Renting a car in Queens – you’ve got options

Heading to Montauk for a wedding? Need to go overnight to Philly for business? Picking up a few BILLY bookcases from IKEA? If you live in Queens and you’ve made a decision not to keep a car – and there are many good reasons not to – you’ve got local options for attaining a car on an hourly, daily and weekly basis. In Queens we can choose from both traditional car rentals or car sharing, and each has its own pluses and minuses.

The traditional car rental route is not bad in Queens. Enterprise has long had a solid presence here and today has no less than twelve locations throughout the borough. The sites in Forest Hills, Flushing, Woodside and Astoria are all easily accessible via the subway.


Image source: Atomic Taco on Flickr

Renting from a neighborhood location, as opposed to Manhattan, is usually cheaper – by about $25 per day, depending on the model. This is because demand is lower and the selection of cars is fairly conventional; don’t expect a luxury car or a convertible but do feel confident about securing an SUV or a minivan.

Here’s something surprising: the price of renting a car is actually cheaper on the weekends at the local sites, so don’t be afraid to negotiate. These neighborhood locations close at noon on Saturdays as well as all day on Sundays, which means if you need a car from Friday night to Sunday night, you’ll have to return the car on Monday morning. This means you’ll be charged for an extra day.

Enterprise will, as promised, pick you up at your home, but this greatly depends on how far away you live and how well an office is staffed on any given day. You must show proof of insurance to rent a car with Enterprise – or take one of their insurance packages – and you must refill the tank before returning the car.

Pricing Sample

Friday, October 12 (6 pm) to Monday, October 15 (7:30 am)

Enterprise, 108-14 Astoria Boulevard, East Elmhurst

Class: Compact (Nissan Versa, for example)

$57.99 per day, $208.55 total (not including gas and any insurance) [as of 9/19/12]



Image source: leyink on Flickr

If you’re looking to get a deal on a traditional car rental by using discount services such as Kayak, Orbitz or Priceline, you will most likely be limited to one of the two airports located within Queens – JFK International and LaGuardia. All of the major car rental concerns, including Hertz, Avis, Alamo, Budget, Dollar, National, Enterprise, etc., do business there.

With this option, going through one of the discount services and accessing a car through an airport location will be considerably cheaper than using one of the neighborhood locations, but it means an extra schlep, potentially with luggage.

The upside to renting from an airport is that you can access a car from 6am to 11:59pm seven days a week, so if you really can’t get out of the office until 8pm on Friday, or you must return the car late Sunday evening, that’s not a problem.

Pricing Sample

Friday, October 12 (6 pm) to Sunday, October 14 (9:00 pm)

via Kayak, U-Save Car Rental, JFK Airport, 150-32 North Conduit Avenue

Class: Compact (Ford Focus)

$51 per day, $154 total (not including gas and any insurance) [as of 9/19/12]



Image source: jm3 on Flickr

Our last option is Zipcar, the popular “car sharing club” that has gained a foothold in the car rental business using smart transactional technology, progressively designed cars, the option of renting hourly and the convenience of very local pick-up and drop-off locations.

Two membership options are available, the most popular of which is the “Occasional Driving Plan,” meant for the weekend driver with a heavy errand here and there. The annual fee is $60, after a $25 application fee (to see if you’re old enough and have no unforgivable priors) and what you get is the knowledge that – if you book in advance, and often even if you don’t – there is a car available for your particular durational need.

There are no rental offices and you don’t deal with anyone at Zipcar – you sign up online, you’re mailed a Zipcard, which you will use to unlock your car, you pick up the vehicle at the specified spot at the appointed time, and bring it back on schedule. Unlike traditional car rentals, gas is included – each car is equipped with a gas card for purchases – as is insurance. They ask that you leave no less than a quarter tank of gas when you drop your vehicle off.

Zipcar offers stylish cars such as Audis, Mini Coopers, Mazdas, BMWs and Honda Insights, all with charming names such as “Cosgrove” and “Baseball.” It’s possible, and if often happens, that users will grow fond of certain cars and use them repeatedly.

Zipcar has pick-up zones in Astoria, Flushing, Jamaica, Long Island City, Rochdale Village and Sunnyside. In Astoria there are five different parking locations and, according to the website, eighteen cars available for sharing. One would surmise that the supply of Zipcars in Queens meets the demand here and that the company will increase it as more customers come on board.

Pricing Sample

Friday, October 12 (6 pm) to Sunday, October 14 (9:00 pm)

Zipcar, parking location on 28th Street between 28th and Hoyt Avenues, Astoria

Annual fees amortized monthly: $7.08

Class: Compact (Honda Civic)

Based on average weekend rates: $234 total (including tax, gas and insurance)


Image source: Dougtone on Flickr

Drivers using all services: do not, if you value your wallets and checkbooks, return your cars late.  Enterprise charges a set fee for every hour the car is late. To determine this fee, the daily rate is divided by four, and that number is applied hourly. Zipcar will charge $50 for every hour that a car is late, up to $150, in addition for charging the regular hourly fees for use. Ouch!