Car hire in Australia

Go big

Daly River Crossing, Daly Region, NT.  Photo credit: Peter Eve/Tourism NT

Car hire in Australia

When does hiring a big car make more sense than hiring a little one? When you’re in Australia.

We know. It sounds crazy, but bear with us on this:

  • Companies tend to hire out larger vehicles at relatively better rates because more people want economical, smaller ones
  • Gas [petrol] prices are low compared to the UK so a thirstier car won’t necessarily cost you any more to drive than your Fiesta back home
  • If you’re driving miles on outback roads you really don’t want to do it in a compact hatchback

Arranging car hire in Australia
There’s usually a minimum rental period of five days for campervan hire. One-way rentals are often 7 days minimum. One-way rental can often be more expensive so try arranging an airport pick-up and drop-off instead to avoid those fees.

To secure the best deals, do the following:

  • If you can, be flexible with your dates. Booking outside of holiday periods is always cheaper
  • Book well in advance
  • Book online; even if it is the night before you plan to leave. It’s almost always cheaper than booking in person
  • Book through a price comparison site to secure the best deal


All major Australian car hire companies operate out of airports as well as city locations and recognised tourist areas. Airport pick-ups or one-way trips cost more.

All rental companies will need a credit card and driving licence (in English) on pick-up; debit cards don’t count! The name on the card has to match the name on the rental agreement.

Read the small print: Check whether there’s a mileage cap on your car hire agreement. It may sound like a good rate but you may have only a very small limit on the miles you can travel. When you consider it’s 919km from Sydney to Brisbane you can rack up the miles really, really fast.

Check any other restrictions in your agreement. Most Australian car hire companies won’t allow you to drive after sunset in Western Australia and Northern Territory due to the likelihood of having an accident involving wildlife.

There is no fee to cross state boundaries, but check with your hire company as there may be charges if you want an out of state one-way drop.

How old do you need to be to hire a car in Australia?
Most companies expect renters to be at least 25 and have held a full driving licence for a minimum of one year. They will hire to younger drivers, although some types of vehicles will be off-limits, but if you’re between 21 and 24 expect to pay a hefty excess.

Driving in the dust
Some roads in remote areas may have restricted access. In the Top End, during the wet season, you’ll come across roads that are off-limits (even in a 4x4) because of flooding. Take care, and make sure you take precautions if you’re driving in the outback.


Car hire in Australia - major companies or local operators?


Some would have you believe hiring a car through local operators is cheaper than renting from a multinational.

We’d suggest the opposite. Book online with larger operators and you’ll find rates are lower – especially if you hire a bigger vehicle.

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