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Do you need a rental car in Vegas?

Las Vegas is an exciting city, and I’m sure you’re looking forward to your upcoming trip! If you need to rent a car while you’re in town, the answer depends, unfortunately – there are so many considerations.

As a Las Vegas local, I’m here to spill all the tea to help you decide whether it’s worth renting a car in Las Vegas or not. Even though I do own a car here, there are some instances where it’s a lot easier to walk!

Keep reading to learn the answer to “Do you need a rental car in Vegas?”

Do you need a rental car in Vegas?

Two girls smiling while sitting in a car by the Las Vegas sign.

So, let’s get right to it – is a Vegas rental car necessary?

While Las Vegas offers many entertainment options and attractions, the decision to rent a car largely depends on your itinerary and preferences. (I know, probably not the answer you wanted to hear!)

If your visit is primarily centered around the iconic Las Vegas Strip and you plan to stick to the major resorts, hotels, and attractions in the city, you may find that using public transportation, taxis, rideshare services, and hotel shuttles can be convenient and cost-effective.

The Strip is relatively compact, making it easily navigable without a car.

However, if you intend to explore the natural beauty of the surrounding areas, such as Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam, or take day trips to places like the Grand Canyon, a rental car can provide the flexibility and convenience needed to venture beyond the city limits.

It’s important to weigh your specific travel plans and budget when deciding whether a rental car is a worthwhile investment during your stay in Las Vegas.

Do you plan on taking day trips?

One crucial factor to consider is whether you intend to embark on day trips to explore the region’s breathtaking natural wonders and attractions (psst… we highly recommend this).

Las Vegas serves as a gateway to a treasure trove of scenic landscapes, including Valley of Fire State Park (some great hikes are here) and the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon. If these day trips are on your agenda, renting a car becomes a strategic decision.

Having your own vehicle provides the freedom to set your own schedule, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the surrounding areas without being bound by the limitations of public transportation or guided tours.

Plus, it ensures you won’t miss out on any hidden gems along the way.

Red rocks with a trail going through the middle.

Are you staying in an area that’s super walkable?

Your choice of accommodation in Las Vegas can greatly influence the necessity of renting a car during your stay. If you’re staying in one of the centrally located hotels along the famous Las Vegas Strip or in a downtown hotel, you might find that your immediate surroundings are incredibly walkable.

These areas offer a wealth of entertainment, dining, and shopping options within easy reach, making it convenient to explore on foot. In such cases, a rental car may not be essential for your daily activities.

However, if your hotel is situated further from the main tourist hubs, in a less pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, or if you plan to explore attractions that are spread out across the city, a car can provide the convenience of swift and hassle-free transportation.

Even staying right off the Strip can make it less walkable. My first trip to Vegas before I moved here, I stayed about 2 blocks off-strip and found it sketchy to walk to the Strip in the evenings… and the bus wasn’t always super reliable. A car would’ve made it a lot easier to get around.

Will you need a car for the entire duration of your stay?

It’s wise to weigh the duration of your stay and your planned activities. You might find that your transportation needs vary during your trip.

For instance, if you’re spending the majority of your time in the city, enjoying the shows, nightlife, and casinos, you may not require a car for the entire duration of your visit.

In such cases, it can be cost-effective to rent a car for specific days when you intend to explore beyond Las Vegas or embark on day trips to nearby attractions.

This flexible approach allows you to enjoy the convenience of a car precisely when you need it while saving on rental fees and parking costs during the days you’ll primarily be walking or using alternative transportation.

Aerial view of Las Vegas at sunset.

Will you have any insurance or age restrictions?

Many car rental companies have minimum age requirements, typically ranging from 21 to 25 years, and additional fees for drivers under a certain age. It’s essential to confirm whether you meet the age criteria and factor any associated costs into your budget.

Moreover, understanding the insurance options is equally important. Rental cars typically come with standard coverage, but you may want to consider additional insurance, such as collision damage waivers or liability coverage, for added peace of mind.

It’s best to review your personal auto insurance policy and credit card coverage, as they may provide some protection when renting a car.

Can you get by just fine using Uber or Lyft, or even the monorail?

The city boasts excellent coverage by these convenient and readily available services, making it easy to get around without the hassle of driving and parking.

If your plans mainly revolve around exploring the vibrant Las Vegas Strip, attending shows, or visiting nearby attractions, utilizing Lyft or Uber may be a cost-effective and hassle-free option.

You can request a ride within minutes, and with competitive pricing (depending heavily on the time of day), it often proves more economical than renting and parking a car, not to mention avoiding any parking fees.

Pros & Cons of Renting a Car in Las Vegas

Now, let’s take some time to weigh the pros and cons.

Pros of Car Rental Las Vegas

Big sign at night that says Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada.

Easier transportation between attractions

One of the notable advantages of renting a car in Las Vegas is the convenience it offers in navigating between the city’s various attractions.

While the Las Vegas Strip is a hub of entertainment and excitement, this vibrant city also boasts a range of enticing destinations beyond the iconic boulevard, as mentioned earlier.

Renting a car provides you with the freedom to explore these attractions at your own pace, without being dependent on public transportation schedules or ride-sharing services.

This flexibility allows you to maximize your time and create a personalized itinerary that includes both the glittering heart of Las Vegas and its captivating outskirts, all with the convenience of your own vehicle.

After living in Vegas, I can guarantee you that you’ll be even more amazed by the desert landscapes that surround the city than the Strip itself.

No waiting for buses, Ubers, or Lyfts

When you opt to rent a car in Las Vegas, you eliminate the need to wait for buses, Ubers, or Lyfts, offering a significant advantage in terms of convenience and time-saving.

