin Rentals-5323 Waterview Dr, North Charleston, SC
  • Hertz- 5500 International Blvd, North Charleston, SC
  • Drive Away Rentals- 2178 Savannah Hwy Suite I, Charleston, SC
  • Go Rentals- 2724 Fort Trenholm Road, Johns Island, SC
  • Fred Anderson Toyota of Charleston-2100 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC
  • Penske Truck Rentals- 2008 Magwood Dr, Charleston, SC
  • United Rentals- 2841 Azalea Dr, Charleston, SC

Things to Note While Driving or Renting a Car in Charleston:


Whether you are an American citizen or a foreign tourist, it is important that you follow and respect the traffic rules and codes of Charleston. Driving around in a new place is a great way to explore the city, however, you must adhere to the traffic rules. Here are some tips to keep in mind while driving or renting a car in Charleston.
·        You must carry your driver's license and/or International Driving Permit at all times while driving.
·        If you are a foreign national, it is advised that you have proof of identity such as a passport on you while driving.
·        The driver as well as the passengers must have a seatbelt on.
·        The speed limit in South Carolina on normal city roads is 30 miles per hour. There are signs on the roads and highways that inform you of the speed limit. You must adhere to it as exceeding the limit is a traffic violation.
·        If you are facing any issue with your vehicle, pull over to the emergency exit and call emergency numbers such as 911. You should also inform your car rental company.
·        Children under the age of 6 years must have a child passenger restraint.
·        Texting or calling while driving is strictly forbidden.
·        You must signal at least 100 feet before making a turn.
·        You should keep all receipts from your car rental company with you until the car has been returned.
·        You must thoroughly go through the terms and conditions before renting a car.
·        It would be advisable to call a few car rental companies before booking and enquiring about prices and what vehicle is most suitable for your needs.
·        Make sure you take all your belongings from the car before returning it.
·        Smoking is prohibited in most rented cars. Make sure you follow the rule or the rental company might fine you.
·        Toll fees and fines are not covered by your rental company. You will need to pay for these on your own.
We hope our guide to car rental in Charleston covered all that you needed to know. We hope it helps you in deciding whether you want to opt for a private vehicle on your trip to Charleston.

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