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A car rental, hire car or car hire agency is a company that rents automobiles for short periods of time to the public, generally ranging from a few hours to a few weeks. It is often organized with numerous local branches (which allow a user to return a vehicle to a different location), and primarily located near airports or busy city areas and often complemented by a website allowing online reservations.
Car rental agencies primarily serve people who require a temporary vehicle, for example, those who do not own their own car, travelers who are out of town, or owners of damaged or destroyed vehicles who are awaiting repair or insurance compensation. Car rental agencies may also serve the self-moving industry needs, by renting vans or trucks, and in certain markets, other types of vehicles such as motorcycles or scooters may also be offered.
Alongside the basic rental of a vehicle, car rental agencies typically also offer extra products such as insurance, global positioning system (GPS) navigation systems, entertainment systems, mobile phones, portable WiFi and child safety seats.
In the UK, the registration of rental cars can be concealed by using unfamiliar initials or subsidiaries, which can increase the resale value via manufacturer or third-party dealers. In North America, it is common to see rental companies with their own branded second-hand car dealers where the ex-rental stock is sold directly to the public. Alternatively, auctions are often used in the United States and with the advent of digital platforms, rental cars have increasingly sold the vehicles directly to new and used car dealers bypassing the auction channels.
Most car rental offices offer a range of vehicle sizes to suit a variety of budgets and space requirements and some additionally offer specialized vehicles to suit its location such as convertibles, prestige models, hybrid/electric vehicles, or SUVs and passenger vans. At major airports or in larger cities, some independent car rental agencies offer high-end vehicles for rent. Some specialized companies offer older vehicles at reduced prices.
To allow for a uniform classification and easy comparison of car rental prices, the Association of Car Rental Industry Systems and Standards (ACRISS) has developed the ACRISS Car Classification Code coding system. This describes the size, door count, gearbox type (manual/automatic), and whether the car is air-conditioned, encoded into four letters. The first letter in the Acriss Code represents the general classification of the vehicle (e.g. Mini, Economy, Compact etc.). The second letter specifies the vehicle variant on offer (e.g. 4 Door, Estate, Convertible, SUV etc.). The third letter is generally used to specify the transmission type, although it can also be used to describe how many wheels drive the vehicle, and the fourth letter describes the fuel type and whether the vehicle has air conditioning or not.
Car rentals are subject to many conditions which vary from one country to another and from one company to another. Generally the vehicle must be returned in the same condition it was rented in, and often must not exceed mileage restrictions, otherwise, extra fees may be incurred.
For insurance reasons, some companies stipulate a minimum and/or maximum rental age. In some cases, the minimum age for rental can be as high as 25, even in countries where the minimum legal age to hold a driver's license is much lower, e.g. 14,15,16 or 17 in the United States. It is not uncommon for there to be a young driver surcharge for all drivers aged under 25. On average, most car rental companies will only to rent to drivers who are at least 20 or 21 depending on the company. The companies Hertz, Dollar Car Rental, and Thrifty have a minimum age of 20. Alamo, Enterprise, Avis, and all other reputable companies have a minimum age of 21. Certain luxury vehicles may be restricted to those 30+. The US states of New York and Michigan are the only ones who mandate via state law that rental car companies cannot refuse service on the grounds of age if the customer is at least 18 years of age or older. In addition, some companies will rent to 18 and 19 year olds if they are military or government personnel.
The majority of car rental companies require the use of a credit card to charge additional fees should a defect be found with the car on its return or for road tolls, motoring related fines, or missing fuel. In lieu of a credit card, some companies require a large cash deposit. Some companies permit a debit card for deposits, typically with proof of a round-trip travel ticket, e.g. an airline, bus, or train ticket.
Although frequently not explicitly stated, US car rental companies are required by respective state law to provide minimum liability coverage, except in California and Arizona, where the driver is solely responsible. This covers costs to a third party in the event of an accident. In most states, it is illegal to drive a car without liability coverage. The rental car companies maintain liability insurance on their vehicles; however, some companies will charge for this, should you not provide your own insurance. As an example, in Maryland, the minimal level of liability coverage is $20,000 for bodily injury and $15,000 for property damage.
In the U.S., the sale of these supplemental insurance/waiver products may be regulated by each state's insurance department, and a special limited license may be required by the rental company in order to sell them. The specific coverage offered can differ substantially, depending on the state or country in which the car is rented.
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On-airport rental car counters at Terminal 1 are located on the ground level of the Silver Parking Ramp. Passengers can take the underground tram to the ramp and follow the wayfinding signs to the rental area. The entrance to the Silver Ramp is located under the Prince mural.
Use the Airport Car Rental widget to search, compare and book from car rental providers like Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and SIXT. With rental counters on the Baggage Claim level of the Landside Terminal, it is just a short walk to the garage to pick up your vehicle.
CLE has a consolidated rental car facility located off the airport grounds. Shuttle service is available for all rental car customers from the main terminal to the rental car facility. The rental car shuttle departs from the rental car shuttle terminal, located at the Ground Transportation Center (GTC). The GTC is located at the northend of the terminal on baggage level. Travelers can utilize the 2 banks of elevators across from the welcome center or escalators by claim 9 and claim 3 to access the baggage claim level. For travelers needing assistance, a telephone center with rental car information is located at the info counter at Baggage Claim.
All rental car companies currently operating at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) operate at an off-site rental car facility where dedicated shuttle buses transport passengers for free 24-hour-a-day, 365 days a year.
SEA Airport has two passenger pick-up areas are located outside on the lower drive on the baggage claim level. One at the north end (near Alaska Airlines) and another on the south end (near the international airlines) of the terminal. From there, shuttles will take passengers and their luggage on a short five-minute drive and drop them off at the rental car facility.
Rental Car Shuttles will be available to pick up passengers and their luggage at the rental car facility outside of the building where the customer service counters are located. Depending on the airline you are traveling with, passengers can board on a dedicated North or South terminal bus. From there, passengers will have a short five-minute drive where they will be dropped off on the lower drive outside of baggage claim at the north end (near Alaska Airlines) or at the south end (near the international airlines) of the terminal.
Take I-5 south to exit 154B/SR 518 west. Take the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport exit and follow the signs for Rental Car Return to International Blvd / SR 99 south. Follow the Rental Car Return signs to the right hand entrance into the rental car facility.
From Seattle, take SR 99 south to the First Avenue South Bridge (which becomes SR 509). Follow SR 509 south to the SR 518 exit (Burien/Seattle-Tacoma International Airport). Take the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport exit and follow the signs for Air Cargo Rd. Take the Air Cargo Rd exit. Turn right on S 170th St, then right on Air Cargo Rd, then right on S 160th St. Follow the Rental Car Return signs to the left hand entrance into the rental car facility.
Take I-5 north to exit 154A/SR 518 west. Take the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport exit and follow the signs for Rental Car Return to International Blvd / SR 99 south. Follow the Rental Car Return signs to the right hand entrance into the rental car facility.
Take I-405 south. Merge with SR 518 west toward Burien. Take the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport exit and follow the signs for Rental Car Return to International Blvd / SR 99 south. Follow the Rental Car Return signs to the right hand entrance into the rental car facility.
The Rental Car Center is open 24 hours a day. However, some operators close between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. We recommend following up with your rental car company directly to confirm their hours of operation.
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