The city’s bustling streets can get crowded, especially during peak tourist hours, and relying on public transportation or ride-sharing services may mean longer wait times or even potential delays.

Having your own rental car at your disposal ensures you can hit the road whenever you please, with no need to coordinate schedules or wait for a ride.

This seamless mobility is especially valuable if you have a busy itinerary, want to make spontaneous stops, or if you’re traveling with a group, as it allows you to move efficiently between attractions, dining venues, and entertainment hotspots.

Girl sits on a chair on her phone in a hotel room with Las Vegas out the window.

Allows you to bring larger items like luggage, which can be inconvenient on public transport

Whether you’re arriving at the airport with suitcases in tow or indulging in a shopping spree on the Strip, having a rental car means you don’t have to navigate the challenges of crowded buses or trains with oversized baggage.

You can simply load your belongings into the car’s spacious trunk or backseat, ensuring a comfortable and hassle-free experience.

This is especially advantageous if you plan to visit outlet malls, stock up on souvenirs, or have a group with luggage in tow.

Cons of Car Rental Las Vegas

It can be costly

While renting a car in Las Vegas offers undeniable advantages, it’s important to consider the potential downside: the cost. Renting a car, when factoring in expenses like daily rental fees, fuel, parking fees, insurance, and taxes, can significantly impact your travel budget.

Las Vegas is a city known for its high prices. Therefore, if you plan to primarily explore the central areas of Las Vegas, staying on or near the Strip and only occasionally venturing beyond, the cumulative cost of a rental car may outweigh its benefits.

Man smiles while holding his phone next to the Paris hotel in Las Vegas.

Traffic can be a nightmare

The city’s bustling streets, especially along the Las Vegas Strip and major thoroughfares, can become heavily congested during peak hours and on weekends. This is even more true when there’s a big concert at Allegiant Stadium or a sports game.

Navigating through this traffic can be a challenge, and finding parking can be equally daunting, especially in popular areas. This congestion may result in delayed travel plans, added stress, and increased travel times, which can impact your overall enjoyment of the city.

If you’re not accustomed to or comfortable with driving in heavy traffic, it’s important to take this factor into consideration when deciding whether to rent a car in Las Vegas.

In some cases, relying on alternative transportation methods or planning your activities during less congested times may prove to be a more enjoyable and hassle-free option.

Parking can be difficult and expensive

The city’s popularity as a tourist destination means that parking spaces, especially in prime locations like the Las Vegas Strip, can be in high demand.

As a result, you may find yourself circling parking garages or lots in search of a spot during peak hours, which can be a time-consuming and frustrating experience.

Additionally, parking fees in Las Vegas can add up quickly, with many hotels and attractions charging substantial amounts for both self-parking and valet services.

These expenses can put a dent in your travel budget, and it’s essential to factor in the cost of parking when deciding whether to rent a car. Unfortunately as of summer 2023, many popular free parking spots in Vegas like The Venetian have said that they’ll be implementing paid parking soon.

Tips for Las Vegas Car Rentals

New Vegas sign that says The City of Las Vegas Thanks You at night.

Consider all of the places you can book from

Explore all the booking options available, including both the airport and locations outside the airport. It’s a well-known fact that rental car prices can vary significantly depending on where you make your reservation.

While the convenience of renting a car directly at the airport may be tempting, it’s not always the most cost-effective choice. It’s essential to shop around and compare prices from different rental car companies, both at the airport and off-site locations.

Often, you’ll find that rental agencies situated outside the airport can offer more competitive rates.

Reserve early

Las Vegas is a popular tourist destination year-round, attracting visitors from all over the world. Consequently, demand for rental cars can be high, especially during peak seasons, major events, or holidays.

By reserving your car early, you not only secure your preferred vehicle type but also increase the likelihood of getting a better rate. Last-minute bookings often result in limited availability and higher prices.

Additionally, planning ahead allows you to review the terms and conditions, insurance options, and any special requirements associated with your rental, ensuring you’re well-prepared when you arrive in Las Vegas.

Trust me, I’ve been in situations where I’m traveling and decide I’ll just rent a car when I get there. On a recent trip to Calgary in Canada, I found out when I got there that everywhere was sold out of rental cars… so, don’t let that happen to you!

Aerial view of the city of Las Vegas under an orange sky.

Consider booking one just for a few days during your visit

This strategic decision allows you to balance convenience and cost-effectiveness. This way, you enjoy the best of both worlds—convenience within the city and the means to embark on memorable excursions.

Make sure you drive on the right

Okay, I know what you’re thinking – this seems like an obvious tip, right? But as someone who consistently travels to other countries, it’s worth mentioning.

When driving in Las Vegas, or anywhere in the United States, it’s absolutely crucial to remember to drive on the right side of the road. It’s a fundamental tip, especially for international visitors.

In many countries, driving on the left is the norm, and adjusting to the right-side driving can be a significant challenge. To ensure your safety and the safety of others, take the time to familiarize yourself with U.S. traffic rules and practice right-side driving before hitting the road.

Additionally, be cautious when crossing intersections, using roundabouts, and merging onto highways, as the rules and traffic flow may differ from what you’re used to.

Final Thoughts: Renting Cars in Las Vegas

The Paris Hotel lit up at night.

When it comes to renting a car in Las Vegas, the decision can be a tricky one. However, with the right information and research, you’ll have all the necessary knowledge to make an informed decision that best fits your needs.

Before you hit the town in a rental car, be sure to really think about if it’s necessary. I hope this post helped answer the question, “Do you need a rental car in Vegas?”

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